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[[Image:Lufthansa 737 interior.jpg|thumb|upright=1.3|If only all flights had this much room to spread out!]]
 
Commercial aircraft flight is one of the most common forms of long-distance travel and certainly one of the safest. This is a guide to the standard procedures, rules, and other basics of travelling by air.   
 
Commercial aircraft flight is one of the most common forms of long-distance travel and certainly one of the safest. This is a guide to the standard procedures, rules, and other basics of travelling by air.   
  
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==Planning your trip==
 
==Planning your trip==
[[Image:Lufthansa 737 interior.jpg|thumb|upright=1.3|If only all flights had this much room to spread out!]]
 
 
{{infobox|Flying and climate change|While nearly all forms of transport release greenhouse gases, aircraft are especially notorious offenders with the aviation industry being the fastest-growing contributor to the acceleration of climate change. This is not just due to the vast distances travelled, but because aircraft release greenhouse gases higher in the atmosphere, where their effects are more potent. A one-way flight from London to Singapore releases the equivalent of 4.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person, or about half the average yearly emissions of a person in the UK. Shorter flights have higher emissions than longer ones per km travelled due to the amount of fuel used taxiing, and during take off. (See: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_aviation Environmental impact of aviation on '''Wikipedia''']).
 
{{infobox|Flying and climate change|While nearly all forms of transport release greenhouse gases, aircraft are especially notorious offenders with the aviation industry being the fastest-growing contributor to the acceleration of climate change. This is not just due to the vast distances travelled, but because aircraft release greenhouse gases higher in the atmosphere, where their effects are more potent. A one-way flight from London to Singapore releases the equivalent of 4.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person, or about half the average yearly emissions of a person in the UK. Shorter flights have higher emissions than longer ones per km travelled due to the amount of fuel used taxiing, and during take off. (See: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_aviation Environmental impact of aviation on '''Wikipedia''']).
  
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{{seealso|Avoiding a transit of the United States}}
 
{{seealso|Avoiding a transit of the United States}}
  
Flying from point A to point B often involves a '''connection''' in point C, where you have to disembark, find your connecting flight and climb on board again.  If both the A-C and C-B flights are ''on the same ticket'', the airlines are responsible for broken connections and will (try to) get you on the next flight if you miss your flight.  This may also be the case if you are flying the same airline or airline group (One World, etc) and you have allowed the required connection time between flights.  However, if you're booking your flights ''separately'' or the carriers involved have no interline ticketing agreements, making the connection is '''solely your responsibility'''.  If you are flying on an airline or fare type that doesn't permit last minute changes you may lose your fare when one airline's delay makes you late for the next one.  Paying a little more for a flexible fare on the final connection can not only avoid this risk, but can also let you catch an earlier flight if you make the connection quickly (subject to availability and you may still need to pay for any fare differences).
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Flying from point A to point B often involves a '''connection''' in point C, where you have to disembark, find your connecting flight and climb on board again.  If both the A-C and C-B flights are ''on the same ticket'', the airlines are responsible for broken connections and will (try to) get you on the next flight if you miss your flight.  This may also be the case if you are flying the same airline or airline group (One World, etc) and you have allowed the required connection time between flights.  However, if you're booking your flights ''separately'' making the connection is '''solely your responsibility'''.  If you are flying on an airline or fare type that doesn't permit last minute changes you may lose your fare when one airline's delay makes you late for the next one.  Paying a little more for a flexible fare on the final connection can not only avoid this risk, but can also let you catch an earlier flight if you make the connection quickly (subject to availability and you may still need to pay for any fare differences).
  
 
Airlines may consider a connection as tight as 35 minutes to be valid, and if you don't have to clear customs or exit and re-enter secure zones between flights, and the arrival and departure gates are near each other, this may be reasonable.  However, you can get unpleasant surprises at unfamiliar airports.  For example, your gates could be at opposite ends of the building, or even in separate terminals.  If you're traveling through an airport you don't know well and travel time is not critical, consider allowing '''at least an hour and a half''' to make each connection, particularly if it involves clearing customs (in which case two and a half hours is safer).  If you are not delayed, you can use this slack time to eat at the airport, where the food is likely better and possibly more affordable than what you may (or may not!) get in the air.
 
Airlines may consider a connection as tight as 35 minutes to be valid, and if you don't have to clear customs or exit and re-enter secure zones between flights, and the arrival and departure gates are near each other, this may be reasonable.  However, you can get unpleasant surprises at unfamiliar airports.  For example, your gates could be at opposite ends of the building, or even in separate terminals.  If you're traveling through an airport you don't know well and travel time is not critical, consider allowing '''at least an hour and a half''' to make each connection, particularly if it involves clearing customs (in which case two and a half hours is safer).  If you are not delayed, you can use this slack time to eat at the airport, where the food is likely better and possibly more affordable than what you may (or may not!) get in the air.
  
