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Arrive at least 2 hours to 3 hours before your flight if traveling with young children, infants, elderly or disabled passengers to allow for the needed time to go through airport security.
I arrive early even when travelling alone to avoid the long line-ups.
This allows me the opportunity to select a good seat on the plane and have a relaxing experience.
The worst experience is having to rush and run to your gate which may be far away.
Airline Luggage Restrictions
Pack lightly and travel with as little baggage as possible to reduce processing time at the airport, and to avoid the airline luggage restrictions and extra costs that many airlines have imposed for luggage over their weight restrictions.
Leave extra space in your suitcase for souvenirs.
You may want to throw an empty backpack into your suitcase that you can use to fill with your shopping treasures on your return trip.
Do not put heavy items in the overhead storage bins.
Weight limit for carry on items is generally about 40 lbs. (18.2 kg.), but even lighter bags may cause severe injury if it falls out of the bin.
Do not pack valuable items in checked luggage.
As part of airport security, money, laptops, documents, jewellery, cameras, cell phones, fragile items and other items of high importance such prescription drugs, other medical items, eyeglasses, keys, passports, travel vouchers, business papers, manuscripts, heirlooms, or favourite toys should be kept in a carry-on bag, preferably one that is small enough to stow under a seat.
- Because of the baggage allowance restrictions, the airline may insist on checking larger carry-on bags if the overhead bins become filled.
- Keep camera film out of checked bags as equipment used to scan checked bags may damage unexposed film.
- You may want to request a hand inspection of any bag carrying film since multiple passes through x-ray machine may damage undeveloped film.
- Certain electronic devices such as radios, cordless computer mice or portable GPS systems may not be used in flight even if you do pack them in your carry-on, as they may interfere with the plane’s navigational or communications systems.
Airline Security – Baggage Tips
Tag your contact information inside and outside every bag.
Put your name and contact address on the outside of every bag plus a copy of your itinerary inside every bag. This way the airline can reunite you if you are separated from your luggage.
- Do this with your carry-on luggage as well, but for personal security reasons, it may be wise to use an address other than your home address.
- Make it easy to spot on a baggage carousel and prevent another passenger from taking your bag by mistake.
- Add a small scarf or sticker of your choice.
- Tag your checked luggage for the correct destination and airline security.
- Every piece of checked luggage should have a three-letter airport identifier that should match your destination airport to comply with airport security.
- Keep the stub the airport ticket agent gives you for your checked luggage.
- This stub is a critical document that will be needed if your luggage is lost by the airline or if you are trying to prove that you own a piece of luggage in the case of airport security.
- Immediately report the loss of checked luggage.
- If your checked baggage does not arrive at your destination, immediately report this problem to the baggage agent on duty or to any other available representative from your airline for both your loss and airline security.
- Prepare to deal with lost baggage.
- Pack your carry-on bag so that you can continue your trip with the loss of your checked baggage.
- Take your key items like a day of clothing (which means two days of clothing; what you are wearing for your flight and a change of clothing), business suits or underwear so that you can carry on with your vacation or business until you either get the bag back or replace the lost articles.
- If you are carrying essential items or information for a business meeting, either carry a backup set of information or have that backup information sent ahead of time.
Airport Security Measures – Metal Detectors and the Body Search
Be prepared to remove your coat, jacket, shoes or sandals off when going through check points.
This is standard procedure of airport security measures now at many airports.
- Have all your personal items in plastic bags (freezer zipper plastic bags work well) before you arrive to the airport to speed up the process through metal detectors and security checks of airport security.
- Passengers should limit the amount of metal they carry with them, and remove all metal objects before going through the X-ray machine at security checkpoints.
- Limit the amount of jewellery or other metal objects that you wear.
- Travelers should remove all metal objects prior to passing through the metal detectors in order to facilitate the screening process.
Airline Security and Liquids and Gels
Purchase small bottles of shampoo, hair conditioner, deodorant, hand cream, hairspray, toothpaste at your local pharmacy or drug store, and any other items you may want to carry in your purse, shaving bag or carryon bag.
These are made specifically to meet the new airport security measures.
- Containers must be 100 ml/100 g (3.4 oz.) or less
- These containers must be placed in one clear, closed and re-sealable plastic bag no larger than one litre (one quart).
- Usually only one bag is allowed per person, but I have found that if I place most of these items in my carry-on bag, and a few cosmetics such as lipstick, blush, eyeliner, mascara, etc. in a separate plastic bag which I keep in my hand bag, I have not had problems displaying two re-sealble bags for a total no larger that one litre.
