Sometimes I have the feeling I live at the airport. Non stop flying somewhere. Before it was a passion. Lately it’s mostly a habit. Sometimes I want to stop, but I can’t. I just love the airports smell and the hectic atmosphere there. Also the smiling rushing passengers, the breathless delaying departures, the butterflies into the stomach, while heading to a new destination, the leaking fear, prior to facing the unknown, the thrill, when at the plane “doorstep”…
At the moment, I am hanging out at Istanbul International Airport, waiting for my connecting flight. The last a few months Istanbul airport became my second home. Not because I am a fan of Turkish Airlines. I don’t want to be mean, but their performance is much poorer and questions their five year in a row award as the best European Airlines. I guess my evaluation comes after a comparison with the service at Emirates and at Qatar Airways, which is really good. To be fair, Turkish Airlines offer plenty of destinations. It doesn’t matter if you fly to Africa, to the Middle or Far East, Turkish Airlines’ home, Istanbul Ataturk Airport, is a really good choice to start a trip from.
So…It’s early in the morning, a quite tight airport with no free Wi Fi, not so many shops around, most of them I have previously been to, so feel a bit bored. And what do I do when I am bored? My favorite action, to start observing people around.
It’s so obvious who is a flight beginner. As an air-veteran, it comes naturally to me to recognise passengers, who fly for first time. Nervous, stacked at the boarding desk too early, rapping around impatiently, afraid something is going wrong. They check for notifications the Departures board every minute. At the time of boarding are first in line, commenting loudly, holding tight their travel papers. The beginners are among the most enthusiastic and noisy people at the gate. If in a group, they usually try to hide their anxiety behind some flat jokes or hyper laughter. They also often run from shop to shop, with the idea to see and capture everything at the airport, actually killing time and eager to jump on the plane.
There is kind of a madness into flight beginner’s eyes. Such eyes are widely open, blinking often, hectically moving, trying to catch all happening around. When is already on the plane, the beginner is not aware how to fasten the seat belt, how to use the entertainment system (on long flights), what the buttons above the head are for. That’s something normal and the beginner is not supposed to know it.
And here comes the non sense. If you try to help them, they suddenly become defensive and kind of embarrassed, sort of ” What are you trying to demonstrate, I already know all this! “. I stopped helping beginners long ago, for not offending them, but I am still curious to observe. There is nothing embarrassing if you are new on board and have no idea what to do. And nothing wrong to ask. Then you would find the remote control for the TV screen is not working as a cell phone, also the earphones won’t start working if they are plugged to your ears, but unplugged to the system. I wish someone been there for me, when I was “green” on board.
I remember how the modern entertainment system at Qatar Airways made me confused years ago, when I was on board for first time. I was unable to find the portable table, neither the TV screen, because I was sitting on the first line. There was no seat in front me, where usually the TV screen should be fixed. I was struggling, searching for it under and around the seat, but nothing hinted me their position (the designer was really creative). The flight attendant was tolerant enough not to laugh at my poor attempts. She patiently assisted me and lifted both of them up. So my simple advice …don’t be pigheaded and just ask.
Tips and Tricks for passengers new on board:
- Don’t rush, keep calm at the gate, anyway the plane won’t take off without you, before the scheduled time
- Try to be at the gate about an hour prior to the flight. The boarding time usually starts 30 minutes prior the scheduled take off, for the long flights could be 50 minutes.
- When the invitation to board is announced, doesn’t make any sense to stay in line, waiting for getting on board. Anyway, if you are first in line, you should wait for all other passengers boarding, as the plane won’t make it without them. It’s pointless to prolong your sitting time on the plane, anyway you have to spend long time sitting.
- Better make your boarding among the last passengers. What do you gain? You are not waiting in line, just accelerating your anxiety.
- Being nervous before the fight doesn’t help. Take your time to walk the airport, check the shops (even if you don’t have money) hang out around, make new memories. The walking calms you down. Take pictures, post on Facebook or wherever you want.
- Don’t speak too loud, being proud you are flying to this maybe exotic or exciting destination. Remember, all passengers at your gate fly the same direction. Your public loud demonstration shows you are pretty new on board and probably it’s your first flight.
- If you can’t find something or you need any assistance on board, push the button above your head. The flight attendant will come right to your seat. Don’t shout, don’t yell, don’ whistle!
- Don’t play with the buttons over your head if you have no idea what they are for. This just makes the flight attendant extremely irritated and intolerant to your needs.
- If you have a long flight ahead and need to rest, be careful when you release your seat, setting it in more comfortable position. The passenger behind you may still consume their meal, you don’t want to cause troubles to your neighbor.
- When the plane is landing, follow the instructions and keep seating till the full stop of the aircraft. Unfortunately the Eastern Europeans are recognized by their impatience. They start standing and taking bags before the plane is at park position. Don’t rush, you still have to wait for leaving the cabin.
Next time when you jump on a plane or just plan to book a flight, just bear in mind you are no longer a beginner and you are already well prepared for the first flight:))