How to prepare for an airplane trip

Table of contents:

How to prepare for an airplane trip
How to prepare for an airplane trip

Traveling by plane is an experience that can be both exciting and stressful. Even if you don't have a phobia of airplanes, the thought of forgetting an important item or going through screening can be scary. In fact, airport security is increasingly being reinforced by the implementation of numerous measures. Some countries such as the United States have particularly strict regulations on this matter, but the rules are practically the same at the busiest airports in the world. To travel in complete serenity, take note of the formalities to be accomplished and the constraints to be respected.


Part 1 of 4: Prepare your luggage

Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 1
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 1

Step 1. Choose your luggage

Before thinking about packing your luggage, you have to choose the right suitcase. Manufacturers compete in imagination to offer light, strong, practical suitcases of all sizes. Take into account the length of your trip, the items you need to pack and the constraints of your travel company. Hand luggage, intended to be stored in the cabin, is essential for all your trips. In some cases, the handbag is allowed in addition to the cabin baggage. In others, it must be stowed in the luggage. For a long stay, checked baggage may be necessary.

  • Travel companies impose rules regarding the size and weight of luggage. The latter is generally limited to 20 kg or 23 kg for hold baggage and 12 kg per cabin baggage. Systematically check this information with your company, at the risk of having to pay a supplement if the maximum authorized weight is exceeded.
  • Note that some items can only be transported in the hold and therefore prohibited in the cabin.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 2
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 2

Step 2. List the items that may be regulated

Several categories of objects are subject to more or less strict regulations. In each category, certain items are prohibited in the cabin and in the hold or only prohibited in the cabin. To avoid disappointment, check with your travel company or on the airport website what you can and cannot take with you.

  • Solid food products are not systematically allowed on board.
  • Liquids, broadly understood, are strictly regulated. They are in most cases prohibited, unless purchased in duty free.
  • Sports equipment is generally prohibited in the cabin and considered as special baggage.
  • Work tools are prohibited in the cabins.
  • Self-defense items such as batons and anti-aggression sprays are prohibited in the cabin.
  • Pointed, sharp or otherwise dangerous objects cannot be transported in the cabin.
  • Lighters.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 3
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 3

Step 3. Check with your airline for the list of items prohibited or regulated in the cabin

The rules differ slightly from company to company, but they are very similar. You will find on the site of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC), attached to the Ministry of the Environment, the general list of products prohibited in the cabin and in the hold.

Liquids must be transported in containers smaller than 100 ml, themselves placed in a transparent bag. This rule applies to hygiene items such as shampoos and toothpaste, but also to non-solid foods such as sauces and jams. This rule is less strict for products needed on board such as medicines or products for babies

Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 4
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 4

Step 4. Don't burden yourself

Even if you are far-sighted, there is no point in carrying your entire wardrobe. Take only what will be useful to you and limit your clothes to a few pieces that you will associate differently. The ideal is to fill your luggage to three quarters of its capacity. This gives you the assurance of not exceeding the maximum authorized weight and of being able to bring back your memories. There is little room in a hand baggage and you must anticipate the obligation of having to store your handbag in it. If you are loaded or if you want to carry prohibited items in the cabin, opt for a larger baggage to be stowed in the hold. Note, however, that this may cost you additional fees.

  • Do not load your hand luggage. If there are any items sticking out, it may be refused, forcing you to remove or rearrange your items. In the worst case, you will have to buy another suitcase or leave your baggage at the airport without insurance to be able to collect it on your return.
  • If your cabin baggage is not suitable, you will have to check it in the hold and pay extra. Some companies charge the excess per piece of baggage or per kilogram, which can be particularly expensive. Do your research before packing your suitcase.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 5
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 5

Step 5. Properly store liquid products in your carry-on baggage

Liquids and aerosols, potentially explosive, are subject to very strict regulations. To avoid wasting time during security checks and to make sure you leave with all your items, pack your sensitive products properly.

