Travel Tips Countdown: One to Three HOURS before you take to the skies

This week we are presenting a series on Travel Tips for new and experienced travelers alike. Check out our Agents’ tips and tricks on how to survive pre-travel!

Today: Checking In and Surviving Security

  • Check in at the airport. It’s advised to check in 1 ½ to 2 hours in advance of each domestic flight, and 2 to 3 hours in advance of each international flight.
  • Curbside check-in? Some airports offer curbside check in. Just present your photo ID along with your reservation number to one of the booths. You can print your boarding pass here as well. Note! You cannot check in international luggage at the curbside check-in.
  • Connection. Do make sure that if you have a connection your luggage is tagged to your final destination, and the boarding pass you receive has checked you in to your final destination. If this is not the case, you will have to recheck in your luggage and yourself during your connection.
  • What’s this about Liquids? Use a quart-size clear Ziploc for holding any liquids/gels that you want in your carry on.  Items must contain less than 3 oz. of liquid, among other restrictions. It cannot be a larger capacity container that is holding less than 3 oz., either.  It can ONLY be a quart size bag; it cannot be crammed full either.
  • Prohibited Items. There’s a plethora of items you’re not allowed to pack in your carry-on by the TSA. This includes firearms, sharp objects, self defense items, explosive materials, dangerous chemicals, etc. For a full list, check out: When in doubt, leave it out. Or better yet, put it in your checked luggage.
  • Operating Carrier. Always check in with the carrier operating the flight. If your flight is a codeshare, the flight code might read KL6008 but actually be operated by Delta. Check your reservation if in doubt.
  • Unpack certain items before you go into security. Be sure to unpack laptops and film, and have your boarding pass and ID ready.
  • Dress the Part. As you pass through metal detectors, screening will go by faster if you minimize metal on your person—keys, jewelry, piercings, watches. Keep these items in your carry-on until you pass through security. Remove your shoes. Slip-on shoes are recommended, but for comfort do make sure they are closed-toe. Tip! Children under the age of 12, seniors over 75, and passengers with certain disabilities or medical conditions are exempt.
  • Water Bottle. It’s important to stay hydrated on a flight. Once past security, travelers can purchase water (though often expensive) and take it onboard with them. Alternatively, you can have an empty water bottle in your carry on and fill it once you are past security.
  • Self-Check Kiosk. These machines are invaluable. If your airline has a self-check kiosk at the airport, you can skip the long check-in lines, check-in, print your boarding pass, then proceed to the luggage-only line in a matter of minutes.

Want specific tips but don’t see them here? Leave a comment and we’ll post about it!

Willamette Intl Travel has been in the travel industry for more than 35 years and we keep informed with all the latest policies and updates. Call us for more info! 800-821-0401 or email


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Filed under North America, The Pacific Northwest, Travel Tips, USA

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