Before you know it, it will be your travel day to Paris. It will be a long but necessary day to get to Paris. Many people may complain about flights and the hassles of traveling, but it is still so exciting to be on a plane and think that you can leave home, and in a super short period of time, travel around the globe in a distant land!
For those who live in major hub cities, it will not be nearly as long as for those who live farther out. Those who have to take a flight from a smaller town to a bigger hub city and then over the Atlantic, it may take a while. No matter, the travel day is part of the fun and excitement of going to Paris! Plus, you will be prepared for your travel day because you will have worked from your checklists to get ready. With the help of the weather, you will have no delays and will have a great travel day to Paris. Now, take a look and make sure you are ready.
Make it easy on yourself: Know your airline and flight details, follow your airline’s regulations and arrive with plenty of time to spare. Nowadays, you will have probably checked in for your flights online and printed boarding passes for all of the legs of your trip.
Ensure that you have the following information in your hand when you arrive at the airport. All of this should be on your boarding passes, but check it to make sure.
- Flight Number
- Operating Airline – Even though you bought your ticket from one airline, some flights are operated by associated airlines on behalf of your ticket issuer. For example, you buy an AirFrance ticket, but one flight may be on Delta.
- Departure Time – obviously a need to know the basics!
- Departure Terminal and Gate – Airports can have several terminals and many, many gates, often at quite a distance apart. Determine which one your airline is using so your friend, family or cab driver can drop you at the correct terminal.
- Be Aware – Gates can change from when you checked-in online. Or, even after you drop your bag and the airline representative gives you a boarding pass and the tracking number for your bag. Or, even after you have been sitting and waiting at the gate that was assigned. Remember to check every so often on the display above the gate and on the monitors for the correct departure gate for your flight.
Check-in online and you will most likely be able to check-in and print your boarding pass for the domestic portion (in the United States) at home. Then, you will probably be required to check-in for your international portion at the airport. Most likely, the ticket counter professional will issue the boarding pass for the international portion of your flight.
The airline will want to see your passport and verify you are a real person before providing a boarding pass. Telephone your airline and find out well in advance of your travel day how you will check-in and get your boarding passes. Doing this will provide extra piece of mind. You will not be wondering what to do when you arrive at the airport.
How to Check-In
You may receive an email reminder to check-in. Go to the airline website and enter your record locator and other information to access your flight details, then check-in. The site should ask if you are checking bags, you can enter that information and also print boarding passes. If you haven’t already done so, you can sign up for text alerts for flight changes. Again, check to make sure all of your passport information is correct. Reconfirm your seating assignment and in general, verify everything.
When to check-in
Arrive at your airport at least 2 hours before your flight is scheduled to depart. Some airports, because of security lines, may advise 3 hours in advance. DO NOT WAIT. Check the airport’s suggestion and arrive at the airport either 2 or 3 hours before your flight is scheduled to depart.
Where to check-in
Many times when taking a plane (okay, really every time for me), it is easier to check in curbside with the skycaps. Even if I drive and park, I wheel my bag to the skycaps to check-in. Rather than drag a bag around and try to negotiate the airport, it is really much simpler to check in with the skycaps.
I bring plenty of one dollar bills and five dollar bills and tip them at least $5. Even if I have one bag to check, and even if traveling with my parents or friends, we make sure it is at least $5 minimum. And, at least $2 a bag if we check 3 or more bags. It is some of the best money you will spend.
The skycaps provide a great, efficient service that makes it easy to check-in and get rid of your bags quickly. They check your passport, tag your bags to the final destination, and hand you your boarding pass. If you didn’t already print one, or if there was a gate change, they tell you the scheduled terminal and gate for your flight and point you in the right direction. All you have to do is take your carry-on, look at your flight information and you are ready to go to the security check point for your terminal.
If you do not take advantage of the skycaps, go into the terminal and find your airline. You may a see a kiosk to enter your flight information and advise the airline of your checked bags, then get in line and the representative will call your name. Then you will present your passport and boarding pass. Or, you may get in line with your bag to see a representative. Who knows how the process will work when you arrive, it seems to change from airline to airline and from day to day. If in doubt, get in line and the representative will help you when you get to the counter.
Once you drop your bag and have your boarding pass, find one of the video screens for departing flights. Look on your printed itinerary or boarding pass, find your flight information, then find the corresponding flight information on the video screen. Re-confirm your terminal and gate for your departing flight. Once confirmed, head toward the terminal and gate with your entire group. DO NOT STOP for the bathroom or a cold drink or a magazine. Go to the terminal and the security check point FIRST. Stay together.
Thank goodness we have security and that you are getting on planes where everyone else has gone through security. So, think of this as a good part of the trip and not a hassle. Even if you are at a super small airport, you will need to get in the security line with your boarding pass and your passport in your hand. When the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) Officer asks for you to come forward, present your passport and boarding pass. If you are at the wrong terminal, they will tell you immediately and send you in the right direction.
