Tips for First-time Flyers (and Others) Flying in 2021

by Veronica Baxter
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first time flyers

Are you going to be one of the first-time flyers in 2021? Whether you are young and flying for the first time or traveling as an adult, there are some things you should know about commercial flights. This post will cover the things you need to prepare for domestic as well as international flights.

By the end of this post, you’ll be indistinguishable from a seasoned flyer!

Can You Travel without COVID Vaccination?

Editor’s Note: Flight guidelines and rules are changing all the time locally, nationally and internationally. Please continue to check with your airline carrier for the most up-to-date information.

You may be wondering where the CDC stands on air travel and vaccinations. Many Americans aren’t aware that you can travel domestically without proof of COVID vaccination. Regardless of whether a passenger is vaccinated or not, all travelers must wear face masks for the duration of the flight. Despite the recent lifting of CDC guidelines for vaccinated people, masks are still federally required on public transit.

The main difference between how vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers are treated is in the recommendations for what a traveler should do after they arrive at their destination. Unvaccinated travelers should monitor for symptoms and self-isolate for 7-days in addition to seeking a COVID test. Again, this will vary from destination to destination.

What About International Travel?

Traveling internationally is a bit more complicated for first-time flyers — and everyone else. Due to the pandemic, there is a messy web of travel restrictions between various countries. Some have entirely restricted travel, except in the most limited circumstances, while others are completely open.

It is essential to know the COVID travel procedures and restrictions of your destination country. You do not want to be sent back home because you failed to obtain a negative test result or made some other mistake.

first-time flyers

(Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay)

Check Your Airline’s Luggage Restrictions

Depending on your itinerary, plane rides can be expensive purchases. Even a short domestic flight will charge you extra if you exceed their luggage allowance or try to check an overweight bag. You should visit your airline’s website to get a thorough understanding of how much you should pack.

Though specifics vary from airline to airline, most allow one checked bag that doesn’t exceed 50 lbs and two carry-ons. One can be a smaller rolling suitcase, and the other should be a backpack or purse. If what you are bringing doesn’t fit these restrictions, then you may have to pay extra to check any bags deemed to be too large.

What You Bring Also Matters

It’s a good idea to check your airline’s website for what you can — and cannot — bring aboard. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many procedures for the airline industry. Despite this, there are still federal restrictions on the amount and types of materials you can bring onboard. Because of the pandemic, the TSA has increased the amount of hand sanitizer a traveler can bring in their carry-on from 3.4 ounces up to 12 ounces. However, other liquids are still limited to 3.4 ounces.

You may bring prescription medications in your carry-on, but you might have to provide proof that you are truly prescribed the medication. Usually, this evidence is made apparent on the medicine container; however, keeping the paper script with you is the safest bet to avoid issues.

Get to the Airport Early!

If you are traveling during peak travel season, then you need to prepare to wait. The general rule of thumb is that you should get to the airport two hours early for domestic flights and three for international travel. Depending on the season and time of your departure, you could be waiting in line for a while, or you may get lucky and breeze through security checkpoints and luggage check-in.

Wear Comfortable Clothes and Easy-to-Remove Shoes

The longer the flight, the more the need to dress to impress diminishes. Complicated and uncomfortable outfits will only wear on your nerves and make you miserable. Save your Sunday best for the checked luggage.

You should also wear easy-to-remove shoes because the TSA will be inspecting them. Avoid shoes with laces and complicated fasteners. This will reduce the time you need to wait in line.

Travel Light, Plan Ahead and Reduce Your Stress

The main takeaway here for first-time flyers is to bring the bare minimum. Depending on where you are traveling, toiletries and other personal items can be purchased at your destination. There isn’t a need to bring your entire medicine cabinet, wardrobe, and entertainment system on your flight.

You need to know the COVID rules and restrictions enforced at your destination. Also, remember, masks are a must. Comfortable clothes are the best defense against irritability on long flights, and keep in mind that some airlines have suspended alcohol sales because of fussy and disruptive passengers. If you need a drink to help you through the flight, make sure you hit up the airport bar beforehand!

Relax and Enjoy the Flight

Once you’re in the air, settle in, and take a moment to congratulate yourself. Soon enough, you’ll be able to advise first-time flyers yourself!

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-All photos as credited. Cover photo courtesy of Pixabay.

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