Many on-line travel Web sites show statistics on how often a given flight arrives on time.  Use this information to help you decide whether to risk problems with tight connections, etc.  Generally, the last flight of the day into a given destination will be delayed more often than earlier flights, as the airlines use that flight to "sweep" travelers whose inbound connecting flights run late.  Of course, the statistics alone won't tell you whether ''your'' particular flight is likely to be delayed, but it's still useful data.
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Many on-line travel arrangers show statistics on how often a given flight arrives on time.  Use this information to help you decide whether to risk problems with tight connections, etc.  Generally, the last flight of the day into a given destination will be delayed more often than earlier flights, as the airlines use that flight to "sweep" travelers whose inbound connecting flights run late.  Of course, the statistics alone won't tell you whether ''your'' particular flight is likely to be delayed, but it's still useful data.
  
When connecting through a country other than your destination, always determine if that country will allow you to walk directly from your arriving flight to your connecting flight (see the "After landing" section below), and whether that country requires you to obtain a transit visa and/or pass through immigration and customs. Some countries, such as the United States and Canada require all passengers to always pass through immigration and customs, even if they are merely transferring between international flights and will not remain in the country. You may find it easier to avoid a connection through such countries, particularly the United States which imposes the same strict requirements for a transit visa as for a tourist visa. Others, such as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Australia require certain nationalities to obtain a visa even if they plan to remain in the sterile area. You are responsible for procuring all the necessary visas before you fly. Request them as early as possible.
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With international connecting flights, check to see if the country you will be making a connection at requires a transit visa to go through their airport. Some countries, such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom require all passengers to go pass through customs and immigration even if they are just transferring between international flights. You may find it easier if you can avoid passing through these destinations, particularly the United States which has the same requirements for a transit visa as for a tourist visa. Others, such as Hong Kong and Australia will require certain nationalities to obtain a visa even if they plan to remain in the sterile area. You are responsible for procuring all the necessary visas before you fly; request them as early as possible.
  
 
===Reservations and ticketing===
 
===Reservations and ticketing===
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===Paper and electronic ticketing===
 
===Paper and electronic ticketing===
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[[File:Turkmenhowayollary ticket.jpg|thumb|Ye olde Turkmenistan Airlines ticket]]
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Most airlines today exclusively use '''electronic tickets''' ('''e-tickets''').  An e-ticket is an electronic record of your booking details which is stored in the airline's computers; you will not receive a paper ticket, which consists of a booklet of flight coupons.  In most cases, an itinerary receipt containing your flight details is prepared and e-mailed or printed for your reference.  The itinerary receipt contains a unique six-character '''Passenger Name Record''' (PNR), which is used to identify your booking.
 
Most airlines today exclusively use '''electronic tickets''' ('''e-tickets''').  An e-ticket is an electronic record of your booking details which is stored in the airline's computers; you will not receive a paper ticket, which consists of a booklet of flight coupons.  In most cases, an itinerary receipt containing your flight details is prepared and e-mailed or printed for your reference.  The itinerary receipt contains a unique six-character '''Passenger Name Record''' (PNR), which is used to identify your booking.
  
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In theory, an e-ticket allows you to just show a valid ID upon check-in, as your name is all the agent needs to access your flight details.  However, for security reasons, some airports require you to show a print-out of the itinerary receipt as proof of your booking before entering the airport and/or upon check-in.  In addition, when travelling to another country, immigration authorities often require proof of onward or return travel.  Moreover, the airline's computer systems are subject to scheduled and unscheduled downtime.  In both cases airline ground staff don't have instant access to passenger bookings and will instead have to rely on paper records and hence process passengers manually.  So always bring a print-out of the itinerary receipt with you for easy reference.
 
In theory, an e-ticket allows you to just show a valid ID upon check-in, as your name is all the agent needs to access your flight details.  However, for security reasons, some airports require you to show a print-out of the itinerary receipt as proof of your booking before entering the airport and/or upon check-in.  In addition, when travelling to another country, immigration authorities often require proof of onward or return travel.  Moreover, the airline's computer systems are subject to scheduled and unscheduled downtime.  In both cases airline ground staff don't have instant access to passenger bookings and will instead have to rely on paper records and hence process passengers manually.  So always bring a print-out of the itinerary receipt with you for easy reference.
  
