It is memorial day weekend, which is the official start of the summer travel season. If you are flying this weekend or making plans to fly this weekend, abide by these six suggestions to make things go smoothly.
Use a travel planner app or website
Many airlines and travel websites have great ways to help with your travel planning, whether you are travelling this summer by air, rail or car. Delta Airlines has their new travel planning site, Amtrak has theirs, and if travelling by car, you might use AAA or Rand McNally’s sites as they are both very good.
Check all TSA, airline, and local airport requirements
Be aware of all the requirements you will need to meet with all aspects of your trip. From the airport you are leaving from and the airport you are going to; the airline you are flying; the TSA; the hotel or city you will be staying. All are vital to know so it does not catch you off guard and you are well-prepared for your trip. Will they require masks, vaccinations, luggage size, extra deposits, etc?
The TSA has updated its list of approved liquids and its prohibited items, so it is best to be aware so you are not unnecessarily having to through things away or have confiscated at the airport before security check in. Obviously, you will want to bring a government issued identification with you as well as proof you have reserved a flight. It is possible to go without; however, the hassle involved is time-consuming so plan to leave for the airport earlier than usual if you go without ID.
Your airline may have other restrictions, like the size of your checked and carryon luggage. The standard checked luggage for U.S. domestic flying is around 62 linear feet (height, width, and depth) for your checked bag, yet it is best to check with your airline’s specific requirement. In addition, most airlines limit checked baggage to 50 pounds without incurring an extra charge, and again, your airline may be different. Most airlines will let you on their planes with a carry-on bag of 22 inches and a personal item such as a purse. Going above an airline’s limits will probably because for you being delayed as they pull what you were planning to take with you onto the plane, only for it needing to be checked and put in with all the other checked luggage (causing you an extra delay at your destination airport).
Some airlines will allow you no free checked bags, others will allow you to have one or two free checked bags. Also, depending upon which credit card you used to purchase your flight’s ticket, it may enable you more benefits such as free checked bags, airport lounge access, and more. For example, if you use an American Express credit card to buy your ticket, depending upon which card you use, you could be in for many positive benefits.
It is also important to know about what, if any, restrictions your hotel or Airbnb will have during your stay. Some hotels are still not offering daily maid service and have limited free breakfast, fitness rooms, and even coffee in the guest rooms.
Have CLEAR or TSA Pre-Check to speed through the airports
As mentioned in the prior section, depending upon your travel rewards credit card, it may pay for TSA Pre-Check fees. While CLEAR and TSA Pre-Check offer an expedited way to get through the airport, they are invasive. Not that your privacy is well protected when you fly commercially anyway, CLEAR and TSA Pre-Check do offer convenience, especially when you are running late and need to get to your gate quickly.
CLEAR and CLEAR Pass enable travelers to simply use their biometrics to glide through airport security. TSA Pre-Check and TSA Global Entry makes one a “trusted traveller” in the eyes of the U.S. Government and can move through airport security almost as quickly as CLEAR passengers. CLEAR is still not available at all airports, which is why many opt for TSA’s Global Entry program. CLEAR has also started its Health Pass program to show one’s vaccination against COVID-19.
Get Wi-Fi for your flight(s)
Depending upon which credit card you use and/or the airline you travel, your flight’s Wi-Fi may be included in the cost of your ticket, other airlines or flights may offer Wi-Fi at an extra cost which can be paid during your flight, or maybe your airline or your particular flight may not offer Wi-Fi at all. You will want to make sure you are using a VPN and other protections for your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled devices as there are often some unscrupulous people traveling in near vicinity of you.
Use your airline’s app
Having your airline’s app on your phone or tablet makes life very simple. From getting instant notifications of gate and flight changes to having your boarding pass, having an airline’s app will help make your flight easier. Also included in most airline’s apps will be airport diagrams of gates, restrooms, and stores at the airport you are departing and arriving, as well as the requirements you may need to follow. Some will require their app, if you wish to use an airline’s Wi-Fi and other services.
Check weather and destination alternatives
It is vital to know what the weather and requirements there may be in the state you are travelling. They have lifted most restrictions in most states; however, there could be a few dangling restrictions such as mask wearing, etc. you should know. Having an app for the weather on your phone is very helpful regarding planning what to wear and what activities you will plan for your trip.