The Definitive Pre-Flight Checklist From Booking Your Ticket To Boarding The Plane
You just booked the plane ticket you’ve been eyeing for a while. This trip is happening. Congratulations! But before you kick into vacation mode, here’s the definitive checklist you need to move through before boarding that plane.
1. Verify all names on your ticket.
Sometimes mistakes happen. You might accidentally let auto-fill book your plane ticket under a nickname instead of your legal name. You might misspell your own name (no judgment, sh*t happens). So check every letter of your name — even if it feels excessive.
There are also a lot of airports out there with similar names. So before you find yourself flying into Portland, Maine instead of Portland, Oregon, just take another quick look at the airport code on your ticket.
Generally, you have 24 hours to cancel your flight and rebook it under the correct name or airport. So don’t wait to do this little fact-checking exercise. Press buy, wait for your confirmation email and double check all the deets.
2. Pack everything up.
We know, baggage rules are brutal these days. Between basic economy tickets and budget airlines charging for every bag bigger than a backpack, it can feel expensive to pack all your favorite outfits. However, between packing cubes and techniques like rolling your clothes, we think you can fit every cute travel outfit you want in that duffel.
3. Check into your flight.
Thank goodness for technology. If you’re flying a major airline, you can check into your flight online and get an electronic boarding pass. This means skipping long lines at the check-in desk at the airport. Hooray for saving little bits of time (and paper)! If you’re flying a budget airline or going out of the country, you’ll likely still have to hit up a desk. But checking in online can sometimes snag you a better seat.
4. Double check for your identification and debit cards.
If everything goes wrong and you forget to pack everything else, all you truly need to survive just about anywhere is your identification and a debit card. That way, you can get through border control and have access to an ATM in local currencies. It also helps to have a credit card, but bare bones, you can get by with nothing else (although we deeply hope you don’t have to).
5. Make sure you packed your chargers.
After your I.D. and money, your phone is your next priority. Ensure that your charger is in your bag, along with any adapters you’ll need in your destination (not everyone uses the same plugs we do in the United States). Ditto for your computer, camera and so on.
6. Separate any liquids.
No one wants to be the person in the security line hectically digging through a suitcase to round up bottles of shampoo and conditioner to stick in a plastic baggie at the last minute. Put your liquids, aerosols and gels in a quart-sized bag at home, and make sure it lives in an easily accessible place in your bag.
7. Prep your electronics.
At most airports, you have to send electronics larger than a phone through the security X-ray machine on their own. That means your laptop, camera or tablet can’t be buried at the bottom of your backpack. You’re going to need to take them in and out while navigating a conveyor belt, plastic bins, other harried travelers and a likely frustrated TSA agent. Make this process less irritating to all by making sure your tech can slide in and out of your luggage with minimal fuss. (P.S. No e-cigarettes or vapes are allowed in checked bags.)
8. Arrive at the airport.
You know the rules. Get to the airport two hours prior to an international flight and 90 minutes before a domestic flight. At bigger airports with more possibility of long security lines, you might want a little more time. But in the U.S., there’s actually an app for that. The MyTSA app crowdsources wait times in security lines at airports across the country so you can be prepared.
9. Arrange for checked bags.
With more and more flights giving folks complimentary gate checks due to overflowing overhead bins, you might want to do a little shuffling to make sure all your necessities are in a carry-on. AKA, keep your toothbrush in your purse. Same goes for traditional checked bags if you’re bringing larger luggage.
For those with international transfers between airports or longer layovers, check with your airline to make sure you understand whether your checked bags will travel directly to your final destination or if you need to grab them at the baggage claim in between flights.
10. Know your layovers.
Transfering from one flight to another? If you have a really quick turnover, don’t hesitate to ask a flight attendant to help you out. They can get you off your plane more quickly and point you immediately in the direction of your next flight. Sometimes you can even nab a seat closer to the front of the plane.
11. Make a restroom run.
Just like when you were a kid, we don’t care if you think you don’t have to go. You’ll be happier having used a restroom on the ground rather than the cramped and icky airplane bathroom. Believe us on this one.