  • Vials and other containers must have a maximum capacity of 100 ml. Be aware that if you transport less than 100 ml of product in a container with a larger capacity, it will be detained by the security services. All liquid products must be stored in a resealable transparent plastic bag 20 cm on the side and with a capacity limited to 1 l. One bag per passenger is allowed.
  • If you are carrying liquids in containers larger than 100 ml, you must store them in checked baggage. It is not necessary to place them in a bag, but it is recommended to protect your other items.
  • Medicines, products for medical use and food for children and babies are authorized, provided that they can be justified at any time.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 6
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 6

Step 6. Roll your clothes into a tight cylinder

Several techniques allow you to store your clothes while optimizing space. Rather than folding them, roll up your pants, t-shirts, and other clothing. For items that are more likely to wrinkle, you can lay them out in your suitcase. If necessary, use a cover.

Rolling your clothes also avoids wrinkling them. To save extra space, you can wrap several items of clothing together

Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 7
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 7

Step 7. Organize your suitcase by arranging your items from heaviest to lightest

Place your heaviest and bulkier items such as your shoes at the bottom of your luggage. Then lay out your previously rolled clothes, starting with the heavy ones such as pants, jeans and sweaters. Finish with the lightest items. Protect your most fragile items by placing them in the center of the suitcase.

  • This will prevent crushing and wrinkling your clothes. If your shoes or coat are essential, you can wear them during your trip, which will save you space in your luggage.
  • Store your hygiene products and other everyday accessories so that they are as accessible as possible. You can slide them to the side of the luggage or put them on top of the last row of clothes. If you are asked to do so at the airport, you can easily remove them from your baggage.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 8
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 8

Step 8. Fill empty areas with less fragile objects

For example, you can slip your socks or tights into your shoes. Insert objects between your clothes, making sure to protect them if necessary.

Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 9
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 9

Step 9. If you have checked baggage, pack some extra clothes in your hand baggage

Having a change of clothes and a sample of your essentials in your carry-on is always helpful. Indeed, if your checked baggage is lost or redirected, you will always have a few items at your disposal.

  • Take this precaution if your trip involves connections. You will thus have something to refresh yourself while waiting to collect your suitcase.
  • In addition to a change of clothes, bring a toiletry bag containing your toothbrush, a small bottle of toothpaste, deodorant and soap. Be sure to follow the safety rules for transporting liquids in the cabin.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 10
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 10

Step 10. Use the outside pockets of your luggage wisely

Do not fill them with too large objects. In fact, your baggage may then no longer correspond to the authorized size.

Reserve the side or front and back pockets of your luggage for storing your books, brochures and other thin items

Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 11
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 11

Step 11. Do not lock your carry-on baggage with a padlock

This will make it easier for you to open your bag if an agent asks you to. For checked baggage, you can use a padlock. However, be aware that the airport declines all responsibility if your baggage is damaged, lost or delayed. In the event of a problem, you must submit a complaint to the travel company.

If you are using a padlock and heading to the United States or Canada, use a padlock approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the United States Transportation Security Agency. Indeed, US customs officials are authorized to open suitcases and have a special key for TSA-approved padlocks. If the padlock does not comply with American regulations, it may be destroyed without the possibility of compensation

Part 2 of 4: Completing the formalities at the airport

Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 12
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 12

Step 1. Register

This is a confirmation of your seat, which you can optionally choose depending on availability. If you have baggage to hold, go to the check-in counter of your travel company to return your bag. Most companies offer online check-in for passengers and some close it up to an hour before take-off. You can carry out these procedures remotely on the company's website, on its application downloadable on your phone or on a terminal at the airport.

Remote recording is a real time saver. In fact, if you have no baggage in the hold, you can go directly through the various controls and go to the boarding lounge

Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 13
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 13

Step 2. Print your boarding pass

Remote check-in gives you the option of receiving your boarding pass by email. You can then print it on a sheet of A4 paper or save it to your phone. It is thus scanned directly by the boarding agent, which saves time. If in doubt, it is best to print your card.

