Flying within the U.S. Questions

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Traverse, May 11, 2016.

  1. Traverse macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #1
    Hello all,

    Forgive my ignorance, but I have never flown before (just never had the need). I'm going to book a flight from one state to another state, but had some technical questions. Again, some of these are dumb, but practical!

    (1) You have carry-on vs regular luggage right? I can take my 15" MacBook Pro and iPad 9.7" as carry on right? But they have to inspect them? How does that work? I give them my bit luggage which they load and then I pick it up at the receiving airport, but I keep my carry-on with me?

    (2) What about practical things like razors? I know you can't pack razors (unless you want to be tackled to the ground), but do they sell those at the airport when you arrive? I'll be there a week and will need to shave, but won't have transportation once I get to the hotel so I'll need to find a way to get some once there.

    (3) Is there a limit to how many suitcases/luggage you can have? I assume two large packs of clothes (dress and casual) and then my personal carry-on stuff.

    Again, I'm sorry if these are dumb questions, but it's overwhelming when it is your first time and you know they're so strict.
     
  2. D.T., May 11, 2016
    Last edited: May 11, 2016

    D.T. macrumors 603

    D.T.

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    #2
    See bold :)

     
  3. Traverse thread starter macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #3
    Thank you so much!

    When you say check (I've heard that term before), does that mean just have it tagged with your Info?
     
  4. D.T. macrumors 603

    D.T.

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    #4
    Sorry, I edited that like 5 times :)

    Yeah, you turn it over to a baggage handler/ticket counter rep , get a "receipt". They weigh it (there are some max weights, or extra charges), and keep in mind that will be subject to search and very HEAVY handed, er, handling.

    In case it's not obvious, if you have a layover, i.e., switch planes, your checked luggage gets moved to the new aircraft for you.

    I'm headed to SF in the near future, I'll have my boarding passes pre-printed (actually just added to my iPhone Wallet), one roller, my Speck bag with my 15" rMBP, both of which I'll board with (vs. checking).

    So I'll just head straight to security, ID out, pass ready, watch/phone in my Speck, through security, then to the gate, that's the whole process in a nutshell.
     
  5. Huntn, May 11, 2016
    Last edited: May 11, 2016

    Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #5
    No problem. :)

    1) Computers can be carried onboard. Going through security, you remove them from you bag and put them on the X-ray belt. Sometimes they are also inspected by security people. Carry On- a roller bag that meets the overhead restrictions (Fits in the overhead bin). You are usually allowed a roller bag and a small bag onboard. But better to put your laptop/iPad in a backpack or small bag in case there is no room in the overheads or you are in a regional jet where they gate check all roller bags and then give them to back to you at the gate at destination. However if this is a larger aircraft and they gate check the roller bag, you'll end up picking it up at baggage claim at the destination.

    1b) If you get TSA Precheck approved (appears on your boarding pass) which happens automatically on occasion (if you are not enrolled) and go through a TSA Precheck line, the computer stay in bag, plus you don't have to take off your shoes, unless you beep. Then whatever beeps must be removed from your person. PS, this is a good reason to check in at the airport. If you check in from home, I don't think you'll get TSAPrecheck approved.

    2) Disposable shaving blades (1 piece plastic), no problem, but not straight edges or standard razor blades. Best put those in checked luggage.

    [​IMG]
    3) Suitcase limit- check with your carrier. It may be one free bag, or you may be charged for all checked bags unless you have one of those airline miles credit cards which I believe allows for 2 free checked bags. Also check weight limits. If your checked luggage is more than about 60lbs there may be an additional fee.
     
  6. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

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    #6
    Razors, no problem as long as they're disposable, I've even carried the 5-blade ProGlide razors in carry-on. You DO need to worry about liquids - follow the 3-1-1 rule, 3.4oz bottles/canisters in a single 1-quart bag is all you're allowed in carry-on, including a travel size shaving cream. You can buy appropriate tubes/bottles in your local pharmacy/drug store. That bag needs to be removed during your TSA checkpoint screenings. There should be no need to purchase sundry items like that at your destination, even if doing carry-on only. I suggest trying to pack in a carry-on size suitcase so you don't need to make a stop at baggage claim, that can cut 20-30 minutes off your entire flight experience by not having to wait for your baggage.

