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How to Travel when Flying on a Plane

Last Updated: October 11, 2023 Approved

This article was co-authored by Amy Tan . Amy Tan is a Travel Planner and the Founder of Planet Hoppers, a boutique travel design team founded in 2002. Planet Hoppers specializes in brainstorming and creating itineraries for dream vacations, honeymoons, exotic adventures, family reunions, and group trips. Planet Hoppers is a TRUE accredited travel agency and a member of the Signature Travel Network, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and Travel Leaders. Amy earned a BA in Communications and a BS in Physics from the University of California, Davis in 2000. There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 13 testimonials and 94% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 458,333 times.

Air travel is the fastest way to travel over long distances, but it can be stressful to pack and make sure that you have done everything correctly in order to get through airport security. There are many rules and regulations that travelers must follow. However, as long as you are familiar with the guidelines and get everything ready in advance, you should have no issues traveling by airplane.

When you are on a plane, you are traveling. So, essentially, how you would travel when flying on a plane is you would sit down and enjoy the ride.

Packing Your Bags

Step 1 Determine how much luggage to take.

  • The permitted size of carry-on bags varies from airline to airline. Check the requirements for the airline with which you will travel to learn how big your carry-on bag can be. [1] X Trustworthy Source U.S. Transportation Security Administration U.S. government agency responsible for ensuring safety by setting and enforcing travel protocols Go to source
  • Remember that certain items are only permissible when packed in a checked bag.

Step 2 Make a list of any items you plan to pack that might be regulated.

  • Liquids, such as bath products
  • Sporting goods
  • Self defense items
  • Sharp objects
  • Small lighters.

Step 3 Learn how many items your carry-on and if you have to check a bag or two.

  • Most liquids and some food items, like gravies and sauces or sometimes even ketchup, must be 3.4 fluid ounces (100.6 ml) or less in order to be allowed in a carry-on bag. The rules may be different for necessities such as medicine, but there still are restraints for that. [4] X Trustworthy Source U.S. Transportation Security Administration U.S. government agency responsible for ensuring safety by setting and enforcing travel protocols Go to source

Step 4 Pack as lightly as you can.

  • Additionally, overpacking your carry-on or checked bag might result in it not fitting into the airline-approved measurements, in which case you might have to remove items from your bag to put into another bag or leave it at the airport. [6] X Research source
  • Checked bag fees start at $25 for one checked bag at the majority of airlines and go up from there, with increases for multiple checked bags and bags that are overweight. [7] X Research source

Step 5 Understand how liquids must be packed.

  • All liquid items that are 3.4 fluid ounces (100.6 ml) or smaller can go in your carry-on, and they must be packed in one 1-quart bag. Each traveler is only permitted to have one of these bags. [8] X Trustworthy Source U.S. Transportation Security Administration U.S. government agency responsible for ensuring safety by setting and enforcing travel protocols Go to source
  • Items that are larger that 3.4 fluid ounces (100.6 ml) can be packed in a checked bag. They do not have to be enclosed in a zip-top bag, but it is recommended in order to protect your other packed belongings.
  • Medications and nourishment items for infants and children are exempt from these rules. [9] X Trustworthy Source U.S. Transportation Security Administration U.S. government agency responsible for ensuring safety by setting and enforcing travel protocols Go to source

Step 6 Roll your clothing to pack it, instead of folding it.

  • Rolling your clothing not only saves space but also reduces wrinkles in clothes.

Step 7 Layer your packed items from heaviest to lightest.

  • Packing your items in this way prevents your clothes from being further compressed and wrinkled by being buried under heavier items.
  • Put toiletries and other light items on top so that they are easily accessible for removing at the security checkpoint.

Step 8 Consider packing some clothes inside other items, like shoes.

  • This way, you have at least one additional set of clothing to wear until you receive your checked bag.
  • It would also be helpful to include some key toiletry items, like a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant, as long as they meet the 3.4 fluid-ounce (100.6 ml) requirement.

Step 10 Put thin items or nothing at all in the outer zip pockets.

  • Put magazines, thin books, or other slim items in these pockets.

Step 11 Avoid locking your luggage.

  • Security does have approved locks that they can open with their own tools, including Safe Skies and Travel Sentry.

Did You Know? Airlines inspect your luggage to make sure you do not have forbidden items, like:

Getting to the Airport

Step 1 Check in for your flight up to 24 hours before departure.

  • Checking in online ahead of time also saves you time in getting to the airport, because you can head straight to security and skip the check-in lines upon arrival.

Step 2 Print or secure...

  • If you check in at the airport, then airline agents will provide you with your boarding pass at that time.

Step 3 Have the appropriate identification ready in order to get through security.

  • U.S. driver's license that is Real ID Act compliant (see dhs.gov/real-id for more information). If you do not have a Real ID compliant ID, then you will need to obtain an alternate form of identification (such as a passport or passport card) to pass the security lines.
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • U.S. military ID
  • Permanent resident card
  • Government-issued passport
  • Border crossing card.

Step 4 Arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare.

  • Airlines recommend that you arrive 30-45 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights, depending on whether you have to check any baggage. For international flights, it is recommended that you arrive at least two hours prior to departure to allow time for completing international requirements. [17] X Research source
  • Accommodate for extra time if you have to drive yourself and park in long-term parking. You will have extra time for traveling from the parking lot to the terminal via the airport shuttle.
  • If your airport is large and extremely busy, take that into consideration and arrive early, just to be sure. Also think about what day of the week you are traveling. Weekends are usually busy travel times, which means the airport and security checkpoint might be busier.

Step 5 Have all items needed for the security checkpoint easily accessible.

  • Liquids and aerosols in the quart-sized bag
  • Technology devices
  • Medically necessary medications and liquids
  • Nourishment items for infants and children.

Step 6 Remove all metal items from your person prior to going through screening.

  • Coats, jackets, and sweaters
  • Cell phones

Step 7 Know how to declare medications and items for infants and children.

  • Let the officer or other representative know that you have medically necessary liquids or medications when you are going through the screening. If you also need items such as ice packs, syringes, pumps, and IV bags, notify the officer about those, as well. It is helpful to have them labeled for easy screening. Keep all of these items separate from other liquids, like bath and hygiene products. Any ice packs or frozen gel packs that are necessary for your medication must be frozen solid at the security checkpoint. You do have the option to not have your medication screened by X-ray or to not have it opened, but in that case, other screening measures will have to be taken. [19] X Trustworthy Source U.S. Transportation Security Administration U.S. government agency responsible for ensuring safety by setting and enforcing travel protocols Go to source
  • If you have nourishment items for an infant or child, you are also allowed to bring them in excess of 3.4 fluid ounces (100.6 ml) in a carry-on item, and they can be in a zip-top bag larger than one quart. However, they must be separate from other liquids that you are checking through security. Alert the officer that you have these items so that they can be screened correctly. The officer may want to X-ray or open your breast milk, formula, or juice, but you can deny that if you would like to. In that case, other screening measures will have to be taken. Ice packs and frozen gel packs will need to be frozen solid at the time you go through security. Other items such as canned, jarred, and processed baby food are permitted, as well as liquid-filled teethers, but they will also have to be screened. [20] X Trustworthy Source U.S. Transportation Security Administration U.S. government agency responsible for ensuring safety by setting and enforcing travel protocols Go to source

Step 8 Find your gate and wait for boarding to start.

  • After you have found your gate, you can go to the restroom, get something to eat, or shop, if you have time.

Step 9 Keep anything you might want during the flight in your carry-on.

Making the Most of the Travel Time

Step 1 Have snacks and drinks.

  • Being prepared with snacks and drinks will help tide you over until you get to your destination, because although flights still do beverage service, many short haul flights no longer offer food or snacks. When they do offer meals, you normally have to pay for them.
  • An alternative is to eat at one of the airport restaurants. These are usually overpriced, but if you have a long time to wait or will have a long time before you can get your next meal, it is a good idea to eat at a restaurant.

Step 2 Use your technology sparingly.

  • Once you are on your plane, you will be asked to power off your electronic devices or put them in Airplane Mode. Be sure to do this to avoid interference with airline signals. Remember that you cannot access any apps that require cellular data or Wi-Fi when your smartphone or other device is in Airplane Mode.
  • Many airlines now offer Wi-Fi on flights, but it is almost always for a fee. Determine whether it is worth the money to access Wi-Fi on the flight. For example, if you are taking a business trip and have work to do while you travel, it will likely be worthwhile. If your trip is for pleasure, though, and you have no real need for using Wi-Fi other than entertainment, it might not be worth the price.

Step 3 Take books or other forms of entertainment.

  • Some airplanes have small TV screens in the backs of the headrests, so you can watch what is on those TVs. Keep in mind that you usually have to pay extra to access more desirable channels, instead of watching their infomercial channels or a map of your travel.

Deplaning at Your Destination

  • 1 Unfasten your seat belt. Wait until directed to do so and the fasten seat belt sign turns off.
  • 2 Other passengers may race to get up. If you don't wish to squeeze through at the first instant you can kindly let others pass infront of you.
  • 3 Take caution when opening overhead compartments. Suitcases may fall out unexpectedly.
  • Proceed out and follow the signs to the customs booth. Self-service kiosks can also do the same thing.
  • Present your passport and your customs form to the officer or scan them in the booth.
  • Scan your fingerprints on the scanner if necessary. This can happen if your name is on a country's blacklist, where you may be denied entry and deported. Scanning your fingerprints prove to the country that it is really you.
  • Be sure to gather your belongings from the plain before claiming your baggage. You cannot go back into a restricted area, without clearing security again.
  • 6 Leave the airport. Go to your arranged mode of transportation. You can also take a taxi, Uber, Lyft, or public transport.

Expert Q&A

Amy Tan

  • Try taking some books if you are travelling on a plane for many hours as it will be entertaining. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Check in at the airport at least two to three hours before the boarding/departing time, because airports could be busy, and security could be overwhelmed by many travellers. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • If you get airsick on planes, make sure to bring everything you need, including some wet wipes and something to snack on while in the plane. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 1

Tips from our Readers

  • Bring a small container of antibacterial hand gel. Airplanes are often loaded with germs and it can be inconvenient to go all the way to your bathroom to wash your hands.
  • After you go through security, you can buy food to take onto the plane. It'll usually be better than whatever they serve on the airplane (if they serve anything at all).
  • If you are carrying a purse or other small bag, put it in your luggage or carry on so it doesn't count as your small bag.
  • If you're in the United States and hate long security lines, sign up for TSA Precheck a few months before you travel.

travel via plane

  • When you try to take non-approved items through the security checkpoint, security agents will throw them away. Save yourself frustration by being sure to only pack approved items. Thanks Helpful 21 Not Helpful 0
  • Don't bother the people next to you unless you don't understand something or if it's an emergency. They may need rest and somewhere to be able to quiet themselves. Thanks Helpful 16 Not Helpful 0

You Might Also Like

Be Comfortable on a Long Airplane Trip

  • ↑ http://www.tsa.gov/travel/frequently-asked-questions
  • ↑ http://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/prohibited-items
  • ↑ Amy Tan. Travel Planner & Founder, Planet Hoppers. Expert Interview. 12 March 2020.
  • ↑ http://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/liquids-rule
  • ↑ http://www.expertflyer.com/travel-packing-tips
  • ↑ https://money.com/collection-post/best-travel-airline-baggage-fees/
  • ↑ http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/clothing-care/packing-tips/rolling-clothes
  • ↑ http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/clothing-care/packing-tips/fill-your-luggage
  • ↑ http://www.smartertravel.com/blogs/today-in-travel/10-things-you-should-never-pack-in-your-checked-bag.html?id=10387331
  • ↑ http://www.tsa.gov/travel/travel-tips
  • ↑ http://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification
  • ↑ https://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/checkingIn/arrivalTimes.jsp?anchorLocation=DirectURL&title=arrivaltimes#arrivaltimes
  • ↑ http://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures
  • ↑ http://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures/traveling-children
  • ↑ http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/air-travel/airport-layovers-9-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-layover

About This Article

Amy Tan

Taking a flight can seem stressful, but if you know the regulations ahead of time and prepare for your journey, you’ll be fine! Before you pack your bags, make sure you check your airline’s regulations. Many airlines have restrictions on liquids, food, and sharp objects as well as the maximum weight and size of your bags. To save you time at the airport, check if you can print or download your boarding pass ahead of time. Make sure you bring your ID, or your passport if you’re flying internationally. Aim to arrive at least 30 minutes early for domestic flights and 2 hours for international flights. This gives you time to check in your bags get through security, and find the correct terminal. For more tips, including how to entertain yourself on a long flight, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Is It Safe to Fly Right Now? Here's What Experts Have to Say

We spoke with medical, aviation, and travel experts to answer the question of whether or not it’s safe to fly during the pandemic. The answer is complicated, full of caveats, and, ultimately, a personal decision.

Katherine Alex Beaven is a Los Angeles-based travel, food and drink, and culture writer.

travel via plane

Last summer, after months of stay-at-home orders and closed borders, cities around the world began the process of reopening , travel restrictions started to soften, and leisure travelers were itching to hit the road again. We saw travelers dip their toes back in with road trips , daylong excursions, and camping getaways , while others headed back into the sky.

As we look toward summer travel this year, you might be wondering: Is it safe to fly right now? According to the medical, mathematical, aviation, and travel experts we spoke with, the answer is complicated and comes with numerous caveats. While it may be safe to fly, that doesn't mean it's without risk. Ultimately, flying during the pandemic requires weighing the many variables and deciding how comfortable you feel getting back on a plane. Here's what the experts have to say.

How clean is the plane?

While specific cleaning procedures and the frequency with which they're carried out vary by airline, most major carriers are disinfecting planes between flights, giving extra attention to high-touch surfaces and bathrooms. Additionally, airlines like United , JetBlue, Hawaiian, Delta, and Southwest have implemented electrostatic antimicrobial sprays to thoroughly disinfect every nook and cranny of the cabin, either overnight or between certain flights.

However, some fliers we spoke with have noted a slump in enhanced cleaning practices on board over time, particularly in the cabin, citing leftover wrappers, crumbs, or smudges in their seating area, though this depends on the specific airline and flight. Luckily, any lack of visible cleaning is something passengers can rectify on their end by wiping down their personal area as soon as they board. Most airlines offer disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer, though all of the experts we spoke with suggested bringing your own just to be safe.

Many airplanes also use HEPA filters , which completely refresh the cabin air throughout the flight and work to filter out over 99% of airborne viruses, bacteria, and other contagions. However, as reported in an August 2020 National Geographic article, that's only effective for air that has made it through the filtration system. If you're sitting next to someone who is shedding the virus and not wearing a mask, you run the risk of inhaling virus particles before they can be filtered through the HEPA system. Plus, some airplane filtration systems do not start running at full capacity until the aircraft is airborne, meaning the air is not being recycled and filtered at the same rate when the plane is taxiing or grounded. That's why wearing masks as much as possible for the duration of a flight is imperative.

Is it safer to fly domestically or internationally?

Travelers should consider the same factors — safety protocols, seat spacing, aircraft cleanliness, and flight time — for both types of flights. The main differentiating points to look at when deciding whether to fly domestic or international don't actually have to do with the flights themselves but focus rather on external variables, such as where you're going, infection levels at your destination, what precautions are in place, if you'll have access to adequate health care, and any travel restrictions or quarantine rules.

Dr. Winfried Just , a researcher in mathematical epidemiology and professor at Ohio University, and Dr. Georgine Nanos , a board-certified physician specializing in epidemiology, both agreed that a long-haul flight could be riskier, but only because it leaves the door open that much longer for potential exposures. Longer flights mean more people using the bathrooms, more instances of masks being removed (even if just temporarily for eating and drinking), more exposure to anyone nearby who might be shedding the virus, and so on. Since both domestic and international flights can last anywhere between one hour and double-digits, it's safer to choose destinations with shorter overall flight times.

Flying internationally carries a few pros that many domestic flights do not, namely due to the entry requirements of several overseas destinations. Many times, proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken preflight or an on-site PCR test at the airport is required to board the plane. While pretesting functions as a way to keep any COVID-positive passengers from boarding flights, it's not a foolproof method.

When it comes to flying during the pandemic, safety is measured on a sliding scale. Dr. Just cautions that "safe is never 100% safe," since it's impossible to completely eliminate risk.