You can carry out these formalities directly at the airport by going to your airline's check-in counter. The agent will then give you your boarding pass

Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 14
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 14

Step 3. Prepare your identity papers

If you are traveling to a country of the European Union, more specifically the Schengen area, your valid identity card is sufficient. If you are traveling to a country that does not belong to this space, you must bring a valid passport and possibly a visa. Find out more on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • If you are traveling to France, any official identity document bearing a photograph may be accepted. As such, you can present your identity card, passport, driving license or residence permit if you are a foreigner.
  • If you are going to an overseas department or territory, your identity card is sufficient. However, bring your passport with you if you are passing through other countries.
  • Some countries not belonging to the Schengen area, such as Turkey or Egypt, only accept the French identity card.
  • Depending on the country, an entry visa may be required.
  • If your identity card has expired, check whether it is affected by the extension of validity provided for since December 2013. If this is the case, be aware that some countries accept identity documents falling within this framework.
  • For minors, an identity document with a photograph is compulsory. Depending on the country, an identity card may be sufficient or a passport may be required. The family record book is insufficient because it does not contain a photograph.
  • The legislation concerning identity documents for minors also applies to babies.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 15
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 15

Step 4. Plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours before take-off

Check your ticket for the scheduled take-off time as well as the boarding time. Generally, boarding begins at least thirty minutes before takeoff. Be careful, because this duration does not include the passage through the security services. Arrive at the airport well in advance to complete all formalities with ease.

  • Travel companies recommend that their passengers arrive at the airport at least 30 to 45 minutes before take-off for domestic flights. For a long-haul flight, it is best to arrive at least three hours in advance.
  • If you must drive to the airport, plan your route and traffic. Check the location of the parking lot in relation to your boarding area, as a shuttle may be required. Find out more on the airport website.
  • If you are departing from a busy airport, plan to arrive earlier. Many flights can depart at the same time, increasing the queues for all services. In addition, attendance varies depending on the time of year, the day of the week or the time of departure. For example, Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays are particularly popular days for travelers.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 16
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 16

Step 5. Prepare to go through security screening

When you arrive at the checkpoint, take out your boarding pass and ID so they can be checked by officers. To pass through the security gates, you must place your hand baggage on the conveyor belt for x-ray scanning. Take out regulated items and place them in plain view so that officers can easily check them.

  • Take out your vials and tubes containing liquids and aerosols. They must be stored in their transparent bag. It can be provided to you at the airport, but this is not systematic.
  • Remove electronic devices such as your phone or laptop from their cases and place them in a prominent place.
  • If you are on treatment, take out your medication and the corresponding prescription.
  • If you have children or infants, take out food and other essentials.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 17
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 17

Step 6. Place your personal effects in the bins provided for this purpose

Remove all objects potentially containing metallic elements. This is important to avoid any incident when you pass through the security gates. Numerous security equipment is in place to control baggage and passengers. To ensure the smooth running of the process, place all items marked on signs or by officers in a bin.

  • Take off your shoes, especially if they are closed-toe shoes such as ankle boots. Plastic slippers can be provided.
  • Put away bulky clothing like your jacket, coat, sweater or scarf.
  • Remove all your accessories such as your belt, hat or sunglasses.
  • Put down your wallet and wallet. If you have any coins in your pants pockets, be sure to remove them. Also take out your keys.
  • Put down your cell phone.
  • Remove all your jewelry, even those that don't seem to contain metal.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 18
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 18

Step 7. Report the transport of any medications and effects for children

If you are undergoing medical treatment or have specific nutritional needs requiring the transport of special foods, tell the officers. Likewise, if you are traveling with children, let them know. Specify the type of food and items you need to take. In all cases, present special products separately, justifying their use.

  • You are authorized to carry the medicines needed for your treatment for the duration of your stay, provided they are intended for personal use. Syrups and other drugs in liquid form are not affected by the regulations on liquids. Cooling gel packs, syringes or inhalers are allowed on board. Be sure to accompany each of your equipment with a medical prescription in your name. Declare the transport of this equipment and medicines to the security officer at the time of screening or to the officer when checking the baggage. To deal with any eventuality, contact your travel company to inquire about any constraints.
  • Regarding food for babies and children, you can take everything you need for the duration of the flight. It can be milk, breast milk, juice, medicine, or food. Product packaging is not restrictive and liquid safety measures do not apply to baby food and drink. Put them in a separate bag and present it to the security officer. Note that you may be asked to taste the products. In the event of refusal, additional checks may be carried out.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 19
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 19

Step 8. Locate your boarding gate

This is shown on your ticket and on display screens throughout the airport terminal. Check them regularly to keep you informed of the status of your flight. Go directly to the boarding gate after going through security and packing your luggage.

