questionsany recommendations for a first time flier?

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Oh boy...well, first things first: Relax. The odds are strongly in your favor that you will take-off and land without any issues.

Arrive early. Depending on your departure time and the size of the airport, you can fudge with the time it takes to get through security, but give yourself at least an two hours if you have to pick up your ticket and check bags. An hour is sufficient if you don't have any bags to check and printed out your ticket beforehand.

For security: Have three things in a pocket or in your hand when you are in the line: Passport(or any state/federal ID), Ticket and your coat/jacket (they will make you take it off before you enter through any scanner). Try to keep your pockets empty until after you pass the checkpoint. You will need to take your shoes off. I would wear some kind of slip-on shoe with socks.
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For the wait: Bring a book/magazine, music player and tablet/laptop. As in at least 3 of these things. Don't forget headphones. You can also bring your own food as long as it isn't a liquid.

Pay attention to the zone on your ticket as this is how they will be calling people in. You do NOT need to immediately join the line at the gate for most flights. Never leave your bags unattended. Security has an understandably real hissy-fit over this.

For the flight: Be prepared for zero extra space. You will feel violated. You will basically be on top of everyone else for the duration of your flight. Adapt your bowel movements previously so they won't occur on the flight itself. I'm not kidding around.

Consider getting a sleeping pill to help you get through the flight. It doesn't seem like you have anxiety over flying, so this may not be necessary but preferred.

Don't be afraid to ask other people questions. Most people are generally friendly.

Oh, and don't forget to relax. :)

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Like above, Relax it's really not a big deal. Since it is the first allow extra time for everything. Once you get the hang of it, it's a piece of cake. I do highly recommend earphones and a music player for the ride. You never know what annoying noises you will want to block out.

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To the OP, I am older and have avoided the flight for work on many occasions, I have a feeling like this will end soon, I am older then you, by more then 10 years. Me not flying has kind of been a joke because every time something is planned something comes up and cancels the training. @curtisuxor: can you use a laptop on the plane? Do you have a power port on the plane? Do you just sit there the entire time?

Most importantly:
What if there are 'monkey fighting snakes' on the plane?

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Valium.

Seriously, one tip that I wish everyone adopted is to take off ALL metal objects and put them in your carry-on before you get to the security check-in. It'd save everyone a lot of time, and you won't be 'that guy'.

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Relax. Be patient. Have entertainment for the wait and the flight - Not all planes have plug-ins for your electronics, so make sure that you have full battery power and a back-up for when you are actually flying.

Statistically speaking, flying is still one of the safest ways to travel.

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Most irritating part to me is the ear popping (I've always had ear problems), so I used to take a piece of gum with me..although I don't even know if it's ok to bring gum anymore...

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I always wear slip-off shoes to get through security a little easier. I can tell you from experience that those knee-high boots may be really cute with your outfit, but you'll hate the constant having to sit on the floor to get them on and off while everyone behind you makes disgruntled noises.

Also. Gum. Do not forget it. My ears pop horribly and gum is pretty much the only thing that makes it bearable.

Try and be understanding of parents with small kids. Yeah, they can be annoying, but there's really not a lot to do when you're stuck up in the air. When my daughter was 5 months old we flew from Mississippi to California. In the middle of the flight, she had the messiest, smelliest bowel movement mankind has ever witnessed. It was like her large intestines exploded. I felt horrible and tried my best to reduce the unpleasantness for the other passengers, but the bathroom was too small to take her in there, and ignoring it wasn't an option.

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@caffeine_dude: Yes you can use a laptop during your flight, you just have to wait for them to announce when it is ok to turn them on during your flight. Most planes do not have a place to charge your laptop. I know Southwest offers wifi for $5 on a lot of their planes, not too sure about other airlines.

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@jesseroo: Yes, of course you can still bring gum.
This is a good recommendation. Chew a piece of gum on takeoff and landing and it helps your ears adjust to the pressure change. I think the jaw movement just moves your ears around enough that they can release pressure.

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Security checkpoints are pretty easy. You'll probably have plenty of time while waiting in line to get situated as you creep to the front of the line. The airports are pretty good about having signs in line to remind you of what you need to take out of your bags. If the airport uses the full body scanners, you'll need to remove everything from your pockets not just metal stuff. As you approach the front of the line, you'll put your carry-on bag, metal items (keys, cell phone, belt buckle if it's big, etc) shoes, and whatnot on a conveyor belt to go through the xray machine. This is the most stressful part for me because my belongings are not in my possession and people are crowding around the other side of the x-ray to get their stuff. Try to watch for your plastic bin that you put your stuff in just in case someone tries to walk off with it.
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After you go through security, the airport will likely have places to buy food and drinks. Drinks obtained after the checkpoint can be taken on the plane. Using the restrooms on planes aren't very fun. Think of it like more confined, moving porta-potty. So you may not want to drink too much, but it's better than waiting for the drink cart to come around on the plane.

