Tips for flying

Prepare carefully before your travel to avoid incomfortness or mistakes. Below are some advices that you should keep in mind

Before leaving

To save time, please ensure that you pack only what is absolutely necessary for your trip as having really bulky or plenty of luggage can cause a security hassle, as well as induce additional, avoidable costs.

Most airlines/flights allow you to bring your own food. If you have a feeling food isn’t going to be available, tasty or will cost you too much, consider bringing your own home made meals (or snacks). And your airport terminal may offer light meals/packaged sandwiches to carry on your flight. Ask the agent at the airline ticket counter if they’re permitted.

However, if you are traveling internationally (especially to Australia, New Zealand or the U.S.) and you still have any “fresh” food (purchased/ carried-on or even part of an in-flight meal, e.g., fruit) that is not fully consumed when your flight is done, you must declare it, or you may face a significant fine. Note that you may not bring any liquids more than 3 ounces, but after check-in you may purchase non-achoholic liquids.


Check-in for domestic flights can usually be done on the airline website up to 24 hours in advance of departure. If you have no baggage you can just proceed directly to your gate and flight with your printed boarding pass. However, some carriers insist that they inspect and verify your travel documents before allowing you to go through security, do this but there is usually a special lane provided for you. If you have baggage, drop it at the bag drop lane. Removing old tags from your bag before proceeding to the bag drop will speed up this process and avoid redirection.

If you can’t check-in online, the check-in kiosks at the airport are much the same, and issue a boarding pass for you. You then need to go to the bag drop if you have more than carry on luggage.

If you have to check-in manually, be prepared for longer queues. Have your documentation ready before you get to the counter. If other methods of check-in are made available, avoid using the traditional check-in counters unless you have special requests. Some carriers already charge a fee for using traditional check-in counters.


The order of boarding may be specified by the gate attendant when the time comes; often:

  1. Passengers in First class
  2. Passengers with special needs (such as physically handicapped, elderly and those with young children)
  3. Passengers in Business Class and those passengers holding top tier cards of an airline alliance’s Frequent Flyer program
  4. All other passengers

Budget airlines often board passengers who have paid extra for priority boarding first, followed by those at the back of the plane.

When no order for boarding is given it may help if those seated at the back were to board first, but this doesn’t usually happen, and aisle blockages are common. To estimate where your seat is, check your airline’s website for seat maps or ask staff at the gate. Regardless of the boarding order given, you are always free to remain in the boarding lounge until the final call for the plane. If you choose to spend the least time possible in a cramped aircraft cabin, just wait in the boarding lounge until you see the last person at the gate, and join the end of the queue. Just remember, the boarding gates close 10-15 minutes before departure and no announcements will be made outside the gate area.


Passing immigration booth can take long time. Have your documents ready (passport, visa if required, completed immigration/customs arrival card, onward/return ticket and hotel documents), and listen carefully to official instructions. Officials might require a photo or fingerprints.

Baggage claim

After your flight, you’ll get your bags after your leave the plane (on domestic flights) or after you clear immigration (on international flights). Note that you don’t need to go through baggage claim if you only brought in your carry-on or hand luggage or nothing or in other cases your bags are delivered to the place that you’ll stay. After your flight, your flight attendant or captain may tell you where you can get your bags.


Some airports have duty-free shops just before the customs station.

Customs procedures vary by country. Some countries (e.g. the United States, Canada, Australia) require travellers to fill out a customs form and submit the form to a customs officer, who then may conduct an inspection of the traveller’s bags. Some countries (e.g. most European countries) have no customs form, instead making travellers to walk through one of two parallel passageways (“channels”): nothing to declare (green channel), or goods to declare (red channel). Some EU airports have an additional blue channel for intra-EU arrivals. Customs officers may conduct random spot checks on travellers regardless of the channel used.

Goods that need to be declared include alcohol and tobacco products exceeding the personal duty-free limit, overseas purchases exceeding a certain limit, currencies above a certain amount, certain food products, and prohibited or restricted items.

Whether you fill out a customs form or walk through one of the channels, you are making a legal declaration. When in doubt, always declare the item in question and a customs officer will be able to advise you. Failure to declare or making an incorrect declaration is an offence. In mild cases this may lead to confiscation of the item and/or an on-the-spot fine; in more serious cases this may lead to an arrest and/or a notice to appear in court.

Flying with children

Children can get restless and irritable while flying and in airports. There are strategies you can follow to ensure your children enjoy the trip.

  • Arrange entertainment. The best way is to bring a portable media player, books, or anything else they can use to stay occupied with themselves. Be creative. Phones, iPods and PSPs also play video these days, and are much easier to carry than a DVD player and DVDs. Kids don’t seem to mind the fact that the screen is 1″ square, and the batteries last far longer than a DVD player for a longer flights.
  • Have something to suck on while ascending and descending. Don’t give it to the child when you get onto the plane – wait until you leave the runway, or it will be finished before you take off. Similarly, wait until well into the descent. During descent, you can also show them how to hold their nose, close their lips, and try to exhale; this works very well, and can be easily learned.
  • Bring favorite snacks for fussy eaters. If children don’t like the airplane food and get hungry, irritability can increase.
  • Aim for a window seat for the child, and sit by the window at the airport. Airports are a hive of activity, usually enough to keep any child occupied for a little while.
  • Get an airport book. There are many picture books for young children that name the many things at the airport. For older children at a large airport, an airplane identification chart can pass some time.

Consider safety. If you are traveling with a child who is less than three, have them sit on an approved child carrier, not on your lap. In the unlikely event of an emergency, a lap child may impede your ability to brace. Be aware of whether there is an oxygen mask for infants on the aircraft/row.

Anticipate delays. Even the shortest flights can be delayed, involving additional time both in the terminal and on the aircraft. Ensure you have sufficient food, clothes, nappies, entertainment, to avoid turning a couple of hours delay into a nightmare.