Flight Preparation

What to Know When Booking Your Flight

Your vacation is coming up, but before you buy that plane ticket, make sure you have all the travel information you need to make your flight as smooth as possible. Unless you can afford luxury air travel options, you’re probably going to want to know how to find the best ticket prices. Know what kind of bag to pack, what time to arrive at the airport, and what kind of security restrictions to expect.

Buying a Ticket

In order to learn how to find the cheapest flights, you’ll need to do some research.

  • Search both the large booking websites as well as the individual airline websites to find the best prices.
  • Try to book your ticket about six weeks in advance. People who book too early or too late end up with the worst ticket prices. Too early is four months or more in advance and too late is a week in advance.
  • Check prices frequently. Revisit the booking site over the course of a week to see how much prices fluctuate.
  • Try to fly out on a weekday if you can. Tuesdays and Wednesdays offer the cheapest flights, and they are the least crowded days to be at an airport!
  • If you are traveling internationally, you may need to register your passport information when booking a ticket. So you’ll need to apply for a passport well before you’re ready to book your tickets.

You have your ticket now. Are you ready to hop on that plane? Not quite. Airlines have a few flight requirements you need to be aware of before you take off.

Size limits

Before you pack your bags, know the size limits. Most airlines allow one carry-on and one personal item, typically a purse or a laptop, on board with you. Your personal item must be small enough to fit under your seat. Carry-on size limits vary by airline, but the majority of airlines have a maximum size limit of 22 x 14 x 9 inches. Anything else will need to be checked.

If you have any liquids, aerosols, gels, or creams you will need to put them in travel-sized containers of 3.4 ounces or less. Those travel-sized containers will need to all fit into a quart-sized plastic bag with a zippered top. Anything that does not meet these specifications needs to be packed in your checked baggage, and remember checked baggage costs you both time and money. Avoid checking luggage whenever you can!

Security

Planes will not wait for you. They have schedules to keep and making your way through a security checkpoint takes time. It is absolutely essential that you arrive at the airport early. You want to arrive two hours early for a domestic flight and three for an international flight. If you are traveling internationally, make sure you have your passport ready and up-to-date.

At the very beginning of all security checkpoints they ask to see a government issued I.D. and your ticket. If you have forgotten your identification, they will allow you on in some cases, but additional security screening will be necessary to confirm your identity. It is best to have your I.D. and ticket in hand while you wait in line.

Here are some other tips for the quickest pass through security.

    • Wear slip-on shoes. It makes taking them off and on faster.
    • Try to avoid metal accessories. Consider leaving jewelry and chunky belt buckles in your carry-on to put on after the screening.
    • Make sure larger electronics can be easily taken out of their cases. Usually security will ask you to put your electronic items in plain sight on the conveyor belt.

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Now that you know what type of flight requirements to expect, you are ready to buy that ticket! Pack your properly sized bag. Bring your government issued I.D. Wear those slip-ons, and most of all, have a great vacation!

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