    As was also noted, you can carry 2 bags - a carry-on size suitcase for overhead and a backpack for under the seat, to carry your iPad and Mac.

    The "inspection" consists of placing each device in its own tray, your bag in another (though only your computer and tablet need to come out), your shoes in yet another (yeah, this can be tedious) and allowing them to run them through the X-ray scanner belt.

    Since it's your first time flying, pay attention to the pre-flight (post-boarding) safety briefing. You likely won't ever need to use that information (except how to buckle your belt) but if there IS a problem, in the middle of an emergency is not the time to learn. You are allowed to use Bluetooth devices, even during taxi and take-off. Bring gum for the flight or practice "popping" your ears.

    Tips for the TSA checkpoint.
    • Wear shoes that are easy to get on and off - if they tie, have them untied before you get to the checkpoint line
    • start your trip with your belt in your backpack.
    • put your phone, wallet (minus photo ID), ANYTHING metal or pocket-size really, in your backpack before the checkpoint. if they see ANYTHING on the body scan, be prepared for a quick pat-down. Whatever you do - have your pockets totally empty and if you have a pen knife and don't plan on checking luggage, leave it home.
    • have your computer and iPad in-hand when you get to the checkpoint
    • have your ID and boarding pass in-hand when you get to the checkpoint
    • FOLLOW ANY DIRECTIONS GIVEN BY THE TSA AGENTS. If they direct you to a line, go there, even if it's the "lightweight" check (PreCheck) line, do EVERYTHING they say.
    • Arrive 2 hours before your flight, you never know what could happen.
    The people behind you will appreciate if you are prepared for the trip through the checkpoint.

    I flew 3 times last year, including once internationally, using those tips I was able to make it through the checkpoints with little drama.

    Edit: Read up on the TSA (<- link) Travel Tips page. If you check your luggage, get TSA-approved luggage locks, these are not NEEDED for carry-on but I still do it if I do a carry-on suitcase but I wait to lock it until after the security checkpoint (see the liquids info above, you'll need to open it for that).
     
  7. Richdmoore macrumors 65816

    Richdmoore

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    #7
    Just to clarify, you can put items in your checked luggage that you can't carry onboard (for example pocket knives, tools, razors, liquids more than 1 qt bag with 3 oz per container.)

    If you are checking a bag or two, put stuff like that in the checked bag unless you need it on the plane.

    Carry on any valuable items (laptop, iPad, jewelry, camera, cash) however to prevent theft (rare but it does happen). Airlines do not pay for lost/stolen electronics, cameras, etc it's at your own risk. Carry those on.

    Obviously, certain items like fireworks are prohibited in both checked and carry on.

    Usually checked baggage has a fee, also large or heavy (over 50 lbs is normal I think).

    Carry on:
    iPads will not have to be removed from your carry on bags, but laptops will. Both will be x-rayed. You will go thru TSA screening, usually millimeter radar screening device. (Ionizing radiation devices are no longer used to my knowledge.). You can opt out, but I would no bother with the newest devices. Be prepare to remove hats, jackets, shoes and have them x-rayed.

    Any carry on liquids/gels need to be no more than 1 qt ziplock bag per person, with each container size having more than 3 oz in each one. Easier to put them in checked luggage, like I mentioned above.
     
  8. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #8
    welcome to the line! make sure you have your ID and boarding pass ready;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    and don't tell jokes about having a bomb cuz they don't have a sense of humor about such things

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Traverse thread starter macrumors 603

    Traverse

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  10. Scepticalscribe, May 12, 2016
    Last edited: May 12, 2016

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #10
    One thing I tend to do is always wear a blazer, jacket, when flying.

    When approaching security, after showing my boarding pass, I put boarding pass, tickets, passport, into the inside breast pocket of the jacket. That way, they will not get lost.

    I have heard horror stories of people putting their tickets down, while doing something else and forgetting to reclaim them. Without ticket, passport and wallet, you cannot travel anywhere.

    When you approach security, take your time, and do not get stressed. Take a few of those plastic boxes shown in @Macky-Mac's posts and put your backpack (or jacket) whatever plays host to passport, tickets, wallet, in one of them.

