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Bon Voyage! So you are all set for your exciting trip ahead but are faced with a rather usual conundrum- how exactly do you go about boarding your flight and getting to the destination? Whether you are a first-time flyer or the ongoing pandemic has called for the need of a memory- touch-up, this article shall help you understand what are the steps you need to take following obtaining your ticket.
Since COVID-19 has effectively altered everyone’s understanding of how flight travel usually works, we shall also look at how things have changed now and what extra steps you might need to undertake to ensure a smooth journey. We shall proceed with this article with the understanding that you have already purchased your ticket for the flight.
Right After Booking Your Ticket
On priority, firstly confirm that the ticket has been booked. You will receive a text message and an email confirming that your payment has gone through and you have obtained the ticket.
Secondly, study the baggage allowance rules of your flight and pack your bags accordingly. If possible, get your bags weighed- both check-in luggage as well as hand baggage to avoid any confusion while you are at the airport. Know what you can and cannot carry and abide by the regulations.
The next step is specific to the pandemic- ensure that you are vaccinated (as per the travel regulations prevailing at your destination) and have obtained the certificate indicating that you are not affected by COVID-19 at the time of your travel. Observe the necessary quarantine period after you take the test before you set out.
Take all the necessary precautions to ensure that you are safe during your travel. Make sure that you always wear your mask and carry a pair of gloves and hand sanitiser with you. Depending on the severity of the cases during your time of travel, it is advised to buy a PPE kit to ensure maximum safety.
Make all the travel arrangements necessary to get to the airport well ahead of time so that there is no trouble getting a cab on the day. If you are planning to drive down to the airport, make sure that you have enough fuel.
Getting to the Airport
This might seem obvious, but the focus here is on when you get to the airport. Generally, for years now, the rule has been that if you are boarding a domestic flight, then you are expected to be at the airport approximately 90 minutes before the boarding time whereas, for international flights, the minimum time to be at the airport is 3 hours before the scheduled boarding. This is to ensure that you have ample time to complete all the formalities that are a mandatory part of your pre-boarding.
However, in light of the pandemic, it is best to ensure that you have spared ample time for the additional checking and delay in proceedings owing to the necessity for social distancing. It is recommended that you arrive at the airport at least two hours before boarding in case of domestic flights and four hours before boarding in the case of international flights.
Always keep in mind that there are situations beyond your control, and prepare for these. If you are arriving by taxi, inform your driver about the terminal beforehand and if you live in a traffic prone area, start your journey to the airport accordingly. There is nothing wrong with arriving early at the airport as airports are in themselves a fascinating experience for some chill time at different lounges or international duty-free shopping.
Once you reach the airport, present your ticket and ID card at the entrance.
Every flight these days provides you with the option to check in to your flight online, using their app or through the web. It can easily be done in a few clicks. While checking into your flight, you will have the option to select your seat, which you can do so either by opting for the free available ones or paying extra for additional legroom.
Checking in online is easier and takes way less time compared to waiting to get to the airport to get it done. By checking in online ahead of time, you will be able to select good seats before others do. Moreover, the web check-in facility is open (for most flights) 48 hours before the scheduled boarding time.
Once you have completed your web check-in, you will be issued with a boarding pass which you usually need to print out. However, these days, avoiding contact is of primary importance and therefore, just presenting the digital copy should suffice. If kiosks are functioning, you can print your boarding pass out.
Of course, you can opt for the traditional check-in at the airport, but note that these are open for a rather brief period- a few hours at best, and close about 45 minutes before boarding generally. On the plus side, you can try your luck for an upgrade while talking to the staff. Please check with the airline if the check-in counters will be functional for offline check-in as the rules vary from flight to flight and from time to time since the onset of the pandemic.
All your check-in baggage must be screened as soon as you enter the airport, following which you load them off at the baggage counter after weighing them. Keep in mind all the weight limitations and have a clear idea about the flight’s specific policies on what can be carried in your hand luggage. Get your hand baggage weighed as well before you proceed to the security check.
You and your baggage will be screened at the security check posts to ensure that you do not have any illegal items on you that are not permitted into the flight for security and safety reasons. Cooperate with the officials if they ask you to open your bags for further examination post the screening. Once your boarding pass has been stamped for clearance by security, you can proceed.
Enjoy the Airport and Get to the Terminal!
Relax. Most of the formalities are now complete, and depending on how much time you have left for your flight; you can now begin to absorb the highly dynamic environment of the airport. With numerous different cafés, restaurants, shops and more, airports are vibrant and active 24 hours a day, and you will be able to entertain yourself thoroughly irrespective of what you are into.
If you want to pick up a magazine from the kiosk and chill with a coffee, you can do so and head to your terminal right away. You can choose to shop or visit the lounge if you have some time to kick back before your flight. If you have even more time, you can even opt to get a spa or massage done to pass your time.
Airports generally have in-house hotel rooms for those who need to refresh before a long flight, so if you are on transit and have a whole night ahead before your next flight, this would be a great way to recoup.
Try to get to the gate at least 15 minutes before your boarding time so that you ensure a smooth boarding experience. Find out where the gate is before you explore the rest of the airport. Present your boarding pass and enter your flight.
In the Flight
Once you have boarded your flight, make sure that you find your seat. You will have plenty of staff to assist you. Stash your hand baggage above your seat in the allocated space and once you are seated comfortably, put your safety belt on. Before you indulge yourself in music or other magazines, take some time to look at the safety instructions and pay attention to the safety demonstration. Once the flight has started, sit back and relax. Enjoy your journey.
Do you need to print your plane ticket?
This is not necessary since you do not need soft copies of your ticket during the entrance as well as during check-in. A digital copy should suffice for both purposes. Just make sure that you have your ID proof on you at all times.
Is online flight booking safe?
It is safe when done through reputed and trustworthy platforms that act as agents and also directly from the ticket provider. You will find plenty of discounts when you book your flight ticket online. When in doubt, always check for reviews and ensure that the medium that you use to book is trustworthy.
How far in advance should I book a flight?
This is a very subjective question. It entirely depends on your purpose of travel. Theoretically, as long as tickets are available, you can book a flight. However, when you book the flight early, you will be saving a lot more money than when you book it a few days before travel. So it is best to plan your journey by a couple of months, at least if that’s feasible.
Can I buy a ticket at the airport?
Yes, you can. However, there are no advantages in doing so as you will be losing out on all the discounts that you will be found online.
How do I find cheap tickets online?
You have many trusted websites that list out the best available prices for tickets, and you can book using the suggested platforms. Watch out for additional discount codes and coupons that reduce the price even further. Book ahead of time so that you get the best rates.
Can I get a refund for canceling my booking?
Policies vary from one flight to another. They also vary depending on the agent that you have used to book the flight ticket. Most of them allow a partial refund of the flight, depending on different factors such as time left for the flight, etc.
I hope that this article has provided you with a clear idea of how to go about your flight journey. Have a safe and wonderful trip, and be sure to check out our other articles for more information.
- How to Find Historical Data of Arrival and Departure Times of a Flight
- What is an Open Air Ticket? How to book it?
- How Much Cash Can You Carry On a Domestic Flight?
- How Early Can You Go Through Airport Security?
- If your flight is delayed, can you turn up late for check-in at the airport?
- Can You Transfer a Plane Ticket to Someone Else?