Updated on May 15, 2024.
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You’ve got your bags all packed, all of your documents, and you’re ready to go on your trip. Your taxi has just shown up and is ready to take you to the airport. But the question arises what should be done first once you arrive at the airport? Before we get into all of the fun things that you can do once you’re inside and past all the checkpoints, let’s get the basics down first.

Key Takeaways

  • Upon arrival, make sure to check any bags that need to be checked in with your airline. Remember that most airlines charge baggage check fees, so it’s best to check with your airline prior to arrival to verify what is allowed in your bags.
  • In addition to the usual security procedures, COVID-19 pandemic protocols may include temperature checks and questionnaires concerning any contact with someone who has COVID-19. Be prepared to spend extra time going through security.
  • Once you’re past all the checkpoints and know where your terminal is, take some time to explore the airport. Try new restaurants, shop at duty-free stores, or simply relax and enjoy a hot beverage before your flight.

1. Check In Your Bags

Once you arrive at the airport the very first thing you’re going to need to do is make sure that you check any bags that need to be checked in with your airline. These desks are usually the very first thing you see when you walk into an airport. Most airlines charge of baggage check fee so be prepared to pay one upon arrival. Many of these different baggage check fees can range anywhere from $35-$50 a bag. It would be in your best interest to check with your airline prior to arrival to verify what is allowed to go into your bags as well as the size of the bag allowed by the airline. However, if you wish to save yourself some fees then review the carry-on policy for your airline and pack lite.

2. Go Through Security: Allow Plenty Of Time

Next on the list is making sure you allow plenty of time for security. In my recent travels during this COVID-19 pandemic, part of the security was not simply taking off shoes, being scanned, and having my bags checked. Part of the security check now could include having your temperature taken and filling out a questionnaire concerning any contact with someone who has Covid-19 and the potential for you having Covid-19 depending on where you have traveled recently. These questionnaires are usually taken using a QR code. Once you scan the QR code you are then prompted to take a survey concerning all of your travels in contact with anybody who has tested positive for COVID-19. I mention this because in my travel I saw many other travelers who were desperately trying to figure out how to use a QR code reader or access proof that they filled out the questionnaire. Simply being aware that these are now protocols will give you a plan to allow yourself more time in the already long check points.

3. Find Your Boarding Gate

What to Do in the Airport When You ArriveOnce you get past all of the checkpoints you will need to find your boarding gate. Be aware that if you are flying out of a larger airport terminals can be difficult to find, which means you should allow time to get to them. Some airports, for example, require the use of a tram or a bus to get from one point to another. This is also something that should be considered if you have connecting flights in a larger airport. Making sure you are able to get to your terminal in a timely manner will ensure that you do not miss your flight.

4. Get A Hot Beverage

Now that you have done all of the check-in points and you’re aware of where your terminal is you have a little time to kill and explore small world that is the airport. When I go into an airport the very first thing I look for is coffee. It doesn’t matter when my last cup of coffee was I simply love to check out new coffee places and creations! Besides, there is just something about getting from home to the airport and through all of the checks that completely exhaust the traveler.

5. Eat A Meal

Hungry? Great! Airports are a hub of great restaurants to choose from. Many of these restaurants range from something as simple as your local fast food eatery back home to gourmet restaurants that you would normally see in a big city. Either way, you can either find something that brings you the comfort of knowing what you’re getting or something exciting that you’ve never tried before.

6. Shop At Duty-free Stores

Go shopping! Returning from my most recent trip from Cancun Mexico, I have to say that their airport shopping was phenomenal! Being able to poke around in the various make up shops, perfume stores, high end clothing, wine specialty stores, and souvenir shops kept me occupied for a good two hours before needing to board our flight.

Now that you know everything you need to do in the airport when you arrive you can rest assured that you can bored your flight knowing that you are just one stop away from your destination.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should be done first upon arriving at the airport?

Upon arriving at the airport, the first thing to do is to check in any bags that need to be checked in with your airline.

  • How can I save money on baggage fees?

Review your airline’s carry-on policy and pack light to avoid baggage fees.

  • What should I expect at security checkpoints during the COVID-19 pandemic?

In addition to the usual security procedures, expect to have your temperature taken and to fill out a questionnaire concerning any contact with someone who has COVID-19.

  • How much time should I allow for going through security?

Allow plenty of time for security, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plan to arrive at the airport early and extra budget time for security checks.

  • What should I do after passing through security checkpoints?

Once you’ve passed security checkpoints, find your boarding gate and explore the airport’s shops and dining options.

  • What should I do if I have a connecting flight to a larger airport?

Allow plenty of time to get to your terminal, as some airports may require a tram or bus to get from one point to another.