Congratulations! You’ve just booked your first trip to the Caribbean. While you’re probably overly excited at the moment, you may also be wondering, “What happens next?”
Air travel can be tricky, especially if it’s your first time on a plane. You probably have a ton of questions about what goes down in an airport, but you may not be sure of where to look for answers. It’s ALWAYS better to be prepared, so we’ve gathered up a step-by-step list of what to expect at an airport.
- Pack Carefully - learn everything you need to know about packing for air travel (links to Packing for Air Travel article) before you head out to the airport.
- Timing Is Key – you won’t know where anything is, so give yourself plenty of time to make it from the airport parking lot, through long check-in and security lines, and to your gate on time. Nothing feels worse than missing your first flight.
- Keep Your Documentation On Hand – you’re going to be asked to present your passport and boarding pass multiple times, so you’ll need to find a way to keep them handy without risking losing them (a neck pouch usually does the trick).
- Head to the Check-In Desk – there are signs that guide you from the entry to your airline’s check-in area. But in case you need more detailed instructions of how to get to the check-in desk, feel free to ask attendants for help.
- Go Through Security – there’ll be plenty of signs to guide you along the process. Once you get to the screening machines, you’ll need to take your shoes and jacket off and place them in a plastic bin along with the plastic bags in which you’re carrying your 3-ounce liquids. If you have a laptop, you’ll need to place it in a bin by itself, outside of any case or carrying bag. Then you’ll place the bins on a conveyor belt so that they can be screened. An attendant will then ask you to step through the metal detector and once you’re cleared, you can pick your belongings up at the other end of the conveyor belt. There’ll be tables where you can place your bins if you need some time to get your shoes back on and put everything back where it belongs.
- Find Your Gate – look for your gate number on your boarding pass. If you can’t find it, just look for the electronic displays and find your flight and gate number there. Once you know your gate number, just follow the signs to get to your gate’s waiting area and then take a seat. Depending on how early you got to the airport, you might have to wait a while.
- Keep An Ear Out – important messages, like flight delays, will be announced over the PA system. Make sure you listen to what’s being said while you wait for your flight.
- Know Your Seat Number – once your flight is ready to board, a gate attendant will begin to call for boarding. Airlines usually board by row, so you’ll have to wait until your row is called. Once you’re in the plane, find your seat by checking the numbers above the rows.
- Know Where Your Carry-Ons Go – carry-on luggage can go in two places; large bags go in the overhead compartment and smaller bags go under the seat in front of you. Don’t close the overhead compartments, a flight attendant will come around and do that for you.
- Collect Your Checked Bags – once you land, exit the plane and follow signs leading you to baggage claim. Your flight number and departure city will be listed on electronic displays. Wait at the conveyor belt until you’ve collected your bags. If one is missing, talk to the airport staff.
Is there anything else you'd add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!
Roberto Jaimes is a Texas A&M graduate and a Web Content Editor at CheapCaribbean.com. Roberto can do a thing or two in Adobe Creative Suite and spends his free time watching/playing soccer and exploring Mexico and the Caribbean.