How to Steps for Riding a Plane for the First Time

Flight attendants will be present to answer questions and provide food and drink.
Flight attendants will be present to answer questions and provide food and drink. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

A bit of preparation can make a big difference to your enjoyment and comfort when traveling by airplane. If you’re a first time air traveler, keep in mind that while you’ll be doing little more than sitting once the plane is in the air, there are a few steps you can take to make sure the hours you spend in-flight pass comfortably and smoothly.

Choose the seat best suited to your preferences. Many airlines will ask for your seat preference at the time of issuing your boarding pass. There are positive and negative aspects to all three seating options. The window seat allows you the best view of the land or seascape below, but makes getting in and out of your row more difficult. The aisle seat affords greater ease of mobility, but obstructs the window view and subjects you to aisle traffic such as food carts and people going to and from the bathroom. Middle seats lessen the negative aspects of window and aisle seats, but often place you between two other passengers which can cut down on your personal space.

Dress properly. Even if you are leaving from Arizona in the middle of August, the interior of the airplane is climate controlled and can get quite cool. It’s a good idea to bring along a light jacket or sweater that you can easily put on or take off. For the same reason, it’s best to wear pants as opposed to shorts or a skirt. Keep in mind that you may be sitting for extended periods of time; wear non-restricting, comfortable clothes. Also, while wearing slip-on shoes isn’t mandatory, it might be helpful. You’ll need to remove your shoes in U.S. airport security stations and you can slip off your shoes during the plane ride for comfort.

Provide for your in-flight entertainment. Depending on start and stop points, you could be sitting for many hours at a time, especially on overseas flights. Many airlines provide free movies for you to watch, but it’s a good idea to bring along some other forms of entertainment as well. An interesting book can provide hours of entertainment. Puzzles, electronic games and music are also solid standbys to break up the monotony.

Pack necessary or helpful items if you’re bringing a carry-on bag. Once the flight is in the air there is no way to access checked baggage, so make sure to carry on any necessary items. Items to bring include medications; contact lens solution and equipment; gum or candy to ease ear-popping during takeoffs; diapers, if traveling with a baby; and a pen to fill out visa forms or anything else you might need during your journey. Some items are restricted, so check the TSA website ( for guidelines before you pack.

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