If you ever have motion sickness, plan for that. Ginger root pills or over the counter stuff will help. If you think it'll still be a problem, locate a couple of the barf bags before takeoff.

Seats at the front of the plane board last (1st class is exception) and get off first If you sit up there, you'll be on the crowded plane for slightly less time.
Extra legroom can be found in the emergency exit rows. If you can get one of those seats, you'll have more room. Seats with an exit row behind them probably won't recline, so keep that in mind.
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Some planes will have TV's in them. Most of the time you'll only be able to watch/listen for a short time before the free trial ends. If you want to continue watching, you'll have to swipe your card. Bring your own entertainment. MP3 player or cell phone (in airplane mode, of course) work well enough. At takeoff and landing, you'll have to turn all your electronic stuff off. They'll let you know when you can turn them on. It probably doesn't hurt anything, but it makes things easier if everyone follows the rules.

Never trust what is on your ticket or what the plane's captain tells you regarding connecting flights or terminal/gate information. ALWAYS check the screens in the airport for your flight information. The information can change.

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You'll be fine. Don't let the TSA stress you out. In my experience, the security check point is the most stressful time for new fliers. Just have your liquids in a baggie easily accessible, be ready to take out your laptop, and have your shoes off before you get up to the table. Easy, don't worry about it. TSA agents are often kinda mean, don't take it personally.

After security, get a pack of gum and a good book/eBook. NY to Atlanta isn't bad at all. Just look up your gate and head over, airports are surprisingly easy to follow with their signs overhead leading you to your terminal and gate.

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Be patient. Get there with plenty of time before your flight boarding. I like to arrive at the airport two hours ahead. That gives you plenty of time to check in, get through security, and get to your gate. Enjoy the people watching of being in an airport.

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@caffeine_dude: As someone else explained, you can use electronics after they lift the no electronics message.

As far as I know the Boeing 757+ planes have power outlets in all classes but not necessarily in every row. It may differ from airline to airline, but I know for sure Continental and United Airlines have power outlets on every seat in all classes on Boeing 757s and some outlets on 767s and 777s.

P.S. Avoid monkey fighting snakes by flying weekends. They are only on the Monday to Friday planes.

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@caffeine_dude: As for power outlets on planes, it will come down to what kind of plane you are flying on. Someone else mentioned that some large planes have outlets in some places. However, smaller planes (Canadair, Embraer, Bombardier, in particular) generally don't have outlets anywhere. I tend to fly the small planes on my trips, for better or for worse.

If your flight is already booked, you can usually find out what kind of plane your flying by checking with the airline - enter your flight number on the website and it will likely tell you what kind of plane you'll be on. Different planes have different pros and cons, I've come to be rather fond of the Embraer jets because you can get on and off in very little time as they don't take that many passengers; the tradeoff is they don't have much overhead storage for carryons.

I can also tell you that if you are flying in high winds, a turboprop is your friend. They can take off in a crosswind, while a jet cannot.

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You didn't mention which airline you are flying, or from which NYC airport (there are three NYC metro airports - LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark). Since you're going to Atlanta I figure there is a fair chance you are flying Delta, and they do most of their NYC flying through JFK. If that's the case you'll probably be on a rather large plane.

As its your first flight, its a plus that you should be on a nonstop. Connections can be a hassle and add extra stress - especially if you're late or unfamiliar with the situation.

I often buy a National Geographic from the airport newsstands to read while I'm onboard and waiting to board. Not too large, not too expensive, and written densely enough to pass a fair bit of time. The newsstands at the airports rarely mark up the magazine prices by 10% - if at all - so there isn't much advantage in buying a magazine ahead of time unless you want to read something obscure. I might recommend not bringing porn - don't know who'll be sat next to you

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I find that the quickest way to stand out as a first timer is to be unprepared for the security line. The last thing you want is me burning holes in the back of your head with my eyes because you forgot to take off the huge watch you were wearing.

-No jewelry, if possible no belt, and again if possible no coat or hat. If you need any of these things put them, along with absolutely anything else you have in your pockets in your carry-on bag while there are still a few people in front of you in line. The only thing you want to be carrying through is your id and boarding pass. These you can hold in your hand as you go through the body scanner. If you do all of this, you should be able to stroll right through security.

