Flying for the First Time? Here’s What You Can Expect

It’s estimated that a large majority of Americans have flown on a commercial airline at some point in their lifetime. For those who haven’t, there’s a first time for everything, right?

If you’re going to be taking to the skies for the first time and you’re a little unsure about the process or what to expect, Bradley International Airport (BDL) has you covered. Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions by first-time flyers.

Where do I park my vehicle at the airport?

Travelers should familiarize themselves with the various parking options, availability, cost and locations at an airport. BDL’s parking program, BDLs PARK, has all of that information laid out on its website. BDL has a parking garage that’s connected to the airport terminal, a surface lot within walking distance to the terminal, and four other surface lots with complimentary shuttle service to/from the terminal. You can check information on open lots on the website or follow variable message signage once on the airport campus.

Pro travel tip: Take a photo of your parking location prior to your departure in order to help you remember where you parked when you return.

Where do I go once inside the airport?

All domestic and international flights currently operate out of the main terminal, Terminal A. Once inside the terminal, your first stop will be your airline’s check-in counter inside the lobby on the departure’s level. It’s here where you’ll check-in with your airline, print your boarding pass and check your bag.

Pro travel tip: Download your airline’s app and check in for your flight 24 hours before departure. The app will also provide real-time travel updates and notifications.

How do I navigate security?

Once you’re ready to go to your gate, you’ll go through the TSA security checkpoint. During this process, your carry-on will be screened and you’ll have to go through a body scanner so TSA agents can look for any prohibited items.

Pro travel tips: You can expedite your screening process by coming to the airport prepared for screening. For a comprehensive list of the of what you can and cannot bring through security, visit the TSA website or contact the TSA on social media.

How do I find my flight?

Your boarding pass will have your gate number, but keep in mind, gate assignments are subject to change. Locate the closest departure screens at BDL for the most up-to-date flight and gate information. Once you know which gate your flight is leaving from, follow the airport’s directional signage.

Pro travel tip: If you need further assistance inside the terminal, you can now text our team. Once you have passed the TSA-screening more information is available on our digital screens.

When do I board the plane?

Airlines will begin boarding anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes before the departure time. It depends on your destination and the size of the aircraft. That’s why it’s important to be at your gate with time to spare so you can hear the boarding announcements. Additionally, most airlines close the boarding door 10 to 15 minutes before departure time, so getting to the gate late could mean you’ll miss your flight.

Pro travel tip: Have time to spare? Check out one of our restaurants or shops. You can find more information about all our concessions on our website.

Where do I go once my flight lands?

After getting off your flight, you’ll follow directional signage inside BDL that leads to baggage claim. As you descend to the lower level of the airport where baggage claim is located, you’ll notice signs pointing you to the direction of each airline carousel. Arrival monitors will also display the specific carousel where you can pick up your bag. After you have all your bags, you can proceed outside to go to your car, catch a shuttle/public transportation, or meet your ride.

Pro travel tip: If you are being picked up, have your party wait in our complimentary cell phone waiting lot.

Need assistance while at the airport? You can reach out to one of our helpful volunteers at the Information Center located in baggage claim. Assistance is also available via text message. Just look for one of the screens/monitors for more information.

For more information about traveling through Bradley International Airport, visit

Bradley International Airport (BDL) invites you to love the journey at New England's second-largest airport. Recognized nationally by leading travel publications for its ease of travel, Bradley International Airport is ready to welcome you with new nonstops, expanded services, and convenient travel. The award-winning airport is operated by the Connecticut Airport Authority, and its operations are entirely self-funded. The airport contributes nearly $3.6 billion to the regional economy.

*Some nonstop flights may operate only during certain time periods of the year (seasonally). For the latest flight information, please visit the airline's website.