    Remove shoes and belt and watch and place them on top of the bag. Take computers out - mine travels in a briefcase, but in European airports you always have to remove a computer from its bag and show it to security staff. Same with iPads.

    Put razors, penknife etc in your checked in luggage - the luggage that flies in the hold of the plane that you do not see once you have checked it in at the 'check-in desk' (the first thing you do when you arrive at an airport) until you arrive at the destination airport.

    If you need to take two flights to get to your destination, when you first check in, ask them to check your 'check-in' bag through to the final destination; that way, you won't have to worry about it, at the transit airport.
     
  11. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #11
    Regarding a lost wallet, that would be the nightmare :eek:, however in these days of electronic tickets, a lost paper ticket/boarding pass can be mitigated, either back at the ticket counter which unfortunately takes time or better if you see one of those boarding pass printers which are found around the airport (at least the airports I frequent). Most of the time when I travel, I don't even have to enter my ticket confirmation code (record locator), I just put in my credit card, that recognizes me and allows a boarding pass to be printed.

    Once you are inside security, you are home free with a lost boarding pass. Just tell the gate agent, who will want to see ID, the travelers archilles heal. o_O
     
  12. an-other macrumors regular

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    #12
    Great advice here. You can never arrive too early to the airport. TSA lines vary. Build in extra time if you're travelling Monday morning or Friday evening.

    One thing I don't think I saw detailed is you need a state-sponsored photo id. A driver's licence for most people. Here's the TSA link of other acceptable options.

    Headphones and video/music/reading material is recommended. Other things to consider: monitor your liquid input based on the length of flight. It would be advisable to hit the restroom before boarding. Planes have bathrooms, but you'll likely have to have people move so you can get from your seat to the aisle. I pack clorox wipes in a zip lock to keep my seating area disinfected. There's a lot of people in a tight space, and you're likely not the first person sitting there today. There a lot more "health tips" than this, but it's your first flight. You become more sensitive to this the more you fly.

    Courtesy and kindness go along away, especially the airline employees. I've never seen anyone gain something by treating them miserably. (Fair play, I've seen some obnoxiously rude airline associates, but they really are the exception.) A personal pet peeve. If you see a senior citizen (OAP) struggling to put a bag in the overhead bin, lend a hand!
     
  13. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #13
    This isn't entirely true.

    Cartridge razor blades can be carried on. Safety razor blades cannot.

    Your laptop and tablet can (and should) be carried on. They will x-ray them, but they won't be harmed.
     
  14. D.T. macrumors 603

    D.T.

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    #14
    Quoting this for reinforcement. :) I'm a nut for getting there with extra, EXTRA time.

    Even if you're not sure of anything else, with enough time, you can sort through it, find the right people to ask the right questions.
     
  15. kdarling macrumors demi-god

    kdarling

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    #15
    Whoa! You should ALWAYS check in from home 24 hours ahead of departure time.

    That way you get a lower check-in number, which is important in case the flight is overbooked (as they often are) and everyone shows up.

    You can then check in again at the airport to get your boarding pass printed (again) or if you're checking luggage, and yes PreCheck happens quite often that way. (My teen daughter gets it almost every time.)
     
  16. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #16
    The point you make is valid about a lower check-in number. I'm just saying without being enrolled in TSAPrecheck, if I check in from home, and print my boarding pass at home, it won't include selection for Precheck. I did not know, if you go to the airport after printing your boarding pass (at home) and have it printed again at the airport that a TSAPrecheck might then appear- true?

    To clarify, it's an academic point for me as I am enrolled in Global Entry which includes TSAPRECHECK.
     
  17. kdarling macrumors demi-god

    kdarling

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    #17
    Yep.

    So I always check in at home, and even print a boarding pass just in case.

    But then often we get to the airport and decide to check even our small rolling baggage so we don't have to find overhead space for it, or for that matter, drag it around through security and to the gate. (We just keep a backpack with our laptops, tablets, and maybe an emergency change of clothes in case our primary clothes luggage is lost.)

    When we check the baggage at the check-in counter and get another boarding pass printed, it often has either me or my daughter under PreCheck. This was handier when she was 12 and under, since a parent could accompany their child or vice versa.