-Reading material is key as you can use it at any time during the flight. Music and/or podcasts are awesome as well while you are at cruising altitude.

- As an FYI, commercial aviation in the United States is by far the safest mode of transportation.

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- Slip on shoes are great for sure. Also, wear something comfortable unless you are headed straight to a business function.

-Gum is great to use but a basic yawning motion should give your Eustachian tubes a chance to equalize the pressure.

- Don't stand in front of the gate while waiting for your boarding zone to be called. It makes you look dickish.

- Know that the time listed on your boarding pass is the flight time, and most airlines start boarding at least 15 minutes before that. I take 20 minutes off of the departure time to figure out when to arrive at the gate. Then -40 minutes for security (or less if flying from a smaller airport; I usually get through it in 10 minutes at Milwaukee). Then subtract 10 minutes if you have to check a bag (20 at large international airports). Then since it is your first time, maybe give yourself 20 more minutes in case you get lost in the airport (or getting to the airport). In all, I usually get to the airport one hour before my flight.

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i got good news and bad news. the good news is, flying is very safe and the odds of anything happening are astronomical. although i'm sure you know that already. just keep reminding yourself. also, hopefully you're like me and the plane will put you to sleep. i can never ever sleep under any circumstances (fairly bad insomnia) but something about a plane puts me to sleep in 5 minutes. i dont know if its the extra oxygen they pump in, or the altitude, but hopefully you'll just pass out. in general, flying is a pretty cool experience. the bad news.... ever other aspect of flying sucks! airports, x-rays, cavity searches, crying babies, carrying your shoe's being financially raped for wanting a carry on etc... While i really enjoy the act of flying, airports send me into a borderline panic attack. you can always go to your doctor and tell him your fears and i'm sure he'll prescribe a few tabs of Valium or something to help keep you sane. good luck and don't sweat it too much

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Also, the best tip that I have for anyone who is flying:

It is totally legal for you to bring booze onto a flight.

However, there are a few caveats.

- It still has to be in your 1 quart zip top bag, and in 100ml bottles or smaller (most mini bottles are 50ml)

- It has to be under 100 proof

- AFAIK it is totally safe to consume in the airport itself, but remember that gate agents are always looking out for intoxicated passengers, and if they believe you to be intoxicated, they can and will prohibit you from boarding the flight. The pilot always has the ultimate authority to disallow anybody on his vessel. To be safe, I buy a soda at McD's (perhaps an Irish coffee?) and mix it in.

- As far as drinking on the plane, FAA regs require that the flight attendant serves any booze consumed on-board. They also have the power to cut you off. How to get around this? Ask the FA to serve it to you. Some airlines are more strict than others about serving booze you didn't buy from them, though.

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p.s. if you're dreading anything it should be ATL. 90 degrees, 200% humidity and they haven't had a breeze in 23 years. plus, everyone will be driving faster than your plane can fly. not that this will make you feel any better, but your much more likely to die IN atlanta than going to atlanta. i live a couple hours away and i can tell you, it is the butthole of the world.

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@osculant: very true! forgot to mention that. on a trip to key west for a bachelor party, my idiot friend had a bookback full of beers and mini bottles. the TSA agent laughed his butt off when he pulled out the beers. he told my friend he couldn't take the beers because they were 12oz's but he let him on with all the mini bottles because they were only 1.5oz's. bring some booze and mix it with valium. if you're lucky you wont wake up till your back in NY :)

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@osculant: That's awesome information, I never would have thought I could bring booze on the plane. That should help me relax a little and not stress over the little things. Thank you everyone for the tips! there is a TON of great information in these responses that I would have never found on my own.

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I prefer analog entertainment, as it can be used at all times such as while you sit on the runway for an hour waiting in line to take off. NYC and Atlanta are both very busy and delays are a very real possibility. Similarly, pack a dry snack of choice. Also, earplugs.

The plane does sometimes move up and down like a car going over a bump/pothole and it's not uncommon to "lose" your stomach the same way you can in a car/rollercoaster. Usually this is over before you know what happened and it's nothing to worry about, you're not going to crash. Only panic if the flight attendants do. :)

Another tip: Write down the customer service phone number of your airline somewhere. If your flight gets seriously delayed or cancelled, you can call them (perhaps even before you get off the plane) and they will rebook you without you having to wait in a HORRENDOUS line of angry people for an agent at the airport. I'm always surprised how few people do this.

