Airport Tips for International Flights

You took the plunge and finally booked that international trip. Congratulations! But, while you’re packing, you realize you have no idea what to expect at the airport. Here are a few tips to get you from your front door to your seat on the plane as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Show up early. The airport can be very confusing and rather busy. Plan for waits at the ticket counter, long lines at security check, and a long trek to your gate. Most airlines suggest arriving at the airport 3 hours before an international flight and require passengers be at the boarding gate 30 minutes before boarding. This might sound overwhelming, but if you allow yourself plenty of time, you’ll be able to keep your cool through the entire process.

Pay attention to your flight gate and time. You checked in online, printed your boarding pass, and made sure to double-check the flight time and gate. Although it’s written in ink, that doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. Things change, and quite frequently. When you clear security, check the departing flights monitor to see if anything has been updated. You don’t want to waste time heading to the wrong gate only to realize you need to be on the other side of the terminal. You’ll also want to check the departing time often, as there could be delays, or worse, a cancellation. If available, I suggest downloading the airlines app to your phone. Most will email you flight updates or, even better, send you texts or notifications instantly.

Be organized. There are several points, from the ticket counter to your gate, where you will need to show your ticket and passport. Make it easy on yourself and designate a specific pocket in your carryon for those items or get a small travel case to keep everything handy. This will save you wasted time and stress trying to gather everything together and the security personnel, your fellow travelers, and your nerves will thank you. You also might want to keep a pen with your documents as well. It will come in handy when filling out customs paperwork as airlines usually don’t have many to hand out.

Pay attention to the local time. Many flights to international destinations include a layover. This can be a blessing in disguise because now you have the opportunity to explore someplace new, even if it’s just marveling at the view or checking out the gift shop. But, the time zone may have changed during your flight and, instead of having 4 hours to explore, you might only have one. Be sure to keep this in mind so you’re not sitting down for a meal when you should be boarding your flight.

Stay hydrated, be comfortable. You’ve successfully made it through the airport and have settled into your seat on the plane. Well, your journey has only just begun. Now you need to focus on having a comfortable flight. Most likely your flight will be several hours long, so wear something that breathes and you can feel relaxed in. Also, skip the alcohol and opt for water to stay hydrated. Flying can really dehydrate you, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of agua before, during, and after your flight. It will also help prevent jet lag!