The following guide will tell you how to navigate your way around an airport – step by step.
When coming into an airport you must have some proof of identity on you (on some routes ID card is enough but to avoid denied boarding it is best to always carry a passport). Please note that it is usually required that the identity document and the visa (if required) are valid for at least six months from the date of the return flight (if we leave for a month and come back the last day of May this document must be valid for at least 6 months from that date).
If you are checking in baggage (which you do not take with you on board):
- You should be at the airport at least 60-90 minutes before the scheduled departure time if it is a domestic flight. For for international flights it increases to 2 hours before the departure and for intercontinental flights 3 hours prior to departure. These are general rules, and be aware that timescales may vary depending on the carrier or the airport.
- You should come to the check-in desk with a document of identity, a ticket * (printed or electronic) and luggage.
- Check-in desk staff will check these documents, weigh the luggage and put a sticker on with the code of the destination airport. Next they will issue a boarding card – you should have it with you until you leave the airport of your destination!
- Next you go to the security check where safety procedures will be carried out (your carry-on baggage will be X-rayed and you will be scanned).
- After passing through a security check you will enter the departure lounge. Here, you wait for your flight. You should check the gate number (as indicated on the boarding card) and keep track of time and possible changes (in the case of a change of a change of gate at large airports it may take a bit of time to get to the right place).
- Flight information is displayed on electronic boards. Information is rarely given over public address speakers nowadays, this is due to the implementation of the silent airport programme which aims to reduce the noise at airports. If there are no boards or signs (usually at very small airports), you should watch what happens around the gate and ask the staff for information.
- When the departure time comes, you need to approach the airline staff with your identity document and boarding card to be let on board. From the moment you enter the plane all help and information is provided by the stewards who will assist you with finding your seat and locating where you should store your carry on luggage.
- After landing and leaving the aircraft you should follow the signs: arrivals / baggage claim / baggage reclaim where you collect your baggage (if your luggage doesn’t arrive on the baggage carousel report it to the airport service, you can find out more in : baggage-lost baggage.
- You head for the exit / arrivals and exit through one-way exit. It is called arrival hall/ public area.
- Now you will most likely need to find a taxi / bus / train / car rental /(transport from / to the airport, see the section: travel tips: transport).
* We advise you to always have a printed ticket or some form of official confirmation. Be aware that in some countries (especially Asian) if you do not possess a valid ticket / flight confirmation you may not be allowed to enter the airport.
If you do not have checked-in baggage the same routine applies. If we want to make our journey more efficient in terms of time, at some airports we have the option to print the boarding card ourselves at the check-in kiosk. Then we do not have to wait in line at the check-in counter where other travelers check in baggage.
Some low-cost carriers impose on us an obligation to self check-in through the Internet and print out the boarding pass before arriving to the airport. When you have checked in your baggage the same procedure as mentioned above applies (remember that you still need to print your boarding pass at home!). If you travel only with hand luggage, go straight to the security check (point 4) with a printed boarding pass.
In case of a change to the next plane you should ask at the check-in counter if baggage is automatically sent to the final destination or if you need to check it in again. Usually if you travel further with the same airline luggage is automatically passed to the next plane. If you change to a plane of another airline you might be required to collect the luggage and check it in again (refer to point 2).
If you have bulky baggage you should go to the check-in counter where the staff will collect it or will direct you to the right place to check it in.
If your flight is delayed, canceled or overbooked check what to do here ABC flight – flight step by step.
Before departure, you should check what amount of checked in baggage and hand luggage you are entitled to. It is worth checking what objects are not allowed onboard for safety reasons (more here: baggage â€“ what is not allowed in hand luggage and what is not allowed in check-in luggage.
If any expressions aren’t clear to you, please refer to our glossary.