Before setting out on my first solo adventure, I had always relied on other people to navigate airports for me. So, when I booked flights for my solo trip, it suddenly dawned on me that I had no clue how airports worked. This might sound silly to frequent travelers, but the thought of getting lost and just a genuine fear of the unknown left me feeling really nervous! I’m sure there must be other people out there who are also nervous about travelling for the first time for similar reasons, so I’ve written this guide on how to navigate an airport. After taking countless flights since that first solo trip, I feel like I know the steps of getting through airports like the back of my hand. So, without further ado, here are the steps for getting through immigration, checking in and finding your gate so you can successfully navigate airports for the first time!
1.As you enter the airport, you may need to pass through some sort of security and/or present your flight details.
2. Once your in the airport the first thing to do is check in (unless you’ve done that online and are taking carry-on luggage only). Look for a screen or board that lists flights and scan for your flight number (this is on your booking confirmation). Next to your flight number will be the number of your check-in counter.
3. Proceed to your check-in counter and line up. Remember to have your passport and booking confirmation ready. This is where you will receive a boarding pass and drop your bags if you are carrying check-in luggage.
4. Once you’ve checked in, it’s time to pass through immigration. You may need to fill out a departure card depending on the country you’re in. There will usually be desks with forms to complete before you line up.
5. There will probably be different lines for citizens of the country and foreigners. Queue in the line that applies to you and have your passport and boarding pass handy. Hand these to the immigration official and continue on to the duty free area. This is a great place to waste time (and money) if you’re early for your flight!
Finding Your Gate
6. After wasting enough time sampling duty free perfumes, you can head to your gate for departure. But first, don’t forget to grab some snacks for the flight.
7. To find your gate, look for another screen/board with flights listed. Scan for your flight number and the gate number will be listed next to it. Your gate number may also be listed on your boarding pass.
Getting on the Plane
8. At the gate, flight attendants will call groups of seat numbers to board. Pay attention to which numbers they call to ensure a smooth and quick boarding process.
9. Present your boarding pass to the flight attendant at the gate.
10. It’s finally time to get on the plane! Follow the directions based on your seat number to make sure you board the plane in the right area. Show your boarding pass to another flight attendant who will point you in the direction of your seat.
And that’s it, easy peasy!