Consider safety protocols and enforcement.

There is evidence that wearing a face mask is key to preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, making this one of the easiest ways to help mitigate risk while traveling. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came out with a statement saying that masks not only protect the wearer, but also people around them .

Following a federal ruling in April 2022 , the mask mandate for planes, trains, and airports was voided. U.S. airlines and airports no longer enforce mask-wearing, but the ruling may not apply if you are flying internationally. Although many countries have also lifted their mask rules for travel, you should confirm which rules are in place with your airline before your trip.

Is it safer in business or first class?

For travelers wondering whether it's worth splurging for a seat in business or first class for added safety, it depends. While the experts agreed that there is likely to be more overall space, especially between passengers in first class, it's probably not going to make much of a difference, unless you're in a particularly secluded seat or suite. It's also worth noting that food and drink service has made its return with meal selections that go beyond snack boxes and drink options that include beer and wine.

Expect changes in flight schedules.

While flights are operating at much higher percentages than a year ago, some airlines are still operating fewer routes. Fewer available flights mean a smaller breadth of options when it comes to choosing what time or day to fly. Ideally, you should aim for nonpeak flight times, but it may just come down to what's available. As demand rises and airlines test their legs and schedules, domestic flights are more likely to ebb and flow, so expect disruptions , sudden changes, and/or flight consolidations. Depending on demand, the airline may change, cancel, or rebook you.

Is it safe to fly with family or friends?

If you're traveling with anyone else — be it, family, friends, or a significant other — consider yourselves as one unit. "Family should sit together," said Dr. Just. "Significant others and close friends, they should sit together — and away from others." Splitting up or dispersing around the plane only increases the amount of exposure of the unit.

Are there alternative options to commercial flights?

For those who can afford it, private charters offer a safer space, control over the details, and overall less risk than commercial flights. Andy Christie, global private jets director at Air Charter Service , a global charter brokerage service that helps connect travelers with private charter flights, said taking a private charter flight can almost "completely minimize the risk of transmission," simply by reducing the number of contact points and exposures. Private charters eliminate the need to wait in lines, share a plane with strangers, or even step foot inside a terminal.

The hop-on, short-haul jet service JSX offers a compromise: a private jet experience at near-commercial prices (fares include checked bags, seat assignments, snacks, and drinks, including alcohol). Their flights operate out of private hangars and terminals, and planes have been reconfigured from 50 seats down to 30, giving passengers around 36 inches of seat pitch — or a similar experience to business class seats on a major domestic airline. CEO Alex Wilcox said JSX has also implemented new pandemic-focused safety features and procedures, like enhanced cleaning.

What about airports?

When we talk about flying, we also have to assume the risks of being in the airport. Overall, airports are doing their part to create safe, clean spaces for travelers. Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst and principal at Atmosphere Research, said some precautions include touchless kiosks, frequent cleaning, hand sanitizer stations, self-removal of personal items during security checks, and plexiglass shields in front of traveler-facing employees, from gate agents to shop cashiers.

"Airports are required to follow local laws or guidelines," explained Harteveldt. "So, if there's a state or local guideline that says that face coverings are required, you are required as a passenger to keep your face mask on." He noted there are exceptions, like if you're eating or drinking, or going through TSA and need to pull down your mask to show identification.

Still, Dr. Nanos urges travelers to make a comparative risk assessment. "Take the same precautions that you would be indoors, whether you're going to a restaurant or movie theater," she advised.

Is flying safer now that more people are vaccinated?

Now that vaccines are available throughout the United States, more people may feel comfortable flying again. Bryan Del Monte, an aviation industry expert and president of The Aviation Agency, said, "As more people get vaccinated, flights are undoubtedly going to be safer." He added, "The vaccinated are less likely to transmit illness, less likely to contract any serious illness, and their vaccination helps negate the challenges of the two biggest factors in getting people sick on an aircraft: duration of exposure and proximity. Thus, as vaccination rates increase, I would conclude that airline travel becomes less and less likely a significant source of COVID-19 transmission." Note that booster shots are also now readily available which help strengthen the protection your vaccine provides. You can get your booster shots five months after your second dose of the vaccine.

It is important to note with new variants, spreading COVID-19 can happen whether or not you are vaccinated. Per the CDC, wearing a well-fitting mask while you travel can help protect you and others.

Is it safe to fly if you have pre-existing conditions or are in the at-risk category?

Unfortunately, rules and risks shift when it comes to travelers with pre-existing conditions or those who are in the vulnerable category for the novel coronavirus. "COVID-19 is not over," said Dr. Just. "So, think about it in these terms: If you are in that category and you want to take a risk, consider how important it is for you." Dr. Nanos echoed this advice, saying, "It's probably best for those people to kind of lay low for a little while, but again, it's that level of personal risk that everyone is willing to assume."

What about flying during the holiday season or summer vacation?

For the most part, assessing the risks of flying during the holidays or summer vacation season isn't much different than any other time. However, these are traditionally high volume travel periods, and statistically, there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases after long weekends and holidays.

Understand the studies.

There have been multiple studies conducted on the safety of flying during the pandemic — and while some academic studies tout relative safety, other reports of airplane super-spreader events indicate that it is possible for the virus to spread on flights.

The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. Each flight will present its own variables and level of risk. In September 2020, after tracing 1,600 flights in which someone on board may have had COVID-19, the CDC reported to CNN that nearly 11,000 people were possibly infected from taking flights connected to these cases. The truth is, the lack of contact tracing and the virus' long incubation period make it tough to undoubtedly link cases to flights.

Reduce your overall risk.

The number one thing is to recognize your responsibility. When determining whether or not to fly, consider your fellow passengers. "Start by wearing a face covering," said Harteveldt. "It's a critical step travelers can take to reduce their potential to spread the virus. Remember, you may have the virus and be asymptomatic." His sentiment was echoed by nearly everyone we spoke with. Harteveldt also recommends taking advantage of any and all mobile apps or contactless versions of the process, like using your own personal device to stream in-flight entertainment, avoiding checking bags, and planning your trip so you spend as little time as possible in the airport.

Dr. Just urges travelers to opt for direct flights whenever possible. "It is much safer to take one flight," he said. "If you're taking several legs, you will sit next to several passengers." Direct flights mean fewer airports and exposures overall. In addition to wearing a mask, he also advocates for speaking up "for your own interest and the interest of your fellow passengers" whenever you see someone who is not wearing a mask. Kelly notes that you can also enlist the help of a flight attendant if you don't feel comfortable calling someone out on your own.

Kelly also recommends that travelers reduce their risk by driving themselves to the airport, wearing sunglasses for the duration of the flight to help prevent touching their face, investing in a face covering that will not easily fall down or slip, and packing their own snacks since in-flight service and airport vendors may be minimal.

Other expert tips include opening the in-flight air vent to help circulate the air around you, bringing your own stash of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes and wiping down your entire seating area, packing your own blanket and pillow (provided you wash them between uses), and immediately sanitizing your hands every time you touch any surfaces or possible contaminants.

"If you want to wear a contraption or scrub down your seat, I would say that judgment is no longer there," said Kelly. "Self-admittedly, I was not a big seat scrubber — not that I judged people who did — but now it's the norm. So have at it, and don't feel bad about having your own cleaning processes or your own food on the plane."

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Should I mask for my flight? What to know about COVID and traveling.

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There’s no quicker way to ruin a vacation than getting sick, and travelers should be wary of catching a respiratory virus during their journeys.

It could end up as just the common cold, or be something more serious like the flu or COVID . 

Since the winter season began, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noticed “elevated and increasing (though not dramatically)” COVID-19 activity in the U.S., the agency said in late December. Particularly, travelers should beware of the latest most widely circulating COVID-19 variant, JN.1.

“JN.1’s continued growth suggests that the variant is either more transmissible or better at evading our immune systems than other circulating variants,” the agency said.

Travelers are always at a higher risk of catching COVID since they’re moving quickly through multiple places. The CDC’s Traveler-Based SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Surveillance – which collects samples from international travelers arriving from more than 25 countries at major U.S. airports – found a 32.9% positivity rate for pooled samples the week of Jan. 1. The following week showed a slight decline with a positivity rate of 27.8%. The most common variant found in these travelers was JN.1.  

Learn more: Best travel insurance

Here’s what to know if you’re traveling soon and wondering about your risk of COVID and how to stay safe. 

Are COVID cases rising?

Coronavirus cases were recently on the rise, but have been declining as of about two weeks ago. 

For a while, the JN.1 variant was spreading rapidly. In December, the CDC said hospital admissions for COVID-19 increased by more than 50% . The week ending on Jan. 9 saw 34,876 new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the U.S. – the highest since a year ago on Jan. 24, 2023. 

However, the most recently released data of the week ending Jan. 20 reported a 14% decline in hospital admissions and a 1.2% decline in test positivity. 

The states with the highest rates of new hospitalizations last week were New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, West Virginia, Connecticut and Arkansas. 

The states and territories that saw the highest week-over-week increase in COVID-19 hospitalization rates were Puerto Rico, with 36.3% more hospitalizations last week than the week before, and New Mexico, which had 24% more. Alaska also had a 13.9% rate increase. 

From Reviewed: We tried the Lucira COVID-19 and flu test — Here's what to know about the at-home kit

What are the masking rules in air travel?

Federal law no longer requires passengers to wear face masks on domestic flights as of Spring 2022, so it’s up to individuals to mask. Since then, nearly all international destinations have also dropped their own mandates requiring masks in planes and airports. If you do want to mask up, some airlines like Southwest Airlines can provide one. 

Is the air quality safe inside a plane?

For the most part, yes. Airplane ventilation systems are effective at making the onboard air as clean as an operating room , Leonard Marcus, director of the Aviation Public Health Initiative at Harvard University, told USA TODAY in April 2022. 

When a plane is in flight, its ventilation system draws in air from outside and discharges half of the “used” air back outside while filtering the rest, so air is constantly moving inside the plane, helping to greatly reduce transmission risks. It may not feel like it, but the air inside a plane is being exchanged at a rate of about 10 times more than in typical office buildings. 

I measured CO2 levels on a plane: It showed me when I was most likely exposed to COVID

A 2020 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the risk of catching COVID-19 during air travel is low, thanks to the continuous exchange of air and the flow from top to bottom. 

When grounded, the plane has to use an onboard auxiliary power unit to operate the ventilation system and also pump in air from an outside air compressor. 

Most aircraft also use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that catch at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and the tiniest of particles, including COVID-19.

Should I wear a mask while traveling?

Although airlines said their cleaning processes meet CDC guidelines and passengers are usually given sanitizing wipes when they board a plane, experts agree that masks add an extra layer of protection against contracting COVID-19 during air travel. Outbreaks on planes can still happen when some passengers are infected.

The CDC recommends people wear a high-quality mask like an N95 when in crowded or tight spaces, like on the airport jetway to board a plane, or if travelers are passing through a destination with high levels of respiratory illnesses. 

Passengers exposed to someone with COVID-19 within 10 days or feeling under the weather, should mask, cancel or rebook their flight. 

Wearing a mask while traveling is also just a good gesture to fellow passengers. “Wearing a mask during travel can also help protect others who cannot avoid being in crowded places when they are traveling,” said the CDC. 

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at [email protected] .

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7 Must-Know Tips for First-Time Flyers

Claire Tsosie

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Flying on an airplane for the first time — or the first time in a long while — can be an exciting, life-changing adventure. But it can also be incredibly stressful.

You want to head for the gate with the swagger of a seasoned traveler, but that's hard to pull off when you don't know how much it costs to check a bag, or what to expect when you go through airport security.

So how can you deal? Reviewing these tips before takeoff can boost your confidence, making your trip easier and more worry-free.

Best advice for first-time flyers

1. check the airline's luggage requirements.

It’s easy to overpack — but if you do, it could cost you. Before your flight, visit your airline’s website to review luggage size and weight restrictions, as well as baggage fees. While these vary by airline and fare paid, here's what you can typically bring with a standard fare on a major airline:

Two carry-on items for free: one full-size carry-on the size of a small rolling suitcase or smaller, and one small personal item, such as a purse or backpack

One checked suitcase (often, one weighing under 50 pounds) for $25 to $30. Checking additional bags could cost more

If your carry-on bag is too bulky, you may have to pay to check it. Likewise, if your checked bag is over a certain size, you may have to pay a higher-than-usual fee to check it. It's best to avoid these surprises, if possible.

"If you’re a nervous flyer, little things can really set you off,” says Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie of New York City, founder of the travel blog The Globetrotting Teacher . “Even if it’s not a big deal, and you get to the check-in counter, and they say, ‘Oh, by the way, there’s a $30 bag fee,’ and you weren’t expecting that, that could just be something that rattles you."

Remember, if you pack light enough , you could avoid baggage fees altogether.

Having an airline credit card can mean waived checked baggage fees, as well. For example:

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

on American Express' website

Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card

on Chase's website

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

on Bank of America's website

First checked bag free for you and up to eight others on your reservation. Terms apply.

First checked bag free for you and a companion traveling on your reservation.

First checked bag free for you and up to four others traveling on your reservation.

First checked bag free for you and up to three others traveling on your reservation.

First checked bag free for you and up to six others traveling on your reservation.

2. Pack essentials in your carry-on

If you’re packing anything that’s hard to replace — say, prescription medicine, contacts or glasses, or important paperwork — put it in your carry-on bag. This way, you won’t be without that item in the rare event your checked bag goes missing. You'll also want to pack some in-flight entertainment, such as your laptop, headphones and a book or magazine.

Just make sure you’re following the Transportation Security Administration’s rules for what you can pack . You can’t, for example, bring a big bottle of contact lens solution in your carry-on, but you can bring a 3.4-ounce bottle. And keep in mind that if your carry-on bag is too big to fit under the seat in front of you, you may have to check it. More rules may apply if you're flying internationally.

» MORE: 10 ways to minimize mix-ups on your first trip abroad

“The overhead compartments fill up quickly,” says Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com, an online travel agency based in Calabasas, California. “If you’re in the back of the plane, you might find that there’s no more room, and you’ll have to do a gate check of your bag at the last minute, which isn’t particularly fun." Checking your bag at the gate means your full-sized carry-on bag will travel with the other checked bags during the flight, rather than in the overhead bin.

3. Arrive at the airport two hours early

Catching a plane isn’t like catching a bus; it’s a much longer process. In fact, the TSA recommends showing up at least two hours before takeoff for domestic travel, and three hours for international travel.

Ultimately, you need to give yourself enough time to get your boarding pass, check your bags and go through security before your plane starts boarding. Sometimes, that takes 10 minutes. Other times, especially during peak travel times, it can take much longer.

It’s worth keeping in mind that boarding the plane isn’t a free-for-all, either. Airlines typically start boarding passengers 30 minutes before takeoff in groups. Generally, a boarding time will be printed on your ticket.

4. Keep your ID handy

Decades ago, airport security was relatively lax. “There was one point where you could just walk up to a gate, whether you were flying or not, whether you had ID or not,” Klee says. Nowadays, TSA agents check IDs for passengers over 18.

Save time by having your ID card, driver’s license or passport handy as soon as you step foot into the airport. You’ll need it when checking bags and going through security, and you don’t want to hold up the line while rummaging through your wallet.

5. Wear easy-to-remove shoes

Going through airport security might be the most stressful part of flying — but if you know what to expect, the whole rigmarole can feel much less taxing. Typically, unless you have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry , you have to:

Remove your shoes (unless you’re 12 and under or 75 and older)

Empty the contents of your pockets and remove your hat, belt, jacket, wallet and bulky jewelry

Remove your laptop and liquids from your bag

Send these items — and your carry-on bag — through an X-ray machine

Walk through a metal detector or a body scanner (or opt for a pat-down)

Preparing for this — say, by wearing shoes you can easily slip on and off and making sure the items in your carry-on are TSA-compliant — can make the process faster.

WANT TSA PRECHECK FOR FREE?

A number of popular travel credit cards reimburse you for the application fee for trusted traveler programs like TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. Among them:

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Statement credit of up to $100 as reimbursement when you charge the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry to the card. Available once every 4 years.

Statement credit of up to $100 as reimbursement when you charge the application fee for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or NEXUS to the card. Available once every 4 years.

If your credit card offers reimbursement for the application fee for programs like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you must pay the fee with the card. You cannot submit a claim for reimbursement if you paid with some other method. Reimbursement will usually appear as a statement credit in your account within two months.

