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Air Travel

Preparation is key to truly enjoying your next adventure. Here are some invaluable tips that our AAA Travel experts have compiled over the years, that should help ensure you have a smooth experience.

Before You Leave Home

  • Travel to Canada requires ID: a passport (or birth certificate for younger travelers) is required for travel to Canada. You can have passport photos taken at your local AAA service center
  • Understand carry-on baggage limits: passengers are limited to one carry-on bag and one personal item such as a purse or briefcase (size/weight restrictions and extra fees vary by airline)
  • Determine checked baggage limits: check with your airline for specific size and weight limit policies; overweight baggage may be subject to additional charge
  • Contact your airline (phone, online): confirm your reservation and flight times –  nearly all airlines allow you to check-in online up to 24 hours in advance of your flight
  • Arrange for a ride: have a friend drive you or take public transportation or a shuttle service to the airport to save the time and reduce the stress and expense of long-term parking
  • Dress comfortably: avoid clothes and shoes that contain metal, as they may result in extra screening. Slip-on shoes are quicker to remove and put on.
  • Pack snacks: many airlines no longer offer food in-flight, so be prepared; this is much less expensive than buying snacks at the airport, however beverages in containers more than 3 ounces are prohibited unless purchased at the airport after the security checkpoint
  • Carry valuables with you: take jewelry, cameras, medications, and important documents with you in your carry-on bag, not in checked luggage
  • Prepare for possible delays: bring a book, newspaper, cards or other diversions to help pass the time
  • Secure your house: make your house appear lived-in, lock all windows and doors, close shades, stop newspaper delivery, have the post office hold your mail, set a light to operate on a timer and don’t mention your trip on your telephone answering machine

Packing Tips

  • Avoid over-packing your bag: security screeners need to be able to easily close your luggage after inspection
  • Footwear: Shoes are heavy and should be packed at the bottom of your luggage and at the wheelbase. This will help keep your luggage standing up.
  • Gifts: ship gifts or leave them unwrapped; otherwise, security may tear off the wrapping paper
  • Delicate items: consider placing personal belongings or delicate items in clear plastic bags to reduce handling by security
  • Baggage ID: use baggage tags with cover flaps to help keep your information private; tape a business card to the inside of your bags in case external identification is lost; if you book your travel through AAA Washington, for additional privacy you may use the address of one of our service centers instead of your own address on your baggage tag
  • Mark your baggage: many bags look alike, so use colored ribbon or tape on your bag for easier identification in baggage claim
  • Do not lock baggage: when screening your bags, security personnel may break your locks if necessary; use a TSA approved lock they can access
  • Items to avoid: do not carry on or check knives, firearms, flammable items; only 3.4 ounce containers of liquid, gels or aerosols are allowed; check with the US Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration for more details

At the Airport

  • Arrive early: arrive two or more hours before your flight (three hours before an international flight) to allow extra time for crowds and security procedures
  • Check as much baggage as possible: overhead compartments and carry-on space will be limited
  • Keep photo identification handy: you will be asked for it numerous times during the check-in and security process
  • Carry your tickets: keep your airline tickets and/or a copy of your itinerary from your travel agent readily accessible
  • Have your boarding pass ready: have an actual boarding pass in-hand before going through airport security; an airline ticket (whether paper, printed electronic or internet confirmation) is not acceptable for passage through security
  • International travel: carry your passport, as well as a copy of it and extra photos, separately, in case they’re lost
  • Never leave your bags unattended
  • Avoid strangers: do not accept packages or watch bags for strangers
  • Expect questions: be prepared to politely answer questions from airline and security personnel
  • Do not joke: security personnel are trained to react when they hear talk concerning bombs, firearms or terrorists and penalties can be severe
  • Be polite: politeness and a sense of humor go a long way to receiving good service in any situation

Talk with a AAA Travel Advisor

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