Signs galore, running people, slow pokes with dazed looks on their faces, non-stop security alerts blaring over the intercom….know where you are yet? Yup an airport. Okay, well maybe you aren’t there right this minute but you might have a trip coming up. Domestic flights can be overwhelming for the average newbie especially huge ones like Chicago or Atlanta, but let’s chat about International airports. You might be nervous….will I be able to read the signs? Will their security be different, what will the boarding process be and what will baggage claim look like?
First things first….take a breath! It isn’t as hard as it seems! I promise! I am by no means the most seasoned traveler and don’t have infinite amounts of frequent flier miles racked up, but I have flown in and out of 6 European countries, one Caribbean, and through a ton of states.
Currently, I live in Germany and have friends and family coming soon to visit so I thought I’d give them and all you amazing readers the low down on what to expect for international airports!
Really, they are all basically the same. They all have one or more terminals which if you aren’t familiar with the term means a long hall or sting of halls with gates (the seating area and baording door). The gates all start with a letter which indicates a specific hall and a number which indeicates a boarding door. They are always in numerical order!
Use Your Resources
There are numerous giant screens with flight information. Most of the time they are arranged by time going from closest departure on down. They are also often grouped by an airline. Quickly scan for your exact departure time, destination, or flight number. I often scroll for my destination first then double check I’m looking at MY flight by confirming that flight number matches my boarding pass.
Use the big signs to find your gate. Sometimes you have to walk a super long way, but as long as your following the gate sign you should be headed in the right direction!
There are tons and tons of people who work at the airport who can help you! Feel free to go up to any of the little counters at each gate and ask the person working behind the desk. They can and will always help you!
Security is pretty much the same in all airports. However, it is way more strict in the US and flights headed to the US. When you go through security don’t panic. Simply breath and follow what the people in front of you are doing as well as the agents barking orders. My biggest tip is to remember to empty your pockets and place all electronics in their own bin together! Yes….you have to take your laptop and tablet out of the bag!
So now you’ve made through your first airport but if you are flying internationally chances are you have a connection! Follow these tips to ensure an easy trasition!
When you get off the plane, make your first mission finding the flight information board.
Find the gate and terminal and start walking.
Do not go potty, do not pass go, and do not collect $100. Haha…but really. Your mission to not miss your next flight!
You will most likely have to wait in a line for a quick passport check. Look for signs and have your passport out and ready to hand over when you get up to the window.
Once you have had your passport checked made a beeline for your next gate! They will have the same TV monitor screen set up as US airports! Remeber…flight numbers are just letters and numbers so don’t worry about any language barriers.
Feel free to share any other tips you may have or comment your questions below!