Cards typically offer reimbursement of only one fee once every four to five years. Check the terms and conditions of your card for the specific rules that apply. Note also that these cards only reimburse the application fee for a trusted traveler program. They don't automatically enroll you in the program or guarantee that you'll be accepted by the program. You still have to apply and go through the required screening, which in the case of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry includes an in-person appointment.

Aeroplan® Credit Card .

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card .

Chase Sapphire Reserve® .

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® .

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card .

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card .

IHG® One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card .

IHG® One Rewards Premier Credit Card .

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card .

The Platinum Card® from American Express .

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card .

United Club℠ Infinite Card .

United℠ Explorer Card .

United Quest℠ Card .

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card .

Terms apply.

» SEE the best credit cards that pay for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry

6. Respect other passengers' space

These days, flights are generally fully booked, and most seats offer limited legroom. This might stress out your fellow flyers, so be sensitive.

“If any of your stuff or body parts are going into another space that’s not yours, you really have to be mindful of that,” Sills-Dellegrazie says. “It can be as simple as, you put your ponytail over the top of the seat and now it’s hanging … across someone’s TV screen, and you don’t even realize it."

Similarly, if you wear perfume or cologne, eat smelly foods or listen to loud music, you might unintentionally upset the person sitting next to you. Of course, you can't plan for everything — maybe you're traveling with an upset child, for example — but do what you can to avoid an in-flight faux pas.

7. Have a backup plan ready

Now for a game of “worst-case scenario,” first-time flyer edition: What happens if you miss your flight or your flight gets delayed or canceled ?

First, take a deep breath.

If you miss your plane because of unforeseen circumstances, such as a major traffic delay, the airline will often put you on standby for the next flight without charging extra. Just remember that you generally need to notify the airline within a couple of hours of missing your flight to get rebooked for free.

If it looks like you'll miss a connecting flight , check the smartphone app offered by your airline or the screen in the airport to find out which gate your flight departs from, and whether you've actually missed it. If the flight is delayed, you may still have a chance to board. If you miss the connection and the airline was responsible, you can generally also rebook that flight free of charge — and maybe even get some free meal or hotel vouchers for the hassle.

Smart travelers mitigate the risks of unexpected travel disruptions by booking their flights using a credit card with travel insurance or purchasing a separate standalone travel insurance policy .

In general, be proactive. Have the airline's customer service phone number handy in case you get stuck in traffic, so you can call as soon as possible. Or if you're already at the airport, go to the customer service desk and asking about rebooking. Missing a flight can be a setback, but it doesn’t have to derail your travel plans.

To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card , see this page .

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

1x-5x Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

1.5%-6.5% Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

$300 Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

on Capital One's website

2x-5x Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

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Expedia Rewards is now One Key™

Search flights.

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Tips on booking cheap flights.

Looking for the best time to buy airline tickets to get a cheap flight to everywhere? We’ve got you covered anytime, anywhere. Here’s how to find the best deal for flight booking no matter where you want to go in the world.

Which day of the week is the best day to buy cheap airline tickets?

For both U.S. domestic and international travel, Sundays can be cheaper for airline ticket purchases. Fridays tend to be the most expensive day to book a flight. Booking on the right day of the week could save you up to 6% on your airfare, according to historical data*.

When is the best time to buy airline tickets?

Based on 2020 And 2021 global flight data for Economy tickets, prices usually start to increase 56 days before departure for domestic flights. When traveling internationally, prices usually start to increase 21 days before departure*. Keep in mind that this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule; keeping an eye on prices is a good idea when trying to find the best airfare deals. Compare fares across different airlines, and set up a price alert for your preferred route.

Which are the cheapest days to fly?

Analysis of domestic and international airfare prices shows that flying out on Fridays can be cheaper. Many travelers start their trips on Sundays, so your chances of a lower price are better when departing early in the week instead. Starting your trip on a Friday could be almost 11% cheaper than air travel on Sundays, so book flights online wisely*!

Which is the cheapest month to fly?

The cheapest month to fly can vary depending on where you’re going, so finding the best rates largely comes down to avoiding peak travel times for your destination. If you’re looking for cheap international flights , the most expensive month tends to be February, while the cheapest is November with cheap flights in November offering potential savings of up to 34.6% relative to February. Cheap domestic flights work a bit differently, with March being the most expensive and August being the least expensive with cheap flights in August offering savings of up to 35%*.

How can I find the cheapest flights on Expedia?

Compare cheap airline ticket prices at a glance from a large inventory of carriers on Expedia. You can get cheap flights by staying flexible with travel dates, carriers, and nonstop/layover flights to get the best price. Insider tip: Become a member (it’s free!) to earn rewards back on every booking. We make your travel stress-free and source incredible airfare deals so you can sit back, relax, and start your vacation or business trip.

How can I save money on flights?

Mixing and matching airline tickets and fare types could help save money on airfare to your destination. Easily compare prices for carriers, arrival and departure dates, airplane cabin class, and more when you book with Expedia. Booking your plane ticket on a Sunday, and departing on Friday, could possibly save you money* based on historical data. You can also filter for flights based on your budget, such as looking for cheap flights under $200 specifically.

How can I get cheap last-minute flight deals?

The historical data analysis of flight pricing patterns shows that you can still find amazing airfare deals 3 weeks prior to departure* when traveling domestically. International last-minute flights offer great deals 2 weeks prior to departure if you’re flying premium, but economy travelers may want to strive for no less than 4 weeks out*. Try to stay flexible with travel dates, airports, and nonstop/layover flights to find the cheapest flights on Expedia. Whether you’re planning a quick business trip or a spontaneous holiday with friends, you’ll have your choice of last-minute flights, roundtrip, or multicity flights on Expedia. You’ll find everything you need for your travels all in one place — and all at the right price.

How do I book with Expedia?

Booking your flight with Expedia is easy, as all you have to do is implement your travel dates, departure destination, like flights from Atlanta or flights from Hartsfield-Jackson , and arrival destination into the search. Then, all the available flights for those dates and destinations will appear. You can use search filters to narrow down the results as well based on a variety of factors like the airline, number of stops, departure time, and policies like seat choice and refundable bookings. Additionally, travelers may alter their search for round-trip flights, one-way flights, and multicity flights.

What should I look out for when booking flights?

Several factors go into any flight booking, and you’ll need to keep an eye out for them all to ensure that you get the travel time, luggage policy, airline, and class you want. Consider which airport is closest to your ultimate destination (travelers to Los Angeles may prefer flights to LAX over flights to PSP , and make sure that the flight will accommodate all the luggage you plan on bringing. Additionally, consider the different flight classes including economy flights for functionality and premium flights if you want to enjoy a more relaxing experience.

Where’s the cheapest place to travel?

The cheapest place to travel can be in the same country, like Chicago. Flights to Chicago are fairly affordable no matter where you’re coming from in the continental United States. Flights to Las Vegas tend to be pretty affordable as well. While the Vegas airport isn’t a hub for any major airline, it does have plenty of competition to keep prices relatively low.

Where can I fly for cheap?

Staying within a strict budget still allows you to find plenty of cheap flights, even to destinations like Puerto Rico. In fact, flights to Puerto Rico don’t even require U.S. citizens to have a passport. Flights to Alberta and other destinations in Canada can be fairly affordable as well.

Is it cheaper to buy flights last minute?

Flight tickets can be cheaper at the last minute depending on how late you’re actually booking, where you’re going, and the kind of flight you opt for. For domestic flights with Economy tickets, prices usually start to increase 3 weeks before departure, and 4 weeks for international flights, according to historical data*.

Are fully refundable flights available?

Yes, several fully refundable flights are available and will be labeled as such right on your search results page in green text. You may also filter for fully refundable flights specifically to eliminate all flights from your results that don’t qualify. Just make sure to check the specific policy for each flight before booking.

Why should I book my flight with Expedia?

Booking with Expedia makes finding a flight easy, but that’s just the beginning of everything you can take advantage of. We also offer hotels, car rentals, and even activities that you can purchase with package deals available for travelers planning more than one aspect of their trip at a time. Plus, Expedia offers stunning cheap flight deals that can help you save with ease. As a One Key member, you will earn OneKeyCashTM for every eligible booking that you can use to save on future bookings. Plus, OneKeyCash can be earned on top of airline miles.

*Data specialists from both ARC and Expedia Group analyzed ARC’s global flight data to distil actionable information to help people save money on travel. While it’s impossible to guarantee when to find the lowest prices, after examining the variables, we were able to observe trends. Best day of the week to book and best day of the week to depart is based on average round-trip ticket prices for January through August for 2021, sourced from ARC’s global airline sales database. Best month to depart recommendation is based on average round-trip ticket prices for January through December for 2020, sourced from ARC's global airline sales database. Best time to book recommendation is based on average round-trip ticket prices for January through August for 2021 & average round-trip ticket prices for January through December for 2020, sourced from ARC's global airline sales database. OneKeyCash is not redeemable for cash and can only be used on Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo.

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Is it safe to fly right now? What to know about air travel and COVID-19

Airports are preparing for a crush of passengers as holiday air travel in 2021 is expected to approach pre-pandemic levels.

More than 6 million people are expected to fly between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2., with airlines projected to see a 184% increase in passengers from 2020, according to AAA , which called it a "dramatic bounce-back."

"With vaccines widely available, conditions are much different and many people feel a greater level of comfort with travel," said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement.

Holiday bookings for Christmas and the New Year's holiday have been coming in "very, very strong," Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta Air Lines, told CNBC. United has been flying its largest schedule since the start of the pandemic, adding more than 200 daily domestic flights to meet the increased demand.

More than 2 million people passed through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints on Dec. 16, 2021 — more than double the passenger volume on the same day in 2020.

But the rapid spread of the omicron variant may have many people wondering: Is it safe to fly right now?

'Very low' risk

There's not a one-size-fits-all answer to that question — it all depends on a person's risk tolerance and their own risk factors for severe disease, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in Baltimore and a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Masks are required on planes and at airports, and as long as people are complying, there's not a major risk from flying, he noted.

"Transmission on a plane of COVID-19 is not very common because of the (air) circulation and because of the mask wearing," Adalja told TODAY.

"(But) there's always going to be some level of COVID risk with any activity you do, whether it's flying, riding the bus or going to the post office... for most people, I think it's an acceptable risk."

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Health & Wellness CDC panel recommends people not get J&J vaccine if Pfizer, Moderna available

The more vaccinated passengers and crew are on a plane, the safer air travel is, Adalja added, so he was a fan of airlines mandating vaccinations as a condition of employment, the way United Airlines has .

Masking and vaccines are the best tools we have against both the omicron and delta variants, he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged people to delay travel until they were fully vaccinated. If that's not possible, they should get tested one to three days before their trip.

Given the high quality of cabin air and the various safety measures in place, there is "very low" risk of contracting COVID-19 on board a plane, according to the International Air Transport Association , which represents airlines around the world.

What studies have found:

United Airlines and the Department of Defense teamed up on a six-month study that found the risk of contracting COVID-19 on commercial flights was low when passengers wore masks for the entirety of the flight. The highest risk was associated with sitting in the same row, or a row in front of or behind, an infected person. This study didn't take into account the risk associated with being in a crowded airport or boarding a flight.

Researchers have said factors that may prevent transmission on planes include the airflow in the cabin from the ceiling to the floor and all passengers wearing face coverings.

But if everyone took off their masks at the same time for a one-hour in-flight meal service, the average infection probability increased by 59%, a study published in the Journal of Travel Medicine in May 2021 found.

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Health & Wellness Current COVID-19 boosters are enough to fight the omicron variant, Fauci says

Still, most viruses don’t spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on planes, the CDC noted.

Carriers like American Airlines have been touting the use of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters on board that capture “at least 99.97% of airborne microbes by circulating the cabin air once every 2 to 4 minutes.”

Airlines have also implemented enhanced cleanings and traveler health acknowledgments during check-in.

A paper by Arnold Barnett, a statistics professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts, looked at the probability of an air traveler contracting COVID-19 from a nearby passenger while sitting in economy class on a two-hour domestic U.S. flight. He assumed everyone was wearing masks.

Barnett calculated the risk at 1 in 4,300 for full flights, which went down to 1 in 7,700 when middle seats were kept empty.

It's not clear that two hours spent on a plane involved a higher COVID-19 infection risk than two hours doing any other everyday activities during the pandemic, Barnett concluded in the study.

"You don't get sick on airplanes any more than anywhere else," wrote Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, in The Washington Post . "The required aircraft systems do a really good job of controlling airborne bacteria and viruses."

Danger on the ground

Experts have been more worried about coronavirus spread before flights.

“My concern has really been in the airports funneling people through hallways and jet ways and metal detectors,” said Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, during a briefing in 2020. “The whole process of airports… and squishing people together. We know that this virus can be airborne and it can linger for a little bit.”

Any part of the trip where you can’t social distance is more risky since the virus transmits most efficiently when people are in close contact together, including at the airport food court and standing at the gate before boarding, Adalja added. He also believed people’s behavior at the destination was usually riskier than the journey itself.

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Health & Wellness Free at-home COVID-19 tests are coming: How to get reimbursed by health insurance

If you plan to fly soon, Adalja recommended taking all the usual precautions during the trip: Wash your hands frequently, wear a face covering as required, avoid the crowded parts of the airport and try to stay 6 feet apart from everybody. Always have hand sanitizer with you.

Some studies have found the window seat may be best to avoid getting sick because it offers the least contact with other passengers, but Adalja was skeptical. It all depends on who's sitting beside you since it’s usually 10-15 minutes of close proximity — not fleeting contact — that transmits the new coronavirus virus, he said.

If you’re more likely to get the severe form of COVID-19, consider if it's worth the risk to fly. Don't fly if you're sick or have been in contact with someone who is sick. These are all important things to keep in mind during the holiday travel season.

This article was updated in December 2021 to include the most recent research and statistics.

travel via plane

A. Pawlowski is a TODAY health reporter focusing on health news and features. Previously, she was a writer, producer and editor at CNN.

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Save money on airfare by searching for cheap flight tickets on KAYAK. KAYAK searches for flight deals on hundreds of airline tickets sites to help you find the cheapest flights. Whether you are looking for a last minute flight or a cheap plane ticket for a later date, you can find the best deals faster at KAYAK.