TSA and Beyond
After passing the TSA officer, you will move along into a line of people taking off items of clothing, belts, jewelry, and shoes. Grab a bin or two (just like everyone is doing in front of you) and put everything in it besides your shirt, pants, socks and underwear. Put it all in – shoes, belt, jewelry, watches, coins, wallet, phone, purse, passport, quart size zippered clear bag with your 3.4 ounces or less liquids and gels and empty your pockets of everything (paper and bills as well) – put it all in a bin. If you are bringing a computer, take it out of any bag or sleeve that it is in and put it in a bin by itself. Put your carryon with the bins and slide your bins and bag onto the conveyor belt.
Once you are sure your bins and bag are on the conveyor belt, move along toward the people scanner and wait until the TSA officer advises you to move through the scanner. Then move up and through the machine that will scan you for metal objects and explosives without touching the sides. If it is one of the new machine, you may have to hold your arms up. Do as instructed, then move on through and collect your items from their bins at the other side of the security conveyor belt.
No one minds if you take your time, as long as you move to the end and get out of the way. Take your time to put all of your clothes back on, put your wallet away, put on your watch, and check and re-check your bins to make sure you collected all of your belongings. Now, you can find your gate.
Getting to the Gate
Once inside the terminal and past security, find one of the video screens for departing flights. Look on your printed travel itinerary or boarding pass, find your flight information, then find the corresponding flight information on the video screen and re-confirm your gate for your departing flight. Go toward your gate with your entire group. DO NOT STOP for the bathroom or a cold drink or a magazine. Go to the gate FIRST. Re-confirm at the gate that it is the correct gate.
Even if you are sure, go to the airline representative to confirm. Give the representative your boarding pass and have the representative re-confirm it is the correct gate for your flight.
Be in the Right Place at the Right Time
Now, find a place for your group to sit. Then, while your traveling companions watch your bags, you can go to the bathroom, get a snack and then come back to your gate and find your family and friends. You got there early, breezed through security and now have an hour and a half to wait? So what? You are stress-free, able to review your itinerary, enjoy people-watching or doze off for a few.
Scott’s Suggestion: After you get to your gate, everyone find a seat and move your bags out of the flow of foot traffic. Then, go buy a bottle of water. Or, if you are like me, I bring an empty water bottle in my satchel and then fill it up at the water fountain. Make sure to do this INSIDE the security check point. I am always thirstier than the amount of water they give me, and like to have water when I want it – not when they come by with it. So I get my own and avoid being a pain to the flight attendants and others around me. And, if I drink the whole bottle before the flight leaves, I fill it up again before boarding.
If you have more than one flight to get to France, you will be making a stop. This means you should repeat the process described in the previous paragraphs. RE-CONFIRM in the same way – look at the video monitors, re-confirm terminal and gate, go to the gate with your entire group, situate yourselves, then venture off to the bathroom or coffee stand.
At the appropriate time, the airline representatives will begin boarding the plane. People who need extra time or assistance will be called first. Then, first class, then those with airline miles and credit cards. Then the airline will board in a variety of ways. It may be from the back of the plane forward, by zones, or by some mysterious way. It doesn’t really matter.
On your boarding pass, you can find your seat row or group number and listen for that to be called. Board when called. Put your carry-on items above you or under the seat in front of you and sit down and get out of the way. If you need something from one of your bags, you can get it in a few minutes after the crowd around you gets settled.
Now, you are really on your way – across an ocean, in fact. Settle into your seat, buckle up and then you will soon be “wheels up” to Paris.
It is only a ride, so if you are cramped, just deal with it for a few hours. It will be over soon enough and you will be in the most beautiful city in the world.
Soon after leaving on your transatlantic portion of your trip, the flight attendants will serve you dinner. (See what follows about eating in flight). Flight attendants are there for your safety, not as your waitress or waiter. Yes, they do try to take care of you, but don’t make too many demands unless you are in danger or have a medical emergency.
Avoiding or Reducing Jet Lag
Although food in flight seems to have become better, many people are trying to avoid jet lag by fasting. The fast runs from the beginning of travel day to arrival at your final destination. This means eating your meals at the local mealtime. In other words, eat at your regular time before boarding your first flight. Then, do not eat again until the regular meal time when you arrive at your destination. For example, I would eat lunch before boarding a flight at 5:00 to Atlanta or New York. Then, I would eat again at the next meal time in Paris. So, if I arrive at 10:30 a.m. local time in Paris, I would eat lunch – my first baguette sandwich!!!
Another suggestion to avoid jet lag is to only drink water during your travel. The trip is so exciting and it is so tempting to have drinks on the flight, but you may regret it later. Up to you. No matter what you do, always make sure to drink plenty of water whether or not you are fasting.
If you don’t want to fast, eat the dinner served on the transatlantic portion and then immediately try to sleep as much as possible. Your bedtime today will probably be earlier than normal. You will be excited about your trip. But sleep – even if it requires help that you get from your doctor.
If you wake up, walk around the cabin, roll your shoulders, stretch out, stand up for a few minutes, then squish back in your seat and try to sleep some more.
You will soon arrive in Paris.