Call this an airport do’s-and-don’t’s primer. Because I will be traveling shortly, I did a quick check on matters travelers should know and do when flying this summer, and sharing here.

Airlines and airports are not created equally, so travelers must be aware about certain rules and regs.

All kinds of deadlines and policies exist:

  • It’s safer and saner to arrive early than late. For domestic flights, arriving two hours early is the norm, three hours for international flights. Know your carrier’s rules, so you don’t miss your flight. If It’s a notably busy airport, add an hour to your plans.
  • There’s a cut-off time for checked bags, and also when a plane is anticipating departure, gate staff closes its door generally 15 to 20 minutes before flight time. If you’re tardy, you won’t be able to board.
  • Arriving too early ahead of your flight time could prevent you from checking in luggage or checking in at the ticket counter for a flight; the rule for check-in is four hours before your departure flight.
  • To get your boarding pass and to avoid potential long lines at the ticket counter, check in online 24 hours before your flight (for most airlines). You can transfer your boarding pass onto your phone or print it at home before you leave for the airport.
  • If you have checked luggage, you will need to take it to the luggage drop-off area by the ticket counter. If you have your boarding pass but have not yet checked your bags, seek a sky cap for assistance.
  • If you have special needs or travel issues, such as handicapped assistance, seek an agent for help.
  • Remember, curbside check-in no longer is available but if you have your boarding pass, or your ticketing reference code number, an available agent, at a check-in kiosk, can provide valuable aid that dodges the ticket counter lines.
  • Download your airline’s mobile app to simplify check-in procedures; this also will assure you receipt of updates on departure times, gate changes, and other relevant data.
  • Remain close to your departure gate, to hear flight delays or gate changes. Don’t wander far away from the gate, or you may miss valuable announcements. You don’t want to return from the magazine concessionaire only to find no one at your gate, then have to scoot eight gates away to board your plane.
  • Regularly check airport monitors for your gate and flight; when passengers are boarding, there normally will be a flashing light. Run, don’t walk, if you’re not nearby your gate.
  • If you’re traveling alone, never leave your roll-aboard unattended. Find a friendly soul to watch your bag, or an airport official could confiscate bag as a security risk. Further, carry your boarding pass on your body, not hidden in a zippered pocket of your carry-on, for obvious reasons.
  • The water bottle issue is simple: if you buy a bottle of water, wait till you clear TSA. If you have water, TSA will make you pour it out. Better to carry an empty bottle to fill with water from dispenser faucets throughout the gate areas.
  • I’ve heard of food stuff, like bottles jelly or jam, being confiscated from your roll-aboard, at  the TSA checkpoint because they may appear as water in the X-ray process; better to have bottles securely packed and stowed in your checked-in luggage.

Bon voyage!


  1. Excellent recommendations and reminders. Also, important to have electrical rechargers with you in case your phone battery goes down (have plug adapters if traveling internationally).

  2. Great advice, Wayne. Thank you. I will add that having TSA Precheck or Global Entry significantly eases your way through the airport. Global entry is also accepted worldwide as verified identification in case you lose or don’t have a driver’s license. Happy trails to you…🎶😘

  3. Hi, are you currently disabled and need a walker, use the TSA handicap line and avoid the lines and having to arrive 2 hours early. Also, you and your wife can notify the gate agent be among the first to board. You can also request a wheel chair assist.

    BTW, I believe your wife was my english teacher at Kaimuki Intermediate.

    1. Already requested handicap/wheelchair service, and they normally whisk us through TSA line. Usually have pause time and wait in the airline lounge, and wheelchair arrives in time for boarding at the gate. FYI, I can walk, but not long distances because of chronic lower back pain.

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