Due to concerns of credit card fraud, when you purchase e-tickets over the Internet with a credit card, some carriers require you to '''show the credit card''' used to purchase the tickets at the airport or their ticketing office for verification.  Take note of this especially if the credit card holder is not part of the travelling party - they need to see the credit card, not just the authorised signature of the credit card holder.  Failure to do so may lead to re-issue of the ticket with the same (or higher) fare, and refund for the original ticket after many weeks or even months (if refundable; refund fees may apply).  This may be overcome by enrolling your credit card in Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode; contact your bank/credit card company for more information.   
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Due to concerns of credit card fraud, when you purchase e-tickets over the Internet with a credit card, some carriers require you to '''show the credit card''' used to purchase the tickets at the airport or their ticketing office for verification.  Take note of this especially if the credit card holder is not part of the travelling party - they need to see the credit card, not the authorised signature of the credit card holder.  Failure to do so may lead to re-issue of the ticket with the same (or higher) fare, and refund for the original ticket after many weeks or even months (if refundable; refund fees may apply).   
  
 
In the extremely rare event that you are issued with a paper ticket, you '''must''' present it when checking in for your flight. Look after your ticket; you cannot check in without it. If you lose the ticket, expect a lot of paperwork and/or hassles: you may be required to buy another ticket for the flight and have to apply for a refund later, or pay a re-ticketing fee.  Not to mention that some jurisdictions will require you to file a police report.  Hence if you're afraid of losing or forgetting your paper ticket, request for an e-ticket whenever possible.  When you lose or misplace a print-out of the itinerary receipt, you can always freely and easily print another copy out from your email or request the carrier/travel agent to email it to you again.  The person who gets hold of a lost print-out of an e-ticket itinerary receipt cannot use that as it needs to be complemented by a valid and authentic ID at the airport.
 
In the extremely rare event that you are issued with a paper ticket, you '''must''' present it when checking in for your flight. Look after your ticket; you cannot check in without it. If you lose the ticket, expect a lot of paperwork and/or hassles: you may be required to buy another ticket for the flight and have to apply for a refund later, or pay a re-ticketing fee.  Not to mention that some jurisdictions will require you to file a police report.  Hence if you're afraid of losing or forgetting your paper ticket, request for an e-ticket whenever possible.  When you lose or misplace a print-out of the itinerary receipt, you can always freely and easily print another copy out from your email or request the carrier/travel agent to email it to you again.  The person who gets hold of a lost print-out of an e-ticket itinerary receipt cannot use that as it needs to be complemented by a valid and authentic ID at the airport.
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* If anyone in your party is '''handicapped''' in other ways (e.g., mobility, vision), you'll want the airline to know in-advance, preferably as you book your flight.  With notice, they can make appropriate seat assignments, arrange assistance in the terminal, and notify the cabin crew of your needs. Beware: not all airlines are equally accommodating.
 
* If anyone in your party is '''handicapped''' in other ways (e.g., mobility, vision), you'll want the airline to know in-advance, preferably as you book your flight.  With notice, they can make appropriate seat assignments, arrange assistance in the terminal, and notify the cabin crew of your needs. Beware: not all airlines are equally accommodating.
 
* '''If ill''' (especially with anything that might be contagious), you really shouldn't fly.  In the close quarters of a plane, perhaps for hours, with 200 or more people going eventually to countless places, you could start or spread misery, even an epidemic.  You should '''defer travel''' until you have recovered.  If an airline or security agent notices symptoms, you may be interviewed...at worst denied boarding.  Good trip insurance can help with the expense of delayed travel.
 
* '''If ill''' (especially with anything that might be contagious), you really shouldn't fly.  In the close quarters of a plane, perhaps for hours, with 200 or more people going eventually to countless places, you could start or spread misery, even an epidemic.  You should '''defer travel''' until you have recovered.  If an airline or security agent notices symptoms, you may be interviewed...at worst denied boarding.  Good trip insurance can help with the expense of delayed travel.
* If you've had '''surgery''' or a '''plaster cast''' applied within the last 15 days or so, you'd best avoid flying.  Low cabin pressure can cause extremely uncomfortable swelling.  '''Consult your doctor.'''
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* If you've had '''surgery''' or a '''plaster cast''' applied within the last 15 days or so, you'd best avoid flying.  Low cabin pressure can cause extremely uncomfortable swelling.  Consult your doctor.
 
* '''If pregnant''', consult your doctor for your particular circumstances. [http://www.gadling.com/2011/04/27/knocked-up-abroad-second-trimester-travel/  A fair introduction to these travel-in-pregancy issues].  Immigration and airline-specific restrictions may also apply particularly to those in their final weeks of pregnancy.   
 
* '''If pregnant''', consult your doctor for your particular circumstances. [http://www.gadling.com/2011/04/27/knocked-up-abroad-second-trimester-travel/  A fair introduction to these travel-in-pregancy issues].  Immigration and airline-specific restrictions may also apply particularly to those in their final weeks of pregnancy.   
  
