michael February 6, 2019

Travel tips

10 tips to make your next flight easier.

Getting ready to fly? We want to make sure you arrive at your gate with plenty of time to catch your flight, despite the extra busy airports.

Here’s some of our best advice for planning ahead to make your airport and security checkpoint experience as simple as possible.

1. Go digital.

Check in for your flight online. Download and use the Alaska Airlines app to save time waiting in ticket counter lines. Our app offers you digital boarding passes, lets you track your flight status (especially important during the winter holidays when the weather can cause delays), sends notifications about your flight, gives you the chance to change to earlier or later flights (if available), and so much more.

Also, be sure to download the Gogo® Entertainment App before you head to the airport; it’s quicker and easier to do this on the ground than while using the slower Wi-Fi connection on the plane. This will help you start watching free movies and TV shows more quickly onboard.

2. Head to the airport early.

In the days before your tip, plan to get to the airport at least 2 hours before your domestic flight departs, and 3 hours before your international flight. This should give you plenty of time to park, see the ticket agent, check your bags, and make your way through security.

3. Consider joining a trusted traveler program.

Enroll in a trusted traveler program “This indicates a link to an external site that may not meet accessibility guidelines.” like TSA Pre-Check®, Global Entry, Nexus, or SENTRI. Membership in these programs allows you access to the faster security screening lanes at participating airports, where you don’t have to remove your shoes, belts, or light jackets, and your 3-1-1 liquids bag and laptop can stay in your carry-on.

For international trips, try Mobile Passport Control “This indicates a link to an external site that may not meet accessibility guidelines.” (MPC). It is an app designed to speed up entry into the United States by letting eligible travelers submit their passport information and answer CBP inspection-related questions before the CBP “This indicates a link to an external site that may not meet accessibility guidelines.” inspection. Using the Mobile Passport app doesn’t require pre-approval, and it can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play “This indicates a link to an external site that may not meet accessibility guidelines.”.

4. Preprint bag tags and check your bags.

You’ll likely make it through the security line even quicker by reducing your carry-on items. We recommend checking your bags instead. Brush up on our checked baggage policy and then print your own bag tags at home to save even more time at the airport.

5. Be smart about smart bags.

Many guests have asked about smart bags – luggage that includes charging devices, or use a lithium battery-powered electric motor. We do accept these bags with batteries/power banks that can be removed without the use of a tool. Bags with non-removable lithium batteries, power banks, or batteries that require a tool to be removed will not be accepted as checked or carry-on baggage. Learn more about our smart bag policy, and look through our prohibited items baggage policy, too.

6. Know our carry-on limits.

You are allowed one carry-on bag, plus one smaller personal item. Read our specific guidelines for carry-on baggage; since we recently changed our bag size limit to 22″ x 14″ x 9″ it’s important to make sure your carry-on bag will fit this new size requirement. When measuring your bag, be sure to include the wheels and handle in the total measurement.

7. Prepare your carry-on liquids.

The TSA liquids rule “This indicates a link to an external site that may not meet accessibility guidelines.” allows you to carry one quart-sized bag of liquids – aerosols, gels, creams and pastes that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item – through the security checkpoint. Be sure to keep the liquids bag easily accessible, so that it’s simple for you to drop it into the security bin without digging through your carry-on bag at the checkpoint. Don’t forget to empty your water bottle before going through security; it’s easy to forget it in your purse or briefcase.

8. Know what items are a no-go.

As you pack, reference the prohibited and restricted items checklist, and make sure you know what’s in your suitcase. Be especially aware of restrictions regarding lithium ion batteries, and devices that use them.

9. Pet travel can be complicated, so plan ahead.

Taking your pet along for the holidays does take some advance planning. Be sure to familiarize yourself with our policies on traveling with pets well before you fly. An important note: pets cannot travel in the baggage compartment or in the First Class cabin on flights operated with Airbus aircraft, which are flight numbers 1000-1999.

If you’re traveling with an emotional support animal, be aware that our requirements have changed recently. Read through our updated policy on support animals for all of the documents and timelines you’ll need.

10. Be prepared for the security line.

Security checkpoint lines can be annoyingly long. Here are some ideas to help things move more quickly for everyone.

Before stepping into the security line, remove your jacket, belt, larger metal jewelry, and the contents of all your pockets, and place them into your bags to pass through the scanner. Wear shoes that are easily removable, or untie or loosen your shoelaces if you can. Have your boarding pass and acceptable ID ready to hand to the screening agent.

When you’re getting ready for the scanners, remember that personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone – this includes laptops, tablets, e-readers, and handheld game consoles – must be placed in a bin alone for screening.

Once your bags and bin have gone through the scanner, pick them up and move them away from the scanner conveyor belt to a nearby bench or chair. You’ll have more time to put your shoes and belt back on and return your liquids bag back to your suitcase, while letting those behind you in line to more easily pick up their items from the scanner.

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