Preparing for your Trip? Before you Leave. If this is your first time flying, or it has just been a while, follow these tips to be best prepared before you even leave for the airport.

What to Pack? Due to the heightened security measures, the agency who regulates airport security, the TSA has guidelines. Clearly there are items that are prohibited, such as firearms, explosives, dangerous chemicals, etc. (seems like common sense, right?). But if you want to know if you can take that sewing needle on-board, or whether your 2 gallon jug of hair gel will make it past airport security, Click to see the Liquid Rule.

The Pros and Cons of Checking your Bag. Often a hotly-debated subject amongst flyers, there are certain advantages and disadvantages to each argument. But first, for those new to the game of flying or need a refresher, there are certain limits to what you can take, both in your carry-on (what you can physically take with you on the aircraft), and what you can 'check-in' (what goes in the cargo hold of your plane - under the floor of the cabin). See how much can I take on-board, and what do I have to check?

Advantages of taking only carry-on luggage.

  • The airline won't lose your bags! Always the scorn of travelers, lost luggage can be a real drag. And if this happens, the air carrier will do little to compensate you, except to deliver your bag to your home or hotel, often many hours or even days after your luggage was lost.
  • When you get to your destination, you can just zip right through the airport to your rental car, taxi, or shuttle, and not have to wait endlessly for your bag to show up on that baggage carousel.
  • If your flight is delayed (or canceled altogether) and you missed your connecting flight, your bags are with you making your more flexible to be re-routed to, or get on a flight at a nearby airport. Remember, if you check your bags, those bags will stay on the scheduled flight (in most cases), even if that flight is delayed by hours and you can be re-booked on a different flight. The airline will simply send your bag on the originally-scheduled flight, requiring that you stick it out at your destination or return to the airport what that flight arrives (what a bummer!).
  • Another advantage is that you keep your bag securely with you, thus eliminating the chance that your camera fails to zoom anymore after being zoomed into the cargo hold by a guy who used to work lugging concrete bags at construction sites, or worse, that it 'sprouted legs' and disappeared en-route to your arrival airport.

Advantages of taking checking in luggage. 

  • You can take a lot more stuff. Since airlines restrict what you can carry-on board the airplane, you have to pack very carefully. If you're traveling on a trip of a few days, you can probably get by carrying your bags on-board the flight, but if you plan to fly with lots of gifts and goodies, you'll be much better off checking your bags. See checked baggage limits.
  • You won't have to fight 280 people for that elusive overhead bin space (the area above your seat that always seems to be 1 inch smaller than your bag). Since most business travelers tend to take shorter trips and hence don't check-in luggage, and they are privileged to board before the rest of the masses, chances are the overhead bins might be full by the time you embark your flight, or, the only space available is all the way in the back over 49E, and your seat is in 12A meaning you have to wait until all the passengers disembark at the destination airport to wait to get back and retrieve your bag at baggage claim.

How much can I take On-board, and what do I have to check? As a very general rule, you can take one size-limited carry-on bag with you when you fly, not including a small laptop bag, backpack, or handbag. Alternatively, you can check two bags at the airport check-in counter. Bag size restrictions for carry-ons and weight-limits for checked-luggage are determined by each airline. See checked baggage restrictions or carry-on restrictions.

What happens if I am over the Checked-Baggage Limit? If you arrive at the airport check-in counter with 12 bags of gifts for your nephews, be prepared to pay a hefty price. Airlines allow you to check two bags that meet their size and weight limits (see checked baggage regulations). Anything over the limit can cost $75 or more per bag, so be aware! The ticket counter agent will be happy to take your credit card and charge you more than you spent on those gifts.