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To board your flight, you'll at least need an airline boarding pass, '''paper ticket''' (if you were issued with one), and certainly some form of '''government-issued photo identification''' (perhaps less for toddlers) - check with the carrier you are flying with to find-out acceptable identification.  If your flight (or connecting flight) takes you to other countries, you'll also need a '''passport''', often with an expiration date at least six months after the date you start the trip.  Depending on countries you'll fly to or make connections in, you may need one or more '''visas'''.  Check in advance with your agent or airline as well as the website of the embassy of the countries you wish to visit; without all the necessary documentation, your trip may be at risk.  The credit card used to purchase the tickets may also be required to be presented for verification especially if you booked online, so bring that as well.   
 
To board your flight, you'll at least need an airline boarding pass, '''paper ticket''' (if you were issued with one), and certainly some form of '''government-issued photo identification''' (perhaps less for toddlers) - check with the carrier you are flying with to find-out acceptable identification.  If your flight (or connecting flight) takes you to other countries, you'll also need a '''passport''', often with an expiration date at least six months after the date you start the trip.  Depending on countries you'll fly to or make connections in, you may need one or more '''visas'''.  Check in advance with your agent or airline as well as the website of the embassy of the countries you wish to visit; without all the necessary documentation, your trip may be at risk.  The credit card used to purchase the tickets may also be required to be presented for verification especially if you booked online, so bring that as well.   
  
Countries that do not require visas from your nationality for short visits may require you to apply for some form of electronic travel authorisation.  These countries include Australia (ETA or eVisitor), Canada (eTA), and the United States (ESTA).  You may need to do this days in advance of intended travel.  Without this, your carrier will not accept you for travel.  Qualifying nationals can obtain this directly from the website of the host country's immigration authority.  Unless more information or referrals are needed, the applicant will find out the outcome almost immediately.
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Any authority looking at airline tickets, boarding passes, passports or other identification will examine names carefully. TSA and other security authorities often require that key papers '''precisely reflect your full name'''.  This applies to all persons in your travel group, e.g. spouse, children.  This starts by making sure that whoever books your trip accurately enters each full name on the reservations and later-generated tickets.
 
 
Any authority looking at airline tickets, boarding passes, passports or other identification will examine names carefully. TSA and other security authorities often require that key papers '''precisely reflect your full name''' (middle name or mother's maiden surname is usually optional and for two given names, spaces between them are not needed).  In other words, the name in your boarding pass must precisely match your photo ID.  This applies to all persons in your travel group, e.g. spouse, children.  This starts by making sure that whoever books your trip accurately enters each full name on the reservations and later-generated tickets.
 
  
 
Have '''convincing documentation''' that '''all medications belong to you''', e.g., labelled bottles, copy of the doctor's prescription.  (Take no more than will be needed on your trip.)  If '''any med contains a controlled/narcotic ingredient''', make absolutely sure you will '''not violate any law of any country you'll enter''', even as a ''through flight'' passenger.  This may include having the country's ''written permission'' to carry the medications within its borders.  Otherwise, the '''consequences can be severe''', eg: immediate confiscation, possible imprisonment, and even execution in a few jurisdictions if quantities are substantial.
 
Have '''convincing documentation''' that '''all medications belong to you''', e.g., labelled bottles, copy of the doctor's prescription.  (Take no more than will be needed on your trip.)  If '''any med contains a controlled/narcotic ingredient''', make absolutely sure you will '''not violate any law of any country you'll enter''', even as a ''through flight'' passenger.  This may include having the country's ''written permission'' to carry the medications within its borders.  Otherwise, the '''consequences can be severe''', eg: immediate confiscation, possible imprisonment, and even execution in a few jurisdictions if quantities are substantial.
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For flying, there are two basic types of luggage: ''checked'' and ''carry-on'' sometimes referred to "hold" and "hand" luggage, respectively, even "cabin baggage".  Checked luggage is usually given to airline staff at check-in time and, after electronic or hand screening, transported by airport crew to temporary storage and loaded into the hold of the aircraft.  Luggage limits for both types are discussed below.   
 
For flying, there are two basic types of luggage: ''checked'' and ''carry-on'' sometimes referred to "hold" and "hand" luggage, respectively, even "cabin baggage".  Checked luggage is usually given to airline staff at check-in time and, after electronic or hand screening, transported by airport crew to temporary storage and loaded into the hold of the aircraft.  Luggage limits for both types are discussed below.   
  
