BY CHUCK MAI, AAA
The good news is that summer vacations are right around the corner. The bad news is that many of us will be flying to our destinations – and flying these days can carry with it a wee bit of anxiety as we navigate the latest rules and regs at our nation’s airports.
Here are some simple ways to cut down on airport travel stress.
Know Baggage Fees
Fees are $0 to $25 for the first checked bag; up to $75 for the second, depending on destination. Your travel agent can help you assess the costs. Fees increase for overweight or oversized bags, some specialty items are exempt and special rates are available for sporting equipment.
Dress for Less Stress
The Travel Security Administration (TSA) requires removal of bulky jewelry, belts, wallets, jackets, sweaters, pocket change and cell phones before passing through Advanced Image Technology. Some even require you to remove everything, even papers, from your pockets. Use your carry-on bag to hold some of these items. Wear slip-on shoes. Most airports want laptops out of their cases and in a TSA tub as they go through the screening process.
3 ounces, 1 quart, 1 bag. This is the TSA rule for carry-on luggage. Liquids, gels and aerosols are permitted in 3-ounce containers, placed on the conveyor belt in a 1-quart-size, clear plastic, zip-top bag, 1 bag per traveler. Yogurts, puddings and other gel-like substances are not allowed. Notify a TSA office for larger quantities of things such as medications, baby formula and food. If in doubt, put these substances in your checked luggage.
Rule of thumb: arrive 60 minutes early for domestic flights and 120 minutes prior for international trips. Many carriers mandate baggage check-in at least 45 minutes before departure.
Obtain Boarding Passes at Home
Most airlines allow travelers to go to the airline’s website to check-in, get seat assignments and obtain boarding passes on their own computer (home or hotel or whatever) up to 24 hours before flight times. Check with your travel agent on your airline’s rules on this. While on the airline’s website, confirm your flight schedule.
And my top airport navigation tips: be patient, expect delays, don’t forget your driver’s license and bring a good book. For more information on what’s allowed and what isn’t, go to www.tsa.gov.