• Elizabeth Perry (The Nerd Travel Pro)

5 Flight Mistakes to Avoid


Air travel can be tiring and stressful, and even more so if you make a mistake and something goes wrong. Here are some common mistakes to avoid on your next flight!

1. Non-stop and direct flights are not the same thing! Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they have separate meanings, and it's not good to get them mixed up when booking your flights. If you're looking for a flight that takes you from your departure city to your destination with no stops in other cities, then you're looking for a non-stop flight. A direct flight will take your to your destination without you having to change planes. It's still the same flight number, hence it's 'direct', but you may have stops in other cities between your departure city and your destination.

2. Don't mix up your airports. Many major cities have multiple airports, so it's best to make sure you have the right one for your needs. For instance, Orlando in Florida has two international airports, but only one of them participates in Walt Disney World's complimentary transfers for on-site guests. Plus, it's closer to Orlando's popular theme park attractions. Another reason to be aware of multiple airports is that one airport may have better pricing or availability than another, so it's often worth it to check all airports in a reasonable distance to compare pricing or flight schedules.

3. Don't forget about baggage fees! With few exceptions, most airlines charge for checked luggage, and there are even a few that charge for carry-ons that require overhead bin space. Charges vary by airline and the number of bags - plus, you can incur extra fees if your suitcase goes over the airline's weight limit. Be sure to check your airline's luggage policy so that you don't get a surprise at the gate. While you're at it, it's also a good idea to check the airline's carry-on policies, so you don't end up having to check bags if you didn't plan to.

4. Check your identification documents. You'll need to show valid identification in order to board. This is especially true if you're flying internationally. International flights will require a passport, and most destinations require your passport to be valid for at least 6 months after you return from travel. If you're getting your passport for the first time, make sure that you get a passport BOOK - a passport CARD is not valid for flying internationally. Also, if you're planning to fly domestically within the US after October 2020, you also want to be aware of REAL ID requirements.

5. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your flight. Checking in and going through security can be a lengthy process at many airports, especially during popular travel seasons. To make sure that you aren't in danger of missing your flight if you experience delays at security, it's best to arrive 2 hours before domestic flights and 3 hours before international flights. If you're a fairly frequent flyer, you may also want to consider TSA Pre-Check, which can significantly cut down your time spent going through security at most domestic airports.

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