Being in a crowded airport during the holidays can make even the most holly and jolly among us feel like Ebenezer Scrooge. The best way to lessen the stress involved with hectic holiday travel is to be prepared. Will you be flying to visit family and friends this holiday season? Fret not! Read the following travel tips and you will be ready for takeoff.
- RUN, RUN RUDOLPH: Anyone who has seen the film “Home Alone” (1990) remembers this scene: the McAllister family oversleeps and has to dash through the airport, making it just in the nick of time to catch their Christmas morning flight to Paris. (Meanwhile, Macaulay Culkin is left home alone.) In 2015, one cannot expect a similar scenario to play out this way. If you arrive at the airport with just moments to spare before departure, you’ll be having the kind of “Blue Christmas” Elvis sang about. It’s best to get to the airport at least two hours before your flight. Allow yourself time to park, get your boarding pass, check your baggage (if you need to), go through security and deal with any potential impediments.
- SAVE YOUR GIFTWRAP: The TSA does allow wrapped gifts, but they are not encouraged. If they elect to inspect it, they may have to unwrap it … which is going to hold up the line and cause your fellow travelers to harbor Grinch-like feelings toward you. Perhaps you should adorn the gift with a festive bow instead?
- LIQUIDS, GELS & AEROSOLS: Be mindful of the 3-1-1 liquids rule that applies to your carry on. This means you are allowed one quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint. These are limited to 3.4 oz. (100 milliliters) or less per item. The following must be placed in the baggie: liquid cosmetics such as liquid eyeliner, foundation, nail polish, etc.; perfume; gel or spray deodorant; hair products, and so forth. Make sure the baggie is easy to access in your carry on so you can quickly grab it when it’s time to go through security. If you’re checking your bag, you can avoid the hassle completely by packing your liquids in there. On the other hand, checking your bag can be a hassle. Weigh the pros and cons.
- HOLIDAY SPIRITS: Feel free to pack wine, liquor and beer in your checked luggage. In your carry-on, you can bring beverages if they are packaged in 3.4 oz. or less bottles. They must fit inside that ONE quart-sized zip-top bag mentioned above. (Pro tip: If you’d rather not pay the exorbitant fee for a drink on the plane, save some cash and bring your own! The mini bottles will set you back about $1.50 apiece if you don’t have expensive taste. You may have to sacrifice a bottle of foundation or nail polish in order to bring it along, but the choice is yours.)
- SILVER AND GOLD: When you’re in a hurry to get to the airport, the jewelry you’re wearing will probably be the last thing on your mind. As you creep ever closer to the front of the line for the security checkpoint, you may start to wonder if you’re supposed to remove it. According to the TSA’s official blog (blog.tsa.gov), when in doubt, keep your jewelry on when you go through security. Unless you are “blinged out like the A Team’s Mr. T,” you probably won’t set off the alarm. Jewelry can easily get lost if it’s removed and put in a bowl on the conveyer belt. If it’s important to you, take it off and put it in your carry-on bag.
- MAKING A LIST, CHECKING IT TWICE: If you haven’t flown in a while, it would be wise to carefully check every nook and cranny of the bags or jackets you plan to bring to be sure that you haven’t missed anything that would cause an issue at a security checkpoint. Take a look at the TSA’s list of prohibited items: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/prohibited-items.
- HAVE YOURSELF A HOLIDAY MELTDOWN: After months of planning, the unthinkable has happened: you reach for your ID and realize that it’s missing. The TSA, according to their blog, reassures us that everything will (hopefully) be OK. First question: are you 17 or younger? You don’t need an ID! For the 18-plus set, start by approaching the travel document checker and let the officer know that you don’t have your ID. By providing some additional information, there are other ways to confirm your identity (such as through databases). If the TSA officer is able to confirm your identity, you will be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint.
- BRINGING THE KIDS ALONG: Speaking of meltdowns, children plus busy airports equal maximum stress. The TSA blog has a plethora of helpful hints for traveling with your little ones: http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/06/traveling-with-kids.html.
Happy holidays and safe travels from all of us here at Berardi Immigration Law! Cross the border with confidence with the assistance of our U.S. immigration attorneys. Contact us to schedule a consultation.