Do not carry over your experience of baggage allowance from one carrier to another.  Each carrier has different policies as to how much weight your hand or hold luggage should be (in fact, even within the same carrier the amount of hold luggage allowance allowed depends on the fare or ancillary fee you paid).   
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Do not carry over your experience of baggage allowance from one carrier to another.  Each carrier has different policies as to how much weight your hand or hold luggage should be (in fact, even within the same carrier the amount of hold luggage allowance allowed depends on the fare or ancillary fee you paid). Pay attention to whether personal items (e.g. laptop bags) are counted as hand luggage or in addition to    
  
 
'''Carry-on luggage''' is taken on board the flight with you, eg: a medium backpack or small roll-on suitcase.  The weight and size limits for it can be restrictive and can vary by airline (eg: budget versus major carrier) and size of aircraft.  Some may let you carry little more than a few essentials for comfort and small, easily damaged items.  ''There the challenges start.''
 
'''Carry-on luggage''' is taken on board the flight with you, eg: a medium backpack or small roll-on suitcase.  The weight and size limits for it can be restrictive and can vary by airline (eg: budget versus major carrier) and size of aircraft.  Some may let you carry little more than a few essentials for comfort and small, easily damaged items.  ''There the challenges start.''
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====Weight and Size Limits====
 
====Weight and Size Limits====
* ''Carry-on'' luggage most anywhere: 1 piece (in Europe, maximum weight 7, some airlines 12 kg), maximum size 20x40x55 cm 115 cm in total (9x14x22 inches)...in Europe, often 20 inches length.  
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* ''Carry-on'' luggage most anywhere: 1 piece (in Europe, maximum weight 7, some airlines 12 kg), maximum size 20x40x55 cm (9x14x22 inches)...in Europe, often 20 inches length.  
* Checked luggage on international flights outside the United States: 2 pieces, maximum 23 kg (50 lbs).
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* Checked luggage on international flights outside the United States: 1 piece, maximum 20 kg (44 lbs).
* ''Checked'' luggage on international flights to/from the United States and within the United States: 2 piece, maximum 23 kg or 50 lbs.
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* ''Checked'' luggage on international flights to/from the United States and within the United States: 1 piece, maximum 23 kg or 50 lbs.
  
 
====Checked Baggage Fees====
 
====Checked Baggage Fees====
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==Before you fly==
 
==Before you fly==
{{cautionbox|Whilst airline staff will do their best to help you sort your travel-related issues, please be aware that you have responsibilities as a passenger too.  '''DO NOT ARGUE with staff over issues that you are supposed to be responsible for in the first place.'''  Before you pound your hands on the desk, raise your voice, swear, write a negative review, etc, please ask yourself if you have done all of the following beforehand: <br> *arrived at the airport well before required deadlines <br> *prepared the required travel documents (including registering for Electronic Travel Authority, ESTA, etc) <br> *reviewed your carriers' policies on baggage allowances, allowed items, and packed your baggage accordingly <br><br> Please understand as well that if the carrier makes exceptions or concessions to accommodate you under such circumstances, they may very well be breaching local regulations, and more fundamentally, be inconveniencing or endangering other passengers.}}  
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{{cautionbox|Whilst airline staff will do their best to help you sort your travel-related issues, please be aware that you have responsibilities as a passenger too.  '''DO NOT ARGUE with staff over issues that you are supposed to be responsible for in the first place.'''  Before you pound your hands on the desk, raise your voice, swear, write a negative review, etc, please ask yourself if you have done all of the following beforehand: <br> *planned for a punctual arrival at the airport and worked-out contingency plans in case there unforseen scenarios emerge <br> *have all valid travel documents ready and in order <br> *reviewed your carriers' policies on baggage allowances, allowed items, and packed your baggage according to such <br> Please understand as well that if the carrier makes exceptions or concessions to accommodate you, they may very well be breaching local regulations which could result in severe fines/penalties for them, and more basically inconvenience or endanger other passengers.}}  
  
 
===Reconfirming your flight===
 
===Reconfirming your flight===
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The same cautions apply if you use rail service to reach your airport.  Some airports have such an array of terminals that metro lines, subways or railways may have more than one station.
 
The same cautions apply if you use rail service to reach your airport.  Some airports have such an array of terminals that metro lines, subways or railways may have more than one station.
  
===Punctuality===
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You need to arrive at airports well before your flight as there are a number of procedures you need to complete before boarding: check in, security check, and perhaps immigration control.  You are ultimately responsible for arranging a timely arrival at the airport.    '''DON'T wait until just minutes before the flight's scheduled departure to act'''.  Check-in or baggage drop closes approximately 40-60 minutes before departure and if you have not checked-in by that deadline for whatever reason, you may no longer be accepted for travel.  Conditions affecting ground transport (e.g. heavy traffic, transport strikes, fog) are not valid reasons for missing a flight and expect limited relief from airline staff if these happen.  You should consider these scenarios beforehand.  Moreover, please '''do not argue with staff''' on trivial issues that you were supposed to be responsible for in the first place, particularly punctuality. 
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Airlines will typically have departure boards (displays) indicating a flight's status. The most important status indicators are '''Boarding''' or '''Go to gate''', which is a sign that you should promptly complete check-in and proceed through the security check, and '''Final call''' or '''Last call''', which means that you should board the flight as quickly as possible.
 
