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How to Board a Plane

Two Parts:Navigating the AirportBoarding the Plane

Airports can be stressful, so it's helpful to know how to board a plane efficiently. Grab your ticket, ID, and passport (if necessary). Get through security. Once through security, find your gate. Wait for boarding to begin. This usually happens 30 minutes before scheduled departure. Check your ticket to find your gate number. If you have a gate number, low numbers board first while higher numbers board last. If you or someone you are traveling with is very young, elderly, or a veteran, you may usually board first, regardless of your gate number. First, business, and priority classes always board before coach.

Part 1
Navigating the Airport

  1. Image titled Board a Plane Step 1
    Print your boarding pass and check your luggage. Although many airlines allow you to check in and print your boarding pass online (if you’re not checking luggage), you can also choose to do so in person at the airport. Enter the airport in the section of your airline carrier, and locate their counter. When you get to the front desk, simply tell them your name and give them ID, and they should automatically print your boarding pass and ask about check luggage.
    • If you have multiple flights due to layovers, ask the attendant to print your boarding passes for all flights. Some do this automatically, but it is good to ask if they don’t.
    • Checked luggage must typically weigh less than 50lbs and costs about $25 to start. This varies from airlines to airlines though, so check your requirements online.
    • If you don’t want to worry about checking bags, you are allowed two carry-on items for free: one that goes under the seat in front of you, and one stored in the bins above your seat. Ask the attendant if your bags are small enough to bring as carry-ons.
    • If you print your boarding pass online and are not checking luggage, you can bypass stopping by the airlines counter.
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    Head to security. If you have your boarding pass in hand and your carry-on luggage prepared, you can head to security. Have both your boarding pass out and a form of ID - either your driver’s license or your passport (it must be your passport if you’re heading out of the country). A TSA agent will check your boarding pass to your ID, and then you will go through the security check. All of your belongings will need to be placed in bins and sent through the x-ray.
    • Airports are very picky about security, but they will also be very vocal about it. Check for signs about what to do in order to successfully pass through security, and if you’re still not sure ask someone for help.
    • Liquids and laptops must be in their own bins separate from other items.
    • Some security checkpoints require you to remove your shoes and jackets; look for signs to see if your airport does as well.
    • A TSA agent will guide you through the process if there happens to be an issue with something in your luggage or on your person.
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    Find your gate/terminal. Get your bags re-packed and put your shoes back on so that you can go wait for your plane in the correct terminal! Check your boarding pass for your terminal (typically a letter) and your gate (a number). There should be plenty of signs directing you to this area, but if you can’t seem to locate your gate and terminal, simply ask a worker for help.
    • If your boarding pass does not have the terminal, find a monitor with the flight schedules and check that instead.
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    Hang out and wait for your plane. It’s always good to arrive to the airport early so that you have time before boarding the plane, just in case you need it. Run to the bathroom, grab something to eat, or use your last few minutes of freedom to connect to the airport wifi. Boarding the plane typically occurs half an hour before takeoff, so you may have plenty of time to kill.
    • Be careful not to stray too far from your gate so that you don’t miss an important announcement about your flight or early boarding opportunities.
    • If you want, you can speak to a flight attendant at the counter of your gate about changing your seats. This is the only opportunity you have to grab a different seat or to upgrade to business or first class.[1]

Part 2
Boarding the Plane

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    Wait for the announcement to board. About half an hour prior to takeoff, the flight attendant will announce the boarding time. Boarding is done in sections, either by group/sections (designated with a letter) or by rows/seats. Check your boarding pass to see if you belong to a group, and if not, wait for your row or a section of rows to be called.
    • First class always boards the plane first, followed by business class and people with disabilities or infants.
    • Although it is not always the case, it may be beneficial to try to snag a place in line early on so that there is still room in the overhead bins for your luggage. Otherwise, if storage space runs out your bags will have to be checked.
  2. Image titled Board a Plane Step 6
    Get your boarding pass checked. After waiting in line for boarding, there will be a flight attendant next to the entrance waiting to check your boarding pass. If you are flying internationally, you will need to show your passport again at this point. Keep your boarding pass out after having it checked, as you may need to show it to an additional flight attendant on the plane.
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    Enter the aircraft. There is typically a buildup of passengers after the boarding pass check, so you may have to wait in line again before boarding the plane. Check your seat to make sure you are headed in the right direction, and keep a lookout for your row number. If you’re in a large plane, you may need assistance from a flight attendant in finding your seat.
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    Stow your carry-on items. When you have located your seat, place your smaller bag on your chair, and look for available space in the overhead bins for your larger carry-on. This isn’t always the easiest task, so turn to a flight attendant for assistance in searching or placing your bag if necessary. When you’re finally able to get in your seat, place your smaller carry-on under the seat in front of you.
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    Get settled in. You’re all done! Now it’s time for you to sit back and relax while you are carried away to your destination in luxury. During the flight you will be offered a free drink and sometimes food, depending on the carrier/length of the flight. If needed, there are restrooms in the front and back of the plane. Any other questions can be directed towards flight attendants.[2]

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