12 Tips for Traveling by Air for the First Time

Although the aviation industry has grown and become popular with many tourists, there are still plenty of people who have never been on a plane. It will face some difficulties for their first time to travel by air.

We will introduce you to how to check in and other instructions on a plane for newbies. So, you can have a smooth journey for the first travel with airline companies.

The procedure for taking the plane is as basic follows: Book the flight => Go to the airport to check-in (according to the selected date and time) => Check the customs => Go to the boarding gate => Board the flight, and sit on the seat number on the ticket => Get off the plane => Get your luggage.

Essential notes for first-time tourists traveling by air

1. Book air tickets

booking air ticket

To fly to another destination for your holidays, you need to:

  • Choose a date and time to fly to the designated destination.
  • Buy air tickets: For both domestic and international flights, you can book tickets on the airline websites (Vietjetair.com, Vietnamairlines.com, Kayak.com) or buy tickets at a travel agent near where you live or work.
  • We recommend you buy air tickets from a travel agent for your first time to travel to another country.
  • Air ticket prices will vary according to the flight time and date, usually buy an early ticket to get a lower price.
  • You can choose airline companies and ticket class: Economy class is the lowest rate, and business class has a very high price but much comfort. You get one depending on your affordability.
  • After purchasing the ticket, you will receive a reservation code that is important to check your flight status. And, remember to check your correct name on the booking system if booking on the internet, or the tickets if you book it offline.
  • You present this reservation code at the airport check-in counter to check in when you fly.

Booking cheap flights is a desirable thing for most passengers when they need to fly, especially for first-time travelers.

The following flight booking experiences will help you save travel costs for the first time to use flights.

  • Subscribe to the online ticketing website of the airline companies, and regularly update the promotions from the official agency of international airlines.
  • Do not choose or remove the default options that the airline pre-installed, such as additional luggage, seat selection, and dining.
  • Cheap flights usually fly at night or early in the morning, so if you do not care about the time, you can fly during these periods. The price will be much more reasonable.
  • You should book tickets early from 2 to 3 months to get the best ticket rate.

One note is that when you book cheap airline tickets, they often do not allow you to change, cancel, or refund tickets in any case. Of course, you are still allowed to change the flight date but pay an additional difference according to the fare at that time. You need to read the conditions carefully before accepting to travel with cheap tickets.

>> You may like to read: how to book the last minute tours to Vietnam?

2. Notice the luggage limit


Taking a plane for the first time, you may wonder about the regulations for luggage. You need to notice the following information:

  • Depending on each aviation firm, the weight of luggage is limited at a different level.
  • The checked luggage weight for domestic flights is usually less than for international journeys. You need to see the conditions or ask the travel agent carefully about this limit.
  • If you fly with Vietnam Airlines- one of the famous airlines in Vietnam, travel in Vietnam is 20 kg, and international flights allow up to 32 kg. You may notice the dimensions of your handbags and checked bags to fix their conditions. You see details of luggage on flights here.
  • For handbags, each passenger is usually allowed to bring one carry-on baggage on board but must meet their standards. We also recommend you to see their conditions which depend on each airline company.
  • In general, a handbag can contain:
    • A bag for a laptop,
    • Wallet,
    • Small backpack,
    • Personal belongings,
    • Jacket,
    • Books and newspapers,
    • Food bag on the flight,
    • Blanket or pillow for long journeys,
    • Umbrella, Duty-free goods,
    • Assistive devices (Ex: wheelchair, walking frame, portable oxygen machine, etc.)
  • Liquid and limited goods: The Airport Security Division (ASD) allows each passenger to bring limited liquids when purchasing duty-free goods through the security door if it is packed properly in a standard sealed bag (STEB). For details, on the types of fluids to be brought, please ask them.

3. Prepare luggage before flying

prepare luggage

You should put all important travel items in the hand luggage, such as electronics, rechargeable batteries, cosmetics, some snacks (see more snacks in Vietnam), light jackets (when getting on the flight, the air-con is quite cold), wallets, papers to check in – check out, and jewelry accessories (we do not recommend you to carry jewelry during holidays). 

If you are traveling with small children, you should prepare your child’s essentials in a small bag to contain the necessary things, such as milk, towels, diapers, thin coats, and wet towels. Everything should be as tidy as possible.

Besides, other things like clothes or personal belongings that you use when you arrive, you need to put in a suitcase. 

The trick to saving onboarding costs for luggage is that you should book before you buy tickets. For example, if you estimate about 20kg of checked baggage, you should book it as soon as you buy a ticket and avoid adding weight. Because when you come to the airport, your luggage will be recalculated. If you exceed the weight at registration, that balance will be expensive.

You should lock your luggage suitcase very carefully to prevent theft or dropping luggage during airport staff transportation.

