What to Expect When Flying: Pre-Departure

Welcome to the first in a series of articles detailing what to expect when flying. My aim in this series is to better prepare you for your flight (whether it’s your first flight, or not) by detailing all the events, procedures and noises that you can expect to see or hear. Whereas I will try and include everything, please do not be alarmed if something I do not mention happens on-board. In such a case I recommend that you simply ask a Flight Attendant to explain anything you are unsure of……

So, let’s talk about what to expect before take-off.  

As you arrive at the airport allow yourself plenty of time. Rushing and stressing about making your flight will not help you! There may be queues for check-in and/or security – so you need plenty of time to get through.

Once you are in the departure lounge expect to find plenty of shops. Airports want you to spend money – whether you do or not is entirely dependant on you.

You will also find plenty of places to eat and drink. Feel free to relax over a nice cup of coffee or bite to eat. Try and avoid alcohol though – but if you must, stick to just one.

In most airports you will be able to watch planes come in and out. I recommend that you take a seat somewhere that you can see the action. Allowing yourself to watch aircraft take-off and land safely will confirm to your sub-conscious mind that flying is safe. You will also see first-hand the number of highly trained professionals involved in each aircraft departure.

When your flight is called (don’t miss this!), it’s time to board. Take your time, gather your belongings, and head for the gate.

Depending on the airport, you will either walk across the tarmac to your aircraft, or get on a bus. At larger airports you will walk through a jetbridge which will be attached directly to the aircraft door.

Follow the tips outlined in other articles at this point (i.e. tell the crew you are nervous, and ask to meet the pilots). Then store your carry on luggage in the overhead lockers and take your seat. Fasten your seatbelt in preparation for departure.

Before you boarded the cabin crew would have completed security checks on-board, and ensured all equipment is servicable.

Noises you may hear at this point include bags being loaded beneath you which (depending on the size of the aircraft) can sound quite loud. The baggage handlers may be directly below you, and you may even hear them talking.

The aircraft may also be in the process of being refuelled at this point. Once this is completed, if you are sat near the cockpit door you will see the refueler go into the cockpit as the captain will need to sign for the fuel (it has to be paid for unfortunately!). Many people mistake the refueler for an engineer and start to think there is a problem – so now you will not make this mistake.

To be continued tomorrow…….. To see all articles in this series, click here.

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