The first day at the airport is just as bad as your first day of kindergarten if not worse. Everyone’s a stranger, the rules unclear and everything looks larger than you. People that seem to know where they are going are constantly rushing around you trying to get to their gate.
Meanwhile, carts with bells and horns are passing you up and somebody nearly side-swipes you because they’ve heard their name being paged to their gate overheard. And just like kindergarten you can’t wait to get through it all because you know what waits for you at the end is something that will relieve the angst that you have felt. Once your first time is over, hopefully you can do it again with less anxiety and less stress.
Seriously, once you do your research and figure out the ends and outs of what it takes to survive the airport you will be fine. Most information that you need to know can be found on the TSA’s website about what you can and cannot take in the airport or on the plane with you. And any info that you might not be able to find there can be found on the airline’s website that you are flying with.
The first time you enter the airport, depending on how large it is, can be a bit of an overwhelming experience but don’t fret you’ll be fine. If you plan to arrive to the airport 1 1/2 to 2 hrs early before your plane is supposed to take off you are already ahead of the game. Earlier arrival as a newbie, can really be in your favor if you do run into any hang-ups. First thing’s first…head to the counter of your airline with your confirmation paperwork if you booked through your travel agent or consultant along with your ID or passport, if needed, in hand. Often times there are check-in kiosks near the front of the line or off to the side on their own. Feel free to use these in order to check-in to your flight. Here you can receive your boarding pass as well as check-in a bag. These kiosks can sometimes save you time if you do not have bags to check-in. They can also help you get ushered to the front of the line even if you do have bags because it registers you on the computer as the next one up in line. Once you’ve received your boarding pass and checked-in any luggage you may have you are on your way to the next step, security.
As you approach the front of the security line have your ID or passport and your boarding pass ready for being double checked. Once done there you move on to the scanning area. The number one question that most people have is about how to make it through security without being that one person that sets off the alarm and has everyone breaking their necks to see who it is that has broken a law. As you approach closer to the scanner section begin taking off your shoes. Grab a bin and place them inside. If you’re wearing socks you may leave those on. The main thing to consider is to not pack sharp objects in your carry-on or on you. Make sure your pockets are empty of all loose change and keys and placed in the provided bins. Anything metal will more than likely draw attention to you if you still have it on your body somewhere.
Also, pay attention to any containers that you may have in your carry-on that contain liquid items. If it’s anything more than 3.4 oz you might as well forget it. You are not getting into or out of the airport with it. Begging and pleading with security will not help and only makes you look foolish. They will not budge.
Another question that comes up is about laptops, Kindles and the likes. If you have such an item you will have to take it out of its case and place them both separately in bins and place them on the conveyor belt. Once all your possessions have taken a ride through the x-ray scanner that’s it! Congratulations you have now made it through security. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
After making your way through security now you can shake off any stress that you may have had. Laugh at the fact that it was easier than you thought and head towards your gate. But before you do so, take the time to find an Arrival/Departures screen. They should be placed throughout the airport. Check this screen to make sure your flight is still at the gate that your boarding pass states. Sometimes it can change by the time you receive your boarding pass and make it through security. Once everything there is ok you’re in good shape to find your gate. Gates are pretty easy to find. Just look up and most are labeled pretty well. You may run into a gate that leads to a shuttle station. These can sometimes be hard to find but ask any of the staff where your gate is if you run into trouble and they will be more than willing to help you. After finding your gate, go to the counter and take a peek at the destination written on the screen to make sure you’re are at the correct gate. Though this seems redundant a gate change can happen at any time. And yes, they will announce it overhead but you don’t want to miss that announcement if it comes and you didn’t hear it. If everything is still okay, you can sit back and relax and wait for them to call you up by group. Until then take in a deep breath and exhale, school will be out soon.