Taking to the Skies - Tips for First-Time Flyers

Taking to the Skies - Tips for First-Time Flyers


If you are on Facebook, SnapChat or Instagram, you’ve probably noticed an increase in photos and videos of glorious views, airplane wing shots and of course, the mandatory runway shot. The posts are usually accompanied by a hashtag #vacay #fastjet #JamboJet #milehighclub #goodlife etcetera etcetera

The change to your timeline content is because flying is getting cheaper and cheaper, with low cost airlines such as JamboJet and FastJet offering travelers cheap flights to destinations across East Africa.

8 hour road trips have been reduced to a 55 minute flights - take off in gloomy Nairobi weather and land under sunny skies with 30 degree temps in Diani, allowing you more time for your holiday. More and more people have a chance to experience flying for the first time.

If you're taking your first flight thanks to the no-frills revolution, we’ve prepared a few tips to help your inaugural flight go as smoothly as possible.

Plan your trip & purchase your ticket

Where possible, figure out your travel plans at least 6 weeks in advance. This allows you to put together any necessary paperwork. If you are leaving the country, you’ll need a passport which may take time to process.

You may also need a visa and a yellow fever shot. Information on visa applications is available on the respective country's website with yellow fever shots administered at most national hospitals at a fee. Local flights only require a national ID or a passport for travel.

Preparing early also enables you to buy even cheaper tickets and to pick your seats comfortably as opposed to settling for whatever is left over by the early birds. You can buy your tickets via the airline's website or through a booking agent such as ticketsasa.

Remember to pay for any luggage you plan to to check in as it's more expensive to pay at the airport as you check in for your flight. These bags have weight limits so be sure to confirm as you make your payments.

Pack your bags

D-day is here and it’s time to pack your bags. There are two types of luggage; hand luggage that is typically a carry on bag that you take with you into the cabin and your checked luggage which is stored in the plane’s cargo hold. Most airlines allow passengers to board with one carry on bag containing a few items they may need during the flight.

Carry on bags are allowed to hold up to 100ml containers. Anything more and this has to go into your checked in luggage. Where possible, store all your containers in a clear plastic bags to give security personnel an easier time during screening.

Pack only what you need, no more. Its likely you’ll shop where you are going and you’ll benefit from the additional space.

Check In & Arrival

Most airlines allow you to check in online, so you don’t have to arrive 2 hours before the flight’s departure for the manual process. However, as a first timer, you are advised to go early. If you taking off from a particularly busy airport such as the JKIA, there’s a chance they’ll be queues for boarding passes or worse, you could get lost and miss your flight.

Once you get to the check-in desks, you’ll be required to show your ticket and identification. Your luggage will then be weighed and tagged. Any extra fees can be paid here and you’ll be issued with a boarding pass.

You’ll then proceed to security with screening machines. You will be required to take off any metallic objects before you can pass. Your luggage will also be placed in bins on conveyor belts that will be X-rayed

Taking to the skies

Once you are through security, find your gate and listen out for an announcement for boarding. Sometimes there are flight delays, but hopefully you won’t suffer through this. If this happens, don’t panic, plug in some earphones and play some music, but not too loud. You need to hear when your flight is ready to depart.

Once you board, find your seat as indicated on your boarding pass. A flight attendant will take you through the safety drill and once everyone is on board, your flight will take off. Electronic devices must be switched off during take off. If you get air sick, don’t panic, bags are provided to help you breathe and ease any discomfort.

Cheap flights don’t offer free meals, however they do have some for sale. Long haul flights offer in-flight entertainment however, with shorter flights, you have to find ways to entertain yourself, so make sure books, music or a laptop are part of your carry on luggage. Staring out your window or a quick nap are perfectly acceptable time fillers.

Landing & Arrival

Landings are very similar to take offs - switch off your devices, fasten your seatbelts and brace for inertia as your plane breaks. Once the flight comes to a halt, exit the plane and find the baggage claim area. Your checked in luggage should be on a conveyor belt. This may take time and if yours doesn’t show up, please notify the airline immediately so they can begin tracing it. Once you pick up your luggage you are free to explore your destination.

For a first-time flyer, air travel can be challenging, but hopefully, these tips help you along the way. Feel free to comment below with any questions you may have.

Twakutakia safari njema. Happy flying!

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