The one component of the perfect Disney vacation that most travellers don’t prepare for is the airport. Sure you’ve planned your dining, tickets and resort, but what good is it if you can’t get there? Do you know what the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects from you? Are you ready for what is waiting for you at the airport?
The mission of the TSA is to “Protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce”. Sounds kind of generic but there are specific things that the TSA do every day to keep us safe – and they could very well disrupt our travel plans!
While each airport has different procedures, there are some general guidelines that can help make your flights as painless as possible.
Here are 9 things you need to know before you get ready to fly.
1. ARRIVE EARLY
When the airline suggests arriving 2 hours before your flight, it’s for a reason. Security check points can have extremely long waits for a variety of reasons.
Recently there have been many posts from travellers at Orlando International Airport that the TSA has been swabbing each package of candy in a carry-on. This has created some rather long lines given so many families flying home from Disney are bringing home lots of treats. Do you want to miss your flight because you didn’t leave enough time for your 20 bags of candy to be swabbed? And if you don’t have the candy – you can bet someone in front of you will!
2. HAVE PROPER DOCUMENTATION AND IDENTIFICATION
Seems like a no brainer, but you would be amazed how many people don’t know what the required documentation is! Your airline will have all of the information about what is required based on the cities that you’re flying to and from. Make sure if both parents are not travelling together that you have the required paperwork to allow you to take the child with you. Make sure these documents are in your carry-on, and not your checked bag!
3. KNOW WHAT YOU CAN CARRY ON
While some items that are not allowed in your carry-on are obvious (like a firearm or dynamite) – others are not. Did you know that you Christmas Crackers and foam toy swords are not permitted? What about the cordless curling iron your teenager always has in her bag for those last minute touch ups?
It’s important to check before you get to the airport! For the TSA list of items you can and can’t bring click here.
4. KNOW THE LIMIT FROM YOUR AIRLINE
Each airline has their own guidelines to how big your luggage and carry-on can be. Know the dimensions allowed and the weight. Having your checked bag be overweight can be very costly! Invest in a luggage scale like this one from Amazon – we weigh our luggage ourselves before we leave to avoid surprises and delays.
5. DRESS ACCORDINGLY
When you’re going through security you may be asked to remove your shoes, jackets, belts and jewelry. Anything that could set off the metal detectors can delay the process. FYI – those lovely Alex and Ani bracelets trigger it every time! I make sure mine are in my carry-on or checked bag.
6. REMOVE YOUR OLD LUGGAGE TAGS
Still have that airline tag on your bag from your last trip? Remove it. While the airline will probably catch that one, it’s best to avoid any possibly confusion for the baggage handlers.
Have a luggage tag with your name and contact information attached to your checked bag. Consider using your work address for security reasons and your cell phone number since it will be with you.
7. HOLD ON TO YOUR BOARDING PASS!
I wish I could tell you how many times I have been travelling with someone who has ‘lost’ their boarding pass. It’s easy to do – you use the restroom, get a drink, do a little shopping and leave it on the counter. You’re going to need it to board the plane – so make sure it’s always with you. I have a ‘passport wallet’ like this one to make sure I have everything together at all times.
8. KNOW THE AIRPORT LAYOUT
Don’t waste time trying to find your airline or your gate. Some airports are HUGE and can take a great deal of time trying to get from one place to another. Connecting flights can be disastrous if you haven’t left enough time in between them to get to where you’re going.
9. KNOW WHERE TO GET RELIABLE INFORMATION
Your airline website and the airport websites are the place to get the best information. Check your flight status for delays, expected wait times and terminal maps before you go. Lots of well meaning strangers on Facebook & Twitter will give you advice, but they won’t be there to help you if you get denied boarding.
Orlando International Airport site: https://www.orlandoairports.net
Flying is a critical piece in your vacation that deserves attention. With the right planning you can avoid unnecessary stress and enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Have you experienced issues at the airport that you weren’t prepared for? Leave us a comment below!
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