Airlines will typically have departure boards (displays) indicating a flight's status. The most important status indicators are '''Boarding''' or '''Go to gate''', which is a sign that you should promptly complete check-in and proceed through the security check, and '''Final call''' or '''Last call''', which means that you should board the flight as quickly as possible.
 
You need to arrive at airports well before your flight as there are a number of procedures you need to complete before boarding: check in, security check, and perhaps immigration control.  You are ultimately responsible for arranging a timely arrival at the airport.    '''DON'T wait until just minutes before the flight's scheduled departure to act'''.  Check-in or baggage drop closes approximately 40-60 minutes before departure and if you have not checked-in by that deadline for whatever reason, you may no longer be accepted for travel.  Conditions affecting ground transport (e.g. heavy traffic, transport strikes, fog) are not valid reasons for missing a flight and expect limited relief from airline staff if these happen.  You should consider these scenarios beforehand.  Moreover, please '''do not argue with staff''' on trivial issues that you were supposed to be responsible for in the first place, particularly punctuality and required documents. 
 
 
It is also important to understand that requesting for check-in, boarding or even departure to be extended by just a few minutes is not a simple matter for airport staff to deal with.  It has wide-reaching implications.  Airport staff need ample time to sort out all issues and paperwork for a particular flight to ensure everything is in order.  Last minute check-ins can even mess-up the flight plan (including amount of fuel required).  That is not all: a few minutes of delay may cause a flight to miss its take-off slot, and it may take some time - ''possibly several hours'' - to secure a new take-off slot.  The airline and/or its ground handling agent face hefty fines and if this habitual, can lose their contract.  All the other passengers who were responsible enough to come to the airport on time will unlikely be happy when any of these will happen.
 
  
 
===Checking in===
 
===Checking in===
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[[File:GeorgeBushIntercontinentalFIDSTerminalB cropped.png|thumb|Departures information displays in Houston]]
 
[[File:GeorgeBushIntercontinentalFIDSTerminalB cropped.png|thumb|Departures information displays in Houston]]
  
Scheduled meals (if any) will often be timed and typed to complement the time zone of the flight's destination.  As a result, first or early servings may not match your departure time.  For flights that promise no food during meal hours, consider buying something at the airport (in the secure area); most lines will allow you to carry it on-board. Beware: the selection at airports may be poor and expensive but considerably more reasonable than what is on-board.
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Scheduled meals (if any) will often be timed and typed to complement the time zone of the flight's destination.  As a result, first or early servings may not match your departure time.  For flights that promise no food during meal hours, consider buying something at the airport (in the secure area); most lines will allow you to carry it on-board. Beware: the selection at airports may be poor.
  
 
On-board meals for some airlines may be brought in from one of its base or hub airports rather than from a local source.  This takes considerable time.  Meals kept too long for any reason may have to be discarded due to safety.  Scheduled meals may then be limited to packaged snacks/cookies and drinks, which is not the fault of the crew.
 
On-board meals for some airlines may be brought in from one of its base or hub airports rather than from a local source.  This takes considerable time.  Meals kept too long for any reason may have to be discarded due to safety.  Scheduled meals may then be limited to packaged snacks/cookies and drinks, which is not the fault of the crew.
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===Boarding time===
 
===Boarding time===
Your boarding ticket specifies '''Boarding time''' -- which is when boarding ''starts'' (not when it ends). Usually the boarding starts even after the printed time, but for short flights at least 30+ minutes before departure...for international flights on large aircraft, sometimes 45+ minutes.  The boarding calls are posted on the flight monitors so keep an eye on them.  '''Oral announcements should NOT always be expected and relied upon'''.
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Your boarding ticket specifies '''Boarding time''' -- which is when boarding ''starts'' (not when it ends). Usually the boarding starts even after the printed time, but for short flights at least 30+ minutes before departure...for international flights on large aircraft, sometimes 45+ minutes.   
  
The gate closes (boarding stops) usually only 10-15 minutes before departure.  No passengers are accepted after this cut off.  Even if you have until 10 minutes before departure to board, be considerate nonetheless to the ground handling staff.  Passengers who do not show up early can cause unnecessary anxiety and concern for the gate crew.  Moreover for security reasons, planes cannot travel with bags of missing passengers and it takes time to reopen the doors, locate the bags and close them again.  As mentioned in the ''Punctuality'' section, all staff work under extremely tight timetables to get the plane out of the gate and into the air on schedule.  Hence, give yourself plenty of time to get to the gate, especially if the airport is large, you are far away from the gate, or you don't know your way around the airport: don't wait until the last minute so that the ground staff can attend to other important matters.
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The gate closes (boarding stops) usually only 10-15 minutes before departure so give yourself plenty of time to get to the gate, especially if the airport is large, you are far away from the gate, or you don't know your way around the airport. Contact your travel agent for advice.
  
