Holiday Travel 2009

10 Things To Know Before You Go

November 22, 2009|By Michelle Deal-Zimmerman

If you haven't taken a flight in awhile, don't worry - it will all be just as simple as riding a bike. Here's what you need to know for your holiday trip.

1. BWI. : BWI Marshall Airport is busier than ever with new flights being added this year from Southwest, AirTran and JetBlue. Southwest now offers nonstop service to Boston, New York and Milwaukee. AirTran has added daily flights to New Orleans and soon will begin flights to the Caribbean. JetBlue flies only to Boston - for now.

2. I.D. : Make sure your name on your identification exactly matches the name on your flight reservation. Under a new U.S. program called Secure Flight, passengers also must provide a birth date and gender.

3. Bags. : Weigh your bags before you leave home. With the many new checked bag fees - about $15 each way for the first bag - paying extra for a suitcase that weighs over 50 pounds will cost you $50 or more.

4. Tags. : Don't forget to put your name and contact information on your luggage, just in case it ends up some place you do not.

5. Check-in. : You can check in for your flight online before you even leave home, up to 24 hours in advance on most airlines. If you plan to check bags, pay for the fees online before arriving at the airport. Most airlines offer about a $5 discount when you pay online instead of at check-in.

6. Boarding. : Southwest passengers can pay $10 for Early-Bird check-in which will allow those customers to be among the first to board the plane. The fee can be paid up until 25 hours before the plane is to depart.

7. Kids. : In June, Southwest added a $25 fee for children flying without an adult, joining most airlines that already charge as much as $100 for this service.

8. Pets. : Also new to BWI is Pet Airways, an airline dedicated to our furry family members. The airport has also added a Pet Relief Area, located at the end of Concourse E, for passengers traveling with service or other domestic animals.

9. Wi-Fi. : Several U.S. airports, including BWI, will offer free Wi-Fi through Jan. 15.

10. Relax. : Airports have behavior detection officers who can subject you to additional screening if you're acting strangely, so be patient, polite and poised.

- Michelle Deal-Zimmerman

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