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First Time Traveling? Here's the Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to the Airport

First Time Traveling? Here's the Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to the Airport
IMAGE (LEFT TO RIGHT) Instagram/iamhearte, Unsplash
You can be a jetsetter in no time!

Revenge travel takes top spot in the minds of Filipinos seeking escape from the past two years, but what about those embarking on their first plane ride ever? The airport can be intimidating, especially for newbie passengers overwhelmed by its numerous moving parts. It’s now or never, so we whipped up a quick guide to ease your nerves and acquaint you with the usual processes at local airports so you can be a jetsetter in no time.

Here’s what to do at the airport step by step:

Check your destination

Each terminal operates more or less the same, but Terminal 2 at NAIA has separate entrances for local and foreign destinations. Be sure to enter through the right door lest you spend hours looking for your check-in counter all confused.

Terminals 1 and 3 accept passengers at every door, regardless of destination. If you have a senior citizen or person with disability in your party, you can go through priority doors or lanes.

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Security at the start

All terminals in local airports require luggage and passport inspection before you’re even allowed to enter, unlike abroad where anybody can just enter the airport. Present your passport, flight tickets, and hoist all your stuff onto the conveyor belt for an x-ray check.

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Trays are available for bags, jackets, and smaller items. Empty your pockets for good measure.

At this point, security won’t require you to take off your shoes, but prepare to open your bags should they spot something fishy through the x-ray.

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Check-in counter

Great, you’re in! Head to the nearest board and look for your check-in counters—it’s usually that big digital sign with rows upon rows of travel destinations, times, and flight numbers. Check where you’re headed, your airline, and your flight time. Five counters are usually dedicated for each depending on the plane’s size or destination.

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Once you’re at your check-in counter, take out your passport, visa documents if any, and vaccination cardTraze was recently made a requirement for all outbound flights, so sign up for that as well. Airline staff will input your passport details and match your ticket with your identity to issue a boarding pass, which you’ll need to pass through immigration and actually enter the plane.

If you have luggage to check in, this is the time to drop it off. It will be weighed before being sent off to the back. Any weight in excess of your prepaid baggage allowance must be paid for, or you can take it out and bring it on the plane. We talk about baggage limitations in-depth in the next few sections of this article.

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At this point, staff will tell you if you need to pay travel tax. Most airline booking sites include this already, but some passengers opt out of it thinking they’ll score tickets at a cheaper price when in reality, this tax still needs to be paid at the airport. Your boarding pass will be held until you’re able to present a travel tax receipt, which is paid at a different counter (more on this later.)

Passengers are advised to be at the airport at least three hours before their flight because most of the preparation transpires at the check-in counter: you’re assigned a seat, granted a boarding pass, your luggage is weighed and taken in. Check-in queues can also get excruciatingly long for packed flights during peak or holiday season, so being early pays off.

Check-in counters usually close an hour before the flight so airport and airline staff working behind the scenes can load up the planes and ensure that every passenger checked in is aboard the carrier.

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Baggage limitations

Any liquids carried on the plane must be 100 milliliters (mL) or less. Anything more should be placed inside checked-in baggage, otherwise it’s straight to the trash can. If you’re planning to get through your trip without paying for check-in baggage, you can’t pack shampoo, lotion, or toiletries in quantities larger than 100 mL.

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Take note of your prepaid baggage allowance. Most airlines offer anywhere from 15 kilograms at least, to up to 30 kilograms or even more, with hefty price tags to match. Try to keep it under your allowed weight so you have room for pasalubong to bring back.

If you’re bringing a bag or hand carry luggage on the plane, they can be no more than 22 inches long, 14 inches wide and 9 inches high including handles and wheels. The standard measurements are honored in most territories and airlines, and most luggage manufacturers follow this sizing guide as well. Weight is usually capped at 7 kg per passenger.

A note on travel tax

Travel tax per passenger is P1,620, which can be included in your flight ticket or paid on the day of your trip. Only those flying abroad need to pay this tax every time they head out. Each terminal in all local airports has a travel tax counter to accept payments. As always, lines get long.

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Once paid, you can reclaim your boarding pass and head to immigration.

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Immigration

In the Philippines, all passengers bound for an international destination need clearance from an immigration officer. A stamp on your passport precedes the second round of x-rays.

You’ll be asked a couple things about your trip. Where you’re going, how long the trip is, who you’re going with, and how long for. They’ll ask for your boarding pass usually, and some go as far as asking for your return ticket, so best have it onhand. Stricter officers ask for your hotel booking abroad, so have it on your phone just in case. Trips to countries that require a visa may warrant more questions.

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Security check

Philippine airports require the removal of shoes, jackets, and belts for inspection. Laptops, tablets, and larger electronics also need to be taken out to a separate tray for an x-ray scan. Place them on a tray separate from your carry-on bag, which usually contains your passport, wallet, mobile phone, and other essentials.

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Remember that 100 mL rule? Any liquid you carried up until now that exceeds the limit will be disposed of. Water, drinks, beverages, or toiletries that got through the check-in counter or immigration will be sifted here. Dangerous items such as Swiss army knives, pepper spray, and pointy objects that could be used as weapons on the plane will also be confiscated.

Once you’ve loaded your stuff onto the conveyor belt, step into the inspection booth, align your feet with the markers on the floor, and let the machine do its work. After a scan, you’ll hopefully get the chance to put on your shoes and claim your stuff. Quick checks usually consist of a frisk of your arms, waist, back, legs, and pockets. It’s usually nothing serious—one time I got held back for…trash in my pockets.

Last note: wear comfy clothes and shoes that easily slip off for your next trip.

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Waiting at the gate

You’re in. Take a quick look at your boarding pass for your gate number—this is where you and your fellow passengers will wait to board the plane. You can grab a quick snack or drink before boarding, just be sure you’re back and entering the plane before departure. Gates close 15 minutes before scheduled take-off. Note that airline staff page late passengers to honor flight tickets, but excessive delays mean you’ll get left behind.

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Airline staff will announce once the plane is ready for boarding, but you’ll usually know when you see people stand up. First and business class passengers go first, followed by premium economy flyers. PWDs, seniors, and priority passengers may also board first, depending on airline policies. Queues can get long but the plane will wait for everyone to board, so don’t fret too much about being at the back of the line.

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the plane. Safe travels!

This story originally appeared on Spot.phMinor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.

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