 
===Security check===
 
===Security check===
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* Remove items that create bulges from trouser/pant pockets...just an unnecessary way to generate inspector questions.
 
* Remove items that create bulges from trouser/pant pockets...just an unnecessary way to generate inspector questions.
 
* You may be required to show that any electronic device functions.  Make sure their batteries are charged and inserted for a brief demonstration.
 
* You may be required to show that any electronic device functions.  Make sure their batteries are charged and inserted for a brief demonstration.
* You may be subject to a more rigorous security check.  Depending on the country and airport, this can be random or based on some suspicion.  It  can involve luggage search, swabs for explosive chemical traces and/or personal body searches.  Officers may offer an information sheet explaining your rights, but the chance of your reaching your plane without submitting to the check is low. Note: the airport securities in the US and other Western countries have and will  continue to suspect people who are Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, and other minority races as being more suspicious and and may unfairly judge you as more of a risk for illegal activity due to Islamophobia, xenophobia, and past concerns with terrorist attacks. There is not much you can do to curb this bias. Acting suspicious, preventing the airport staff from checking your bags, protesting the strictness of security, and making unsettling jokes will only further perpetuate the stereotype so cooperate with all their instructions and just maybe you will help to change their perception of people of certain races. Also those who wear ethnic clothing may also be targeted for more thorough security checks, again just cooperate and keep your protests to yourself.  
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* You may be subject to a more rigorous security check.  Depending on the country and airport, this can be random or based on some suspicion.  It  can involve luggage search, swabs for explosive chemical traces and/or personal body searches.  Officers may offer an information sheet explaining your rights, but the chance of your reaching your plane without submitting to the check is low.
  
 
After body screening, you ''may'' be told to go with a screener to hand inspect your belongings...usually because electronic screening cannot identify an object.  Otherwise, go to the end of the "line" electronically screening your luggage, etc., claim your possessions and exit "security" into the "airside" terminal.
 
After body screening, you ''may'' be told to go with a screener to hand inspect your belongings...usually because electronic screening cannot identify an object.  Otherwise, go to the end of the "line" electronically screening your luggage, etc., claim your possessions and exit "security" into the "airside" terminal.
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===Before the flight===
 
===Before the flight===
 
* Count the number of seat backs between your seat and the emergency exits, keeping in mind that your nearest exit may be behind you. If you ever need to evacuate an aircraft in an emergency you may need to do it in a darkened cabin that could be full of thick black smoke. If the aisle is full of people you will at least know the number of seats you need to climb over to get out in that one in a million emergency.
 
* Count the number of seat backs between your seat and the emergency exits, keeping in mind that your nearest exit may be behind you. If you ever need to evacuate an aircraft in an emergency you may need to do it in a darkened cabin that could be full of thick black smoke. If the aisle is full of people you will at least know the number of seats you need to climb over to get out in that one in a million emergency.
* Place your phone to in-flight or flight-safe mode.    
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* Switch off your mobile phone ''before'' you board the plane. Using a phone on board while the aircraft is taxiing, climbing or descending is a violation of air travel safety laws; in some countries switching the phone off is ''mandatory'' during the passenger's ''entire stay'' in the aircraft.  Switching the phones off facilitates clear, effective and essential communication between pilots and the air traffic controllers.  The crew will instruct everyone to turn off phones at least before the plane's doors close; if you do not comply you ''will'' be escorted off the plane.  If you need to make a call while at altitude, your aircraft's telephone carrier partner ''may'' provide in-flight service.  Consult your in-flight magazine, especially for details on charges...normally no less than US$5/minute (plus connection charges) even if you are directly above the place you are calling. SMS on these in-seat handsets may also be available.    
 
* Read the emergency instructions and watch the safety briefing even if you have ridden on the airline before as safety features may vary per aircraft and airline. It may be boring but if an emergency happens you will remember what to do, rather than having to read the safety card then and thereby saving precious time.
 
* Read the emergency instructions and watch the safety briefing even if you have ridden on the airline before as safety features may vary per aircraft and airline. It may be boring but if an emergency happens you will remember what to do, rather than having to read the safety card then and thereby saving precious time.
 
* Place anything containing items you'll often use under the seat in front of you to eliminate obstructing the aisle...or if they are small, in the seat pocket facing you.  This will minimize disturbance caused to those sitting in aisle seats.  If you later need the leg/foot room, and overhead space is available, you can then move there what you no longer need.
 
