Holiday Air Travel Tips
Check out these tips before you leave home.
Simplify your holiday air travel with these must-know tips:
First, being keenly aware of the regulations set by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will reduce the time and stress of getting through queues. Plus, knowing how best to pack, while taking advantage of early check in and using mobile applications to stay informed of flight statuses can be of great assistance.
Before you leave home:
Use Flight-Tracking Services
Always double-check your flight schedule to make sure that your departure time hasn’t been altered. You can sign up for services such as Tripit (www.tripit.com) or Tripcase (www.travel.tripcase.com), which give you mobile alerts leading up to takeoff. This comes in super handy when there are changes, because who wants to sit at the airport due to delays? With smaller fleets and fuller flights, delays are, unfortunately, more frequent, and sometimes cancellations occur hours in advance of scheduled departure times.
Be Ready To Board
Especially during holiday travel periods when lines can literally run out the door, another tremendous time-saving tool is to check in at home on the airline’s website and print your boarding passes in advance. Or, alternatively, you can have your boarding pass displayed on your phone with a barcode that the airlines and TSA scan directly from your cell.
Use carry-on sized luggage as often as possible. Remember, you can always buy what you need (especially disposable items) when you get to your destination. You can save money this way since many airlines charge a minimum of $25/bag for pre-checked luggage. If you are traveling with small children, bring smaller umbrella strollers and leave the car seat at home if you are able to reserve one with you rental car or pre-arrange to borrow one from family or friends you are planning to visit.
At the Airport:
The TSA Precheck is an attractive prescreening initiative that conveniently speeds up the process, saving you and your family a bunch of time and reducing the normal hassles associated with going through the security checkpoint. Precheck eliminates the need to remove shoes, belts, 3-1-1 liquid bags and laptops. TheTSA states, “Passengers considered low-risk who qualify for the program can receive expedited screening either as a member of the program or another specific trusted traveler group.” Currently, the following airlines that offer TSA Precheck flying in and out of Tulsa International Airport include American, Delta, Southwest, Sun Country and United.
But you must apply by contacting TSA Precheck. Call 866.289.9673 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET and/or weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET or enroll online at www.tsa.org.
Keep in mind that even when you have registered for TSA Precheck, there is no guarantee you will benefit from it on every flight. Vice President of Vacation Travel Debbie Taylor at World Travel Service in Tulsa, said, “Occasionally, you will be randomly denied Precheck by the airline. This is a security measure, which is why we advise clients to check in before going to the airport to verify your Precheck status for that particular flight.
Children and The Screening Process
Before going through the airport check, tell your children about the screening itself so they know what to expect. After all, a stranger may pat them down or pull them aside. So, knowing that these actions are security-based and that they will be safely handled will help ease concerns.
Note that (per the TSA website):
- Children 12 and under do NOT need to remove shoes, light jackets and headwear during screening
- Children will not be separated from their parent/guardian
- Infants and small children CAN be removed from their carriers and carried in their parents’ arms as they walk through the metal detector
- 4Modified screening procedures are in place to reduce the likelihood of a pat-down
(For full information, see the TSA guidelines and checklist at www.tsa.gov.)
The TSA’s 3-1-1 Rule
The TSA makes no exceptions when it comes to the 3-1-1 rule. For carry-ons, there is a three-ounce maximum for containers storing liquids, gels, and aerosols, and all must fit into a 1-quart size, see-through Ziploc bag. One bag is permitted per person and it must be removed from your carry-on for screening. (Baby food and formula does not apply.)
Be Among The First Onboard
Finally, whenever possible, take advantage of early family boarding. Some airlines offer this, allowing you more time to settle down and store bags in overhead bins before the crowds enter the airplane.
Let’s face facts. Long gone are the glamour days of airline travel. Nowadays, it’s a necessary mode of transportation with extended family and friends living all around the country. So why not use these time-saving tips and save your energy for your precious time and holiday hoopla with Grandma and Grandpa rather than expending it all in the airport system?