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Pro tip: Try not to mention any the following while in the airport or on the plane.
Knives
Guns
Bombs
Crashes
Hijackings
Terrorists
Nipple Hair

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@bsmith1: forgot to add water based lube to soften the cavity search experience. i haven't flown since the new TSA screeners and pat downs, and at this point wouldn't go to an airport if you paid me.

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Since no one attacked from the scared of heights angle, let me.

I am deathly afraid of heights, get dizzy on a ladder afraid of heights. When I had to fly the first time (DC to LA), I decided "Okay, I'll just take an isle seat."

I did, but when my fellow traveler got up to use the restroom, I decided I had to take a look out the window. I then politely convinced her to switch seats with me.

You don't even feel the height, it's so surreal looking out the window, and the view is amazing. Trust me, your fear won't even come into play.

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• get to the airport with plenty of time to spare.
• totally agree with slip on shoes for getting through security. Although flip flops can be a bad idea as planes can be overly air-conditioned and some peoples flip flops freaking smell bad.
• don't wear metal - belt buckles, earrings, etc.
• you get one carried-on suitcase and it must fit in the overhead bin. No exceptions. in addition they'll let you carry a briefcase, backpack or a purse on board.
• put any small bottles of liquid - shampoo, mouthwash, etc. in a clear plastic kitchen storage bag. Those may have to be pulled out of your carryon to go thru security
• have your travel docs handy - ID, boarding pass.
• be organized and travel light, take what you need for the trip and not a bunch of extra stuff. the less you have with you the less you have to hassle with.
• board when your row is called not sooner.

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@ndcouch: I don't think I've ever had a "pat-down". Standing in a full body scanner for a moment is no different than going through the metal detector in my opinion.
My question to you is, what are you hiding?

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Don't let your arms get tired. That's a long way to fly.

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My issues with flying are more related to inner ear/sinus problems and motion sickness (I can't even ride merry-go-rounds!). I always take an OTC decongestant the night before I fly, and I take dramamine or bonine for the flight, along with an antacid tablet. Strangely enough, the motion sickness I get on airplanes is more like stomach acid than it is like nausea (TMI?). The combination of OTC meds to deal with any pressure that might build up behind my ears and meds to cut down on stomach acid seem to do the trick for me! Oh, and unless you really want to enjoy the view out of the window (which can be lovely), I opt for an aisle seat and turn the vent to blow gently on me. I think some of my flying tension comes from the claustrophobia of sitting in a middle or window seat.

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@bsmith1: since when is trying to maintain privacy and personal rights akin to "hiding something". if a cop asks to search my car, i'm not gonna let him. even if i have nothing to hide, i get irritated when my personal boundaries are overstepped. i'm extremely distrustful of any entity or individual that wants to violate me or do something against my will for "my safety". there's a reason these policies have caused a huge public outcry

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Definitely take a window seat. Being on the isle sucks. I can't tell you how many times I've been hit with those stupid food carts or some lady's purse. Wear sandals (with socks). If you have any jewelry you don't mind leaving at home, do so. One less thing to take off. Don't wear a belt. Do wear comfy clothes! If you get motion sickness at all, take some Dramamine with you, just in case. Also, bring gum for the ear popping. Good luck!

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@bsmith1: I don't know you well enough to tell if you're being sarcastic, so I apologize if that wasn't meant literally.

People don't like the body scanners because its human operator sees you naked, whereas a metal detector simply beeps.

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To save time, before you enter the line for the security checkpoint, empty your pockets into your carry-on bag. If that bag has a small outer pocket, that is the perfect place. Put all your spare change, keys, watch, phone, wallet, and even non-metal stuff like Kleenex and chapstick into the carry-on. The only things you want to still have in your hand/pocket are your boarding pass and your drivers license.

If you have a laptop, remember it must go into a its own separate bin on the x-ray machine. Also, put your shoes, coat if you wear one, and belt into a bin, don't try to wear those through. You'll have to walk thru either an older-style metal detector, or a newer-style body scanner. Either way, it's painless, unless you forget to empty your pockets and you set off the machine!

Make sure you gather ALL your belongings before you walk away from the checkpoint.

And once you get on board, be aware you're likely to be tightly squeezed into your seat for the next 3 hours...

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If you haven't booked the flight yet, and it's reasonable, get an early flight, or a very late one. Lines through security tend to be much faster. Then you have time to mill around, get breakfast, and browse through all the tourist shops.

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Drink at least four cups of coffee before hitting the security checkpoint.
Be sure to pack lots of extra wire, alarm clocks, and rolls of tin foil in your luggage.
Say hi loudly to everyone named Jack.
Get visibly excited by the TSA's security check. Offer to do it back.