Schools are out and summer vacations are officially underway. June, July and August are traditionally the busiest months of the year for Will Rogers World Airport and this summer will be no exception. Airlines are predicting very full schedules out of Oklahoma City and around the country.
Here are 12 tips to help get your trip get off the ground.
Before Coming to the Airport:
• Perform your own baggage screening. Packing or carrying prohibited items will certainly hold you (and everyone behind you) up. Once you complete packing at home, take time to look at the contents of all your bags. Know what you can check and what you can carry on. Make sure the liquids and gels in your carry-on comply with TSA’s 3-1-1 rule (liquids and gels must be three ounces or less, all contained in one, clear Ziploc bag, and one bag per traveler.) Firearms are not allowed through the checkpoint. They can be checked per airline procedures. Check out TSA’s website tsa.gov or download the My TSA app for a comprehensive list of prohibited items along with other great tips.
• Keep your carry-on bag light. To avoid checked baggage fees, some flyers try to pack everything in their carry-on bag. Unless you are well practiced in packing orderly and efficiently (think: flight attendant, road warrior) it might save headaches to go ahead and check a bag. Over-packed bags can cause delays at the checkpoint. Plus, you will need to lift that bag into the overhead bin and haul it with you at your connecting airports which can become tiresome if your flight is delayed or you have gate changes. Use your carry-on for what it was intended: essential and immediate-need items. Remember, you are only allowed one carry-on and one personal item when you board the aircraft.
• Carry On Essentials. Items such as medications, important documents, and valuables should always be carried with you. Checked luggage is handled by many people in many different airports. If you have valuables larger than what you can carry on, you may want to consider shipping them in advance through the USPS or a package delivery company. That will give you the option to insure the items and to track them. It is also a good idea to carry a few toiletries (the 3-1-1 rule applies) just in case your flight is delayed.
• Make sure you have proper identification. Check to make sure you have your driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID in the wallet or purse you are taking to the airport. Next, make sure it is not expired. If you are traveling out of the country you will need a passport; this includes Canada and Mexico. Children under 18 do not require identification unless traveling internationally.
At the Airport:
• Arrive at the airport an hour and a half before your flight departs. Seriously. The airlines are reporting that people are missing flights because they are not allowing enough time, particularly for the early morning departures. Yes, sometimes it does only take 30 minutes, but often it does not. If you miss your flight, getting rebooked could be difficult and most likely will cut into your hard-earned vacation time.
• Know where to Park. There are several parking options at WRWA. Save time and stress by knowing where you are going to park in advance and what your alternative location will be if a lot is full. A map and pricing schedule is available at flyokc.com under Parking and Transportation.
• Be ready for the checkpoint. Since you already checked your bag at home for prohibited items and your liquids and gels comply with the 3-1-1 rule, you should be able to pass through the checkpoint with relative ease. Just make sure to remove laptops from their bags and place in a bin, then place your Ziploc bag, shoes, jackets and sweaters in separate bin.
• TSA Pre✓. Last year the TSA implemented a new program called TSA Pre✓. The program allows pre-approved travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on. Travelers with Pre✓on their boarding pass will be directed to a special screening lane. You can sign up for Pre✓ through the TSA website tsa.gov. You may also be randomly selected for Pre✓when you print your boarding pass. If your traveling companions are not Pre✓cleared, they will not be able to go through the Pre✓line with you.
On the Plane:
• BYOB – Bring Your Own Blanket. Many airlines do not provide blankets anymore, and if they do, they may have been used by others that day. Travel blankets are inexpensive and compact and most discount stores carry them.
• BYOE – Bring Your Own Entertainment. Books, games, portable DVD players, all things that will keep you and your kids entertained during the flight. Don’t forget the earrbuds. Your seatmates will be appreciative.
• Stay hydrated. The cabin of the plane is not humidified, so to prevent that parched, dry feeling drink plenty of water.
• Follow the flight attendants instructions. The plane is not going to depart until you turn off your electronic devices. So don’t make the flight attendant ask you five times, just do it.