New York Flights

  • Flight Miami - New York (MIA - LGA) $48+
  • Flight West Palm Beach - New York (PBI - LGA) $48+
  • Flight Miami - Newark (MIA - EWR) $53+
  • Flight Fort Lauderdale - New York (FLL - LGA) $54+
  • Flight Orlando - New York (MCO - LGA) $58+
  • Flight Fort Lauderdale - Newark (FLL - EWR) $62+
  • Flight Chicago - New York (ORD - LGA) $77+
  • Flight Dallas - Newark (DFW - EWR) $81+
  • Flight Dallas - New York (DFW - LGA) $87+
  • Flight Los Angeles - Newark (LAX - EWR) $95+
  • Flight Houston - New York (HOU - LGA) $105+
  • Flight Chicago - Newark (ORD - EWR) $110+
  • Flight Chicago - New York (ORD - JFK) $127+
  • Flight Fort Lauderdale - New York (FLL - JFK) $129+
  • Flight Miami - New York (MIA - JFK) $129+
  • Flight Los Angeles - New York (LAX - LGA) $154+
  • Flight San Francisco - Newark (SFO - EWR) $162+
  • Flight Seattle - Newark (SEA - EWR) $173+
  • Flight Dallas - New York (DFW - JFK) $197+
  • Flight Los Angeles - New York (LAX - JFK) $208+
  • Flight San Francisco - New York (SFO - LGA) $217+
  • Flight Seattle - New York (SEA - JFK) $217+
  • Flight San Francisco - New York (SFO - JFK) $220+
  • Flight Ontario - New York (ONT - JFK) $249+

Orlando Flights

  • Flight Atlanta - Orlando (ATL - MCO) $40+
  • Flight Boston - Orlando (BOS - MCO) $40+
  • Flight Philadelphia - Orlando (PHL - MCO) $54+
  • Flight Cleveland - Orlando (CLE - MCO) $55+
  • Flight Baltimore - Orlando (BWI - MCO) $59+
  • Flight Houston - Orlando (HOU - MCO) $62+
  • Flight New York - Orlando (LGA - MCO) $64+

London Flights

  • Flight New York - London (JFK - LGW) $337+
  • Flight New York - London (JFK - LHR) $356+
  • Flight New Windsor - London (SWF - STN) $357+
  • Flight Boston - London (BOS - LGW) $374+
  • Flight Newark - London (EWR - LHR) $375+
  • Flight Boston - London (BOS - LHR) $392+
  • Flight Newark - London (EWR - LGW) $396+
  • Flight New York - London (LGA - LGW) $408+
  • Flight Miami - London (MIA - LHR) $409+

Fort Lauderdale Flights

  • Flight Atlanta - Fort Lauderdale (ATL - FLL) $38+
  • Flight Philadelphia - Fort Lauderdale (PHL - FLL) $42+
  • Flight Cleveland - Fort Lauderdale (CLE - FLL) $45+
  • Flight New York - Fort Lauderdale (LGA - FLL) $48+
  • Flight Raleigh - Fort Lauderdale (RDU - FLL) $49+
  • Flight Dallas - Fort Lauderdale (DFW - FLL) $53+
  • Flight Charlotte - Fort Lauderdale (CLT - FLL) $56+

Boston Flights

  • Flight Orlando - Boston (MCO - BOS) $41+
  • Flight Atlanta - Boston (ATL - BOS) $69+
  • Flight Miami - Boston (MIA - BOS) $70+
  • Flight Philadelphia - Boston (PHL - BOS) $70+
  • Flight Fort Lauderdale - Boston (FLL - BOS) $72+
  • Flight Dallas - Boston (DFW - BOS) $91+
  • Flight Baltimore - Boston (BWI - BOS) $106+

India Flights

  • Flight Dallas - New Delhi (DFW - DEL) $647+
  • Flight New York - Mumbai (JFK - BOM) $647+
  • Flight San Francisco - New Delhi (SFO - DEL) $652+
  • Flight New York - New Delhi (JFK - DEL) $702+
  • Flight Newark - New Delhi (EWR - DEL) $721+
  • Flight San Francisco - Bengaluru (SFO - BLR) $721+
  • Flight San Francisco - Mumbai (SFO - BOM) $726+

Japan Flights

  • Flight Los Angeles - Tokyo (LAX - NRT) $524+
  • Flight San Francisco - Tokyo (SFO - NRT) $532+
  • Flight Los Angeles - Tokyo (LAX - HND) $759+
  • Flight San Francisco - Tokyo (SFO - HND) $759+
  • Flight Seattle - Tokyo (SEA - NRT) $799+
  • Flight Ontario - Tokyo (ONT - HND) $822+
  • Flight Dallas - Tokyo (DFW - NRT) $831+

Phoenix Flights

  • Flight Los Angeles - Phoenix (LAX - PHX) $68+
  • Flight Salt Lake City - Phoenix (SLC - PHX) $72+
  • Flight San Francisco - Phoenix (SFO - PHX) $75+
  • Flight Portland - Phoenix (PDX - PHX) $77+
  • Flight Denver - Phoenix (DEN - PHX) $79+
  • Flight Santa Ana - Phoenix (SNA - PHX) $80+
  • Flight Dallas - Phoenix (DFW - PHX) $85+

Honolulu Flights

  • Flight Los Angeles - Honolulu (LAX - HNL) $138+
  • Flight San Francisco - Honolulu (SFO - HNL) $217+
  • Flight Oakland - Honolulu (OAK - HNL) $222+
  • Flight San Diego - Honolulu (SAN - HNL) $237+
  • Flight San Jose - Honolulu (SJC - HNL) $242+
  • Flight Las Vegas - Honolulu (LAS - HNL) $254+
  • Flight Long Beach - Honolulu (LGB - HNL) $272+

Los Angeles Flights

  • Flight Oakland - Los Angeles (OAK - LAX) $61+
  • Flight Phoenix - Los Angeles (PHX - LAX) $64+
  • Flight Portland - Los Angeles (PDX - LAX) $68+
  • Flight San Francisco - Los Angeles (SFO - LAX) $71+
  • Flight Philadelphia - Los Angeles (PHL - LAX) $73+
  • Flight Dallas - Los Angeles (DFW - LAX) $78+
  • Flight Houston - Los Angeles (HOU - LAX) $78+
  • Flight Houston - Los Angeles (IAH - LAX) $78+
  • Flight San Jose - Los Angeles (SJC - LAX) $80+

Chicago Flights

  • Flight Fort Lauderdale - Chicago (FLL - ORD) $69+
  • Flight Atlanta - Chicago (ATL - MDW) $74+
  • Flight Orlando - Chicago (MCO - ORD) $76+
  • Flight New York - Chicago (LGA - ORD) $83+
  • Flight Houston - Chicago (HOU - ORD) $87+
  • Flight Houston - Chicago (IAH - ORD) $87+
  • Flight Philadelphia - Chicago (PHL - ORD) $88+

Denver Flights

  • Flight Minneapolis - Denver (MSP - DEN) $50+
  • Flight Atlanta - Denver (ATL - DEN) $68+
  • Flight Ontario - Denver (ONT - DEN) $77+
  • Flight Phoenix - Denver (PHX - DEN) $82+
  • Flight San Francisco - Denver (SFO - DEN) $84+
  • Flight Dallas - Denver (DFW - DEN) $85+
  • Flight Seattle - Denver (SEA - DEN) $93+

Washington, D.C. Flights

  • Flight Atlanta - Baltimore (ATL - BWI) $61+
  • Flight Fort Lauderdale - Baltimore (FLL - BWI) $63+
  • Flight Chicago - Baltimore (ORD - BWI) $98+
  • Flight Boston - Baltimore (BOS - BWI) $99+
  • Flight Dallas - Baltimore (DFW - BWI) $100+
  • Flight Dallas - Washington, D.C. (DFW - DCA) $105+
  • Flight Minneapolis - Washington, D.C. (MSP - DCA) $105+
  • Flight Boston - Washington, D.C. (BOS - DCA) $113+
  • Flight Boston - Washington, D.C. (BOS - IAD) $119+
  • Flight Los Angeles - Baltimore (LAX - BWI) $123+
  • Flight Houston - Washington, D.C. (HOU - DCA) $145+
  • Flight San Francisco - Washington, D.C. (SFO - DCA) $145+
  • Flight Chicago - Washington, D.C. (ORD - DCA) $160+
  • Flight New York - Washington, D.C. (JFK - DCA) $160+
  • Flight New York - Washington, D.C. (LGA - DCA) $164+
  • Flight Atlanta - Washington, D.C. (ATL - DCA) $178+
  • Flight Seattle - Baltimore (SEA - BWI) $182+
  • Flight Seattle - Washington, D.C. (SEA - DCA) $198+
  • Flight Los Angeles - Washington, D.C. (LAX - DCA) $210+
  • Flight San Francisco - Baltimore (SFO - BWI) $211+
  • Flight Dallas - Washington, D.C. (DFW - IAD) $229+
  • Flight Los Angeles - Washington, D.C. (LAX - IAD) $231+
  • Flight Seattle - Washington, D.C. (SEA - IAD) $237+
  • Flight San Francisco - Washington, D.C. (SFO - IAD) $256+

Atlanta Flights

  • Flight Miami - Atlanta (MIA - ATL) $33+
  • Flight Fort Lauderdale - Atlanta (FLL - ATL) $34+
  • Flight Cleveland - Atlanta (CLE - ATL) $41+
  • Flight Orlando - Atlanta (MCO - ATL) $41+
  • Flight Philadelphia - Atlanta (PHL - ATL) $41+
  • Flight Houston - Atlanta (HOU - ATL) $42+
  • Flight Houston - Atlanta (IAH - ATL) $42+

United States Flights

  • Flight New York - West Palm Beach (LGA - PBI) $48+
  • Flight San Francisco - Las Vegas (SFO - LAS) $48+
  • Flight Newark - Miami (EWR - MIA) $53+
  • Flight New York - Miami (LGA - MIA) $54+
  • Flight Chicago - Fort Lauderdale (ORD - FLL) $56+
  • Flight Dallas - Las Vegas (DFW - LAS) $58+

Hawaii Flights

  • Flight Los Angeles - Hawaii (LAX - USHI) $168+
  • Flight San Francisco - Hawaii (SFO - USHI) $187+
  • Flight San Diego - Hawaii (SAN - USHI) $237+
  • Flight San Jose - Hawaii (SJC - USHI) $237+
  • Flight Ontario - Hawaii (ONT - USHI) $239+
  • Flight Seattle - Hawaii (SEA - USHI) $252+
  • Flight Phoenix - Hawaii (PHX - USHI) $274+

Tampa Flights

  • Flight Richmond - Tampa (RIC - TPA) $47+
  • Flight Baltimore - Tampa (BWI - TPA) $49+
  • Flight Dallas - Tampa (DFW - TPA) $54+
  • Flight Raleigh - Tampa (RDU - TPA) $54+
  • Flight Cincinnati - Tampa (CVG - TPA) $58+
  • Flight Philadelphia - Tampa (PHL - TPA) $67+
  • Flight Detroit - Tampa (DTW - TPA) $70+

Houston Flights

  • Flight Atlanta - Houston (ATL - IAH) $53+
  • Flight Fort Lauderdale - Houston (FLL - IAH) $59+
  • Flight Philadelphia - Houston (PHL - IAH) $63+
  • Flight Orlando - Houston (MCO - IAH) $67+
  • Flight Los Angeles - Houston (LAX - IAH) $90+
  • Flight Boston - Houston (BOS - IAH) $91+
  • Flight Baltimore - Houston (BWI - IAH) $93+

Las Vegas Flights

  • Flight Santa Ana - Las Vegas (SNA - LAS) $36+
  • Flight Los Angeles - Las Vegas (LAX - LAS) $40+
  • Flight Oakland - Las Vegas (OAK - LAS) $40+
  • Flight Burbank - Las Vegas (BUR - LAS) $41+
  • Flight Houston - Las Vegas (HOU - LAS) $58+
  • Flight Seattle - Las Vegas (SEA - LAS) $58+
  • Flight Denver - Las Vegas (DEN - LAS) $80+
  • Flight Chicago - Las Vegas (ORD - LAS) $86+
  • Flight Baltimore - Las Vegas (BWI - LAS) $98+
  • Flight Minneapolis - Las Vegas (MSP - LAS) $105+
  • Flight Fort Lauderdale - Las Vegas (FLL - LAS) $109+
  • Flight Chicago - Las Vegas (MDW - LAS) $111+

Miami Flights

  • Flight Atlanta - Miami (ATL - MIA) $40+
  • Flight Philadelphia - Miami (PHL - MIA) $43+
  • Flight Dallas - Miami (DFW - MIA) $50+
  • Flight Houston - Miami (HOU - MIA) $51+
  • Flight Raleigh - Miami (RDU - MIA) $55+
  • Flight Charlotte - Miami (CLT - MIA) $56+
  • Flight Baltimore - Miami (BWI - MIA) $63+
  • Flight Cleveland - Miami (CLE - MIA) $63+
  • Flight Detroit - Miami (DTW - MIA) $63+
  • Flight Boston - Miami (BOS - MIA) $69+
  • Flight Chicago - Miami (MDW - MIA) $72+
  • Flight Chicago - Miami (ORD - MIA) $76+
  • Flight Cincinnati - Miami (CVG - MIA) $82+
  • Flight Denver - Miami (DEN - MIA) $107+
  • Flight Minneapolis - Miami (MSP - MIA) $113+
  • Flight New York - Miami (JFK - MIA) $123+
  • Flight Los Angeles - Miami (LAX - MIA) $130+
  • Flight Washington, D.C. - Miami (DCA - MIA) $169+
  • Flight San Francisco - Miami (SFO - MIA) $170+
  • Flight Washington, D.C. - Miami (IAD - MIA) $179+

San Francisco Flights

  • Flight San Diego - San Francisco (SAN - SFO) $58+
  • Flight Ontario - San Francisco (ONT - SFO) $60+
  • Flight Los Angeles - San Francisco (LAX - SFO) $75+
  • Flight Denver - San Francisco (DEN - SFO) $84+
  • Flight Portland - San Francisco (PDX - SFO) $97+
  • Flight Santa Ana - San Francisco (SNA - SFO) $101+
  • Flight Dallas - San Francisco (DFW - SFO) $109+
  • Flight Seattle - San Francisco (SEA - SFO) $121+
  • Flight Chicago - San Francisco (MDW - SFO) $125+
  • Flight Burbank - San Francisco (BUR - SFO) $127+
  • Flight Chicago - San Francisco (ORD - SFO) $153+
  • Flight Austin - San Francisco (AUS - SFO) $156+
  • Flight Atlanta - San Francisco (ATL - SFO) $169+
  • Flight Minneapolis - San Francisco (MSP - SFO) $170+

Seattle Flights

  • Flight Denver - Seattle (DEN - SEA) $88+
  • Flight Phoenix - Seattle (PHX - SEA) $90+
  • Flight Oakland - Seattle (OAK - SEA) $92+
  • Flight San Diego - Seattle (SAN - SEA) $92+
  • Flight Santa Ana - Seattle (SNA - SEA) $92+
  • Flight Burbank - Seattle (BUR - SEA) $94+
  • Flight Los Angeles - Seattle (LAX - SEA) $96+

Paris Flights

  • Flight Miami - Paris (MIA - CDG) $242+
  • Flight Boston - Paris (BOS - CDG) $283+
  • Flight New Windsor - Paris (SWF - CDG) $284+
  • Flight Washington, D.C. - Paris (IAD - CDG) $290+
  • Flight Baltimore - Paris (BWI - CDG) $305+
  • Flight Atlanta - Paris (ATL - CDG) $349+
  • Flight Houston - Paris (HOU - CDG) $367+

Europe Flights

  • Flight New York - London (JFK - LGW) $317+
  • Flight Newark - London (EWR - LHR) $335+
  • Flight New Windsor - London (SWF - STN) $344+
  • Flight Newark - Paris (EWR - CDG) $354+
  • Flight New York - Barcelona (JFK - BCN) $355+
  • Flight Newark - Barcelona (EWR - BCN) $355+
  • Flight New York - London (JFK - LHR) $363+

Florida Flights

  • Flight Boston - Florida (BOS - USFL) $40+
  • Flight Philadelphia - Florida (PHL - USFL) $42+
  • Flight New York - Florida (LGA - USFL) $48+
  • Flight Newark - Florida (EWR - USFL) $53+
  • Flight Chicago - Florida (ORD - USFL) $56+
  • Flight Baltimore - Florida (BWI - USFL) $63+
  • Flight New York - Florida (JFK - USFL) $123+

Dallas Flights

  • Flight Fort Lauderdale - Dallas (FLL - DFW) $59+
  • Flight Atlanta - Dallas (ATL - DFW) $72+
  • Flight Los Angeles - Dallas (LAX - DFW) $78+
  • Flight Detroit - Dallas (DTW - DFW) $81+
  • Flight Philadelphia - Dallas (PHL - DFW) $83+
  • Flight Denver - Dallas (DEN - DFW) $85+
  • Flight San Diego - Dallas (SAN - DFW) $85+

San Diego Flights

  • Flight San Jose - San Diego (SJC - SAN) $59+
  • Flight Portland - San Diego (PDX - SAN) $64+
  • Flight Phoenix - San Diego (PHX - SAN) $65+
  • Flight Oakland - San Diego (OAK - SAN) $69+
  • Flight Sacramento - San Diego (SMF - SAN) $74+
  • Flight Denver - San Diego (DEN - SAN) $78+
  • Flight Salt Lake City - San Diego (SLC - SAN) $80+

Frequently asked questions

What do i need to know before booking a flight.

There are various factors to consider when booking a flight including cost, fare classes, baggage policies, the complications of flying long haul, and complying with airport regulations. To make your booking journey smoother KAYAK has developed a comprehensive flight guide including insights on finding affordable flights, packing efficiently, and utilizing the best travel tools.

Which month of the year are flight prices lowest?

It’s well established that flights in the low season are generally cheaper than ticket prices during the high season. That means that knowing which month to find the lowest priced plane tickets will depend heavily on seasonality and your destination. While avoiding peak travel times can help you keep costs down, our data shows that the month with the lowest priced plane tickets for domestic flights based on all searches made on KAYAK in the last 12 months was January, while the most expensive was March. If you’re booking an international flight, then January is the cheapest month to fly and June the most expensive.

