What does flying feel like

What Does Flying on an Airplane Feel Like? (Honest Advice)

It’s hard to answer the question “how does it feel to fly on an airplane?” because it’s really something that you have to experience for yourself. It reminds me of a famous quote..

Unfortunately, no one can be told what The Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.


Flying for the first time is similar and as I said, you kinda have to just do it for yourself.  As someone who has flown many times, I am going to give a quick and realistic play by play of the whole experience.

I don’t quite remember my first time flying because I was very small, but I do remember my first time flying as an adult. Even though I had technically flown before, it had been a while and I was nervous. I was older and had more concerns and questions, similar to the ones you may have right now.

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What should I expect boarding my first flight?

View of seats inside of a plane
This is what a typical mid-sized airplane looks like from the inside

So basically once you get to your gate and sit down to wait for boarding to start here is what happens:

  • Planes generally begin boarding 30-40 minutes prior to the scheduled takeoff and they board by groups. First class, military, people flying with children, and handicapped will usually board first. After that they will start calling everyone else, you can find your group on your boarding pass so just wait until it’s called and get in line.
  • After than you’ll have to present your boarding pass, paper or using the app on your phone, to someone then they’ll let you walk into the jetway or jet bridge (the connecting portable hallway from the airport to the plane) and board the plane.
  • Once you walk down the jetway you’ll come to the plane’s door where you’ll be greeted by a flight attendant and possibly even the captain. They’ll say hi and wish you a comfortable flight.
  • Make your way to your seat that you’ve been assigned, unless it’s a find your own seat type flight that many airlines do. In this case choose the best seat. I suggest a window seat or an aisle seat near the front of the plane if possible, so you can de-plane quicker, but that’s just my preference.
  • Put any carry ons in an available overhead compartment hear your seat, put your personal item under your seat, buckle up and get ready for takeoff.

What does flying on a plane feel like?

Now you are buckled in your seat and prepared for what comes next, or at least as prepared as you can be. All you can do now is seat back and try to relax. What comes next isn’t scary, in fact I find it exhilarating. Although I understand why many people are a bit apprehensive about taking off, it means this is really happening and you are about to be in the air.

What Taking Off Feels Like

A plane taking off from ground
View from the wing during take off

You’ve been patiently waiting for this part ever since you politely asked the lady to move who tried to steal your window seat. You can feel the plane backing up from the jetway and heading towards the runway. It may take a little bit of time for your planes turn to have a clear path to take off, other planes are taking off all the time.

Once you hit your runway you’ll feel the plane start to accelerate, this must be it! Nope, you’re still headed to your main runway. Once you get to your runway, and the pilot really starts to accelerate, there’s no mistaking it.

You’ll reach speeds of around 150–180 mph before the plane starts to lift off the ground. It will happen suddenly. It seems like from the time you feel that punch of acceleration to the time you are in the air is almost instant. Ok, not instant, but it must be less than 30 seconds or so. The amount of time it takes to lift off depends on many factors such as capacity and the type of plane.

You’ll be pushed back up against your seat a bit and may find yourself grabbing your arm rests to support yourself a little bit. You’ll see passengers around you calm and collected because it’s just another flight to them, no big deal. As you are leaving the ground you might feel a little bumpiness followed by complete smoothness as you are airborne. From here it’s very smooth and that scary part is over, unless you hit any turbulence (read our guide to what causes turbulence on an airplane).

What the Flight Itself Feels Like

View from an airplane wing with sky and ground in distance

The actual flight isn’t really that exciting in my opinion. My first few times I was staring out the window the whole time just trying to take it all in, and you may want to do this, which is totally fine.

You should also consider utilizing this time to get something productive done, listen to an audiobook with some noise cancelling headphones. This lets you block out the world and focus on what your book, or music or whatever you may choose to listen to.

There are many other things you can do to pass the time while flying, just prepare in advance a little so you aren’t stuck twiddling your thumbs on a 6 hour flight. If you don’t have any audio books then sign up for a free trial of Amazon’s Audible and get 2 free ones.

On my most recent flight I listened to The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, which was enlightening. It kept me occupied the whole 2.5 hour flight and I wouldn’t have even known I was on an airplane, except for the flight attendants coming by with a snack cart.

You might encounter some mild turbulence, but you get used to it quickly. So sit back and try to relax, listen to some headphones or watch a movie, and it will be time to land before you know it.

✈️ Read Next: Cheapest Places to Fly

What a plane landing feels like

View of an American Air plane on the ground
Soon enough you’ll be safe on the ground!

To me, the landing is a bit more nerve wracking. The pilot will turn on the fasten seatbelt signs about 10-20 minutes before landing and you will feel the plane start descending. If it’s day time, you will see the ground getting closer and closer as the planes altitude decreases.

As you are nearing the ground you will hear some mechanical sounds underneath the plane and around the wings. This is the landing gear and other equipment being activated to help prepare the plane for landing. Some planes you can barely hear this equipment, others it can be quite loud. Regardless, it’s normal.

Once the plane touches the runway you may hear a couple of chirps as the rubber meets the cement. After that they will begin braking heavily to get the speed down.

The landing speed is going to be similar to the takeoff speed I mentioned above so you’ll need to slow down as quickly as possible. This part is a little bumpy and may be a bit scary your first time flying, but after it’s over you did it! You successfully flew on a plane for the first time and made it back on that sweet, sweet ground.

✈️ Read Next: What’s the Difference Between Carry On and Checked Baggage?


I hope I have answered your question about what flying feels like.

Now you just wait for your plane to taxi to it’s gate. Once you are on the ground you should be able to turn your cellphone off of airplane mode and text your loved ones or whoever that you landed safely.

Or you can finally check Instagram. Once the plane comes to a stop everyone in the aisle seats will stand up thinking that will help them get off the plane quicker, but it won’t. You should just stay in your seat and patiently wait until the 2-3 rows in front of you start walking off the plane. That’s your queue to get ready to stand up and collect your belongings and deplane.