Boarding International Flight First Time to the USA? Airport Tips

International Flight First Time

Any international trip, even for a seasoned traveler, may be daunting. When you’re going to board an international flight first time, your anxiety is understandable, though irrational.

In this guide, we’ll cover several aspects of traveling to the airport for your international flight, boarding, and then experiencing the flight.

Avoid the biggest first time international flight airport mistake – overdressing

How to get through an airport by yourself? First of all, you need be comfortable.

Wear comfortable clothing for the long flight, and be sure to wear your shoes. You can remove your shoes in flight (some airlines give in-flight shoes, or you can relax in your socks). Flip-flops (chappals) are fine, but you might feel cold at an intermediate place like London.

Arriving at the Airport

International airports are usually divided into two sections: top floor for departures and ground floor for arrivals. Departures might be divided into different sections for different airlines. Check for your airline’s terminal. As you drive into the airport, you will see a big board that displays airline terminals. Your travel agent or airline can also tell you which terminal you will need.

If you didn’t obtain foreign exchange before arriving, you can collect around $50 to $100 at the airport. Every airport guide for beginners tells you this. Make sure some of that money is in $1 denominations. You may also want to keep around small amount of local currency for miscellaneous expenses and unforeseen needs. 

Once at the airport, you will see many signs and directions. If you are not clear about something, feel free to ask for help from the airport staff or airline personnel. Tell them that’s your first time international flight; they’ll be even more willing to help.


Many international airports have escalators, also called moving staircases. If you have not used them in the past, they may initially look scary. However, if you observe others riding them and if you follow the proper steps, they are not complicated. While approaching the escalator, you should make sure that your feet are only on one step and not over two steps. When you are approaching the end of the escalator, keep one foot lifted and be prepared to walk. When the escalator ends, step down with your lifted foot and start walking normally. If you have any trouble or encounter an unexpected hazard, there is usually an emergency stop button that security staff or others can press to stop the escalator. 

Often, there are also regular staircases or elevators available as an alternative. However, some airports have no such alternative.

Seat Allocation

Seat allocation varies with different airlines and depending on the duration of the flight, it may vary with different routes. There are no uniform criteria for seat allocation. 

Seat allocation is usually made on the airline’s website. Some airlines may allow you to reserve a particular seat at the time of booking. If you have any seating preferences—especially if traveling with small children or infants, or based on special medical needs—you should speak to the travel agent or the airline about them as early as possible. If you can’t reserve a particular seat in advance, it is recommended that you arrive at the airport sooner than the normal reporting time.

We hope these airport tips and tricks help reduce your pre-travel anxiety, even though it’s your first-time international flight.

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