Airport check-in regulations have changed drastically over the past several years. The items listed below will hopefully give you an overview of what you need to do when you arrive at the airport and what you need to do during your flight to assure a smooth trip. This procedure is same for both normal flights and private charter flights. Which is why should always reach on time to avoid any problems as you travel.
CRITICAL CHECK-IN TIMES
You are generally required to check-in, for domestic flights, two hours prior to your flight time. The check-in time for international flights is three hours prior to your flight time. These times can change, however, due to holidays and bad weather, so it is always good to check with your airline ahead of time. Make sure that you do not have to dig for any documentation during your check-in. It will really upset the people behind you if they have to wait longer due to the fact that you are not prepared. You will obviously need your ticket and/or boarding pass and identification. You will also need your passport and possibly your visa if it is an international flight.
Checking-in at the last minute can be extremely dangerous. Yes, you may still get on the flight but there is no guarantee that your luggage will accompany you. Plus, the airline more than likely will not assume liability if something goes awry with your luggage. In planning your flight it is best to choose the safest method of air travel, if possible. From best to worst, these are as follow: a) non-stop flights, b) a direct flight with one or more stops but you DO NOT have to change planes, c) an online connection where you change planes but not airlines, and d) an interline connection where you change planes and airlines. With (d) you may be going to Boston but your luggage may go to Australia.
LUGGAGE AND TAGS
Each airline has different weight restrictions. So, check with your airline on weight to help you determine how much luggage to bring. Depending on the restrictions, you may need to pay for extra luggage. Be sure and remove any straps from garment bags or luggage that are not absolutely needed. They can end up getting caught in baggage machines. The airline will give you luggage tags. Keep these tags handy – you will need them to claim your luggage. It is important to have one for each checked bag. Each tag will have the flight number with a code which will show which plane and which airport your luggage is destined.
The airline will only check your bags to your intermediate stops and not your final destination if you are going through Customs prior to your final destination. Make sure that you do not confuse baggage handlers with old travel tags. Remove them so that they, at least, eliminate that chance of your luggage going to a previous stop.
When you arrive at your destination determine which conveyor your luggage has entered. Pay attention since some people have very similar looking luggage as you have. Perhaps it is helpful to place a distinguishing mark on your bags so that you can pick them out right away.
If you need to go through Customs be prepared to wait. It is not necessary to open you luggage early. You may not have to depending on whether the agent just waves you through. He will ask you some questions to determine your status. But should you need to open the suitcase, be patient and polite and you will soon be on your way.
All of the new restrictions can be very confusing. Hopefully, these hints will serve to make your next airport check-in swift and easy.