A complete guide for your first air travel

Are you travelling in an airplane for first time in India? It is perfectly fine to get excited and a little nervous. When I traveled for the first time in a plane, I also felt the same. Here are some points to remember for those who travel first time in a domestic airline, specifically in India. 


By Adrian Pingstone (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Check-in and Cabin baggage 


 There are two kinds of baggage according to airlines definition. One is cabin baggage and other is check-in baggage. Check-in baggage can usually be bigger in size, you can hand over the check-in baggage at the air line counter in airport. They will tag it with your particulates and  transport it in a different part of the plane along with the baggage of other people. You need to collect this check-in luggage from your destination airport. Cabin bag is the one you carry with you in the flight. There are restrictions on what you can carry in your cabin bag. Usually airlines don't allow any kind of weapons, sharp metal objects, liquid bottles which has volume more than a specified limit. You can find the exact list of prohibited items in a cabin bag from the airline's website. There is an upper limit of weight for both check-in and cabin luggage.( again, check in the airlines website to find what is the maximum limit.)

Austrian Airlines (www.austrian.com) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tips for those who fly for the first time

1.   Keep the things that you will need during your trip in the cabin bag. You might need to keep the wallet, valuables, reading materials, laptops, hand towels or any other item that you might need to access during the travel. Make sure all the items that you will immediately need after landing is put in cabin luggage. Remember that once you gave your other bag for check-in, you will not be able to access it till you reach your destination. 

2.  Keep a pair of fresh cloths in the cabin bag. In the highly unlikely event of your check-in luggage gets delayed or get missed (don't worry, it never happened to me in domestic flights) you will need to have some back up cloths and necessary material to get going. Most of the flights take utmost care to return your check-in luggage in time. 

3. If you have only light luggage and none of the restricted materials, then carry them all in the cabin bag. In this way, you can exit the airport as soon as the flight lands. You don't have to wait for the check-in bag to arrive. It typically takes 15 minutes to 30 minutes.

Security checks inside the airport

As you are flying for the first time, the amount of security checks in Indian airports might overwhelm you. Don't worry. Every first time traveler in airlines will be a little confused about the sequence of things. So, I will try to explain it here in detail. 

1. Stage 1: Verifying the ticket and Id at the airport door - Just before entering into the airport, keep your Id card and a print out of the ticket ready. Show it to uniformed security personnel standing at the door. They will quickly verify it and let you in.

2. Stage 2: Luggage scanning at the entrance -  This step may not be there in many airports. However, some Indian airports strictly follow it. Just keep all your luggage on the X-ray trolley and collect it at the other end. 

3. Stage 3 - Drop your check-in bag -  Now you can proceed towards the "check-in counter" for your airline. Please keep in mind that each airlines has a separate check in counter. The name of the airlines will be displayed on the top. You can join the queue for check-in and drop your luggage. Here there is another concept of "Web Check-in". As you stand at the end of the queue, you might see some people joining another (sometimes shorter) queue. They have already done the "web check-in" and only need to drop their bag. I explain about it later in detail.  If you have not done web check in, you join the normal queue, complete the check in process. You will get a new piece of paper named "boarding pass".  Hand over your check-in luggage (the big bag) to the airline representative. You collect a tag for your cabin bag and just hang it over the cabin bag. Exit the queue with your cabin bag. 

By Leonid Mamchenkov (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mamchenkov/531592835/) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

4. Stage 4 - Security check and cabin bag check -  This is the last stage of the airport security checks. There will be another queue for physical check( they might frisk you sometimes) and your cabin bag goes through another X-ray. Make sure you empty your pockets and keep any metal objects like keys inside your cabin bag. Keep  and Id card and the boarding pass with you. Put your cabin bag in the Xray trolley and proceed towards the physical security check. After the check they will put a seal on your boarding pass. Next, collect the cabin bag at the other end of the X-Ray trolley. Make sure they have put a seal on the tag dangling from cabin bag. You essentially need 2 seals. One on your boarding pass and other on your cabin bag tag.


By Politikaner (Self-photographed) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
5. Stage 5- Congratulations! you have passed all the steps of security check. Now proceed towards the gate number from which your airline is going to start. Usually, when you do check-in and drop your bag, the airline personnel will inform you about the gate. You can wait in the vicinity of the gate until the airline personnel start allowing people into the airline (it is called the boarding). Just as you walk towards the airline, a uniformed security personnel will check your boarding pass and cabin bag tag to make sure you have both the seals.

Web Check-In procedure 

As you are travelling for the first time in an airplane. You may not be aware of the web check-in procedure. Let me explain it detail.  At the time you buy airplane tickets, there will not be any seats assigned to YouTube​. The seats are assigned during the check-in stage I mentioned above. Instead of doing check-in at the airport, you can do web check-in a day or two before your travel. You can go the airline website and click on their web check in link. You will have to give your ticket PNR number or mail id. Afterwards choose your seats. As a first time flyer, I suggest you do web check-in so that you can pick your seat. It will save you the disappointment of not getting a window seat. The view does matter in your first flight!

One thing to be careful about web check-in is that, there are some premium seats for which will you will have to pay extra. Take care not to choose such seats if you don't want to spend more.

Keep time while traveling on airplane 

You need to reach the airport at least one hour before the board time mentioned. It is to allow for enough time to get through all the security process that I mentioned earlier in the article. Also as you are flying for the first time, it might take time to figure out things. So be there in airport in time.

Tips about connection flights 

In case you are travelling for the first time in an airplane and you need to take two connection flights, then you need to be a little more careful about time. If you are taking the flights from the same airline, then  most of the cases the checked-in luggage can be collected at the final destination. However if you fly by two different airlines, then after landing in the first stop, you need to collect the bags and handover to the check in counter of the second airlines. It would definitely take more time. Hence you must leave ample amount of time, if you are planning for connection flights. 

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