Airport Travel and Security Tips for Infrequent Flyers: Part 1

During the next few weeks thousands of infrequent flyers will descend on airports across the country with a mixture of anticipation and dread over their upcoming holiday travel. Frequent, experienced travelers have their process down pat: they have a system that they use time and time again to make frequent air travel as bearable as possible. And even for these ‘road warriors’ unavoidable delays and travel disruptions occur.

But for infrequent travelers the holiday airport hassles are so commonplace that the local media seems to be stationed at the airport 24/7 looking for stranded and frustrated passenger stories. Everyone wants to arrive at their destination on time and without incident. Many flight disruptions are beyond anyone’s control; however, every traveler can take actions to help make their flight as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Infrequent air travelers should take some steps before they leave for the airport to make their air travel as simple and hassle-free as possible. Following are some actions and tips to make airport travel and security as easy as possible.

Airport Travel Tips for the Holidays

Before you go:

  1. Read your ticket and the airline’s online baggage, check-in and security instructions.
    1. Do not arrive at 9pm for a 9am flight. Read and write down your flight time: then read it again. And again.
    2. If you arrive late for your flight and cannot board the plane accept responsibility for your tardiness – even if it was unavoidable traffic or weather disruptions. Your ticket will clearly state what time you must be at the gate in order to board the plane. If you are late, you will miss your plane. Add extra time for long delays at TSA during the security check process with the increased number of infrequent travelers.
  2. Label and lock your checked luggage. Locked luggage is the 1stdeterrent to crime. Sadly the stories of property stolen from checked luggage escalate around the holidays. Carefully label your luggage with your contact information in case the airline-provided luggage barcode tag is torn off.
    1. TSA-approved locks must be used. If your luggage is tagged for further security inspection, the TSA can open, inspect and relock your baggage if a TSA-approved lock is used. If an unapproved lock is used, your lock will be broken and after inspection left unlocked.
    2. Attach a sturdy but not dangling ID tag to your luggage
      1. List your last name, email address, and mobile phone number on the ID tag so you can be contacted during your travels. Do NOT list your home address on the ID tag: a thief staking out the airport or public transit locations can easily see whose home might be left unprotected by reading luggage ID tags.
      2. Leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information inside of your luggage. Many ID tags are accidentally ripped from luggage during the transit process, leaving the bag unidentified. On a blank sheet of paper print in large bold lettering your last name, email address, mobile phone number, date and departure flight number and date and return flight number so that the airline can contact you and return your lost luggage to you.
  3. Ship gifts ahead. The reality is gifts in checked luggage are subject to stealing from airline employees: every year we watch it on TV. Carry-on baggage is not a solution either: there are limits to what you can carry on, and wrapped gifts are subject to be opened at TSA security points.
    1. Wrap your gifts at home, and ship ahead to your destination. Whatever the price is for UPS or USPS, the reduced hassle at the airport and peace of mind is worth the expense.
    2. Buy gifts online and have them delivered to your holiday destination, not to your home. If you are visiting family for the holidays, ship the gifts to their home, and they’ll be there when you arrive.

Many online sites offer free shipping, so planning ahead can save you time, money and stress.

Easy precautions and planning before you leave for the airport can make your air travel as simple and hassle-free as possible.

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