Descriptive essays are, of course, all about description. However the intention is not to simply provide an itemized account of what is in a picture requiring description, or in this case, to provide a simple account of what is in an airport. Descriptive essays should present the reader with a visual picture based on appearance, smells, textures and so on, based on the five senses. Care should be taken to "describe" in terms of the senses and not offer an opinion as the essay then could become more discursive than descriptive.
Consider your thesis statement and introductory paragraph. Be specific in your description; for example, "An airport is more than its essential elements of size, types of aircraft, a building, a runway and people. It is a cultural experience, a hive of activity and a place where decisions are made and lives are changed forever."
Your thesis statement will help you to remain focused and to describe each element, such as dimensions, aircraft, runway, buildings, people, cultures, activities, lives and so on.
The first step is to imagine an airport. The most striking thing about an airport is its size. By definition, it needs to be large to accommodate planes, some with huge wingspans. However, size is relative and some airports cannot cater to large aircraft because of wingspan or runway length or capacity. Therefore, in getting a sense of the airport you may be describing, the size is important in guiding the reader to a true sense of scale. The reader can already imagine which aircraft may be situated on the apron or runway. Describing those aircraft may be relevant.
Airport buildings in large cities are usually quite impressive but those in smaller, outlying areas may be more about the runway than the building and so describing the building helps to enhance that visual, descriptive picture. Some airports operate all hours and are frantic and loud and light for 24 hours without respite.
Airports are very cosmopolitan; many people, many nationalities and many cultures all converge in one place to make for a fascinating culture all of its own. Should it be an airport catering only to domestic flights, there is still a diverse population. Any airport caters to people from all walks of life. There will be the businessman or woman, the tourist, the traveler visiting beloved family members across states and sometimes countries, child travelers and airport staff themselves, including those who stay on the ground and those pilots and flight attendants who work on the planes. There will also be those who fulfill administrative functions, technical and repair functions, operations, traffic control, emergency services, guest services, and then the retail outlets and restaurants often found in airports.
Airports are incredibly happy places and unbelievably sad places. They unite and they divide. They are lonely places for some and opportunities for learning, advancement and excitement for others.
There are many ways to describe an airport while maintaining a descriptive tone. When your essay is finished, ideally the reader should want to run off and experience the real thing because your description is so inspiring!
Checking In For Your Flight
Checking in for a flight is the process whereby a person announces their arrival at the airport. The check-in process at airports enables passengers to confirm they will be on the respective flight, obtain a boarding pass, possibly select their seat (if hasn’t happened already or allowed by airline), and check in luggage onto a plane, if desired.
A boarding pass is a document provided by an airline during check-in, giving a passenger permission to board the airplane for a particular flight. At a minimum, it identifies the passenger, the flight number, and the date and scheduled time for departure. Boarding Passes are always required to board a flight. Often times airlines accept paper or electronic boarding passes (on phone or tablet).
Three Ways to Check-In
In-person at a staffed check-in counter at airport
Checking-in in-person allows you to check in your baggage, if checking luggage, at the same time as checking in for your flight.
Items needed for check-in counter check-in:
- Passport (when traveling internationally)
- Paper ticket (less and less common),
- or a confirmation number—usually sent via email if ticket is purchased online or through a travel agency,
- or printed itinerary with a confirmation number
In-person at airport using a self check-in kiosk
At this time passengers can select a seat (if hasn’t happened already or allowed by airline), enter number of bags to be checked (if desired), and print boarding passes. Passengers will then need to submit luggage to staffed counter or checked luggage stations. Airline staff will need to check your passport either at time of check in or at gate.
Items needed for kiosk check-in:
- Confirmation number—(usually sent via email if ticket is purchased online or through a travel agency),
- or the credit card used for payment of the ticket,
- and or a passport. Passport required when traveling internationally.
Check-in online before arriving to airport
Passengers can check in online starting 24 hours (usually) before departure. Passengers will need to submit luggage to staffed counter or checked luggage stations if checking luggage.
Benefits of online check-in:
- Avoid potential check-in lines at airport
- Print boarding pass at home (can also wait or reprint at self-service kiosk at the airport)
- Select seat assignment(s) before others (if applicable)
- Choose to get updates of possible changes to departure times leading up to flight.
Check-in and Boarding Timelines
- Many airlines have a deadline for passengers to check-in before each flight. Check-in deadlines are usually between 60 to 30 minutes before boarding, and you are often not able to check in after those times (meaning you cannot go on your flight).
- Check-in deadlines allows airlines to to load luggage onto the plane, offer potential unclaimed seats to stand-by passengers, and to finalize documentation for take-off.
- Boarding times are usually between 30 minutes to an hour before scheduled take-off.
- Your boarding pass will list the time the flight will start boarding.
- Flights tend to board in shifts- they might call by rows or by groups. Your boarding pass will indicate your row or group.
- Timeline considerations for boarding: be sure to take into account the time it takes to get through the check-in line, to pass security and then to walk or ride (tram, bus) from the check-in area to your boarding area (your terminal and gate- listed on your boarding pass). Getting through the airport steps can take several hours at some airports or during busy travel times of the year.
- On international flights, you will need to account for more time to clear immigration and customs.
- For international travel, a good rule is to arrive at the airport 3 hours prior to departure and 2 hours for domestic travel. International flights often start boarding 45 minutes to 1 hour prior to the departure time.
- Most airlines will list their specific check-in policies and timelines, so visit your airline's website for details.