    Yeah, we need to sign up for a permanent precheck. Did you have to travel to an airport for an interview, though? Up here in the Northeast, that's a real hassle.

    --

    Side note to OP: please do NOT pack lithium batteries, or devices with them, in your checked luggage, btw. They can catch fire after being beaten by the baggage system. What does not make the news is the number of times that smoldering checked luggage has been taken off just before takeoff. But it's reported in the NASA sponsored pilot safety forms.
     
  18. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

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    #18
    I'm not sure this is a problem in the US. I've not had to specifically ask to have my luggage "checked through". Now, if you're changing airlines at one of the transit airport you DEFINITELY need to ask about this as often there can be a baggage hand-off between carriers (Southwest doesn't accept bags from other airlines).

    On the liquids: I hadn't even thought of mentioning that but it's a GREAT point. I do it that way, limited liquid intake in the hours leading up to the flight, always make use of the restroom in the airport if there is time and just one or two of the small cups of water they give during the flight. It may be the wrong way to go as far as becoming dehydrated (which is a risk on a flight as the air is VERY dry) but it helps avoid that cramped restroom and disturbance to others.

    On being considerate, great point there also. I was boarding a Southwest flight from Oakland last year. There was a guy in the FRONT ROW, someone put a bag on top of his in the overhead bin, he seriously got up and asked the steward to help him fix it so his bag wasn't on the bottom, while people were still boarding! Can't you wait, pal? Might have been the same flight, went to grab a seat, was a middle one because the window and aisle always fill first, the 2 people on that side were with one on the other side, the one decided he would then sit with the other 2 and I took the middle across the aisle. Someone was SHOCKED that I left the aisle open and they could take it but it just seemed silly to take the aisle seat and have to get up to let someone else in.

    Noted by @kdarling while I was typing my post. If you check your main luggage, it might not be a bad idea to toss a polo, socks and underwear in your carry-on. It nearly saved me on my trip to Mexico City last year, I was afraid my checked bag wasn't going to make my connection. You can get the toiletries cheap if your check luggage doesn't make it, locating clothes could be problematic.
     
  19. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #19
    Sign up online, and there are interview locations at airports and other places, depends on where you live. The interview was pretty fast, verifying your info, taking photo and fingerprints. I wonder, but not verified that by virtue of being in a "safe demographic" (elderly white) that could have speed the process somewhat.
     
  20. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #20
    Well, almost all of the flights I take start in one country, and often transit through one, or two, others, before arriving at my final destination, so I always make sure that this is done.

    Obviously, internal flights - even with connections, or transits - in the US are somewhat different, and one can safely assume that this has been seen to.

    Yes, use rest rooms before boarding, and buy water if it is allowed after you have passed through security but before you board the aircraft. (I always do that; long distance flying can be very dehydrating).


    Agreed. I always carry a change of clothing, i.e. change or two of underwear, spare socks and spare shirt, or turtleneck in my carry on luggage. Again, agreed, it has been an absolute godsend when you luggage doesn't show up for a day or two.

    Some excellent advice, in your post, @hallux.
     
  21. D.T. macrumors 603

    D.T.

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    #21
    I was totally unaware that could happen. I've meaning to get my PreCheck done, especially with some additional travel in my future, but maybe I'll give this a shot.

    I'm wondering if the bag check triggers it (when it does occur), vs. just getting another boarding pass printed[?]

    Yeah, I'm going to do the online portion this weekend, the offices for us are out near the airport - I wonder if I can do it same day I'm flying out, or if there's some longer background check (I've had all that done for other work, so it's all definitely clean/GTG).
     
  22. kdarling macrumors demi-god

    kdarling

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    #22
    Yes, always hit the bathroom before getting on.

    Talking about liquids and restrooms reminds me of the worst flight I ever had from that standpoint, and a good lesson:

    One time not long after the 9/11 attack, I was late for a short flight to Washington DC, and figured "What the heck, I'll pee on the plane".

    After takeoff, I waited until the crush of people using the toilet had stopped, and I was about to go myself, when I was shocked by this announcement -- "As you all know, since 9/11 no one on a flight into Washington is allowed to get out of their seat for 30 minutes before landing. Thank you for your cooperation!" (Note: this rule was removed in 2005)

    Well, great. Now all my brain could think of was how much I had to urinate. But I gritted my teeth and thought, okay, I can do 30 minutes or so.

