Advice for the Infrequent Flyer

If you have not flown on an airliner in the past year or so, you may not remember some of the basic things that could keep you from being hurt in an emergency. It would be a good idea to review the Top 10 Air Traveler Safety Tips. You may also be unfamiliar with the security changes that have occurred in airports around the U.S. These changes were put in place to increase the level of security for airline passengers on both domestic and international flight.

Airport Security

  • Identification: You will probably be asked by the counter or gate agent to show some form of picture identification. In the U.S., travelers over the age of 18 need some sort of photo identification issued by a state, local, or national government agency. This would include driver's licenses, passports, and military ID cards but would not include student ID cards or employee ID badges. If you do not have a photo ID, you can also use two forms of non-photo ID, one of which has to issued by a state or federal agency. One example of this kind of ID is a Social Security card.

  • Checkpoints: Depending on the level of security in place when you are at the airport, the security agents at the checkpoints near the gates may insist on searching every bag, package, and suitcase. Be prepared by arriving at the airport at least a half hour earlier than usual.

  • Baggage: Do not leave your baggage unattended on the curb or in the terminal because it may be considered a suspicious package and confiscated by the police. Also, leave presents partly unwrapped so that security personnel may inspect the contents. Before carrying a package or gift for anyone, you should also look to see what is inside.

  • More Information:
    Car rentals are always present in airports, so if you are packing a lot of baggage, there will always be the option to rent a car out.
    Other Airport Security Advice
    AirSafe Journal article on airport security


Special Needs

  • Medical and Dietary Needs: If you or a member of your party have special medical, dietary, or other needs, make sure that you pack the appropriate items in your carry on luggage. Aircraft do not normally carry anything beyond a first aid kit, so if you have a need for drugs such as insulin or heart medication, make sure that you put it into your carry on luggage and not into baggage that will be out of reach in the cargo compartment.

Advice for the Infrequent Flyer -- Revised: 6 March 2009