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24 May 2009 @ 12:30 am
I haven't flown in years  
I haven't flown in years and I need to plan a trip to LA this August. Reading reviews I've realized things have changed a bit. What are the new gotchas about air flight? I've noticed that checking a bag for free is now a "feature" of an airline. I'm really considering spending a little extra and going with Virgin America. Airtrans, which seems to be super cheap, scares me on some level (and the flight search site kayak says most of their LA flights are late.) I really don't have much extra money (and I'd like to save as much as possible for lewts from the trip,) though, so I'm a little scared about spending an extra $80, but it is a long flight. If I go for virgin, I might even splurge $13 on the in flight wifi.

Anyway, advice is welcome, though coach class stories are most appricated.
The Water Seeker: F16plymouth on May 24th, 2009 09:15 am (UTC)
The most annoying thing, IMO, is the whole "no liquids over 3oz" thing. Though one of my co-workers suggested that might have been relaxed? I saw him take a large bottle of contact lens solution and they just did an extra swabbing on it to make sure it wasn't explosive. Still, I wouldn't try to take the large liquids bottles. Officious TSA pricks get on my nerves.
Jadiajadia on May 24th, 2009 12:42 pm (UTC)
Buy a sandwich and bring it with you to eat on the flight. Now food during the flight costs money, and the selection can be poor. It's easier just to bring your own.

Bring a water bottle & fill it up at the fountain before you get on the plane, after you get through security. (Or just buy a bottle of water after you get through security.)

I'm always sketched out by Airtran though I'm not entirely sure why. I have flown American and United, mostly.

Many airlines charge for checking bags ($25 or $50) these days. Most airlines also allow you to print out your boarding pass the day before so you don't have to deal with waiting in lines to get ticketed and all. I have used this service before and it's great. (Though not with checked bags.) It also only works on domestic flights, but that's not an issue for you since you're flying to LA.

Plymouth's comment on liquids is good to remember too. Put all your liquid things in a freezer (quart) transparent ziploc bag and that will be good. The rules say 3 oz max but they don't really fuss too badly as long as it's in a transparent bag.

When you go through security you often have to take off your shoes and let your shoes go through X-Ray. Also you need to remove your laptop from the bag and put it in it's own bin.

You cannot carry nail clippers or scissors or things like that on the plane, but you can carry knitting needles. Go figure.

If you have any other specific questions feel free to ask! I have flown a bunch over the last few years.
chenoamegchenoameg on May 24th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
I have printed my own boarding passes ahead of time (yay seat selection) and then checked a bag at the airport, it was pretty easy.
mathhobbitmathhobbit on May 24th, 2009 01:33 pm (UTC)
I was in the same boat five days ago.

The water bottle advice is good. Same goes for travel mugs -- and the airport coffee shops were very good about putting beverages in my travel mug without giving me funny looks.

At Logan, they split the "waiting for security" line into categories: experienced travelers, casual travelers and something like "families and large liquids". They also had a wacky bomb sniffer that they put me in. It blows air on you, then you wait until eventually a gate opens and you can come out and go through the metal detector.

At Washington National airport, check-in was extremely confusing. The automated check-in machines were hidden behind a bank of stuff, so I walked past them without noticing them. I got in a line and was pulled out and herded to the machines. I checked in and got only one boarding pass when I was expecting two; it took some time to flag down an attendant to ask about that. I'd checked a bag ($15) and waited a while for it to be picked up before someone told me I'd have to walk it 5 feet through the line of people waiting for the machines to the pair of attendants with the destination stickers. Then I had to walk it around and give it to a bunch of security guys. Either procedures are different later in the day, or there's a *lot* of waiting in line just to get your bag checked. (There was a curbside check-in, but not for people without boarding passes.)

At the security gate in DC, the line hung up briefly and the security guy had nothing to do but recite his spiel. Laptops *and* game consoles go through the x-ray separately. Don't wear any metal through the metal detector. Cell phones go through the x-ray separately. Take off your shoes. Etc.

They only checked my photo ID once each way, which was another improvement. I smuggled my nail clippers onto the plane (but checked my Swiss army knife, which was the entire point of checking the bag.) I never took my smartphone out of my purse, and at least once my purse went through inside my backpack. I wore a stickpin through the metal detector in Logan. Knitting needles were, indeed, no problem.

It seemed like it was fairly routine to bring a backpack and duffel and check the duffel as you boarded the plane. If I weren't determined to carry a pocket knife at my destination I'd do that.

chenoamegchenoameg on May 24th, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC)
The food for purchase in Logan is pretty good, other airports not so much so.

echoing what mathhobbit said -- check in is now mostly automated, you go to the machines (where you pay for any bags you're checking) and then try to figure out where they want you to bring the bags you're checking.

blkblk on May 24th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC)
Additional helpy advice gleaned from friends: Never ever fly on the day of a terrorist attack.
09 f9 11 02 9d 74 e3 5b d8 41 56 c5 63 56 88 c0laura47 on May 24th, 2009 07:13 pm (UTC)
i really reccomend virgin, they are super great. if you haven't flown in years, you may be surprised byt he itner-seat chat rooms and buying snacks from your seat with your credit card and having qwerty keyboards attached to your seat. virgin won't hit you with any bad surprises.
Binkbinkbink on May 25th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC)
Beware of the wee gotchas
I heard on the news that at least one airline if now charging a fee to let you print out your own boarding pass. Yes, you pay extra to save them some effort.
Liquid Tension Movementperspicuity on May 29th, 2009 04:29 am (UTC)
www.tsa.gov has lots of handy tips and things to follow the exact letter of the law. there's some ridiculous stuff, but at least some of it is okay.

they now allow pointy scissors up to 4 inches... and as far as i can tell, at least of last reading, nail clippers are okay too.

i usually stuff a couple protein bars into a side pouch. they don't seem to care about those. just "fantasy liquids"...

we'll test my theories soon.