    Finally we landed. I was so happy. And then, wouldn't you know it, the dreaded phrase came over the speakers, "Folks, I'm afraid our gate isn't going to be ready for another 15 minutes or so. Sorry for the delay."

    I will not bore you with the description of the torment I went through after that, but it was the closest I ever came to (fill in the blank - peeing in a cup / disobeying orders and jumping up anyway / messing my seat).

    Since then I have NEVER assumed that I will be able to use the onboard bathroom :D
     
  23. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #23
    After your application is accepted, you will get an email inviting you to a website where you can schedule an interview from available dates and times.
     
  24. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

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    #24
    I don't fly enough to bother with PreCheck but I had 2 round-trips cross-country late summer last year. When I went through security on my way home from the first trip they shuffled me to the pre-check line (despite being ready for the full shakedown as I described above). My next 2 times going through security (so 3 of 4 trips) I was shuffled to Pre-Check lines. I checked in online, had an electronic AND paper boarding pass and checked a bag at the Southwest counter before going to security.
     
  25. Roller macrumors 68020

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    #25
    A few other unsolicited notes for the OP - I didn't see them in the thread, but I apologize if I missed something:

    1. You didn't say how far or at what time of day you're flying. The longer the flight, the more important seat selection becomes. When I was younger, I used to prefer window seats. I now choose aisle seats because I'm tall and can stretch my legs occasionally there. The only downside is that you'll have to move if someone next to you wants to get up. If you haven't chosen seats yet, consult the seat map on your airline's web site. Also look at seatguru.com, which provides a lot of good advice on seat selection. For a first flight during daytime, a window seat may be fun. Depending on the weather and altitude, you may see a lot or not much. But some of the most amazing vistas I've experienced have been through airplane windows.

    (Some airlines, like Southwest, don't assign seats. Passengers board in A, B, and C groups, with the first boarders getting the best choice.)

    2. If you can, try for an exit row (near one of the window exits, often over a wing). Some airlines book these in advance, others don't. The advantage is that they usually provide more leg room. If you get one, a flight attendant will ask if you're prepared to assist in an emergency.

    3. Seats recline, but at the expense of the passenger one row behind. I almost never recline my seat anymore and ask the person behind me if I do.

    4. Be careful if you use your laptop computer on the meal/snack tray that's housed in the back of the seat ahead of you. If the person in front reclines suddenly, the screen part of the computer can be damaged.

    5. Wear your seatbelt even when the fasten seatbelt sign is off. The flight attendants will announce this, but I often see passengers who don't comply.

    6. Stand up and move around every so often when it's safe to do so to keep the blood in your leg veins flowing. Drink plenty of water, but avoid alcohol.

    7. Make sure that your electronic devices are charged, especially if you have a long flight and plan to use them. Some seats (business and first class) provide outlets. The same may be true if you fly economy comfort or its equivalent, which also offers more legroom and width at higher cost.

    8. Many aircraft now offer Wi-Fi at added expense. I've been on flights where this has allowed me to get a lot of work done in the air. However, it pays to be judicious - save up all the things that require connectivity and do them at one time rather than paying for several hours of service. Also, some airlines let you do things like monitor your flight's progress online without paying extra. Also remember that your phone must remain in airplane mode from the time the aircraft pushes back from the gate until landing.

    9. Some people can sleep on airplanes; I can't, even in business class. But if you can't take advantage of it. A neck pillow, which you can buy at any travel store, may help.

    10. Strike up a conversation with someone next to you if circumstances permit. I've met a lot of interesting people while flying, and it helps pass the time.

    11. You may find it helpful to download your airline's app to your phone. They often provide more information about delays and such.

    12. Consult one of the electronic signboards before you head to your gate after passing through security, just to be sure.

    13. I take noise canceling headphones on long flights. Even if I don't listen to music, the din is greatly diminished.

    14. Try to be mindful of your fellow passengers' predicaments. For example, babies and small children may scream no matter what their parents do. Not that I enjoy being next to a wailing child, but I've been in that situation with my own kids and understand what it's like.

    Hope this helps.
     

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