Can flying international flights with a layover save money on airfare?

For many long-haul international flights, flying non-stop is not possible and you will have to fly with a layover. Some routes will offer both and you could consider flying with a layover for a number of reasons. Firstly, breaking up what would otherwise be a long-haul flight, taking a rest and then completing the journey might make the flight more manageable. Secondly, prices can also be lower than non-stop flights, so while it might take longer for you to reach your destination, you could save money. We’ve looked at prices over the last 12 months for the 100 most popular international destinations for KAYAK users and on average, prices for non-stop flights were cheaper than flights with a layover.

How do I find the best flight deals on KAYAK?

A simple flight search at https://www.kayak.com/flights scans for prices on hundreds of travel sites in seconds. We gather flight deals from across the web and put them in one place. Then on the search results page you can use various filters to compare options for the same flight and easily choose the best flight deal from all of the deals coming straight from the travel sites to your screen, with no extra fee from KAYAK.

Does KAYAK query more flight providers than competitors?

Yes, KAYAK has access to more data and information than online travel agencies and consistently outperforms the competition in accuracy, globally.

What is KAYAK's "flexible dates" feature and why should I care?

Sometimes travel dates aren't set in stone. If your preferred travel dates have some wiggle room, flexible dates will show you flights up to 3 days before/after your preferred dates. That way, you can see if leaving a day or two earlier will find you a better deal. You can also select the flexible "weekend" or "month" search options to widen your search range and find the cheapest price that works for you.

What is the cheapest day of the week to book a flight?

The best day to book your flight depends on a number of factors, but there are general trends that you can follow to increase your chances of cheaper plane tickets. Based on an analysis of KAYAK data for all flights departing from inside United States over the last 12 months, the cheapest day to fly for domestic flights is Tuesday. For international flights, Thursday had the cheapest tickets on average.

When is the best time to buy plane tickets - Last minute or in advance?

Last minute flight deals are definitely up for grabs but when exactly to purchase your plane tickets will depend on where you’re traveling to and from. Based on all data for flight searches made on KAYAK over the last 12 months, prices for domestic flights remained below the average price up to 1 weeks before departure. For international flights, deals could still be had up to 1 weeks prior to the departure date, with prices remaining below average. If you’re flexible, KAYAK brings you both advance and last minute one-way and round-trip flight deals.

How does KAYAK find such low flight prices?

KAYAK processes over 2 billion flight queries annually and displays results from hundreds of airlines and third party sites, allowing it to find a variety of flight prices and options. It also displays results from 2M+ properties along with rental cars, vacation packages, activities and millions of verified reviews so users can see as many available travel options as possible.

How can Hacker Fares save me money?

Hacker Fares allow you to combine one-way tickets on different airlines when it can save you money over a traditional round-trip ticket.

How does KAYAK's flight Price Forecast tool help me choose the right time to buy?

KAYAK's flight Price Forecast tool uses historical data to determine whether the price for a given destination and date is likely to change within 7 days, so travelers know whether to wait or book now.

What to Know Before Flying Internationally: 17 FAQs Answered

by Elizabeth Gorga - Last updated on October 18, 2023

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  • Before You Go
  • General Travel

Traveling internationally is your gateway to becoming a world citizen. You have the freedom to hop on a plane and visit places you’ve never seen before, taste exotic foods and learn foreign languages, go to sleep mid-flight and wake up on the opposite side of the world.

back of person wearing a backpack as they look out on water and mountains

First step to adventure? Preparing for an international flight.

But international travel isn’t all fun and games. Between visas, security checks, long haul flights, and the drama of packing, international travel can be overwhelming—whether it’s your first time flying internationally or not.

It’s natural to have questions as you’re preparing for an international flight. Learn what to know before flying internationally, so you can begin your travel plans with confidence and ease.

If it is your first time flying internationally alone, you may be wondering, “ where do I even start? ” Who can help you navigate the nitty gritty of international travel? Lucky for you, every question you could imagine is right here at your fingertips.

What is the difference between domestic and international flights?

While domestic flights take you to other destinations within the same country, international flights take you overseas. If you’re planning to travel abroad, it’s important to know that you’ll be flying internationally.

Airports typically have separate domestic and international departures, with airport procedures before take off looking quite different. Keep reading to find out what to know when flying internationally.

How early do you need to be at the airport for international flights?

When preparing for an international flight, you’ll need to arrive at the airport at least three hours before your departure time. Three hours might seem like a long time, but between checking your bags, moving through various security checkpoints that may have you waiting in enormous lines, and finding your way to your gate, you’ll be happy you allowed yourself plenty of time.

Most international flights begin boarding between 40 and 60 minutes before take-off, leaving you only about two of those hours to get to your plane. Worst-case scenario? You arrive early and get to kill time in the food court or grab a quick beverage at the airport bar.

hands of person eating a salad with other dishes to the side

Dig into a pre-flight meal while you wait for your flight to board.

What do I need to fly internationally?

Flying internationally requires a lot more than just your passport. While your passport is absolutely essential , most countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months longer than the dates of your trip. Some places also require you to have a certain number of blank pages to allow for visas and stamps.

Depending on where you’re headed, you may also need a visa , proof of onward or return travel, or proof of immunizations. The truth is, every destination will have different travel regulations, so it’s important to check with your destination when preparing for an international flight.

FAQs about preparing for an international flight

1. how to pack for international flight.

Packing for an international flight can be overwhelming, no matter how long you plan to be away. The very first step is to check your baggage allowance with the airline. How many bags are you allowed to bring on board? How big can they be and how much can they weigh?

Once you figure out how much you can bring, separate your checked and carry on bags:

  • In your checked luggage, pack classic clothing items that can be mixed and matched to save space—even better if they’re lightweight and quick-drying fabrics. Remember that less is more, especially because you’ll want to leave a little extra room for souvenirs.
  • In your carry on, pack your essentials, all your travel documents, and anything you might need while in flight.

Don't forget to weigh your bags after packing to make sure you aren’t hit with outrageous luggage fees at the airport.

2. How to prepare for a long international flight

When preparing for an international flight, you can do a few things to make sure you’re ready for the long haul:

  • Get lots of rest in the lead up to your trip—flying can be exhausting!
  • Take your Vitamin C to boost your immune system.
  • Move your body before the flight so you feel prepared to sit for longer periods of time.
  • Load up on entertainment—music, movies, TV shows, and books—to keep you busy in flight.
  • Set your phone to the local time zone of your destination as soon as you get on your flight so you can minimize jet lag.

Remember, the more prepared you are, the less anxious you’ll feel when it comes time to travel.

3. What to do before an international flight

hands checking things off in a notebook with coffee and croissant to the side

If it’s your first time flying internationally, making a to-do list will help ease your mind.

Make yourself a checklist. Do you have your passport, visa, and all your travel documents easily accessible? Have you purchased travel insurance ? It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance to protect yourself during international travel, just in case.

Next, make sure you let your bank know you’ll be traveling overseas. Having your bank freeze your credit card for unexpected transactions while you’re abroad is one big (but avoidable) travel nightmare .

So, notify your bank that you’ll be traveling. While you’re at it, check the international transaction fee policy so you know what to expect, and perhaps get some cash converted so you have it on hand when you land. ATM fees are usually most expensive at the airport, so it’s always comforting to have cash on arrival.

Last but not least, check the health advisories and travel warnings for your destination so you can ensure you’re safe when preparing for an international flight.

4. What to bring to the airport when traveling internationally

If it’s your first time flying internationally alone , there’s no such thing as preparing too much. Make sure you bring all of your travel documents with you, and if you have time, make digital copies of your travel documents too. You’ll want to bring all of these to the airport with you along with your carry on and checked luggage—and your comfiest clothes to wear in flight.

FAQs about documents needed for an international flight

1. what are the documents required for international travel.

When flying internationally, having a valid passport is non-negotiable. However, every country has different travel requirements beyond that.

If your destination country requires a visa, you will need to show this at the airport when you check in for your flight. In the days of COVID-19 , you may also need to show proof of vaccination for travel.

Check out the policies of your departure, arrival, and any transiting countries so you know exactly what documents are required for each leg of your trip.

2. Can you travel internationally with just a passport?

passport opened to inside pages showing stamps

Ready to start collecting passport stamps? Yeah, we thought so.

This depends on where you’re traveling. Some countries allow departure and entry with just a passport, but many international destinations require a visa in some capacity.

Some countries allow you to get a visa on entry, with some visas free and others obtained with a fee. This is another big one to check on your destination’s immigration website before you depart so you know exactly what to expect when flying internationally.

3. Do I need my driver's license to travel internationally?

Typically, you’ll only need to show your passport when checking in for a flight, but it’s always a good idea to bring a driver’s license or another form of ID just in case.

Your driver’s license may come in handy more when you arrive at your destination, as carrying your passport around in a foreign country comes with some risks. You might want to put your passport away, lock it in your hotel safe, and use another form of identification when you’re out and about abroad.

4. Do you need two forms of ID to fly internationally?

Though you typically will not need two forms of ID to board a flight, if you have a second form of ID, bring it with you. If you are requested to show a backup ID or lose your passport while abroad, it’s always a good idea to have multiple proofs of identification on hand.

FAQs about international connections and baggage

1. what is allowed in carry on luggage on international flights.

Most airlines have a limit to how much luggage you can carry onto a plane as well as limits on the size, shape, and weight of your bags. Many airlines allow one piece of carry on luggage plus a personal item like a purse or backpack that can fit under your seat, but it’s always best to check with your airline.

You’ll always need to limit the amount of liquids you carry on to small bottles of 100 mL or less. All bottles will need to fit into one quart-size resealable bag.

Other regulated items include:

  • Sharp objects
  • Household items and tools
  • Medical equipment

When packing your carry on, check the TSA guidelines .

2. What to pack in a carry on for an international flight

person sorts through jeans and shirts

Your favorite clothes are just the top of your must-have packing list.

Use this checklist for packing your carry on to feel prepared for your international adventure:

  • All travel documents (passport, visa, etc.) plus copies of each.
  • Small toiletries that you’ll need for a long haul—think toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant at least.
  • Any medications needed abroad, stored in their original containers.
  • An eye mask, ear plugs, and pillow to get a good night’s sleep.
  • An empty water bottle that’s easy to refill.
  • Your electronics (laptop, phone, kindle, headphones) and their chargers.
  • Snacks to tide you over, especially if you won’t have meals served on your flight.
  • Spare undies and a change of clothes—just in case!
  • A pen for your customs forms.
  • Any other valuables.

3. Do I have to recheck my luggage on an international flight?

If you’re wondering what to know before flying internationally with layovers, it’s always best to check with your specific airline. Most international flights will check your luggage all the way through to your final destination, but this could change depending on your flight route.

For example, some countries require you to recheck your bag at the first point of entry, which means you’d need to pick up your bag, go through customs, and then recheck your suitcase for your next flight. When you first check your luggage at the departure terminal, ask the airline staff and they will let you know if your particular flight path requires you to recheck your luggage.

4. How much time do you need between connecting flights internationally?

If you want to be safe, allow at least two hours between connecting flights. Sometimes you can get away with shorter layovers, but it will undoubtedly be stressful.

Remember you may need to go through security if your connection is in another country, and it’s common for flights to be delayed—two hours will go by in a flash.

5. When do you go through customs on international flights?

Usually, you go through customs when you exit the airport at your final destination. However, if you have a layover in a different city in your destination country, you may need to go through customs before your connecting flight.

How to board international flight step by step

smiling person in focus with Eiffel Tower blurred in the background

You’ve got this! Memories to last a lifetime wait on the other side of your flight.

Now that you know what to expect when flying internationally, it’s just a matter of showing up at the airport and going through the process to check in and get to your gate. Don’t be intimidated, it’s actually quite simple!

1. Check in for your flight.

Sometimes you can check in online, but if you have enough time and have questions, checking in at the airport can ease your nerves. This way, you can speak to your airline staff and ask any questions about your journey that you haven’t answered already. Make your way to the international terminal and find your airline’s check-in stand to get started.

2. Check your baggage and get your ticket.

When checking in for your flight, you’ll have an opportunity to check your luggage. The airline staff will give you your boarding pass and a tracking sticker that matches the one on your luggage. Keep these safe and tucked into your passport for easy access throughout the airport.

3. Go through the security checkpoint.

Now that you’ve lightened your load, it’s time to go through security. Follow the airport signs or ask the airline staff where to get in line for the security checkpoint. Typically, this involves waiting in line, scanning your carry on luggage, and showing your passport and boarding pass to enter the terminal.

4. Go through immigration.

If you’re flying internationally, you may need to go through a second security screening before your flight: immigration. All you’ll need to do here is show your passport and follow the instructions from the immigration staff. This is the last step before you can walk to your gate for your flight.

5. Find your gate.

You’re in! Your boarding pass will usually tell you the gate where you’ll board, but if it doesn’t, check the screens just past immigration. These screens list all destinations and their boarding gates. You may also want to double-check the information on your boarding pass—gates sometimes change.

Make your way to your gate and relax. If you arrive with time to spare, you may wish to explore your terminal a bit more, shop for snacks or books, or grab a meal and drink at one of the bars or restaurants nearby.

6. Board your flight.

About 40 to 60 minutes before your international flight, you will hear the airline staff announce boarding. Make sure you are at your gate and ready to board. Many airlines will board in groups, so check your boarding pass for your boarding group or zone, wait to be called, and line up. Have your passport and boarding pass ready to show the flight attendant, find your seat, and enjoy the ride!

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Don’t panic—flying internationally is so much easier than it seems.

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The world awaits, so where will your first international flight take you?

While there’s a lot more to flying internationally than traveling on a domestic flight, it’s actually so much easier than it seems. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for that first time flying internationally to make sure you have everything you need, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re in doubt. Once you know what to expect when flying internationally, those long flights will seem like a breeze and the world will be at your fingertips .

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  • 2 Compression Socks
  • 3 Sunglasses
  • 4 Passport Holder
  • 6 Water Bottle
  • 8 Cheek and Lip Stain
  • 9 Mini Purse
  • 10 Neck Pillow
  • 11 Under-Eye Mask
  • 12 Headphones
  • 13 Portable Phone Charger
  • 14 Makeup Removing Wipes
  • 15 Hand Sanitizer
  • 16 Travel Wrap
  • 17 Dry Shampoo
  • 18 Jet Lag Remedy
  • 19 E-reader

19 Items to Pack in Your Carry-On for Every Flight

From cute passport holders to iPhone power banks to no-mess makeup remover, we've rounded up a packing list of 19 must-have essentials to stow in your personal item carry-on—no matter what destination you're bound for next. Don't get on the plane without them!

Style + Travel Editor | Instagram @jackiehoman | jackiehoman.com

See recent posts by Jackie Homan & Siobhan Reid

State backpack

First thing’s first: the personal item-sized bag that will fit the essentials below. We’re all for maxing out our carry-on allowance, and that’s where a spacious, durable backpack proves invaluable. Our go-to: this simple, streamlined pick from STATE Bags . It’s roomy enough to fit everything you’ll need by your side on the plane, and it comes with three pockets and a 17″ laptop sleeve.

Compression Socks

Compression Socks

If you’ve ever walked barefoot through airport security, you know the importance of having a backup pair of socks in your carry-on. On long flights, experts recommend compression socks , which boost circulation and help prevent swelling and blood clots—plus keep your toes nice and toasty in chilly airplane cabins.

Sunglasses

Sometimes, a great concealer and cooling eye gel just won’t hide the effects of a long-haul flight. In those cases, we like to hide behind a pair of dark, oversized sunglasses like these ones from Warby Parker.

RELATED: 18 Essentials You Should NEVER Forget to Pack for a Trip

Style + Design pink bag petal rectangle pattern heart textile

Passport Holder

There’s no hard evidence to suggest that a bright, colorful passport holder will reduce your chances of leaving behind your passport on a plane. But given just how fetching this flamingo print is, we’re willing to hedge our bets.

travel via plane

We might travel constantly, but falling soundly asleep on a plane remains a talent that has somehow eluded us. Still, an eye mask can go a long way by canceling out harsh light and other distractions. This adorable option from Slip is made from 100% silk and provides complete eye coverage without pinching behind the ears.