If you are traveling with your family, you should choose suitcases of the same color. So, when you go to the airport, you can easily get them and avoid luggage loss. Of course, every piece of luggage is checked by the staff. But, it can get errors, so you should take the initiative to be the best.

The experience of flying for the first time is the most convenient when you absolutely do not carry sharp objects, such as knives, scissors, guns, nail files, or explosive substances such as lighters in both checked and carry-on-hand luggage. If you deliberately bring these things up, airport security will keep them.

4. Choose your outfit when flying

Depending on whether your journey is short or long, and to make the flight safe without trouble, you should also have experience choosing suitable clothes to fly conveniently.

You should keep the following in mind when selecting your flight clothes:

  • Do not wear clothes with metal attached, because when passing through the security door, the security staff will make it difficult for you.
  • You need to take note of the climate where you will come. If without proper preparation for the temperature, you may be shocked by the cold or heat.
  • You should wear clothes comfortably, and not wear high heels.

5. Prepare essential things for flight procedures

air ticket

You must prepare the following documents:

  • Air ticket,
  • Visa (if travel abroad),
  • Passport,
  • Cash to pay taxes (in the local currency, so you should exchange money right in your country to avoid high charges).

When arriving at the airport, the passengers then move to the check-in areas reserved for the airline company for which you have booked.

Most airports have two areas of arrival and departure. So, when you start flying, you come to the Departure area.

  • Departure area: The place where passengers check in to fly to another destination.
  • Arrival area: Where passengers from other destinations fly to this place.

So when coming to check-in, you need to pay attention to avoid going to the wrong site. All signs are scattered in the airport, so you can easily distinguish them. If you are unable to understand the transfer procedures from check-in to the lounge, you can ask the airport staff for assistance.

6. Arrive at the airport to check in

You need to go to the airport before the plane takes off at least 2 for domestic and 3 hours for international flights as normal standards.

For the newbies, remember that earlier is much better.

check-in counter
  • It is required to be at the exit gate from 20 to 30 minutes in advance to start boarding, so you have to come to the airport early to do check-in procedures.
  • There are many passengers in the queue to check in at rush hours or on weekends. Thus, you have to queue for a long time to check in the luggage tickets, change information, or make mistakes.
  • Customs inspection can also take a long time to get inside the boarding area.
  • The total time to do all the processes to the boarding gate is around 1 hour as the normal steps. So you should be at the airport early in advance for comfort.

If you arrive at the airport too late, your flight will close check-in counters about 20-40 minutes before departure. As a result, you will not be able to fly that flight.

Thus, you have to buy another flight or change flights. You can ask the staff of the company to know about this case. Please be careful not to get an unwanted experience when flying for the first time!

7. Instructions to read the information on air tickets

The present on the air tickets is different from aviation companies. There are many details about them. But, you need to note some information below:

  1. Class: depending on the classification of each airline, it can have different types, popular with Economy and Business. Business is at the top level, and Economy class is the cheapest.
  2. Status: OK / Confirmed: The flight date and time are official.
  3. Date/time of flight: date/time the aircraft took off at the departure place and landed at the destination, with the local time. You should notice this to come to the airport on time.
  4. Non-stop or transit: a non-stop flight is a direct flight from your point to where you need to go. Transit is a flight that stops at one or several other places before reaching the destination you need to come.
  5. Name: Your name will be correct. If not, ask the agent as soon as possible.
  6. Flight code: The code of your flight will carry you. You should notice it and listen to the announcement at the airport to get on board on time and on the correct flight.
  7. Reservation code: You do not work this code much. But, it is useful to work with confirmation. It means the reservation code is noticed by airline staff.

In addition, the first time you fly, you need to pay attention to the departure door, and you notice the announcement of the speaker at the airport to locate the correct door and time to get on board. This is because most people worry about getting on the wrong airplane or late time to depart.

You should ask the airport staff when you do not understand something or do not know where to go.

When sitting on the plane you need to listen and comply with all flight safety rules. The flight attendant will show you. You are not allowed to take any action to the aircraft, such as: opening a window, or pulling a life jacket if not needed. All your requests should need the help of flight attendants.

8. Customs inspection

security check

All passengers on the plane must go through the customs check to ensure the safety of the flight and for other passengers. You need to comply and not pose hazards for the entire flight.

At the airport, there will be a queue to enter the customs inspection. To know where to queue for the customs inspection, you can see the instruction board, or faster you can ask airline staff, airport security staff, or cleaning staff.

When meeting customs staff, you must remove your hat, and mask, show air tickets, and identity card or passport (if flying internationally).

Going to the security screening area, you must put your belongings in the tray: your backpack, hand luggage, phone, wallet, watch, and belt to pass through the security screening. And the security staff will also check on your body to avoid bringing what is prohibited.

