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Haven't Flown in Twenty Years--Help!!

Dundee, Michigan
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Haven't Flown in Twenty Years--Help!!

We are a family of four, mom, dad, and two teens. Our vacations over the past several years have involved hitting the interstate in the minivan. However, the kids have been begging us to FLY somewhere, anywhere, lol, so we just booked a hotel in San Diego for late next March. We have not booked a flight yet, but will be flying from Detroit Metro to San Diego International. Okay, here's the problem:

The only time I have flown in my life is twenty years ago when we flew from Detroit to Savannah, GA for our honeymoon to Hilton Head Island. That was also Hubby's last time. Needless to say,we are a bit rusty, especially since air travel has changed so much in the wake of 9/11. Here are some of the things that I don't really know:

If we book a flight that has a stop in another city, say Denver or Chicago, is our luggage automatically switched to our new plane, or do we have to go get it at the luggage terminal and carry it with us to our new boarding gate?

Do flights ever stop somewhere in between like this and you don't change planes but just stay on the same plane and wait for it to take off again?

Is it still true that you cannot take any form of liquid in a bottle (shampoo, facial cleanser, etc.) on board? What about toothpaste?

Does it take a very long time to go through all of the pre-boarding inspections of bags, etc. and should we allow a lot of extra time for it?

If anyone can help me out with any of these concerns, I would greatly appreciate it. If you can direct me to a book or other type of info that would cover these areas I would also appreciate it.

I know these questions sound pretty basic to a veteran flyer, but we really are totally out of the loop on air travel!

Thanks : )

South Pole
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1. Re: Haven't Flown in Twenty Years--Help!!

if u r flying with the same airline from departure to arrival (or those that have an interlining agreement) your baggage is usually transferred. you just find your connecting flight's gate via the departures screen at the intermediate airport.

even if the same plane is continuing to your destination from the intermediate airport normally you get off and reboard. however this is not always the case. you will be told whether you can stay on board on arrival

as u r "newbies", arrive 2 hours before departure to get thru the formalities of checking in and going thru security.

for what you can/cannot take on board check out the tsa site on the net.

and when making the booking make sure any connecting flight gives you around an hour to make it.

give yourself plenty of time and have fun....it's not all that difficult.

Dundee, Michigan
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2. Re: Haven't Flown in Twenty Years--Help!!

Thanks for the info. It helps me to feel a little more knowledgable!

Travelling The World
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for Alghero
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3. Re: Haven't Flown in Twenty Years--Help!!

Your only non-stop option will be Northwest Airlines. I may cost a bit more, but it will be worth it for ease of travel, especially if you are worried.

Southwest does the route with a stop, as do a lot of other airlines. On some routes with Southwest you stay on the plane at the stop if you don't need to change planes. Ask when you book if you decide on Southwest. On the other airlines, you will definitely need to change planes.

Your bags will be checked through. You don't need to reclaim them.

I would leave at least two hours as you are not used to the pre-boarding procedures, just for peace of mind.

The San Diego area is a great place for kids. My Mother-in-Law used to live there, and our kids used to love visiting her. March is a great time to go.

Detroit, MI
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4. Re: Haven't Flown in Twenty Years--Help!!

=================================================

If we book a flight that has a stop in another city, say Denver or Chicago, is our luggage automatically switched to our new plane, or do we have to go get it at the luggage terminal and carry it with us to our new boarding gate?

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Just about every airline will move your bags for you if both flights are with them. Most airlines will also "interline" baggage with other airlines. The major exception to interlineing is Southwest - they don't transfer with other airlines, but they will on their own. If you were to fly Northwest to Chicago, then Southwest to San Diego, you would have to claim and recheck your luggage in Chicago. DO NOT DO THIS. Stick with one airline and their partners. If the first airline gets you in late the second does not have to accommodate you if it is on two different tickets. When they tag your bag check yourself to make sure your final destination is on the baggage tag (SAN airport code in your case)

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Do flights ever stop somewhere in between like this and you don't change planes but just stay on the same plane and wait for it to take off again?

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It can happen but is pretty rare, except for the possibility of Southwest. Expect to have to switch planes.

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Is it still true that you cannot take any form of liquid in a bottle (shampoo, facial cleanser, etc.) on board? What about toothpaste?

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You are allowed a one quart ziploc bag with individual bottles no more than three ounces in your carry on. Medicine, saline solution, baby formula, etc. are unlimited. Check www.tsa.gov for the latest rules.

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Does it take a very long time to go through all of the pre-boarding inspections of bags, etc. and should we allow a lot of extra time for it?

