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Flying for first time in 16 years. What do I need to know?

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You need ID.

you cannot take fluids in cabin luggage, except for one quart size bag with individual fluid packages no more than 3 oz each.

At security, they will most likely (though not always) require you to remove your shoes, unpack your laptop, and the fluid baggie and place them in bins on the belt.

You will have to go through either a metal detector or a full body scanner.

 

Flying has become more uncomfortable since they cram more seats into the aircraft; less leg room. The entire experience is close to being herded like cattle.

 

Most airlines still serve free nonalcoholic beverages, but many no longer serve food on domestic flights.

OTOH, the entertainment system is light years better than it was 16 years ago.

Edited by regentrude
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Make sure you get there at least one hour, better a bit more than that unless you KNOW you are flying from a small airport.  If so, one hour is more than sufficient.  Don't wear lots of jewelry/metal so you don't have to take it all off.  Try to wear shoes/coats/jackets that are easy to remove and put back on quickly.  Take something to read or do if you get through security more quickly than you thought.  Be aware that the airline might move the gate from which you will depart so don't get too engrossed in your leisure activity!

 

If you are in a later boarding group (usually 4 or 5 or a later letter in the alphabet) know that you might have to gate check your carryon.  If you do, make sure you ask whether to pick it up as you leave the plane or at the baggage carousel.

 

Have a great time!

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I agree with everything Regentrude said, and want to advise that you make sure the version of your state ID is in current alignment with guidelines.  Our state just recently made their driver's license in compliance with federal regulations. ID from a year ago is not in compliance but current ones are. 

 

 

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16 years ago, they still treated you as a human with snacks, meals, sufficient potties in the plane, non-contentious flight attendance.

 

All of the safety changes aside, flying outside of first class has become like riding in a cattle car. Pack your own snacks for the plane, make no assumptions about meals even on 6hr flights, and take a small carryon because there is no guarantee of room in the overhead bin.

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Oh, and gate changes do happen more frequently. We had to run between terminals recently—all 6 of us—and it really sucked as we arrived an hour late as it was.

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Avoid United.  They put blind elderly people on the wrong flights, break guitars, ship dogs to Japan, murder Frenchie puppies, illegally drag people off flights that have already been seated, beating them up in the process, lose luggage, and in general are terribly rude.  They were moderately good in the 90's, but now they are the worst of the worst.

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wear shoes that are very easy to take on and off...because you will have to take them off during security. And wear sock unless you want to walk barefoot through security. And don't have chapstick in your pocket because they will take it from you. Put it in your bag of liquids in your carry on and take it out when you need it. 

 

Oh, and don't put your ID in the little bin that goes through security like I did.  Keep it with you. The woman was super nice about it and let it slide but she did warn me not to do it again. I had two little kids and it was like 3am and I just stuck everything in my pockets in the bin.  You want to put everything in it except your ID, lol 

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Oh, and don't put your ID in the little bin that goes through security like I did.  Keep it with you. The woman was super nice about it and let it slide but she did warn me not to do it again. I had two little kids and it was like 3am and I just stuck everything in my pockets in the bin.  You want to put everything in it except your ID, lol 

 

That is odd. This never happened to me - boarding passes and ID went back in the purse after they had been checked and before I entered the metal detector. And purse went o the belt.

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That is odd. This never happened to me - boarding passes and ID went back in the purse after they had been checked and before I entered the metal detector. And purse went o the belt.

 

Airlines have become more capricious.  

 

We have been in two airports recently where TSA has done a secondary check where everyone had to re-present id at the gate prior to boarding.  Supposedly flights are chosen randomly, but I don't believe it. 

 

Dug up this article: http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/story?id=7107837&page=1

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One odd thing I read was not to wear metal underwire bras as they can set off the alarms. 

 

I budget to buy something to drink once I'm through security, be prepared to pay stadium like prices...I paid $3.75 for a soda. I like having a full soda as my mouth gets dry and I take a lot of motion sickness tablets. 

 

You can check in for the flight online, some people print boarding passes so use their smart phones. Some carriers now charge for checked baggage. Also, check what carryon sizes are allowed. I try to bring something without wheels because if the flight is crowded they can ask you to check those as well. 

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Oh, and don't put your ID in the little bin that goes through security like I did.  Keep it with you. The woman was super nice about it and let it slide but she did warn me not to do it again. I had two little kids and it was like 3am and I just stuck everything in my pockets in the bin.  You want to put everything in it except your ID, lol

What were you supposed to do with it, and why would you need to have it on you as you go through the machine?  :confused1: 

 

They explicitly tell you to take every. single. thing. out of your pockets, so I would think that having your ID in your pocket would just earn you a pat-down. I've always just left my ID in my purse, which goes through the scanner with everything else. I've never ever had a TSA employee tell me (or heard them tell anyone else) to keep my ID with me while going through the scanner.

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Airlines have become more capricious.  

