Air travel

10 Mistakes To Avoid When Flying For The First Time

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Last Updated on January 30, 2023 by Rose Morah

Traveling for the first time on a plane can be stressful.

You’ll make many mistakes, and some of them may end up ruining your trip or vacation big time.

The good news is, this doesn’t have to be you.

We’ve lined up the most common mistakes that you’ll need to avoid if you’re flying for the first time.

1. Submitting wrong passenger details 

Always make sure that you have the correct passenger details before submitting them. Your full passenger names and the spellings must match what is in your passport/travel documents.

Submitting wrong passenger details may seem like a small mistake, but the cost of changing the name can be more than buying a new ticket.

See also: How to Plan A Trip For Someone (Steps Involved).

2. Forgetting to carry your booking credit card to the airport

It is crucial to always have your credit/debit card with you from the time you book the ticket to when you get to the airport. 


  • This is a requirement by most airlines due to security reasons and in order to combat fraudulent air ticket purchases.
  • Errors or other issues might arise with your ticket payment. For instance, you may be required to present the credit/debit card used to purchase the ticket. Failure to which, you may end up paying for another ticket.

But what happens if someone else booked your air ticket?

You could call the airline to confirm whether carrying the booking card is a requirement.

And if indeed it is, they will best advise you on what they do in such situations.

Doing this prior can help you avoid any airport incidents that may arise.

3. Forgetting to check the baggage allowance for your airline’s fare class

A good rule of thumb is to always check the baggage allowance, or the amount of luggage allowed per passenger, for your specific carrier.

This will help you stay within your travel budget since you’re able to avoid paying for additional baggage at the airport in case your luggage is too big or weighs too much. 

Make sure you have checked the weight and the dimensions of your luggage to avoid making this mistake.

But to help save time and money, checking in your luggage online is a surefire way.

So, it is better to check in your luggage online?

This will be a great option for first-time travelers because it helps you avoid airport hassles.

You also get to bypass airport lines, thus making your first-time travel as smooth as possible.

4. Late baggage check-in

This is a common mistake that most travelers make, let alone first-time travelers.

Most travelers are not aware that the boarding cutoff time is different from the checking luggage cutoff time.

It is, therefore, important to find out and get to know your airline’s cutoff times.

On most airlines, domestic flights usually have a baggage cut-off time of 30 – 45 minutes before departure, and about 60 minutes cut-off time for international flights.

Statistics have shown that 4 out of 10 people get locked out by airlines for not meeting the baggage cut-off time.

5. Arriving late at the airport

First of all, it is boring to arrive too early and at the same time, very stressful to arrive late at the airport.

Arriving late at the airport may be the worst-case scenario, especially when traveling internationally.

The mistake of arriving late at the airport happens to over 50% of domestic and international travelers.

That being said, to help you determine the perfect arrival time, I would recommend you consider the following:

  1. Traveling time

Are you traveling at peak times?

If not sure, here is how you can find out:

  • Download TSA’s Official app to get real-time information on wait times.
  • Download MiFlight app. It is the best MyTSA app alternative.
  • Visit your airline’s website to check information on peak times.

So, if you are traveling at peak times, you should arrive early at the airport!

  1. Gate arrival cut-off time

After booking your flight, it’s always wise to check the gate arrival cut-off time of the airline in the policy section. For instance, most airlines close their gates about 15-25 minutes before departure time.

This means that if you arrive later than the cut-off time, you may not be allowed past the gates.

So to be on the safe side, make sure you know your airline’s gate cut-off times beforehand to plan your time wisely.

  1. Airline’s check-in requirements

To save time at the airport, always ensure that you know all the necessary check-in requirements.

The good news is that most airlines will allow you to directly check-in online. This can be done at least 24 hours before departure, which means that you don’t have to go to the airport early.

You also won’t have to deal with the usual airport hassles.

Read more on how to get through the airport faster.

7. Failure to adhere to passport rules

Before traveling, make sure that you have done a good amount of research about the foreign passport rules of the country you intend to visit.

Additionally, check the passport’s expiration date and the expiration rules in your travel destination.

Every country has different passport rules. Some will not allow you past the airport unless you have at least a few months before expiry (3-6 months).

Therefore, it is important to always make sure you have enough time remaining to avoid the risk of deportation. 

And assuming you don’t have enough time on your passport, as per the requirements of the foreign country passport rules, you can always apply for an emergency passport.

Where is the expiration date of your passport located?

Most passports have their expiration dates on the first page.

This page has the date of issue and the expiration, which in most cases will be found at the bottom-right corner of the page. 

Is it possible to book an airline ticket online with an expired passport?

Yes, it is possible because the booking process does not entail filling in the passport details. However, you may be in for a rude shock during the check-in process.

8. Forgetting the extra Charges

Sometimes you might think that you have landed yourself a cheap plane ticket, but that’s not the case!

Most of the time, these cheap flights will still require you to pay cash for your seat, onboard internet, luggage, and so on. 

A good rule of thumb is to always compare different airline fares by checking what’s included in the flight price to avoid falling victim to cheap marketing deals.

9. Failing to check the alternative airports

What might surprise you is that booking with alternative airports can save you money, especially if you are on a tight budget.

You should always check for alternative airports when booking, as they are easier and cheaper to reach your destination.

10. Not booking using different currencies

At times, paying with your local currency can save you quite a bit of cash.

However, you need to make sure that the bank does not charge you a foreign transaction fee, which could end up costing you just as much as you would have paid with a different currency.

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.

Anthony Bourdain

Hello there! My name is Rose. I’m passionate about electric cars and clean energy. My adventurous spirit and journalistic pursuits make each day fascinating and far greater. I consider traveling not just about the grandeur moments, but the little elements that transform the whole experience.