Water Bottle

Water Bottle

One easy way to invest in your health and the environment when you travel: use a stainless steel water bottle. There are plenty of great options out there, but our personal fave is this Aurora-inspired pick from S’well. It’ll keep your beverage cold for 24 hours and hot for 12, and it’s non-toxic and non-leaching.

RELATED: What to Pack for a Beach Vacation

Journal

Of course there’s always Instagram, but when it comes to documenting a trip in all of its small, wondrous details, nothing compares to an old-fashioned notebook. This design from Promptly Journals includes meaningful prompts to guide you along the way.

Cheek and Lip Stain

Cheek and Lip Stain

The cold, recycled air of airplanes is a major complexion-killer. Get your glow back by reaching for a multitasking stain like the Aura from Vapour. Its blendable, pigmented formula adds a pop of color to your lips and cheeks, making you look instantly refreshed on the go.

travel via plane

Don’t be the person holding everyone else up as you search for your boarding pass in the bottomless pit of your purse. Instead, sling a small, chic number across your shoulders so that you’ll have all the necessities—passport, wallet, ID—ready at a moment’s notice. We’re crushing on this mini crossbody from Italian brand Furla—it comes in tons of fun colors.

RELATED: The 15 Best Designer Beach Bags to Buy Now

Neck Pillow

Neck Pillow

The revolutionary Trtl travel pillow keeps your head in an upright position while you snooze against its hidden internal support system. Half the size of an ordinary U-shaped pillow, it’ll fit right into your under-seat carry-on bag.

RELATED: The Travel Pillow You Need for Your Next Flight

Style + Design text brand picture frame

Under-Eye Mask

We’ve all seen those pics of celebrities donning sheet masks while traveling. But the reality is, economy class and a sopping wet face mask don’t exactly mix. We like to reap the benefits of the in-flight beauty phenomenon by opting for a foolproof under-eye mask instead. Our tried-and-trusted favorite is Tatcha’s Luminous Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Mask . It contains Okinawa red algae, honeysuckle, and peony extracts to combat puffiness and dark circles.

travel via plane

Between engine noise and crying babies, there’s no question that a powerful pair of headphones is a travel must. This chic beige Pampas pair from Urbanears blends style and sound like nothing we’ve ever seen (or heard!) before. The over-ear model was designed for comfort during extra-long listening sessions, and the battery life is set to match—you can listen wirelessly for over 30 hours on a single charge.

RELATED: You Won’t Believe These Noise-Canceling Headphones Are Under $100

Portable Phone Charger

Portable Phone Charger

The deficit of electrical outlets in airports is a major problem, one that is not likely to be solved in the immediate future. For the time being, make do with this lipstick-sized portable charger from Anker . The design is compact as can be, and the power bank has a 3350 mAh battery to provide one full charge for most iPhones.

Makeup Removing Wipes

Makeup Removing Wipes

If sleeping in your makeup is the ultimate beauty no-no, sleeping in your makeup on an airplane is practically sinful. Not only can it cause acne, plugged follicles, and a lackluster complexion, it can also lead to eye infections and premature aging. To avoid these unwanted side effects, cleanse your skin before your flight with these travel-friendly wipes from Skinfood , available at Soko Glam . They’re packed with nourishing rice bran water that brightens and refreshes skin.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

To put in mildly, planes are icky. Keep the germs at bay with Elyptol , a hand sanitizer gel that uses natural ingredients—eucalyptus oil and naturally-sourced pure ethanol—to kill up to 99.99% of bacteria and fungi.

RELATED: 20 Things You’re Going to Want to Buy on Amazon This Month

Travel Wrap

Travel Wrap

Even in summer months (or on warm-weather destination routes), planes can feel freezing—and there’s nothing worse than shivering for 10 hours on a long-haul trip. Pack one of White + Warren’s cult-favorite travel wraps in your carry-on so that it’s by your side in case the temps drop.

Dry Shampoo

Dry Shampoo

For an instant refresher once you land, spritz on some of Amika’s Perk Up dry shampoo . It absorbs oil with zero chalky residue and leaves strands shiny, soft, and ready to take on the day.

Jet Lag Remedy

Jet Lag Remedy

Call it placebo effect if you want, but over 1,000 Amazon reviewers say that these homeopathic jet lag prevention tablets really work. Made with just five all-natural ingredients, the supplement is designed to combat fatigue, disorientation, dehydration, lack of concentration, and other side effects of long-haul travel.

RELATED: 5 Super Affordable Jet Lag Remedies on Amazon

E-reader

We love hardcover books as much as the next guy, but when it comes to travel, an e-reader just makes more sense. Lightweight and waterproof, the new Kindle Paperwhite keeps you ready to read wherever you are. Need a book rec? Right now, we’re loving  Educated by Tara Westover and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Outfits to Pack for Your Next Trip

Women’s leggings and cardigan outfit, shop the look.

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Crewneck Tee

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Chuck Taylor® All Star®

Men’s spring pants outfit for a vacation.

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Want more? 

  • The BEST Travel Neck Pillows of 2020
  • 11 Amazon-Approved Items That’ll Make Packing SO Much Easier
  • 26 Wardrobe Essentials Every Woman Needs in 2020

Here at Jetsetter, our editors curate everything you need to travel—and live—smartly, fashionably, and consciously. All of our market picks are independently selected. If you buy something we link to on our site, Jetsetter may earn  commission .

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Flying With a Baby? Here’s What to Know Before You Go

Medical review policy, latest update:, how old should a baby be to fly, read this next, what do children need to fly, tips for flying with an infant.

What to Expect the First Year , 3rd edition, Heidi Murkoff.  WhatToExpect.com, Do Babies Need Passports? , May 2019.  WhatToExpect.com, Should You Bring Your Child’s Car Seat on an Airplane? , August 2021. WhatToExpect.com, Your Ultimate Guide to Traveling While Breastfeeding , August 2020. American Academy of Pediatrics, Family Friendly Flying , November 2015.  American Academy of Pediatrics, Flying With Baby: Parent FAQs , November 2019.   American Airlines, Traveling With Children .  Delta Air Lines, Infant Air Travel , 2021.  Federal Aviation Administration, Flying With Children , March 2021.  Transportation Security Administration, Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ .  Transportation Security Administration, Identification .  Transportation Security Administration, Will Minors Need to Have a State ID to Fly Domestically? United Airlines, Traveling With Children , 2021.  U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Children – Child Traveling With One Parent or Someone Who Is Not a Parent or Legal Guardian or a Group , December 2019.

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11 Easy Air Travel Tips to Make for a Happier Flight

Written By: The Planet D

Travel Planning

Updated On: June 7, 2023

Dave spoke on CBC Radio this morning about making Spring Break Travels easier. We realized that a lot of people have anxiety over air travel and we wanted to give some easy air travel tips to ease that stress.

How to make flying more relaxing, speedier, and less stressful. 

Table of Contents

Air Travel Tips

Travel can be stressful, but if you are prepared to follow our air travel tips, you can not only make your travels easier, you can have fun at the airport and relax the minute you leave home.

Let’s face it. In today’s world, air travel is not fun. Remember the days when you used to love being at the airport or on the plane just as much as the trip itself?

Well, they are long gone my friend, with confusing security checks that seem to change rules from airport to airport to seats getting smaller with each trip, flying can sometimes be a downright miserable experience.

But we’re here to help!

1. Arrive Early

This may sound routine, but we hear of so many travellers arriving at the last minute at the airport.

One time, Dave and I waited 45 minutes for our parking lot shuttle to bring us to the airport.

There wasn’t another way out. No taxis swing by the ParknFly, so we had no other choice but to stand and wait.

As seasoned travellers who rack up nearly 100,000 air miles each year, we still arrive early to our flights.

I’ve talked to other full-time travellers who feel the same way. They (and we) say, why take the risk? Arrive early and relax.

2. Use Valet Parking Service

We usually book our parking online through ParknFly and did you know that for only $20 more (online only) you can upgrade to valet parking?

Valet parking gets priority and there are more shuttles for this. You never have to wait more than eight minutes. It doesn’t matter anyway because you are waiting indoors!

If it’s the middle of winter and you are flying somewhere warm, you don’t have to bring your heavy winter coats, leave them in the car, hop on the heated shuttle and be taken door-to-door.

When you fly home, give them a call from the airport and they’ll have your car warmed up, scraped off and waiting for you when you get back. We even get our car detailed at ParknFly.

Plus when you book online there are deep discounts for long-term parking!

3. Check In Online

We always check in online. That saves you tons of time of having to stand in line to check in at the teller.

Most airlines now have a luggage drop off only section for those who have already checked in online. You have done all the paperwork and all you have to do is drop off your bags.

4. Pack Carry On Only

Or better yet, travel with carry-on only bags.

If you are flying south, you don’t need a lot of clothing. Pack a few sarongs, shorts, non-wrinkle pants, and for a ladies, a cute strappy dress or two and you are good to go.

Most hotels supply shampoo, conditioner and soap and the small tubes of toothpaste are all you need for a week. Besides, you can always buy what you need at the gift shop.

5. Packing Tips – Pack Smart

Think about what you can and can’t bring on the plane with you. If you aren’t sure, don’t bring it!

We’ve left behind some a nice mini screwdriver (I’m talking an inch long tops!) because we forgot it was in Dave’s camera bag.

If you have a pointy object, liquids larger than 100ml or aerosol cans, they are taken away at security and thrown away. Start packing in advance and then go through your luggage once or twice before you leave and scale down.

We have a lot of mix and match clothing that we can turn into several outfits with only 3 to 5 pieces.

6. Be Prepared for Security

Don’t be that guy in front of George Clooney in Up in the Air, be George Clooney!

When you get to security, have everything you need to show in a plastic bag.

We also carry our computers a separate canvas shopping bag when checking in and when going through security, it’s easy access and takes the weight out of your carryon. We wear slip on shoes with clean and nice socks.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than holy socks at security! And men, don’t wear a belt.

We always have everything put away before we get to security except our passport and boarding pass. We never carry anything in our pockets. Think of the word KISS…Keep it simple stupid.

Note : Make sure your electronics are charged, with new security measures, you may be asked to turn on your computer, iPad or cell phone. If you can’t turn it on, it’s not coming with you!

7. Load Videos, Books or Music onto your Phone or iPad

We always have TV series, movies and books loaded on our iPads. You can never count on the entertainment system working on the flight.

Trust me it’s happened to us several times a year. We’ve sat in our seats, turn on our entertainment system and nothing happens.

The airline always offers us a coupon to redeem miles for the inconvenience but that never works either. Luckily we have our must see flick on the iPad and we enjoy our flight either way.

It passes the time in the airport too.

8. Pack Snacks

Flights are cutting down on giving passengers food and drink, so we always have a stash of food. Our go-to flying snack is a bagel with cream cheese and some crackers.

It fills you up quickly and does the trick.  It saves you having to buy food on the plane if they don’t offer it, and it helps out with the pitiful quantity of food they do give you if you get a meal.

This is also a good tip for kids, trust me I know. Dave’s a big kid and he gets grumpy when he’s hungry, if I give him a treat, he’s instantly happy.

9. Get Lounge Access

We use American Express Platinum to get into lounges all over the world regardless of what airline we’re flying.

In Toronto they have American Express lounges that cardmembers can enter for free, but get this!

Non-cardmembers can enter too for a fee. $40 gets you lounge access with food and drinks covered including alcoholic beverages. Just look for the Plaza Premium Lounge.

We see this at all airports. It’s different credit cards at each airport around the world, but there’s usually always one lounge that offers people entry for a fee. We say, if you travel a lot, get that card that offers the Priority Pass , we have access to 600 lounges across the globe. You can also purchase a yearly membership to Priority Pass to have access to lounges.

10. Stay Hydrated

Water is a tricky one. You know you can’t bring any water bottles with you through security but what about empty bottles?

We’ve seen people have to leave behind their Nalgenes and thermoses, so we never bother. If you want to bring something to fill your own water bottle, use a collapsible water bottle or we bite the bullet and buy water at the airport.

Flight attendants are supposed to bring you all the water you need, but believe me it never happens.

I’m always parched on the plane and they never come around enough. You can go back and ask for some though, so don’t be afraid to get what you want.

11. Carry Cash

We always carry small bills of US Dollars and Euros with us. It’s great for tolls if we are driving across the border, but we also have it to tip our valet or porters when we arrive at the hotel.

When we arrive at our we go to the ATM in the airport and get out a couple hundred dollars in the local currency. We don’t buy currency in Canada, we just get it when we arrive. With chip cards, we can use our credit cards all over the world.

There are plenty of ways to make your travels easier, just remember, this a vacation so have fun.

Give yourself the time you need so you don’t feel pressure at the airport. Terminals are getting better each day with free wifi, lounge access, and even massages. So start vacation early and make your time at the airport a part of your trip!

Must Have Travel Gear For Your Flight

Gotoob bottles : .

I am surprised at the amount of people that still carry liquids larger than 100 ml, but it happens nearly every time we fly.

I have to admit, I haven’t found 100ml bottles that work well or are reusable until we found the GoToob Bottles. The multipack contains three bottles perfect for shampoo, conditioner and sunscreen. I like the no-drip, leak proof valves and large opening making it easy to fill.

I didn’t bother to use the integrated label feature as it’s very small to read, I just go by the colour of the bottle instead. Keep these bottles separate in a plastic bag and you’ll whiz through security.

Trackable Luggage Tags : 

Have you ever lost your luggage never to be found again? I’m not going to lie, most airlines are not that helpful these days when it comes to helping you locate your valuables.

I’ve watched many a friend get nowhere fast as they have online discussions with airlines asking them for help finding their bags.

To make sure we have an extra leg up in case we lose our bags, we registered our trackable luggage tag’s serial number online giving us extra security when it comes to our travels.

Luggage Hugger :

Okay, how many of you have a black generic suitcase? Be honest. We’re guilty of it too, but with the luggage hugger, we can now locate our bag easily.

We thought we were safe with a duffel bag, but sure enough, when flying to Maui a couple of months ago, somebody grabbed our duffel bag thinking it was theirs.

Luckily we were there to correct the mistake. Now, that we have the luggage holder, our bags stand out when they fall onto the conveyor belt.

Read: 7 tips to Stress-Free Travel

Luggage Handle Wraps :

We’ve been using luggage handle wraps for years and this is the next best thing to the luggage hugger.

As a matter a fact, we use both the hugger and the handle wraps because you can never be too safe. We even put the handle wraps on our carryon bags because sometimes we have to stow them when boarding a small plane.

Do you know how many small black carry on rollers there are out there? Our handle wraps set them apart.

40 Blinks Eye Mask :

When flying, I always wear an eye mask. I can sleep anywhere and there’s something about air travel that knocks me right out. A good eye mask is a must.

I’ve been woken up by someone opening up their blind and unexpectedly blasting me with sunlight. I only made that mistake once. The minute I’m tired, I put on my mask.

The difference between 40 Blinks and other eye masks is that it is contoured out of molded foam so it doesn’t put pressure on your eyelids. It blocks the same light with twice the comfort.

EarPlanes :

As much as we hate to travel with a cold it is bound to happen.

We find that our allergies are acting up more and more as we get older as well. Have you ever flown with an earache? It is completely unbearable.

I keep a pair handy to relieve pressure in the ears for take off and landings. You may not always be affected by pressure, but when you are, you’ll be glad you have your EarPlanes.

Fun Read: Air Travel is so Annoying

No Jet Lag Pills :

The more we travel, the more we seem to suffer from jet lag . We do everything right.

We usually avoid alcohol, we drink plenty of water and we avoid caffeine, but we still suffer.

No Jet Lag pills have natural remedies such as Arnica Montana and Chamomilla to help ease the symptoms. We used them on our flight to Austin Texas and while it was only a two-hour time change, I felt great.

Normally I even suffer through daylight savings and it’s only an hour’s difference. So this must have done something. Plus it tastes good too.

Compression Socks  : 

I never took Deep Vein Thrombosis seriously until a friends sister got it after a flight.

Compression socks help with circulation and leg exhaustion. Compression socks have come a long way.

I tried them once a few years ago and they felt like they were squeezing my legs, my latest pair are so cushiony and cozy.

The merino wool keeps odour away and they feel comfortable on a flight.

Acorn Via Cap-Toe Ballet Flats :

Speaking of feet. I know that nobody likes to look at people’s bare feet when travelling. I was guilty of this in my backpacking days. I used to always travel in flipflops.

