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Tips for first-time and infrequent traveler

Preparation can help cut down on travel delays inexperienced and experienced travelers alike can help ease airport security delays by following these simple guidelines:

Before you leave home

  1. Reconfirm your flight
  2. Reconfirm your flight directly with the airline 24 to 48 hours prior to departure.
  3. Pack Smart.
  4. Protect yourself and your valuables by placing medicine and expensive items in your carry-on luggage. Keep a pencil or pen handy throughout your trip to note gate, departure time and connecting flight information.
  5. Identify your baggage inside and out.
  6. Place a baggage tag with name, home address and telephone number on the outside of your bag; inside your baggage, put your home information plus your destination address and telephone number.
  7. Bring fewer carry-ons to speed boarding.
  8. Up to two items may be carried on, and each must fit under your seat or in an overhead compartment. Check your ticket envelope or call your travel agent or the airline's reservation office for size and weight requirements.
  9. Read your ticket and ticket envelope in advance. They provide helpful information about policies set by the government and the airline.

Leaving and Arriving at the Airport1

  1. Leave early for the airport.
  2. Arrive at the airport up to two hours before departure for domestic flights and up to three hours before departure for international flights. Anticipate slowdowns during the holidays - traffic may be heavier, airport parking lots may be fuller and lines my be longer at the airport.
  3. Check baggage routing.
  4. Ensure that the agent or skycap attaches the correct tags for your destination city. If you don't recognize the city code - for example, ORD is Chicago O'Hare airport - ask, particularly if you have connecting flights.

Check in early:

  1. Check in at the airline ticket counter if you don't have a seat assignment; go directly to the gate for check-in if you have a boarding pass. Check in one hour before departure on domestic flights and two hours before international departures.
  2. Identification:
  3. Carry at least one form of photo ID at all times. A second photo ID might be required at some airports.
  4. Know your departure gate.
  5. Ask the agent or skycap to write your departure gate number on your ticket envelope or boarding card. Be sure to be at your departure gate at least 30 minutes before scheduled departure time.

Security Check Points:

  1. Once at the airport, be prepared to have your belongings searched by security personnel.
  2. Remove heavy metal at security checkpoints.
  3. Don't wear large metal buckles, belts or jewelry that will activate the metal detector's alarm.
  4. Laptop computers and other electric devices might require additional time to clear security.

Gate Area:

  1. Never leave luggage unattended or under the watch of a stranger.
  2. Do not accept any item from strangers or carry any package with unknown contents.

Boarding:

  1. Stay close to the departure gate.
  2. There you will receive boarding instructions and any last-minute information you need for the flight.
  3. Board when asked:
  4. Be sure to board when your row number is called. Empty seats will be counted and given to standby passengers.

When plane lands:

  1. Upon arrival at your destination, go immediately to the baggage claim area to pick up your luggage. Have the claim stubs available.

When in doubt

Ask questions. Airline employees are generally friendly and helpful. No question is too simple. Just ask.


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