 

We have been in two airports recently where TSA has done a secondary check where everyone had to re-present id at the gate prior to boarding.  Supposedly flights are chosen randomly, but I don't believe it. 

 

Yes, done that, too. But I never had to hold the ID while going through the scanner.

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OP,  do you know what airline you'll be flying? You might get more specific advice if you post which airline. (For example, you get 2 free checked bags with Southwest, but they have no assigned seats so you need to understand the priority boarding system.)

 

Also, if you're comfortable  posting the airports you'll be in, people can probably give you specific advice about those, too.

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I put my ID and boarding pass (which is on my Phone) through with my backpack when I go through the scanner.

 

I always bring food with me- a sandwich, fruit, something sweet, which for me is usually M&Ms. And an empty water bottle to refill gateside. If you end up sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off you’ll be glad you have something to drink. and bringing food is way cheaper (and for me, better) than buying food at the airport.

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what you do with your id when depends on the airport.  just follow the instructions given and keep it easy to get out. I have held id while being body wanded  and while going thru a detector as they wanted to keep line moving, other times I have had time to put it away until next check point.

 

don't assume you can bring a bottle of water on the plane...in the past I've filled my empty or bought one after going thru security to get into the terminal, but now some flights have security added at the gate, so any water or greater than 3 oz fluids can't be taken on board. 

 

if you bring a laptop, have it easy to remove from your carry on, it must go in bin by itself at security. bring the power cord, if you are randomly picked you may have to turn it on.  

 

don't assume your carry on is going on.  it may be gate checked at flight attendant's discretion.  don't put your passport or purse in it .. put those in your personal that is going to fit under the seat ahead of you.

 

follow directions, people are nice

 

my underwire did not set off any scanners, this year or any other year, but dh's steel toes did.

 

don't arrive at gate last minute, if there is add'l security there they can't do everyone in fifteen minutes and leave on time.

 

mind the weight limit on the checked luggage, plan ahead for what you are going to remove if the scale has you just over the limit; its not worth the extra fee

 

have a good time

 

 

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Put a change of clothing, necessary medications, a comb, a book, snacks, an empty cup or water bottle, and anything else that is vital in backpack or smallish tote bag. This bag is your personal item that fits under the seat in front of you.  Check your carry-on status prior to arriving at the airport.  You are usually allowed two carry-ons plus a personal item but some low fare passengers are restricted just one item and it must fit under the seat.  You may be required to gate check any carry on or personal item that won't fit under the seat.  

 

Take a sweater or light jacket.  If you are wearing it, you will be required to remove it to go through security.  If possible, wear bottoms that will stay up without a belt.  You will be required to remove your belt. 

 

Fill your cup or water bottle after passing through security.  If you have to go through additional security check-points, drink or dump any liquids prior to entering the area and stow your empty container in your bag for refilling on the other side.  

 

I've always had to place the tickets and my ID in a tub but different airports have different requirements.  

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I’m surprised to hear some places won’t let you bring drinks on the plane. Most of the time when I fly at least half the passengers board with drinks in their hands. since you can only acquire them gateside, what is the concern? How do they check?

What airports have this security? I’m not doubting you, just want to know so I can be prepared if I end up there. I mostly fly from O’Hare or ATL, and several Florida airports.

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Depending on the airline, you can check in 24 hours ahead of time. 

Put your ID and your credit card in your pocket as you will take them in and out of your pocket again and again and it is faster not to have to fish around in your purse.  

Slip-on shoes.

 

Expect to find a lot more kiosks (instead of humans) for check-in, including printing your bag tags and your boarding pass (if you want to print it).  The lines are a lot shorter at kiosks than they are at the human check-ins.  

 

When I check in, 24 hours ahead, I have the option of putting my boarding pass in my wallet on my iPhone.  I do this, so all I really need in my pocket is my ID and my phone, which is there, anyway.  

 

When I check in, 24 hours ahead, I get my boarding pass and it tells me (with a little green checkmark in the top right corner of the boarding pass) whether I have been TSA-cleared.  This means I don't have to dump out all my liquids and I don't have to take off my shoes.  It makes a difference in how I pack, which is why I mention it.  The TSA-cleared lines are shorter than the other ones.

 

Don't put anything electronic (cords or anything) in your checked baggage.  If the baggage is lost, the airlines will not replace electronics.  

 

That's all I can think of for now.  I didn't fly for about 8 years and there was a BIG difference between the old ways and the new ways...I'm still sort of klutzy at it as I don't fly as much as many people, but I'm getting the hang of it now.  :0)

 

Also, I have a lot of allergies, so I pack dried fruit and jerky in case there is nothing to eat on any flights longer than 2 hours (because it is really 4 hours by the time you count up the waiting and landing and so on).  Don't drink anything that doesn't come out of a can or a bottle on any airline--too many germs in the water supply.  STAY HYDRATED.  That is the best thing you can do to not get sick.  Keep sipping on water all through the flight.