The waiting areas near the boarding gates are often fitted out. If necessary, you can cool off, eat or shop

Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 20
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 20

Step 9. Prepare all the items you will need during the trip

In order not to lengthen the boarding process, take out your card and your ID. Introduce them to the receptionist at the door. Take out any accessories that will be useful during the trip before you settle in and place them under the seat in front of you. This precaution avoids blocking the corridors for other passengers and allows smoother boarding.

Part 3 of 4: enjoy the flight time

Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 21
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 21

Step 1. Think about eating yourself

The waiting time before your flight can be long. More or less restaurants depending on the size of the airport are at your disposal. Take the opportunity to buy something to eat and drink. You can also prepare snacks, provided they comply with safety regulations.

  • The catering service on board depends on the company and the type of flight. On short flights, snacks are often chargeable. On so-called low cost flights, the service is generally limited to chargeable drinks. On long flights, the meal is usually included in the price of your ticket, but it is served at specific times.
  • Note that restaurants in airports are sometimes expensive. However, it is important to eat before a flight.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 22
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 22

Step 2. Use your electronics sparingly

Indeed, even if airports are equipped with electrical outlets, they are often taken by storm. This makes it difficult to charge your phone or laptop. To avoid this problem, limit the use of your devices or charge them before leaving.

  • On the plane, passengers must turn off their electronic devices during the take-off and landing phases. During the flight, the devices can be used, provided they are switched to "airplane" mode. It is then not possible to access applications or perform operations that require data transfer.
  • More and more companies are offering the possibility of using WiFi access. The service is often paid or reserved for subscribers of the company. In addition, the connection is sometimes limited. It is therefore best to only use this service if you really need it. For example, if you need to work for a business trip, you might find it useful. If you are traveling for leisure, take advantage of your flight to rest or be entertained.
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 23
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 23

Step 3. Pack something to take care of

For entertainment while waiting for your flight, during a connection or on board the plane, consider bringing a book, magazines, games such as a crossword or a console. You can also do activities with your traveling companions.

Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 24
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 24

Step 4. Take a nap

Airports, like airplanes, are not the most comfortable places to sleep. That said, if your flight is scheduled for early morning, overnight, or if your trip involves connections, a nap at the airport or on the plane can give you some rest while you wait to reach your destination.

Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 25
Travel when Flying on a Plane Step 25

Step 5. Enjoy on-board entertainment

Outside of the take-off and landing phases, you can use your electronic devices. Take the opportunity to watch a movie or a series.

Note that most planes are equipped with screens allowing you to watch movies, listen to music, read newspapers or even get information about your flight. These features may be chargeable depending on the type of flight and your travel company

Part 4 of 4: What to do when you arrive

Step 1. Unfasten your seat belt

Of course, wait for the light signal to go out.

Step 2. Be careful when collecting your carry-on baggage

By opening the compartment, a piece of luggage may fall!

Step 3. Keep your documents handy

If you land in another country, you will need to show your passport, and usually information sheets.

  • As you exit the plane, follow the signs that indicate where customs controls and the baggage claim area are located.
  • Show your passport to an officer responsible for validating your entry into the country.
  • In some countries, it will be necessary to leave your fingerprints, either physically or electronically. Sometimes a photo of your face is taken, so you usually need to remove your glasses if you are wearing them.

Step 4. Collect your luggage

If you have checked baggage, head to the collection area. Sometimes you will have to wait a long time, in some cases they are checked in advance by customs officers and dogs before being made available.

When you get out of the plane, make sure you haven't forgotten anything, as you won't be able to access it

Step 5. Go for the beach

At most airports you will have a bus service at your disposal. If you take a taxi, only choose official taxis. In some cases you have to buy your bus ticket and sometimes get a ticket for an official taxi inside or outside the airport.

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