Last Updated: August 20, 2023

How To Board An International Flight: A Step By Step Guide

Not entirely certain what the procedure is for boarding international flights? It’s okay – we’ll help you prepare for your upcoming trip with this step-by-step guide on how to board international flights!

We’ve covered everything you should do from the second you arrive at the airport to the moment you’re sitting comfortably in your seat, so keep reading!

How To Board An International Flight Step-by-step

  • Get there 2 hours ahead
  • Head immediately to the check-in counter
  • Check-in your bag & get your ticket
  • Head to security with your carry-on
  • Pass through customs
  • Go to your gate
  • Wait for your flight to be called

At The Airport

1. Get To The Airport 2 Hours Ahead

Get to the airport at least two hours before your gate closes. Most airlines recommend that you arrive at the airport three hours earlier for international flights and if you can manage that, it’s even better. But if you can’t, two should give you enough time to finish everything without too much rush.

2. Head To The Check-In Counter

When you arrive at the airport, you need to head to the check-in counter immediately. The airline needs a confirmation that you will actually be on the flight, and they get it once you check-in at the counter. The check-in process is how you get a boarding pass, which is essential for boarding any flight.

Airport Terminal

3. Check In Your Luggage & Get Your Ticket

This is also the time to check any of your big suitcases. Most international flights allow at least one checked suitcase for free, as long as it’s under the airline’s weight limit. The baggage handlers will take your suitcase and weigh it if they think it’s heavier than it should be. If your checked luggage is overweight, you could incur some additional fees.

4. Pass Through Security

Once you’ve gotten your boarding pass and checked your large suitcase, take your carry-on bag and head towards security. You’ll be frisked and you need to pass through a metal detector. Before you step inside the metal detector, you need to take everything out of your pockets, take off your shoes, belt, and any other metallic items, and put them in the tray for electronic screening. If you have any piercings on your body, you should take them out. In case you have a pacemaker or any other type of metallic unit inside your body, you should have a doctor’s certificate handy to prove it.

Airport Security

5. Go To Immigration & Customs

When you pass the security check, you’re free to put your shoes and belt on again and head to immigration and customs. This isn’t necessary for every single international flight, but in case your flight requires it, it’s the next step right after the security checkpoint.

Present yourself to the immigration and customs officers, state your reason for the trip, and show them your passport, visa, and any other travel-related documents that might be required. This is also a good time to double-check whether you’re carrying any forbidden items in your bag. You should have done this before leaving the house since in some countries having a banned item is reason enough for persecution.

6. Find Your Gate & Wait For Your Flight

The hard part is over – all that is left to do is head to the lounge and wait for your flight to start boarding. Get a cup of coffee, grab a bite to eat, or check out all the duty-free goods in the shops. When your flight starts boarding passengers, head to the gate and wait for them to call your name.

Once you’re comfortable in your seat, you’ve officially made it! Congratulations on boarding your first international flight; hopefully, it’s just the first of many, many more to come!

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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