 

 

 

 

 

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Also -- get online 24 hours in advance of your flight and download to phone or print out your boarding pass. Esp. if you don't need to check a bag, this will speed you through the process as you don't have to stop at the entry desk to have them print a boarding pass for you.

 

And check the dimensions of what size bags are allowed as your "1 carry-on" and your "1 personal item bag".

 

Even if your luggage fits these dimensions, be prepared that they may require you to hand over your 1 carry-on right at the door of the plane -- you put a tag on it and tear off/keep the bottom part of the tag for proof that it is yours, and they store those bags in a compartment below the passenger cabin. When exiting the plane, you stand in the walkway right by the plane door and they unload and hand up all the carry-on bags.

 

The reason they do this is that many planes are small commuter sized planes and the overhead bins are too small to hold those carry-on wheeled suitcases. You don't have to pay to have them stored underneath, but you aren't allowed to have them on the plane with you because they are too big, so as mentioned up-thread, be sure to have everything you want on the plane (plus the change of clothes in case luggage is lost) in your personal item bag, NOT your carry-on.

 

I have never had a problem with a small wheeled suitcase as my carry-on, and a regular-size backpack as my "personal bag". And I am able to fit in to the backpack a sweater/light jacket, a full change of clothes, 1-2 books, a bag of food/snacks, a water bottle and all my personal items, my phone & charger, and a small purse, and it fits under the seat.

 

You can bring your own food and snacks -- but NO ice blocks or ice packs, so it needs to be food that does not need refrigeration. Bring an empty water bottle, and once you are through security you can fill it up with water at a drinking fountain (usually near the bathrooms by your gate). 

 

I have never had a problem with underwire bras. But be sure to leave pocket knives at home or in a checked bag (DH lost a really nice folding multi-tool that was metal and was taken from him because he forgot it was in his personal bag). Knitting needles and even small scissors for needlework or other handcrafts are NOT allowed, so find something else to bring to keep you busy.

 

Also check what the airport on either end of your travels says about how early to get there before the flight leaves. For big airports, arriving 1 hour before your flight if it is during the rush period would NOT be enough time to get through security and get to your gate in time to make your flight -- so some airports recommend arriving at least 90 minutes to 2 hours in advance of your flight time.

 

 

Edited by Lori D.
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One odd thing I read was not to wear metal underwire bras as they can set off the alarms. 

 

The only place my underwire ever sets off the alarm is a small airport in Central America that has a weird mixture of overzealous and disinterested security (eg I can reliably count on an alarm and a feel-up, but the water bottle I forget to empty will go through without a second glance, and then they might try to confiscate the strings on my instrument  :001_rolleyes: ). I wouldn't change out a preferred bra on the extremely small chance that it will set off the alarm.

 

DO check the measurements of carry-ons, though, as the dimensions seem to get smaller and smaller.

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You may be one of the passengers randomly selected to have your hands swabbed at some point during the security process.

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Flying Delta.

 

Pay attention to your boarding zone (which is based on fare type, see this chart) and if you are in zone 4 on a full flight you might end up needing to gate check a roll-on, so make sure you have any important items, or things you want to have with you on the plane, in your "personal item."

 

If you don't already have your ticket, and there's not a big difference in fare between "main cabin" and "Delta Comfort," the latter has more room and priority boarding. When I fly Delta, I usually try to go with Comfort if the price difference isn't that great.

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I haven't flown since 2004. After reading all this, I think I'll try to avoid it as long as I can. Nothing about this process sounds the least bit enjoyable or easy. 

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Be careful with cosmetics in your carry on. Things that are not liquids (like face cream) may be perceived as a liquid by TSA.

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Just to reassure you - I have been on 12 flights in the past four months (!!!) using 3 different airlines. While it’s not Easy, it is pretty straight forward to get from point A to point B.

 

Pack your bags the day before so you aren’t rushed. Don’t put liquids in your carry on. Read the signs and ask questions if your are not sure. Give yourself plenty of time to find your gate and hit the restroom before getting on board. Be polite to people.

 

Flying is a quick way to get where you are going. Yes - sometimes things get complicated, but that happens when you travel by car as well.

 

Have a nice trip!

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I don’t mind flying at all. The actual seats are a little cramped but it’s usually just a few hours so no big deal. I rarely encounter anyone being rude- neither TSA agents or airline staff have been rude to me. I hope all the rules don’t turn you off- once you do it once you’ll be fine. It’s just like anything you’re unfamiliar with- once you get used to it you’ll feel more relaxed.

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Be careful with cosmetics in your carry on. Things that are not liquids (like face cream) may be perceived as a liquid by TSA.

Creams and lotions are considered "liquids" for TSA purposes. Any liquid, gel, cream, etc. counts, including toothpaste. People have even had peanutbutter confiscated if it was over 3.4 ounces.

 

My son and I flew internationally two weeks ago, right after I had major dental surgery, and I ended up using one of our two "quart sized bags" to hold half a dozen 3oz tubes of applesauce, since I couldn't chew!

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