Air travel is often the best way to get around, especially if you are planning a trip to another country or region, what with so many options and affordable fares.
I still remember my first flight, way back in 1987, from Madras to Hyderabad. I was so excited at the thought of actually being transported 700 kilometers in a little over an hour. I had a little suitcase with me for my three-day stay. Those days I did tend to pack like I was going away for months. The return was by train, which is an overnight affair.
I recall being a little nervous because I had no idea what to do. A friend of mine who was training to be a pilot had a friend at the airport who helped me with making my boarding pass and also ushered me through the formalities. Can you imagine—I actually fumbled with the seatbelt before one of the posh hostesses came over to help. Funny how even the simplest procedures can seem intimidating when you go through them the first time.
Fast forward decades later, I have enough flights under my seatbelt and I admit I am quite blasé about going through the motions. And yes, I am a stickler for rules, because imagine packing something that is prohibited and having it thrown out eh? Awful!
Even now, when I pass through security check en route to boarding a flight, I find it strange that seasoned travelers think that they can somehow manage to take stuff that is explicitly not allowed through security. Just last week, while waiting for my hand baggage to pass through the scanner, I heard a loud argument going on and turned to see a passenger imploring with the official to let him carry his mega-size cosmetics, saying that they were expensive.
The good news is that even with the negative press surrounding some airlines, the vast majority of people understands the security measures these airlines have taken to provide them with secure traveling conditions.
That said, there are certain non-negotiable rules to know before one heads to the gate to board that plane, and there are specific protocols that need to be followed in order for these transportation providers to guarantee the safety and security of their passengers.
With particular reference to international travel, here is a basic checklist below to ensure that you will not end up being left at the gate the next time you are all set to take off on that vacation.
- Remember that little checkbox you must tick before you generate your boarding pass? Read those terms and conditions in detail. There is an extensive list of what you can and cannot bring onto an airplane in your carry-on bags. The same applies to your check-in luggage. These limitations exist to ensure the safety of all of the passengers on the airplane and are in place to prevent injury of TSA employees in some special cases.
- Liquids have special requirements when being brought onto an airplane. Whether in your carry-on luggage or checked luggage, there are volume limits and in some case complete restrictions for different liquids. As with many other items, these regulations are in place for the safety of you and other passengers.
- Identification is required of all passengers, however, the regulations for those over the age of 18 are quite different from those for children. There are a wide variety of identification types that are considered acceptable for boarding purposes. While there are systems in place to help those who have forgotten their ID, it is recommended that you remember this vital piece of information, as you will certainly need it during your trip. In certain airports, it is necessary to show it at various check points. So make sure you are carrying your ID with your name exactly as it appears on your ticket.
- The size of your bags does matter. Be sure to note the size limits for carry-on and checked baggage to ensure your carry-on will not be denied. In addition, remember that many airlines charge extra for checked baggage that exceeds a certain weight. Invest in a simple home scale to help you to avoid the extra fees. I will never forget how we had to pay a hefty charge to take our extra luggage through after enthusiastically packing all those books we thought our son would need when he left for college. Sigh. Lesson learned.
- Mark your valuable items and make sure to use a TSA approved bag lock. Just taping identification to your electronics or other precious items could be the defining factor in retrieving an item that falls out of your bag. Bag locks help to secure bags in a closed state, but must also be on the TSA recognized list.
Paying attention to these simple details can make all the difference and ensure you are not held up in the Security Check Point or at the gate. In addition, some travelers choose to take part in the TSA Precheck, which helps to smooth the process for travelers. No matter how you choose to handle your checkpoint process, the TSA is there to keep you safe and make your flight great.
Ever got stuck at the airport? Do share your experience in the comments!