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Not usually. Detroit (DTW) is usually pretty quick with security. I've had it take from 30 seconds to 20 minutes, mainly depending on day and time. Monday morning will take longer than Saturday night just because of how busy the airport is. Just make sure anything metal is in your carry on, change, cell phone, keys, etc.

From DTW you can fly direct to San Diego on Northwest. Any airline should be able to get you there with one stop. You might also want to look at flying out of Toledo even though it would mean a stop in Detroit, Chicago O'hare (avoid if possible), Cleveland or Cincinnati. It can often be cheaper, but you will also most likely be on a small turboprop or regional jet which you may not like if you have nervous fliers.

Dundee, Michigan
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760 posts
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5. Re: Haven't Flown in Twenty Years--Help!!

Wow...thanks SO much to all of you, both for your help and for not thinking that I am nuts for not already knowing all of this. You have all helped me out so much, and the more I read the more it is coming back to me what it was like the last time we flew and had a stopover in Charlotte on the way to Savannah.

I appreciate the advice about flying out of Toledo, and we actually do live much closer to Toledo Express, but usually Toledo costs a bit more (at least from what I have seen) and since I, myself, am quite nervous about flying all the way across the country, I know that I would be much more comfortable taking a jet aircraft all the way. One of those little commuter flights from Toledo to Detroit crashed in a cornfield a few miles north of us ten years ago killing 29 people on board, and ever since then I have vowed that I or anyone I love will never get on one of them unless it is a dire emergency.

Thanks again to all of you--you are great!! : )

Milwaukee
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for Milwaukee
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6. Re: Haven't Flown in Twenty Years--Help!!

Besides checking the TSA web site you can get lots of information by browsing thru the postings on this forum.

First thing to remember is air travel can be different in the USA than Europe and other places around the world, so if you browse this forum pay closer attention to information specific to US air travel.

You can learn a lot by reading the posts complaining about airlines. Many will be labeled something like "Don't fly ABC air".

Most problems reported on this forum are not airline specific, it could happen on any airline. By reading mistakes and problems others have encountered hopefully you won't make the same mistake.

One thing you should prepare for is possible delays. So, don't book an important tour or event for the evening of your arrival. If you don't have big plans you will not be as disappointed or frustrated with possible delays. Same for your return flight. Don't book your return to land 2 hours before you have to go back to work, or have something important going on at home.

Another problem that causes people do go crazy is lost luggage. Just remember they have Walgreens and Wal Marts etc. in San Diego. So if your luggage with make up, etc gets lost you can always replace it. To be on the safe side you can each pack some clothes in different suitcases, so if one bag gets lost everyone will still have something to wear.

If you relax and expect the unexpected flying can be much less stressful. I really get a kick out of the posts on this forum that complain about flight delays because of airline maintenance isues. Air travel in the US is very safe and if the pilot believes there is even a remote possibility of even a minor repair issue the plane will not take off and you will likely be delayed. I really like it that way. I would much rather they are 100% sure the plane is safe before I take off. A few hours ( or even more) delay is well worth the piece of mind. Shouldn't safety be what is most important?

Vancouver, Canada
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for London
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7. Re: Haven't Flown in Twenty Years--Help!!

The rule about gels and liquids is for the Security check, between checking in at the airline desk and going through to the gate. At the checkpoint you may have just the one one-litre clear plastic bag, and the items in the bag may not be in bottles that hold more than three ounces (90ml) each. Hand cream, toothpaste and cosmetic items count as liquids / gels, so if your containers are larger than three ounces, put them in your checked bag.

You'll not be able to take bottles of water or juice through the Security checkpoints, but you can buy bottles of drink and take them on board after Security.

You may or may not be asked to remove your shoes and / or belt; you will need to remove a coat or jacket if you wear one and place it in a separate bin to go through the x-ray machine - laptop computers need to go in a bin of their own as well.

I would say that one thing to make your flights easier is to allow more time than you think you'll need. If you can check in on line for your filghts, then do so, but you may need a bit more time to park, get to the terminal building, go through Security or the baggage drop process - it's most unpleasant to have to rush, so if you can take that stressor out of the picture, do so.

One more tip I can't stress enough - please put your name and telephone number (or e-mail address) on a tag inside your checked bags. Just in case your bags go astray, that info will help the airline immensely.

To help you decide with which airline you wish to fly - www.airlinequality.com (for passenger opinions) and www.seatguru.com (for seat info).

8. Re: Haven't Flown in Twenty Years--Help!!

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