Now, I care about the people around me and slip into my ballet flats on the flight. They are comfortable and stylish and I’ve even worn them out of the airport too.

Why didn’t I start wearing ballet flats in my travels earlier?

And that’s our tips to make air travel easier. Did we miss anything? Have you got a tip to share? Leave it in the comments below!

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Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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21 thoughts on “11 Easy Air Travel Tips to Make for a Happier Flight”

Great read and useful tips i always arrive early cuts the stress out thinking will i get there on time. If im super early i just go find a coffee shop or somewhere to eat and just grab myself a snack. Only once was i really late 10 min before checking closed (one advantage no que at check in heheh) but so stressful. I always find bringing a proper pillow with me not one of these blow up ones is a god send yes can be a bit bulky but a small compression bag makes it easy to carry and also good tip about security again i have two bags one for liquids and one shoulder bag for electronics makes my life so much easier. Also i always set alarm on phone hour 10 min before take of time so i can start to make way to gate planes bored 40 min before flight and have had it in some airports were it takes like 30 min to get to gate i find doing that takes the stress out of oh no im running late getting to my gate.

It made sense when you said that we should arrive early so we’ll still be on-time even if something unexpected happens. I want to book an airport transportation service so I can continue doing work in the car when I depart on a business trip this May. I’m glad I read your article and learned why it’d be a good idea to book the transportation service for an early time!

Well-written article. Great summery of tips, thanks for sharing.

Your blog is filled with great tips. I just have a close call from Madrid to Malaga. I am sending this link to my family who are traveling by a themselves in April and May.

The earplanes you mention from Amazon will not ship to Canada.

Perhaps you can try Amazon.ca. Sorry about that.

Great advice, with so much to pack and organise you can easily forget stuff. Thanks guys will remember these for next time I fly.

Thanks Aaron, glad we could help!

Some good tips here guys! I myself am awful when it comes to prepping for anything, preferring to pretty much just wing everything, but I guess that’s just my style of travel.. When I am heading somewhere a little more out there, Venezuela, Palestine, Myanmar; hell yes, it makes sense to be prepared 🙂

Yes, water is tricky and depends which airport and airline we are using. Sometimes i managed to bring empty bottles, sometimes no. I ll just gulped down the whole mineral water, and bring the empty plastic bottle along. If i have to throw them away, well, i lose nothing. Just have to bear with the weird taste of in-flight water.

I could never get my hubby to not wear his belt 🙁

Arriving early to the airport is the best tip ever! Those are great tips! I always make it a point to leave early and arrive at the airport early – that’s really one of the simplest things that we can and should do!

“Arrive Early” This is the fact my friends always forget to do. Ha Ha. Effective Article.

I know eh! It sounds simple, but so many people don’t heed that rule and then get themselves into trouble

I really like your tip about loading music and books. It’s sounds obvious but I’ve forgotten before. On my longest ever flight – to New Zealand from the UK – my Kindle only had books I’d already read, and my phone battery died so I had no access to music. The 9-hour stop over in China was mind-numbingly dull!

I know how you feel. I have been caught off guard in the past. a ridiculously long flight to China with no entertainment system. Not fun at all.

I do a lot of these. My big one is arrive early. The day I’m traveling is a travel day. I’m not doing anything else, so I arrive at the airport early and I enjoy the lounge via my Priority Pass Card (a life saver). Interesting that you’ve received compensation when your in-flight entertainment system hasn’t worked. I’ve had this happen numerous times on Thai Air. Definitely no compensation of any sort, and flight attendants can get down right snarky when they have to reboot the system. Like you, I always carry my own entertainment! 🙂

That’s exactly how we feel. If we are travelling that day, we’re not doing else. That priority pass is amazing isn’t it? we’ve flashed it everywhere and are amazed with the lounge access we get. Love it! The only compensation they’ve given us is a voucher to redeem points for Air Canada (Star Alliance, same as Thai Air) Both times that I tried to redeem it didn’t work, so I almost think it is a ploy just to make us all feel better on the flight so we don’t complain.

Arriving early to the airport is the best tip ever! Recently, I needed to catch my Berlin-Paris flight and halfway to the airport I noticed I’d left my passport at the accommodation. It ended with me running like a mad woman, a 32,5€ taxi, a huge security line and more running. And even like that I didn’t make it on time, luckily the plane was delayed by 30 minutes!

Lucky your plane was delayed. We had that happen to us once years ago. We left our briefcase (it was the 90s) on the sidewalk outside my friends apartment. The passports and tickets were inside. We were almost at the airport and realized we left it all behind. Luckily a good samaritan saw what we did and grabbed our briefcase waiting for us to come back. We barely made our flight but we made it. Lucky too! Because we were moving to Vancouver at the time. That would have mess up our plans for sure!

Those are great tips! I always make it a point to leave early and arrive at the airport early – that’s really one of the simplest things that we can and should do!

I agree, it is simple and yet I see so many people arriving late! We’ve been in the ParknFly parking lot and witnessed people panicking because their flight is about to take off. We’re like “why are you just arriving now?”

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  • Pregnancy week by week

Is it safe to fly during pregnancy?

Generally, air travel before 36 weeks of pregnancy is considered safe for people who aren't dealing with any pregnancy problems. Still, if you're pregnant, it's a good idea to talk with your health care provider before you fly.

Your provider might suggest that you not fly if you have certain pregnancy complications that could get worse because of air travel or that could require emergency care. Examples include a history of miscarriage or vaginal bleeding, severe anemia, and high blood pressure or diabetes that's not well controlled. If you had preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy — a condition that causes high blood pressure and extra protein in urine — flying may not be advised. The same is true if you're pregnant with twins or other multiples.

Tell your provider how far you are flying, as the length of the flight might make a difference. Also, be aware that some airlines may not allow pregnant people on international flights. Check with your airline before you make travel arrangements.

After 36 weeks of pregnancy, your health care provider may advise against flying. And some airlines don't allow pregnant people to fly after 36 weeks. The airline also may require a letter from your health care provider that states how far along in your pregnancy you are and whether flying is advised.

If your health care provider says it's okay for you to fly, and your plans are flexible, the best time to travel by air might be during the second trimester. The risks of common pregnancy emergencies are lowest during that time.

When you fly:

  • Buckle up. During the trip, keep your seatbelt fastened when you are seated, and secure it under your belly.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Low humidity in the airplane could cause you to become dehydrated.
  • Avoid gassy foods and drinks before you fly. Gases expand during flight, and that could make you uncomfortable. Examples of foods and drinks to avoid include broccoli and carbonated soda.
  • Think about medical care. Plan for how you'll get obstetric care during your trip if you need it. Bring copies of your medical information in case you need care while you're away.

Blood clots

Air travel can raise the risk for blood clots in the legs, a condition called venous thrombosis. The risk is higher for pregnant people. Moving your legs may help prevent this problem. Take a walk up and down the aisle every hour during the flight. If you must remain seated, flex and extend your ankles from time to time. In general, it's best to avoid tightfitting clothing, as that can hinder blood flow. Wearing compression stockings can help with blood circulation during a long flight.

Radiation exposure linked to air travel at high altitudes isn't thought to be a problem for most people who fly during pregnancy. But pilots, flight attendants and others who fly often might be exposed to a level of radiation that raises concerns during pregnancy. If you must fly frequently during your pregnancy, talk about it with your health care provider.

Mary Marnach, M.D.

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  • Allergy medications during pregnancy
  • AskMayoExpert. Health considerations for air travelers: Pregnancy considerations. Mayo Clinic; 2022.
  • Air Travel During Pregnancy: ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 746. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2018/08/air-travel-during-pregnancy. Accessed Dec. 1, 2022.
  • Ram S, et al. Air travel during pregnancy and the risk of venous thrombosis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2022; doi:10.1016/j.ajogmf.2022.100751.

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Transporting Firearms and Ammunition

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You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted. Be aware that the container the firearm was in when purchased may not adequately secure the firearm when it is transported in checked baggage.

Contact AskTSA or  TSA Contact Center  with questions you have regarding TSA firearm regulations and for clarification on what you may or may not transport in your carry-on or checked baggage.

transportation security administration national firearms document

  • When traveling, comply with the laws concerning possession of firearms as they vary by local, state and international governments.
  • If you are traveling internationally with a firearm in checked baggage, please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information and requirements prior to travel.
  • Declare each firearm each time you present it for transport as checked baggage. Ask your airline about limitations or fees that may apply.
  • Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only. As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5 a loaded firearm has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm. For civil enforcement purposes, TSA also considers a firearm to be loaded when both the firearm and ammunition are accessible to the passenger. For example, if an individual has a firearm in accessible baggage and ammunition in his/her pocket, or any combination where the individual has access to both, the firearm is considered "loaded" for purposes of assessing a civil penalty. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock unless TSA personnel request the key to open the firearm container to ensure compliance with TSA regulations. You may use any brand or type of lock to secure your firearm case, including TSA-recognized locks.
  • Bringing  an unloaded firearm with accessible ammunition to the security checkpoint carries the same civil penalty/fine as bringing a loaded firearm to the checkpoint. You may find information on civil penalties at the Civil Enforcement page.
  • Firearm parts, including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, are prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage.
  • Replica firearms, including firearm replicas that are toys, may be transported in checked baggage only.
  • Rifle scopes are permitted in carry-on and checked baggage.

United States Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 44, firearm definitions includes: any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, or is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such weapon; any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; and any destructive device. As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5 a loaded firearm has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm.

  • Ammunition is prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage.
  • Firearm magazines and ammunition clips, whether loaded or empty, must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case containing an unloaded firearm. Read the requirements governing the transport of ammunition in checked baggage as defined by 49 CFR 175.10 (a)(8).
  • Small arms ammunition (up to .75 caliber and shotgun shells of any gauge) must be packaged in a fiber (such as cardboard), wood, plastic, or metal box specifically designed to carry ammunition and declared to your airline.
  • Ammunition may be transported in the same hard-sided, locked case as a firearm if it has been packed as described above. You cannot use firearm magazines or clips for packing ammunition unless they completely enclose the ammunition. Firearm magazines and ammunition clips, whether loaded or empty, must be boxed or included within a hard-sided, locked case. 
  • Please check with your airline for quantity limits for ammunition.

Read the guidelines for law enforcement officers flying armed.

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Guide for Undocumented Individuals Traveling in the U.S.

Themes/Topics: Law & Policy

Geography: California, National

Audience: Ally, Educator, Undocumented Youth

Introduction

Traveling in the U.S. can be a complicated and stressful process for anyone—even more so if you’re undocumented! But it doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re thinking of traveling as an undocumented person (with or without DACA) and are curious about how to travel safely, read on. Safe travels, undocu-travelers!

Introduction Domestic Flights Ground Transportation: Public Buses & Trains Ground Transportation: Driving Traveling to U.S. Territories

Domestic Flights

All travelers flying on a domestic flight must present a valid (unexpired) photo ID issued by the state or federal government. Undocumented individuals may use the following forms of ID accepted by TSA:

  • State photo identity card
  • State driver’s license
  • Military ID
  • Foreign passport (must be unexpired 1 )
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Employment Authorization Card
  • Trusted traveler cards such as the NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST cards issued by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”)
  • Border-crossing cards
  • Native American tribal ID cards
  • Airline or airport photo ID cards issued in compliance with TSA regulations and transportation worker ID credential

For a full list of TSA-acceptable forms of ID click here .

FAQ Regarding Domestic Flights

Yes, as noted above, the list of approved identification to fly domestically includes foreign government-issued passports (must be valid) and/or a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766). There have been reports of individuals who were not able to fly with these documents due to erroneous TSA agent denials. In such instances, inform the TSA agent that according to posted Transportation Security Administration guidelines, these are acceptable documents. Here is the link: tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification

We recommend that you review TSA’s most up-to-date guidelines before your domestic flight.

Ground Transportation: Public Buses & Trains

There have been reports, especially during the Trump Administration, of Border Patrol agents conducting immigration checks without warrants on buses and trains, such as Greyhound and Amtrak. Although Customs Border Patrol (CBP) has publicly said that its agents are prohibited from boarding buses/trains and questioning passengers without warrants or a company’s consent, it’s a good idea for any passenger to be aware of the following rights:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • When in doubt, do not answer questions about your citizenship or immigration status or sign any paperwork without the advice of a lawyer. Do not lie – silence is often better.
  • If you have valid immigration papers, you can provide them. Never provide false documents.
  • You can refuse a search of your belongings by saying “I do not consent to a search.”
  • You have the right to record video of immigration agents.
  • If you are stopped or searched, you have the right to ask for the officer’s name / ID number.

FAQ Regarding Ground Transportation

Ground transportation: driving.

Like citizens, certain non-citizens may be eligible to drive legally. In some states, certain non-citizens are eligible to apply for a driver’s license. Check your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to determine if you are eligible to apply for a driver’s license regardless of your immigration status. If you are stopped by either law enforcement or immigration enforcement while in your car, consider the following recommendations:

  • Stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible. Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, open the window part way, and place your hands on the wheel.
  • Upon request, show the police your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.
  • If an officer or immigration agent asks to search your car, you can refuse. However, if the police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, they can search it without your consent.
  • Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent. If you’re a passenger, you can also ask if you’re free to leave. If yes, silently leave.

FAQ Regarding Driving

Below are some noted checkpoints within California. Be prepared. Plan your route of travel and check before traveling.

  • San Clemente: located 7 miles south of San Clemente on Interstate 5.
  • Temecula: located 24 miles north of Escondido on Interstate 15.
  • Highway 79: located 1 mile west of Sunshine Summit.
  • I-8 West: located 3 miles east of Pine Valley on Interstate 8.
  • Highway 94: located 24 miles east of San Diego on California State Route 94.
  • Highway 78/86: located just south of the intersection of California State Routes 78 and 86, just west of the Salton Sea, controlling northbound traffic only.
  • Highway 111: located between Niland and Bombay Beach.
  • Highway S2: located 7 miles north of Ocotillo and I-8 in eastern San Diego County on S2 (Imperial Hwy/Sweeney Pass Road) between I-8 and State Route 78.

Traveling to U.S. Territories

Undocumented individuals who hold a temporary protection (e.g. TPS/DACA-recipients) may travel to the U.S. Territories without Advance Parole. However, it’s important to know where and how to safely travel overseas to the U.S. Territories.

IMPORTANT : Traveling to the U.S Territories without DACA, even though a person has never technically left the U.S., could result in a referral to ICE for removal.

You may also find the following information on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) website helpful.

[1] If you’re traveling with an expired license or passport you may still be able to fly. Acceptable forms of ID cannot be more than 12 months past the identified expiration date. Click here for more information.

This resource was created by Jesús Flores Rodríguez with editing support from Claire Calderón and Denia Pérez, Esq.

Immigrants Rising helps you make decisions based on your potential, not your perceived limits. Visit our website so you can see what’s possible: immigrantsrising.org . For inquiries regarding this resource, please contact Jesus Flores, Legal Services Coordinator, at [email protected] . Revised 9/2023.

Related Resource:

  • Guía para personas indocumentadas que viajan en EE.UU.

travel via plane

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travel via plane

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  • For U.S. Citizens/Lawful Permanent Residents

Document Requirements for Air Travel

All U.S. citizens and nonimmigrant aliens from Canada, Bermuda, and Mexico departing from or entering the United States from within the Western Hemisphere at air ports of entry are required to present a valid passport, NEXUS card (if utilizing a NEXUS kiosk when departing from a designated Canadian airport), Merchant Mariner Document (for U.S. citizens traveling on official business), or Military Identification Card (for members of the U.S. armed forces traveling on official orders). Note that children are also required to present their own passport when traveling by air.

Requirements for lawful permanent residents of the United States are not changed by the implementation of WHTI. Lawful permanent residents must continue to present a valid Permanent Resident Card. A passport is not required.

Everything you need to know about Costco Travel — and why I love it for saving money

Madison Blancaflor

Costco isn't just the place where you can buy toilet paper in bulk, inexpensive gas, cheap hot dogs and gift cards. You can also book great trips via the company's online travel agency, Costco Travel.

I know, I know: At TPG, we're often staunchly against booking travel through third-party sites , as there can be tradeoffs versus booking directly. But in recent years, I've become a big fan of the travel deals I can find via Costco Travel.

