Maybe you’ve never flown before, maybe you’ve only flown a couple of times, or maybe you’re like me and have flown a lot, but still really dislike being at the airport. Whatever your situation, there are definitely a couple of valuable lessons that travelers should know + we have laid them out for you below!
If you have a smart phone + aren’t checking a bag, you can make your life easier with mobile check-in! Checking-in prior to arriving at the airport will allow you skip the kiosk and head directly to security. Unsure of the process? You can find more information about mobile check-in on your individual airline’s website
Using a mobile boarding pass is easy:
Check in for your flight at least one hour before your scheduled departure.
During check-in, select how you’d like to receive you mobile pass: email, text message or view in browser.
Save the pass to your device.
Present your mobile pass at security checkpoints and during boarding.
TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry:
As I have gotten older, I have definitely started to travel via airplane more frequently. I had assumed that waiting in the security line was a part of the gambit and that those in the fancy, “fast-pass” line must be special or work for the airlines or something. It wasn’t until quite recently that I learned that TSA Pre-Check is way more attainable than previously thought. What is this magical program that saves both time + stress during an already stressful task? You can sign up online for $85 for the next 5 years. While the up front cost might be a little shocking, it helped me to break the cost down into yearly increments for my mental accounting. The program is only $17 a year ($1.41 a month) and if I take an average of 6 flights a year, that is only $2.83 per flight to not have to remove my shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets in the security line. If you aren’t such a frequent flyer, the price may differ, but you can be the judge of how much waiting in the security line is worth. Another (slightly more expensive option) is Global Entry, for those of you who do a lot of international travel. The benefits are pretty similar, but also work when coming back into the USA from another country.
Never leave your terminal:
Whatever seems imperative on the other side of your terminal is most likely not as important as you catching your next flight. For this reason, we highly advise that you NEVER leave your terminal between flights. You will have to go back through security. No exceptions.
You bag will follow you…hopefully:
One of the rare non-automated professions that continues to surprise me is that of the baggage attendant. The last flight I was on, seated in the very back of the plane, I saw the two attendants flopping bags out of the aircraft and onto neat piles, destined for other places. These careful men + women meticulously move each bag to its rightful place. Meaning, that even if you have a layover you do not need to go to baggage claim to get your checked luggage - it should meet you in your final destination.
Since we’re on the subject of luggage, I thought I would mention what I have found to be a helpful tip. This is something that some people love and some people hate, so I will let you be the judge. If you haven’t ever flown before, an important lesson to know is that overhead bin access is highly coveted (especially in the winter as travelers fill the bins with heavy winter coats). Many times, due to a myriad of factors (lax baggage policies, a full flight, flight route) the airline knows the flight is going to run out of cabin space and will ask you if you want to volunteer to check your bag. The first time I heard this announcement, I was flying alone on an airline that typically charged for check bags. But here I was. Through security. At my gate. Being offered to have my bag taken off my hands, for free. I approached the desk and the helpful attendant whisked my bag away and it was cheerfully waiting for me in baggage claim when I made it to my final destination. Another similar instance occurred as I had made it even further in the boarding process. As I was about to enter the aircraft itself, an attendant politely told me that there was not going to be any more overhead bin space by the time I got to my seat and took my bag from me there. She informed me that the bag would be in the same place in my destination when I got off. Sure enough, I boarded without the excess trouble of maneuvering my bag and when I landed it was there waiting for me. Now, you might be thinking, that sounds great, why wouldn’t I want to do that? Well, some travelers always prefer to pack light so that they can just get off the airplane and rush out to adventure. The burden of waiting for one’s luggage can seem more frustrating than helpful. Another, more personal, reason could be that travelers were not prepared to be separated from their luggage and the sudden shift is not welcome during such a structured exercise. Either way - love it or hate it - you may be faced with a flight where this option is afforded to you (or forced upon you) and now you’ll know!
All airports are terrible:
No one airport is better or worse than the other for cancellations, delays, etc. In short, every airport is terrible. Some may have better technology, snacks, or other attractions (such as physical location), but regardless of what your aunt/coworker/best friend’s cousin told you - all airports are perfectly capable of providing you with your very own horror story.
Less is more:
This is advice that I love to give and seldom follow. I am a nervous traveler - no matter how far in advance I start to pack, I am still a mess the day of the trip. One way that I comfort myself in this panic is by grabbing every possible comfort that will fit into my carry on. I leave my home feeling confident that I have everything I need. I rarely do and instead am constantly removing a ton of items out of the way to get to what I really need - my headphones - which have made it to the bottom of the bag. The irony is that this ritual ends up causing more anxiety as I stress over the possibility that I have dropped something and lost it forever as clawed my way through for lip balm, chargers, or what have you. In short, bring what you need. Don’t over compensate.
TRAVEL IS WORTH IT:
While traveling can be intimidating to those who are inexperienced, or even those with a ton of experience, we can guarantee you that the frustration is worth the reward. Pushing your limits + putting yourself in new experiences will help you grow to heights you didn’t even know were possible. Plus, when you sign up with a vacation through Pack Up + Go you will have our expert team of travel agents on call + able to help through any problem that you have during your trip!