* Place anything containing items you'll often use under the seat in front of you to eliminate obstructing the aisle...or if they are small, in the seat pocket facing you.  This will minimize disturbance caused to those sitting in aisle seats.  If you later need the leg/foot room, and overhead space is available, you can then move there what you no longer need.
 
* Keep within sight anything you put in overhead bins that contains valuables.  Though you may sleep, potential thieves (yes, on flights) usually won't risk your casual glance toward your belongings.  Otherwise put them at your feet.
 
* Keep within sight anything you put in overhead bins that contains valuables.  Though you may sleep, potential thieves (yes, on flights) usually won't risk your casual glance toward your belongings.  Otherwise put them at your feet.
 
* Once seated, and if you have it, use sanitizer/sanitizing wipes to clean your hands, seat-tray, arm rests and (when convenient) the handles on overhead bins.
 
* Once seated, and if you have it, use sanitizer/sanitizing wipes to clean your hands, seat-tray, arm rests and (when convenient) the handles on overhead bins.
* If your ears are hurting during takeoff, try pinching your nose and blowing; that can help unpop your ears. Chewing gum can also help.
 
  
 
===During flight===
 
===During flight===
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===Making a connection===
 
===Making a connection===
 
* When your journey involves multiple time zones, the flight purser will usually announce the local time at your port-of-arrival.  The local time at your destination is also available from the flight path/airshow channel of your in-flight entertainment system if your flight is equipped with it. Adjust your watch to the time announced to avoid confusion with the timetables at the airport, especially if you have a connecting flight.   
 
* When your journey involves multiple time zones, the flight purser will usually announce the local time at your port-of-arrival.  The local time at your destination is also available from the flight path/airshow channel of your in-flight entertainment system if your flight is equipped with it. Adjust your watch to the time announced to avoid confusion with the timetables at the airport, especially if you have a connecting flight.   
* Obtain your boarding pass for your next flight (either at a transfer desk if provided or regular check-in) if you have not done so already.
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* Check if you have a boarding pass for your next flight. If you don't, you are not considered checked-in for that flight yet so proceed to a transfer desk immediately to obtain a boarding pass for your next flight. You can avoid this by checking-in on-line and printing the boarding passes, if your carrier offers these.
* Many international airports around the world do not require you to go through immigration or customs if you are merely connecting to another country and will not remain in their country.  In those airports, you can immediately walk off the airplane into the regular sterile area of the terminal, and walk directly to your next gate to await boarding.
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* If you came from an international flight and are continuing on to a domestic flight, you will need to clear passport control, possibly claim your luggage (even if it is checked-through to your final destination) and clear customs and eventually check-in your luggage again to ensure its loading into your next flight. If you checked-through your luggage to your final destination, some airports may provide a special lane where you can simply drop-off your luggage instead of doing so at the main departure hall.   
* At international airports in the United States, Canada, and a few other countries, all arriving international passengers are always required to proceed to immigration and customs. Small airports make passengers deplane by airstairs and proceed across the tarmac by foot or bus to a dedicated international arrival facility. Large airports build a parallel set of bridges or corridors, separate from the regular sterile area, which directly link all international gates to their immigration and customs inspection station.  
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* There are a few scenarios when baggage will have to be collected at intermediate stopovers and checked-in as usual for loading onto the next flight.  In this case, you will need to undergo the usual visa application, clear formalities (ie passport control and customs) if at least the first leg is international. Some of them include the following:
* In all countries, if you came from an international flight and are continuing on to a domestic flight, you will need to clear passport control, possibly claim your luggage (even if it is checked through to your final destination) and clear customs.  You must then check-in your luggage again to ensure its loading into your next flight. If your baggage has already been checked through to your final destination at first check-in, some airports provide a special "connecting flights" bag drops right after customs where you can simply drop it off, instead of have to drag it all the way through the terminal to the regular check-in desksIn the United States, post-customs connecting flights bag drops are also useful for international travelers in transit who will not be remaining in the US.
 
* If you are connecting through a US preclearance airport to a flight bound for the United States, you may have to pass through US immigration and customs ''before'' you board your flight. Airlines that support preclearance connections take digital photographs of all baggage at check-in which will ultimately connect to US-bound flights at preclearance airports.  When you reach preclearance, the immigration officer will present you with the photograph and ask you to confirm that it is your bag.
 
* There are a few scenarios when baggage will have to be collected at intermediate stopovers and checked-in as usual for loading onto the next flight.  In this case, you will need to undergo the usual visa application and clear formalities (i.e. passport control and customs) if at least the first leg is international. Some of them include the following:
 
 
**either your first or next leg involves a low cost carrier
 
**either your first or next leg involves a low cost carrier
 
**you booked both flights separately
 
**you booked both flights separately

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