When planning our annual beach trip back in 2022, my best friend found a few options for Mexican all-inclusive resorts on Costco Travel and shared the links with me. I promptly told her we'd probably be better off booking directly and brushed off the idea of booking through Costco — neither of us even had a membership at the time.

However, comparing the prices and benefits at a few of the resorts proved my initial reaction wrong.

I actually got a Costco membership to book the deal since the cost of the membership was less than what we'd save by booking through Costco. We saved around $300 on a three-night stay at TRS Coral near Cancun (one of TPG's best all-inclusive resorts in Cancun ), not including the free hydrotherapy spa circuit and the $241 Digital Costco Shop Card included in the package.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Madison Blancaflor (@madison_ave18)

Our stay was fantastic, and I officially became a Costco Travel convert.

If you're curious about how to use Costco Travel to find deals, here's everything you need to know about Costco Travel — and why I love it for saving money on travel.

What is Costco Travel?

travel via plane

All Costco members have access to the Costco Travel booking platform, where you can find and book a wide range of travel — from vacation packages to hotels, cruises and rental cars. You can even book theme park vacation packages to Disney and Universal or specialty vacations such as an African safari.

Related: Costco cruise deals: How to save money booking travel at a warehouse club

Once you log in to Costco Travel, you can search for specific dates or destinations or browse through available deals and featured destinations. I personally love perusing the limited-time deals when I know I want to plan a getaway but don't have a specific destination in mind.

Trips booked through Costco Travel are often discounted and/or include perks and benefits you may not get by booking directly or through other booking portals. Usually, a trip booked through Costco Travel will also include a Digital Costco Shop Card (essentially a type of Costco gift card) of varying value.

What travel can you book through Costco Travel?

You can book hotels, cruises, rental cars and vacation packages through Costco Travel. Vacation packages range from hotel-only offers to all-encompassing packages that include airfare, hotel stays and rental cars. You can even build your own package.

travel via plane

However, one thing to note is that you can't book stand-alone flights via Costco Travel. There is an option to book flights through some vacation packages, but if you're only looking for airfare, you'll want to head to Google Flights to check out your options and book.

You can book Costco Travel offers both online and by phone.

Do you have to be a Costco member to use Costco Travel?

Yes. Costco Travel is an exclusive service for Costco members.

There are two personal membership levels: Gold Star and Executive. Gold Star costs $60 per year, while an Executive membership costs $120. The basic membership will give you access to all of Costco's services, including Costco Travel, while the Executive membership also comes with a 2% reward on all Costco (and Costco Travel) purchases.

I've found that the Costco Travel deals alone are worth paying the $60 Gold Star annual membership fee, even though I don't regularly use Costco for my grocery store runs.

Check sites like Groupon for discount Costco memberships, as you can sometimes save on that rate — or get an included gift card that helps offset the cost.

Is Costo Travel worth it?

Costco Travel has its pros and cons, but there are definitely times when it's worth it.

For example, let's look at a five-night stay in Maui in early April. At the time of writing, Costco is currently offering a hotel and rental car package for Hotel Wailea, a Relais & Chateaux affiliated property and one of TPG's favorite Maui hotels .

Here's one cost comparison breakdown of Costco Travel's deal versus booking directly:

travel via plane

Even without including the additional benefits, you're already saving more than $400 via the Costco deal. Add in the value you get from the card, daily breakfast and resort credit (which is more than $1,000 in value if you maximize all benefits), and you're looking at $1,442.45 in savings by booking through Costco Travel versus directly.

And since Hotel Wailea isn't a member of any major hotel loyalty program, booking through Costco Travel wouldn't mean missing out on elite night credits or other loyalty program benefits.

Here's another example — this time for a Universal Orlando theme park trip from June 4-6 for one adult and two children from Houston. The total cost when booking each part (hotel, tickets and airfare) individually came to $2,701.35, while booking it as a package via Costco saved just over $300.

travel via plane

That's a fair amount of savings you could use for some frozen butterbeer or even a new wand inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter .

When is Costco Travel not worth it?

Not every offer on Costco is worth booking.

For one, you won't necessarily find the same availability on Costco Travel. For example, flights booked through Costco may have some seats blocked off, and certain dates for hotel stays may be unavailable. Additionally, not all rental car companies are bookable through Costco Travel (such as Hertz*, which is my preferred rental car company due to the perks I get through my Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card ).

Plus, some hotel stays have a minimum stay requirement. If you're on the hunt for a long weekend getaway, you may not be able to take advantage of some Costco Travel deals.

travel via plane

Even when you do find availability, you should always price-check what you can find by booking directly or through your credit card travel portal and hotel programs.

After booking our fantastic stay at TRS Coral just north of Cancun through Costco, I looked at booking through Costco again in 2023 when planning our annual beach vacation.

While Costco had a deal available for the same resort, we happened to be booking when the resort chain was having a Mother's Day sale for anyone booking directly. We were able to try out a new TRS resort closer to Playa Del Carmen, TRS Yucatan; we saved more than $100 on an even nicer suite than Costco Travel offered by booking directly (even when considering the Digital Shop Card we would have gotten by booking with Costco).

Something else to consider when booking hotels through Costco Travel is loyalty program rewards and elite status. There are a lot of hotels available to book through Costco Travel that are part of major loyalty programs, from Hyatt Honors to Marriott Bonvoy to IHG One Rewards and more. But booking through Costco Travel — just like booking through most other third-party services such as Expedia — means you likely won't earn loyalty rewards, elite night credits or have any elite night benefits honored.

You'll also have to use Costco customer service if you run into any issues rather than going directly to the brand. This is especially important when considering booking a vacation package that includes flights, given the higher potential for delays or cancellations.

Why I love Costco Travel

I am typically a staunch proponent of booking directly, but Costco Travel is an exception. I've found that the benefits I can get by booking some trips via Costco outweigh the cons (some of which include having to go through Costco for any customer service help or occasionally losing out on elite night credits).

Digital Costco Shop Cards

My favorite thing about booking trips through Costco Travel is the Digital Costco Shop Card I get after booking. The card's value varies from trip to trip (generally depending on how expensive the package you book), but you can get hundreds of dollars back to use at Costco.

The Digital Costco Shop Cards can be used for Costco warehouse purchases (a game changer with grocery prices so high due to inflation), but you can also use them toward future Costco Travel bookings. And remember — Costco doesn't just carry bulk grocery items. You could use a Digital Costco Shop Card to buy a new flat-screen TV for movie nights and game days, a new outdoor patio setup ahead of summer or even Costco Pharmacy prescriptions.

I admittedly don't use Costco for groceries often (buying in bulk doesn't make a lot of sense for someone who lives alone), but I have used shop cards to help pay for Christmas presents and future Costco Travel trips. I've actually been looking into using my most recent Digital Costco Shop Card on a new pair of AirPods and a new TV mount for my living room.

Deals on non-points hotel stays and all-inclusive resorts

When I'm looking at booking a hotel stay at a brand like Hyatt or Marriott, I generally choose to book directly in order to earn elite night credits and points. However, when looking at properties not part of a major loyalty program, Costco Travel is often a go-to anytime I can find a deal.

Costco Travel has a nice deals section, and I usually look there first if I'm not sold on a specific destination for a getaway. While deals found on Costco generally have a narrow booking window, I've found that many offer a lot of flexibility for the actual trip dates.

A few examples of limited-time deals for January include Hotel Wailea from the example earlier in this guide, all-inclusive resorts in Mexico's Riviera Maya, and Disney and Universal theme park packages.

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Simplifying group vacations

I'm often the travel planner in my friend group (which makes sense, considering what I do for a living), but not everyone is an avid points and miles user like myself. For group trips where we're splitting the cost of hotel rooms among multiple people, it often doesn't make sense to use points and miles to book.

Costco Travel vacation packages offer a way for all of us to save money, and it makes narrowing down potential destinations and hotels easier. Rather than everyone having to spend hours researching ideas and prices from across the internet — which might be my idea of a fun Wednesday night but isn't for some of my friends — I typically just send them to Costco Travel to see if any of the featured deals catch their eye.

Having reservation information for multiple aspects of a trip, such as a hotel and rental car package, makes sharing and saving the itineraries a breeze.

Bottom line

Whether or not you currently have a Costco membership, you shouldn't dismiss Costco Travel as just another online travel agency.

If you know where to look and are willing to price-check the deals you find, you can save a lot of money with Costco Travel deals. I've personally had a lot of success booking friends getaways to popular destinations like Mexico through Costco. Using the service has helped me save on other expenses with the Digital Costco Shop Card I've gotten with my bookings.

For me, the $60 annual membership fee to Costco has been more than worth it to utilize Costco Travel.

*Upon enrollment, accessible through the Capital One website or mobile app, eligible cardholders will remain at upgraded status level through Dec. 31, 2024. Please note, enrolling through the normal Hertz Gold Plus Rewards enrollment process (e.g. at Hertz.com) will not automatically detect a cardholder as being eligible for the program and cardholders will not be automatically upgraded to the applicable status tier. Additional terms apply.

Related reading:

  • Key travel tips you need to know — whether you're a beginner or expert traveler
  • The best travel credit cards
  • How my Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi is a workhorse when it comes to cash back
  • Where to go in 2024: The 16 best places to travel
  • 6 real-life strategies you can use when your flight is canceled or delayed
  • 8 of the best credit cards for general travel purchases
  • 13 must-have items the TPG team can't travel without

Travelmath

Flight Time Calculator

Flying time between cities.

Travelmath provides an online flight time calculator for all types of travel routes. You can enter airports, cities, states, countries, or zip codes to find the flying time between any two points. The database uses the great circle distance and the average airspeed of a commercial airliner to figure out how long a typical flight would take. Find your travel time to estimate the length of a flight between airports, or ask how long it takes to fly from one city to another.

You can also search for the closest airport to any city in the world or check the flying distance between airports. If you're thinking about a road trip, compare the driving time for the same route.

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How to Determine What Type of Plane You’re Flying in on Your Next Trip

Most airlines detail the type of aircraft that flights will be using during the booking process

Nicholas Rice is a Senior Editor for PEOPLE Magazine. He began working with the brand as an Editorial Intern in early 2020, before later transitioning to a freelance role, and then staff positions soon after. Nicholas writes and edits anywhere between 7 to 9 stories per day on average for PEOPLE, spanning across each vertical the brand covers.

travel via plane

For air travelers, knowing what type of plane you're flying in can provide peace of mind for many reasons.

Sometimes, a traveler may want to figure out the seat configuration on an aircraft, or perhaps determine the sizing of overhead compartments and under-seat storage to plan which carry-on bag to use ahead of time.

More recently, passengers may also want to uncover if they are traveling on a Boeing 737 Max aircraft, following the grounding of Boeing 737-9 Max planes after an Alaska Airlines flight made an emergency landing earlier this month after a chunk of the aircraft's cabin blew out mid-flight.

Currently, most airlines detail the type of aircraft that flights will be using during the booking process.

But should travelers need to find that information after they've already booked a flight, the information is also readily available on their reservation.

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Alongside checking directly where a flight was booked, fliers can also use various other websites to see what type of plane they will be on during their trip.

One website frequently used by travelers is Flight Aware , an online tool that offers "real-time, historical and predictive flight-tracking data," per its website.

Flight Aware's website adds that it is the world's largest flight-tracking platform, as of 2019.

On the site, users can input their flight details and, once they select their flight, they can look on the right side of the page for "Flight Details."

There, under the section titled "Aircraft Details," a block titled "Aircraft Information" will have an area labeled with the "Aircraft Type" information that fliers are looking for.

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New York Post

Feds ask for help finding door that blew off Alaska Airlines flight, imperiling passengers: report

Wanted: One plane door.

If found, please contact the National Transportation Safety Board immediately.

That was the message the feds put out Sunday when they asked for the public’s help finding a “plug door” that blew off an Alaska Airlines plane mid-flight Friday night, leaving a mammoth hole in the fuselage that threatened nearly 200 passengers.

“We believe, from looking at radar data, that the door is around Barnes Road near I-217 in the Cedar Hills neighborhood,” NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy said, referencing a region about seven miles west of Portland, Oregon.

“If you find that, please, please contact local law enforcement,” she added, according to CNN.

The emergency door flew off shortly after the California-bound plane departed Portland International Airport, creating a nightmare scenario for the 171 passengers and six crew members on board.

Terrified travelers watched in silence as the city lights blinked far below through the gaping hole where the door once was.

The ordeal — which unfurled as the plane hummed along at about 16,000 feet — quickly decompressed the cabin and forced pilots to turn around and head back to Portland for an emergency landing, according to NBC News.

The 737 had just left the city 10 minutes earlier and was headed south to Ontario International Airport in San Bernardino County.

But luckily, no one was sitting next to the door that blew off, Homendy said.

The plane landed safely at Portland International Airport and first responders treated passengers with minor injuries at the scene.

“It’s fortunate that nobody died and there were not more serious injuries,” she told CNN after she toured the aircraft as part of the board’s investigation into the dangerous mishap.

NTSB investigators will also interview the flight crew, she said.

Homendy said finding the missing door will help them figure out why it failed.

“If it’s sitting in somebody’s backyard, I would like to see it,” she said.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday that no one had called yet to tell them the door was in their yard.

Besides terrifying passengers, the eye-popping midair disaster led the FAA to ground certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft — totaling about 171 planes across the globe — and a slew of cancellations.

Alaska Airlines itself canceled 160 flights — which affected about 23,000 travelers — as of Saturday, CNN reported.

More cancelations could be in store, too, as airline officials inspect their fleet of Boeing aircraft.

“We are identifying necessary cancellations for tomorrow and expect the disruption to last through at least mid-week,” the airline said in the statement to the network.

United Airlines has also grounded its fleet of 79 Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes as it works with the Federal Aviation Administration to inspect them, CNN said.

When the door was ripped off with a loud boom, the sudden depressurization tore headrests and cushions off the seats and sent oxygen masks plummeting from the ceiling, according to the outlet.

Homendy told the network that she knew the planes had pressurization issues before the flight.

Investigators will be picking the brains of the airline’s mechanics to see what they did to fix that, she added.

Boeing said it supported the FAA’s order to ground the planes.

“Safety is our top priority and we deeply regret the impact this event has had on our customers and their passengers,” Boeing said in a statement to the network.

 Alaska Airlines did not respond to the network’s request for comment.

Feds ask for help finding door that blew off Alaska Airlines flight, imperiling passengers: report

  • removed from flight

Philadelphia woman accused of threatening to kill passengers, assaulting attendant on Frontier plane

Authorities say the plane was preparing to land when Dulce Huertas got out of her seat and said she needed to go to the bathroom.

6abc Digital Staff Image

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Philadelphia woman is facing several charges after she allegedly assaulted a flight attendant and threatened to kill passengers while onboard a Frontier Airlines flight to Philadelphia.

It happened on November 20, 2023, on Frontier Airlines flight 4944 from Orlando, Florida to Philadelphia International Airport.

Authorities say the plane was preparing to land when Dulce Huertas, 60, got out of her seat and stated she needed to go to the bathroom.

The woman, who was reportedly served two alcoholic drinks, is accused of yelling and cursing at the flight attendant after being told to stay seated.

SEE ALSO: Passenger 'voted' off of Trenton-Atlanta Frontier flight after altercation

Authorities say security was called after Huertas started cursing at passengers around her after the plane landed.

"Once the plane arrived at the gate and the seatbelt sign was turned off -- but before any external doors were opened to allow passengers to leave the aircraft -- Huertas resumed her aggressive behavior and pushed passengers out of the way as she moved to the front of the plane," according to a criminal complaint.

At one point, authorities say Huertas pulled her pants down in a gesture to urinate in the aisle but then pulled her clothes back up.

She's also accused of using her belly to bump an attendant who was guarding one of the external doors. Huertas continued to yell, curse and threaten to kill multiple passengers before she was arrested, authorities said.

SEE ALSO: Passenger on Philly-bound flight accused of biting, kicking police as she was dragged off plane

Huertas was charged this week with interference with flight crew members and attendants, simple assault in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States and indecent exposure in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 21 years and three months in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $355,000 fine.

Related Topics

  • PHILADELPHIA
  • INDECENT EXPOSURE
  • PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
  • FRONTIER AIRLINES
  • REMOVED FROM FLIGHT
  • FLIGHT ATTENDANT

Removed From Flight

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