29 Jun Surviving Summer Travel, Part III
So you’ve succeeded in organizing and packing your bags – now it’s time to tackle the airport/flight. Here are FIVE ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR SURVIVING THE AIRPORT to help you optimize time spent checking-in bags, going through security, and boarding the plane.
1 – Time management.
Everyone knows to arrive to the airport at LEAST one hour before a domestic flight – and more like three hours before an international flight. This couldn’t be more true during the busy summer travel season, especially since security lines are getting longer and longer. It’s best to have extra time at the airport, than not enough time.
2 – Where to pack toiletries.
If you’re already checking a bag, I recommend packing your toiletries there. If you only have a carry-on, items that are liquid or liquid equivalent need to go into the quart-sized bag. Don’t pack all your toiletries in the quart bag, just the liquids. Medications should always go in your carry-on; if you have a liquid medication measuring more than 3oz, alert a TSA member so they can screen it separately.
3 – Surviving security screening.
If you don’t want to go through the new scanners at security, alert a TSA officer, but realize that you will be given a mandatory pat-down. To keep the security line moving faster for everyone, remember these requirements:
- If it’s metal (ring, watch, change) take it off or out of your pockets before going through security, and place it in a small bin.
- Shoes, belts, jackets and any sweaters/sweatshirts (so long as you have something under them) must come off and go in a bin. No exceptions for adults. I believe children under 12 do not have to remove their shoes, but they will have to remove everything else. Since you know you’re going to have to remove your shoes, wear some that require socks, or have a spare pair handy. I can’t think of anything worse than walking barefoot through the security section of the airport!
- Laptops must come out of your luggage, remain in their cases (unless the case is TSA approved scan-able) and ride in a bin ALONE. On the other hand, smart phones, dvd players, gaming devices, tablets, cameras and other smaller electronics can stay in your bags.
- No liquids over 3oz may pass through security. Pull your quart-sized bag of liquids out and place in a small bin or in the bin with your shoes. If you don’t want to pay a lot for water in the terminal (and I don’t blame you at $5 for a small bottle), bring an empty, reusable bottle and refill at a water fountain after security.
- Have your ID (passport, driver’s license, ID card) and boarding pass in your hand as you approach the security line. Once you’ve shown your ID/ticket to the TSA officer at security, you can pack these items in your bag so you do not have anything in your hands during the screening. This may seem obvious, but can cause delays, especially if you’re being screened through the newer scanning machines, which require you have NOTHING in your hands or pockets.
4 – Organize and tag your bag(s).
I recommend packing neatly because, in the event your bag has been selected for additional screening, TSA officers will be able to quickly locate any questionable items. Hopefully if you’ve read my last two blog posts, you’re back is packed like a pro! You may use a TSA approved lock to secure your checked bags from other airport employees, while TSA agents are able access your bags for security purposes. Furthermore, make sure all luggage is tagged with your contact information at your destination (so your bag will be shipped/delivered to where you are going, not where you started). Whether you use the free paper tags that the airline provides, a luggage tag or these cool new decals – make sure people know how to reach you in case your bag goes missing (temporarily, of course)!
5 – Storing your carry-on items during boarding.
When it comes to finding room in the overhead bin for your bag, please also be considerate of others. Place roller bags wheels-in to make room for as many bags as possible. I recommend holding onto coats/hats/garment bags until you see the flight attendants closing the bins – then alert them you’d like to place your items in the bins. This keeps them from getting moved around/crushed when initially placed in the bin (and if the bins are full, your stuff might get bumped up to the first class closet!). If you cannot find room, ask a flight attendant to help you – they are packing pros! Moving around other passengers’ luggage can cause tension and in some cases, fights – so leave it to the professionals. Place your largest item in the bin and place anything you’ll need during the flight at your feet.
Summer travel can be especially hectic for us all. Airport employees are overworked, underpaid and never appreciated. Flight crews and TSA security are constantly complained to and yelled at. Let’s all try to remember to be polite, courteous and respectful not only to our fellow passengers, but also to the people working at the airport. A little kindness can go along way – and you might inspire that grump sitting next to you to do the same. Smile, and remember all you have to be thankful for – not least of which is your fun summer vacation! Your time traveling is minute compared to the joy you’ll have at your destination!
I hope you have a wonderful time on your summer get-away!
Have specific questions about packing or travel? Let me know and I’ll be sure to answer your questions during my Travel Series blog.
(Featured photo credit: Håkan Dahlström)