9. Boarding

You must be at the boarding gate about 20-30 minutes in advance for the guide to board the plane (the time can be changed depending on the airport). The staff will check the passengers for the last time, and notify those who are not present to return to the exit to prepare for departure. This experience is exciting for you, because the first time on the plane, I also felt lightheaded when the flight flew into the sky.

9.1. Boarding gate

The boarding gate is printed on the boarding ticket. There are seats for waiting at the boarding gate before the departure notice from the electronic board system or the staff.

Usually, the airports are quite large, so there are many boarding gates. Thus, you pay close attention.

Especially for international flights, the doors are quite far apart. It can take tens of minutes to walk, so make sure you are at the boarding door on time.

airplane boarding

9.2. Entering the aircraft

  • You will follow the instructions of the airline staff to board the plane and find the correct seat. If you are unsure of yours, ask the flight attendant to avoid sitting in the wrong place.
  • Put your carry-on luggage into the cabin above the seat. If you are not tall enough, you can ask someone else or staff to help. And, remember to take a jacket or scarf to wear because it is cool down for long flights.
  • During the flight, you must obey the commands of the notification system, aircraft, and flight attendants. You can go to the toilet while flying, and buy snacks and drinks from the flight attendant.
  • You must wear your seatbelt during the flight unless you need to go to the toilet.
  • Note that you should talk quietly, or it is best to keep order during the flight.
  • If you need assistance or anything else, ask your flight attendant for details.

10. During the flight time

on the airplane

10.1. Buy food and drinks

Usually, after the flight takes over 20-30 minutes, the flight attendant will notify you to serve food and drinks. You will see the menu in the bag on the back of the seat in front of you.

You will wait for the staff to push the food cart to your site, and tell the flight attendant what you want to buy. Then, you pay for the flight attendant, usually in cash (in USD popular payment), but sometimes with other money depending on the country you fly to.

At the moment, many airline companies allow you to order food and drink while buying online tickets, or at an air-ticket agent. In that case, the flight attendant will bring the food for you.

After eating and drinking, the air staff will collect garbage and food boxes.

10.2. Going to the toilet

If you want to use the toilet, there are usually two toilets: one at the head and one at the tail of the aircraft.

During the flight, you can go to the toilet without having to tell anyone. Except when taking off and landing for about 5 – 10 minutes, you have to sit still in a position, not moved to ensure safety.

11. Landing and getting off the plane

After landing, wait for the signal of the system when the aircraft lands safely, then please remove the seat belt, take your luggage, and get off the plane. You do not worry about the landing process, because the air staff will tell you through the speaker and guide you on what you need to do.

After getting off the big airports, there are some shuttle buses to transfer you to the doors to go out. For small airports, you have to walk to the gate of the airport to go out.

If you have checked baggage, come to the luggage counter, stand, and wait for your luggage to appear at the conveyor, then pick it up and take it out.

arrival hall

12. Attention when flying internationally

  • You must use a valid passport to enter and exit the country. Your passport should be valid for longer than 6 months.
  • After checking customs like flying with the domestic flights, you need to show the passport to the airport customs officer to check and seal the permission to exit.
  • When flying to another country, after you get off the plane, you have to fill in the declaration of entry (if required) and present the attached passport to customs officers. So, they stamp to agree that you can come to the country.
  • This process of the declaration of entry will have to wait a bit longer and line up because international guests need to check the information carefully.
  • Customs will ask you to look at the small camera to take photos and get fingerprints at the customs counter. You just need to put your hand up for the self-scanning machine. This is just a procedure, no matter much.
  • For international flights, you have to go to the international terminal to check-in and departure. Note that many airports have that domestic and international terminals can be quite far apart. You should read carefully the information about your departure stations on the Internet or ask the agent.

>>> You may want to check the closest airport to Hoi An.

Traveling by plane has now become a popular and convenient to explore the world. Travel by air helps you not only shorten the time but also save your energy. With our safe experiences for first-time travelers on air, we hope it will help you have a comfortable flight.

And, you may have a short checklist to prepare well for flying:

  1. Airline ticket
  2. Password valid for more than 6 months
  3. Visa (needed when flying abroad)
  4. Cash enough to pay for some airport services ( at less than 300 USD)
  5. Suitcase (check the dimensions to fit with the air company’s allowance)
  6. Light jacket to wear on the flight
  7. Warm coat if traveling to a cold country
  8. Personal medicine if any (checking carefully some special medicine cannot be carried to other countries, it is better to bring it with a paper of doctor’s advice.)
  9. Itinerary to explore the beauty of the destinations
  10. Smiles to have memorial journeys

Enjoy your flight!

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    About the author

    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.