Drink or discard any beverages in containers over 100 ml before security screening.
At the screening point, take your plastic bag out of your carry-on and place it in one of the provided trays.
You can put everything back in your purse or pocket once you have completed your air travel, but keep the small plastic bags and repack when you are heading back to the airport.
Airline Security and Sharp Items
Always remember to pack your sharp items, such as scissors, wine bottle openers, etc. in your suitcase.
- I have had both items taken from me because I had been in transition flying via multiple destinations, and had simply forgotten to pack them in my suitcase and had placed them in my carryon bag.
- Straight razors, box cutters, metal scissors, ice picks, metal nail files, corkscrews, bats, golf clubs, pool cues, ski poles and hockey sticks are forbidden in the aircraft cabin.
Airline Security and Electronic Devices
If you are carrying a laptop, use a padded sleeve to protect it as it could get damaged when being handled through the screening process of the airport security measures.
Electronic devices such as laptop computers and cellphones must be packed in carry-on baggage.
- Passengers are limited to one carry-on bag and a netbook or briefcase.
- Electronic items, such as cell phones and laptops may be subjected to additional screening.
- Remove your laptop from its travel case so that both can be X-rayed separately.
- If the personnel are unable to identify the contents in your bags, they will conduct a search as this is a normal part of airline security measures.
That is why it is a good idea to leave gifts unwrapped until after you arrive at your destination.
Watch Your Luggage
Do not leave your luggage unattended as it may be stolen or recovered by airport security and destroyed.
- Watch your bags while you are at the airport and never accept packages from strangers.
- History has shown that criminals and terrorists use unwitting passengers to carry bombs or other dangerous items on board aircraft.
- They do this either by tricking passengers into carrying packages or by simply slipping items into unwatched bags.
If you have any doubts, say so.
- For your own security and airline security, never carry anything onto a flight on behalf of someone else.
- If you think an item has been placed in your baggage without your knowledge, you must tell the check-in agent immediately.
Airport Security Tips
There are a few permissible Items to take on board:
- Prescription medicine with a name that matches the passenger’s ticket.
- Essential non-prescription medicine.
- Diabetics and others who have to carry needles and other medical devices need a doctor’s note stating that they have the disease and listing the medical items the person needs to have with them.
A few items in containers over 100 ml are allowed in your carry-on without being placed in a re-sealable plastic bag but you must declare all such items at security screening.
They must be removed from carry-on baggage and placed directly into a bin at the entrance of the checkpoint, and additional screening may be required.
- Baby formula, baby food, milk or juice.
- Breast milk can be in containers larger than three ounces, but they have to be declared at the security checkpoint.
- Solid cosmetics and personal hygiene items such as lipstick in a tube, solid deodorant, lip balm and similar solids as long as these items are solid and not liquid, gel or aerosol.
Some duty free items, depending on the airport and airline:
Once past the security checkpoint, you are free to buy liquid gel products of any size within the secure areas of the airport terminal and take them on board.
- The rules can vary on international flights as some airlines will allow duty free liquids, gels and aerosols on board only if the goods are delivered to the passenger while getting on the aircraft.
- These goods are generally placed in a clearly marked airport sealed plastic bag.
Do not open this bag until you reach your final destination and keep your receipt as you may be asked to show it on your transfer flights.
Check-in & Identification:
Bring photo identification – bring your passport when travelling, regardless of destination.
- In the U.S., a passport or other government-issued photo ID (national, state, or local) is required for travelers age 18 and over.
- Without a photo ID, you may be able to use two forms of non-photo ID, one of which has to issued by a state or federal agency.
- For a smoother experience, always bring your passport.
Automated check-in kiosks are available for airlines that have appropriate security measures in place but I have found that if I am travelling internationally, these kiosks do not always allow for instant boarding passes and you still must check in at the ticket counter in the airport.
Airline Security and Food
Solid snack food is allowed in both checked and carry-on baggage, such as potato chips, pretzels, nuts or carrot sticks for the plane.
- You can carry single-serving packages of condiments as long as they fit within your single zip-top bag. Food like sandwiches must be securely wrapped or in a spill-proof container.
- Gel packs to refrigerate food are not allowed, although they are permitted for medication.
- Liquid food in your carry-on (for example, yogurt, pudding or jam) must be in containers of 100 ml or less.
Airport Security Approved Locks
f you want to lock your luggage you will need a TSA approved lock so that airport security personnel can open it if your bag is selected for inspection.
TSA screeners will cut off non-approved locks if they need to get into your bag.
More information about approved locks can be found at TSA Web.