There's always a first time for flying. Here at Holiday Extras we want to help make it a positive experience. You'll probably have lots of questions, and maybe some worries. What am I allowed to take in my bag? Where do I go when I get to the airport? What will take-off be like?
Because not everyone is a frequent flyer, we want to reassure you and guide you through the whole process. From packing, parking your car to settling down to your peanuts and movie, we're here. And our panel of experts can answer all your travel-related questions. Bon voyage.
Before you go, make sure your passport is up to date and you have any necessary travel documentation such as a visa or ESTA. If you're travelling within the EU don't forget to take your European Health Insurance Card with you. Most importantly make sure you have valid travel insurance to cover you for your trip - you never know when you'll need it. Why not take a look at our holiday checklist to get really organised. You can even buy your holiday essentials from our Travel Shop.
Check your tickets or confirmation details for information including your flight number, airline, departure terminal, time of flight and check-in time, as well as your arrival details. Give yourself plenty of time to allow for any hold-ups.
Also go online and check the latest baggage and security information for your airline and airport, to eliminate any last minute panics. You will usually be allowed one piece of hand luggage which you can take on the flight with you and a weight allowance on your hold baggage - your checked-in bag or suitcase which is stored in the hold of the plane.
Don't forget - all UK airports have restrictions on liquids and dangerous items - swot up on these before you travel.
You might be lucky enough to get a lift to the airport, but if you've got to head to the airport under your own steam, there are some great airport parking packages available. You could opt for parking with one night at an airport hotel - ideal for early flights - or Meet and Greet where a driver collects your car at the terminal, parks it for you and meets you with it on your return. We've recently been recommended by the BBC.
Airport car parks and hotels provide regular transfers to the airport. These are usually included in the cost of your parking but hotels often charge an extra fee. Many people opt to travel to the airport by rail, which can be a convenient choice if you do not have too much baggage and train times fit in with your departure.
Traditionally, on arrival at the departures terminal passengers would check the screens to find out which check-in desk to head to for their flight. Your hold baggage would be weighed and taken away, and you would be issued with your boarding pass - which is necessary for boarding your flight. Nowadays, for many flights you can check-in online and print your boarding pass before you arrive at the airport. You just need to take any checked-in hold baggage to the Bag Drop. This saves queuing time and stress at the airport, and sometimes cash.
Once you've checked in, you can head to security. You'll have your passport and your boarding card inspected first, so keep these handy. Your hand luggage and any other items you have, such as your liquids bag, coats, loose clothing and accessorises will be screened through an x-ray machine. You'll be asked to walk through a security gate and there is a possibility that you'll have to remove your shoes. Security staff may ask to search your bags manually, and you could be body-searched if you set off the alarm on the security gate. These security procedures are nothing to worry about, they are standard practice and aim to ensure you and your fellow passengers have a safe flight.
Most UK airports have plenty of shops as well as places to eat and drink. These can be found before and after security. You can take a look around the shops to keep yourself busy before your flight, grab those last minute essentials, or stock up on some duty free bargains. If shopping isn't your thing, relax with a refreshing drink in one of the bars or cafes available in the departure lounge. Most airports have a wide variety of food outlets too, whether you're looking for a hearty breakfast, a light meal, or a quick snack, chances are you won't go hungry.
Here at Holiday Extras we care about our customers. Part of our quality service is understanding people individually. We know that some people may be afraid of flying, let us reassure you that you're not alone. Fear of flying can be triggered by a number of fears. Common fears are: a fear of closed in spaces, a fear of heights, a fear of not being in control, a fear of turbulence, or even the fear of the unknown to name a few. Many fearful flyers will address and treat their fears in their own individual ways, others may need a little reassurance and guidance. There are many sources available that may help, from qualified therapists and special courses to books.
Passengers can keep an eye on their flight times by checking the flight information screens. These are scattered around the departure lounge and can often be found in the bars and restaurants. Roughly 45 minutes before your flight is due to take-off, the gate number will be displayed alongside your destination on the flight information screens. We advise you head to the relevant gate as soon as this has been displayed. Passports and boarding cards will be required once the boarding starts. Once boarding has commenced, all documents will be checked by airport staff and you will be directed to the aircraft.
Friendly cabin crew will be at the plane door to greet you and direct you to your seat. If you have any questions or queries they'll be happy to help you, but our advise is to sit back and relax - you're in safe hands. Once seated, your captain will talk you through the flight plan and the cabin crew will make all the final safety checks in the cabin. Before take-off a safety video will be shown. Take off is normally very quick and loud engine noises are also normal - so don't worry. Once the plane is at its full altitude, passengers can move around the aircraft, although the airline staff always recommend to keep your seat belts on during the flight. In-flight movies, meals, refreshments, and duty free shopping is available on many international flights.
Like taking off, landing can be a frightening experience. As the aircraft descends you may experience some turbulence and the plane may drop a fraction. The captain has the plane under control and turbulence is nothing to worry about. When the plane connects with the runway you can expect to hear a loud bang and the plane to shudder - this is normal. Once the plane has stopped, unclip your belt, gather your belongings, and leave the aircraft as instructed to do so. You'll need your passports ready for inspection before heading to the baggage re-claim area. If you've pre-planned transfers, make sure you look out for your rep.
Holiday Extras wishes you a happy holiday.
Unfortunately all holidays have to come to an end and you'll have to return home. But don't worry, it'll be as stress-free as it was arriving at your destination. The flying experience will be very much the same as before. Many people like to bring duty free items back home for personal use or just to give as gifts. It's important you know the allowances and restrictions before you return home. Different restrictions apply for bringing goods to the UK from the EU and from outside the EU. Swot up on these before you go.
Once you've landed back in the UK, you'll need to head to passport control and on to the baggage reclaim area. The information screens just before the baggage reclaim area will show you the number of the carousel you need to go to to collect your luggage. When you have found your baggage carousel, it may be advisable to get a luggage trolley so you can load your luggage onto it. Once you have been reunited with your luggage, you will need to clear Customs. Then you can start your journey home.
If you opted to park your car, you'll just need to head outside the arrivals terminal and wait for the relevant transfer bus back to the car park. If you've arranged a meet and greet service, details of what to do should be on your booking confirmation. If you've booked a hotel for your return, again all the details will be on your booking confirmation. Rail, bus or coach services will be clearly signposted in the arrivals hall. Most airports have information desks if you need any help.
Excellent - everything worked as planned, easy and cost effective. 3rd time I have used your service - no problems at anytime. Thanks for making the start and end of my holiday a pleasure.
"A fantastic and hassle free start and end to our holiday - thank you!"
"I have already sent an e-mail to your head office in Ashford, Kent thanking you for a really professional service. We will not hesitate to use you again. What we paid for is what we got without any hidden extras. Many thanks."
"From booking the hotel with parking to been picked back up at the terminal and returning to the hotel for our car not one problem everything ran very smoothly. I will be using you again when I next go on holiday in November. "