For many people, flying home once their university lets out for winter or summer break is their first experience with air travel. If you have never traveled by plane before, though, things such as finding your way around an airport and going through airport security can be daunting prospects. In this guide, we will try to make your upcoming travel plans as stress-free and enjoyable as possible by taking a look at 17 air travel tips that are sure to help out first-time fliers traveling home for break.
1. Book Your Flight in Advance
It is always a good idea to book a flight at least a month in advance, with many resources recommending that you book flights three months in advance. For one, booking your flight in advance ensures that there is still plenty of space available and you are not left with limited itinerary options. The biggest reason why you should book flights in advance, though, is the fact that flights tend to become more expensive the closer to the date of travel that they are booked.
2. Book an Early Morning or Red-Eye Flight
Booking an early morning flight or red-eye flight (defined as a flight that departs at night and arrives the next morning) offers a couple of advantages. For one, the airport is likely to be less crowded and easier to navigate during these times. More importantly, though, an early morning or red-eye flight will typically be a much more affordable flight than midday flights.
3. Check for Student Discounts
While we are still on the topic of saving money, many airlines offer discounts to student travelers. United Airlines, for instance, offers a 5% discount for all travelers aged 18-22 regardless of whether or not they are a student. You may or may not find any mention of student discounts when you go to book a flight depending on the airline that you choose, but that does not necessarily mean that they are not offered. A little research or reaching out to an airline customer service representative before you book your flight to see if they offer student discounts could end up saving you a little money.
4. Check Prices on Multiple Sites
There is a wide range of websites where you can book flights, meaning that it is a good idea to shop around a little before you decide which one to use; many times, one website may offer the same exact flight for significantly cheaper than what is being offered on another site.
5. Check-In Online Before Your Flight
Airlines require that you check-in for your flight up to 24 hours before it is scheduled to depart. While you can always check-in at the airline counter once you arrive at the airport, checking-in on the airline’s website or mobile app is much more convenient.
6. Arrive at the Airport in Plenty of Time
Going through security and finding your gate often takes longer than you might expect, and there is nothing worse than missing your flight because you arrived late. For this reason, it is recommended to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight is scheduled to depart.
7. Download Books or Podcasts
Sitting on a plane for hours on end can grow quite boring, and chances are you won’t have in-flight Wi-Fi unless you decide to pay extra for it. This makes downloading books or podcasts onto your phone ahead of time while you still have reliable internet connection a great way to ensure you have something to pass the time during your flight.
8. Pack a Phone Charger in your Carry-On
Downloading entertainment onto your phone is not going to do a lot of good if your phone dies mid-flight. Thankfully, planes come equipped with outlets on each seat that will prevent this issue as long as you remember to pack a phone charger in your carry-on luggage.
9. Utilize Free Wi-Fi at the Airport
While you will likely be required to pay extra for in-flight Wi-Fi, the Wi-Fi at the airport while you are waiting to board your flight is free to use. Be sure to take advantage of it in order to avoid any data overages.
10. Be Aware of Restrictions for Bags
Airlines have restrictions regarding the size of carry-on and checked luggage bags. The maximum dimensions for carry-on luggage are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches. Checked luggage, meanwhile, can be a bag or suitcase of any reasonable size, but you may be required to pay extra if your bag exceeds certain size and weight limits. You will also want to keep in mind the fact that you are allowed to take a personal item such as a backpack, purse, or laptop case onto the plane in addition to your carry-on bag, and this can be a great way to store any items that will not fit in your carry-on.
11. Have Liquids Easily Accessible in a Ziplock Bag
TSA regulations require that any liquids stored in your carry-on must be under 3.4 ounces and stored in a quart-sized plastic bag. Since you will also be required to place this bag in a bin in a separate bin when you go through security, it is a good idea to store it in an easily accessible location within your luggage so that you do not hold up the line searching for it.
12. Have Your Laptop and Electronics Ready to Remove for Security
Like liquids, electronics such as phones, laptops, and gaming consoles must be removed and put in a separate bin when you go through airport security, so be sure that these items are easily accessible and ready to be removed as well.
13. Bring Your Own Water Bottle
TSA restrictions prevent you from bringing outside beverages through security. What you can do to save a little money, though, is bring an empty water bottle through security then fill it up at a water fountain once you are inside the airport.
14. Pack Your Own Snack
While there are restrictions on the amount of liquids that you can bring through security, there are no such restrictions on food. This makes packing your own snack a great way to avoid having to pay a surplus for snacks once you are inside the airport.
15. Bring Your Own Hand Sanitizer
Most airlines are still providing hand sanitizer to passengers once they board the plane in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but it is nonetheless a good idea to bring your own if you would like to have hand sanitizer available at all times during your travels.
16. Use Apps to Help You Navigate the Airport/Flight Trackers
Downloading the mobile app for whatever airline you are using is by far the most convenient way to track important details such as flight boarding times and gates. It may also be helpful to download the apps for the airports you will be visiting in order to access airport maps from your phone. This is especially helpful for flights with layovers since you will be required to navigate multiple airports during your journey, but it is a worthwhile option for direct flights as well.
17. Add a Ribbon or Sticker to Your Luggage to Make it Recognizable
Picking out your luggage amidst all of the other luggage on the baggage claim carousel can sometimes be a challenge. One easy way to make sure you do not accidentally grab someone else’s luggage, though, is to place an easily identifiable sticker or ribbon on your luggage before you depart.
At Post University, we want all of our students to have safe and pleasant travels home for the holidays. We hope you’ve found this list helpful, and if you would like to learn more about earning your degree from Post University, be sure to check out the various undergraduate degrees and certificates we offer today!
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