If you are preparing to fly to your next destination or vacation, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your flight and avoid unnecessary headaches.
Check your baggage allowance
There are two types of baggage allowances: checked baggage (stored below the plane) and hand or carry-on baggage (which you take on-board). On regularly scheduled economy flights the checked baggage allowance is usually a single piece of luggage per person at maximum of 23kg or 50lbs. On chartered flights, the allowed weight can be a little lower at 20kg or 44lbs. Some airlines may charge a fee for checked luggage on economy flights, so check the airline’s site. On first and business classes, passengers have more generous baggage allowance.
For hand baggage, you are allowed to take two pieces: one that fits in the overhead compartment and one hand piece such as a purse, briefcase, or small backpack that can fit below the seat. If you are traveling with a large piece of baggage that you want to take on board such as a musical instrument or sporting equipment, then you should check with the airline before hand to see what arrangements need to be made. In most cases you may need to purchase an additional ticket and use a seat to place larger pieces that you don’t want to check in.
Be aware of items restricted in checked and hand baggage
As a general rule, items that are classified as dangerous goods or hazmat (hazardous material) are not permitted in any of your baggage. These items including things that are flammable, corrosive, explosive, radioactive, or poisonous. There may be other restrictions such as:
- Liquids, aerosols and gels in hand baggage.
- Number of hand baggage pieces.
- Some countries (such as Australia, New Zealand, and others) do not allow food to enter their country.
- On arrival, you will be required to declare any items that are deemed dangerous or restricted to that country. Fines are heavy for failing to declare them so if you are unsure of anything, make sure to declare it.
- Duty free allowances vary from country to country, so make sure you check these restrictions with the duty free shop or with immigration prior to leaving.
The government transport authority in the country you live have specific guidelines and regulations pertaining to the carriage of dangerous goods/hazmat, so if you are in doubt make sure to consult with this authority.
Minimize baggage problems
- Tag your baggage with clearly visible tags, labels or straps for easy spotting and identification
- Label your baggage with your name and contact information. Include the address of your destination so that in case of misdirected luggage, it can be delivered to where you will be needing in. Include your email address and phone number of where you will be staying (if different than your home)
- Include labels both inside and outside the luggage, in case the outside label gets ripped away.
- Pack important items such as your eye glasses, laptop, necessary medication in your carry-on luggage.
- Report any missing luggage immediately to the airline.
- Keep a list of everything you packed in your luggage.
- Consult the airline’s luggage policy before you pack.
Top items to take on flights
- A neck pillow – Especially important on long flights.
- Noise-canceling headphones – These will reduce ambient noise and allow you to enjoy music and movies.
- A good book or magazine – The hours will fly more rapidly with a good book or magazine.
- Flight socks – Much more comfortable than having shoes on or regular socks and they will keep your feet warm and nice.
- Moisturizer and lip balm – Your skin can get quite dry on a flight. Check with your airline what you are allowed to take on board. Most airlines allow travel size liquids.
- A phrasebook – On the plane is a good time to brush up on a few phrases in the local language if you are going to a non-English destination.
- A toothbrush – Cleaning your teeth mid-flight can make you feel more refreshed and more confident conversing with others.
- A change of clothes – If it is a long flight then changing clothes can freshen you up. Also, having more comfortable clothes during the flight can make it easier on your body.
- Smartphone, MP3 player, and/or tablet computer – Listen to your own music, watch movies, play games, and more.
- A good pen and a cheap pen – You will need a pen to fill out important immigration documents. A cheap pen is to lend to the person beside you that probably will not have one.
- A sweater or a blanket – On board air control system can make it feel too cool for comfort.