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Help! Haven't Flown Out of Detroit Metro in Twenty Years!

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Dundee, Michigan
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Help! Haven't Flown Out of Detroit Metro in Twenty Years!

We are planning a trip to California at the end of March and are flying out of Detroit Metro. We haven't flown anywhere in twenty years, and then it was also from Detroit Metro, so at least we have been there before, but it's been so long! I am really nervous about finding the right terminal, luggage check, etc. and just knowing where to go and what to do. We are flying Northwest Airlines out of the McNamara Terminal and using the Kwik-Park on Merriman. Can anyone give us any tips at all? Anything that would help us to know what to do or what to expect would be greatly appreciated. I do know to be there like two hours before our flight leaves, but that's basically all I know!

Thanks!

Dearborn, Michigan
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for Mont Tremblant
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1. Re: Help! Haven't Flown Out of Detroit Metro in Twenty Years!

It really won't be dramatically different from your flight 20 years ago, though some things clearly have changed. The good news is that the McNamara terminal is much, much nicer than the old terminal you remember. Also, these days you can print your boarding passes at home on your computer printer (starting 24 hours before flight time) and also can select seating assignments at home, even weeks in advance of your trip.

On the downside, there now are security issues to deal with (I don't think they are difficult, just different) and Northwest doesn't even provide food in economy class on most of their flights. Now, they sell food rather than include it in the fare. You also are permitted to bring your own food, which people do increasingly. Pepsi products, coffee, juices and water were still gratis the last time that I flew.

Here is a guide, though it is much longer to write than simply to do. Don't worry, it will be fairly intuitive once you are at the airport.

[Re the boarding pass, you aren't required to print them out at home, but I recommend it, particularly if you are going to carry your luggage on board instead of checking it. Just go to www.nwa.com, click on Travel Tools and then follow the directions for checking in from home. Caution: carry on does have size limitations. Check the NW website for more info. Selecting seats also is a good idea. If you expect to travel via Northwest or its other airline partners in the future, it is a good idea to sign up for a Northwest WorldPerks frequent flier card and get mileage credit for your round-trip flight Michigan to California. There is no charge and registration is easy.]

Kwik Park's shuttle will take you directly to the McNamara Terminal. Just make certain that you tell them you are flying Northwest.

At the McNamara Terminal, the shuttle stop is on the lower level. When you get off the shuttle bus, walk through the large revolving door (if it is working) and take the escalator upstairs.

PLAN A. f you plan to carry on your luggage and not check it, turn right and walk straight ahead to the security screening area.

SECURITY ISSUES. At security, be sure to have your ID (driver's license or passport) and boarding pass out and ready for inspection.

You will be required to take off coats, hats and shoes and run them through the x-ray machine along with any carry-on luggage, handbags, briefcases, etc. while you walk through a metal detector. Laptops, if any, must be removed from their carrying case and sent through x-ray as well.

NOTE: all toiletries must fit into a single 1 quart or 1 liter ZipLoc bag. This will restrict each traveler to 3-oz. travel sizes. Yes, toothpaste, shaving gel, hair sprays, shampoo and other liquids all must fit into the same bag. The bag must be sent through x-ray separately. See the TSA website for details and current info. No other liquids or gels will be permitted. In fact, you will be required to dispose of them before going through the security check point.

PLAN B. If you are going to check luggage, when you get to the top of the escalator, you may choose to go left to a small Northwest check-in counter or go right, walk a few dozen yards and take the escalator up to the main and very large check-in hall. Even though you may have printed your boarding pass at home, you will have to use the automated check-in machines (just follow the instructions) and the gate agent will print your baggage claim receipts and take your luggage.

You then will go through security (there are security lines in the main check-in area as well as on the level below), as previously described. Once you clear security, you will be roughly in the middle of a mile long terminal. Verify your departure gate. You may stroll, shop or eat if time permits; or go directly to your departure gate by walking, using the moving sidewalks or taking the tram. The departure gates at the far ends of the terminal are served by an automated tram (similar to the Detroit People Mover, but faster) that operates inside the terminal on an upper level. Schedule is about every 3 minutes.

At the departure gate, you will need only your boarding passes, not your ID.

Dundee, Michigan
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2. Re: Help! Haven't Flown Out of Detroit Metro in Twenty Years!

Wow!! You really put a lot of time into your reply and it is so helpful that I printed it and am going to study it and take it with us, just in case. Thanks so, SO much!! :)

Dundee, Michigan
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3. Re: Help! Haven't Flown Out of Detroit Metro in Twenty Years!

I meant to mention in my reply to your post that I did select our seats when I booked the flight, so that part is done and I'm glad!

Thanks again!

Cleveland, Ohio
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for Puerto Rico, Carolina
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4. Re: Help! Haven't Flown Out of Detroit Metro in Twenty Years!

Toledo must have been much higher I assume. Great little airport. We would fly out of there when we lived in Ann Arbor to avoid Metro.

Chicago, IL
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5. Re: Help! Haven't Flown Out of Detroit Metro in Twenty Years!

Tylerarb's post was very comprehensive, but let me just add a couple things.

For checked luggage, you can have toiletries and liquids larger than 3-oz. If you lock your luggage without TSA-approved locks, you risk having the locks cut-off. TSA-approved locks have a universal key that the screeners can use to open it, if needed.

If you don't want to purchase the TSA locks, cable ties are a good alternative. They allow the TSA folks to easily open the bag if needed, but deters others who have no business in your bags. You can purchase very pretty ones at most luggage stores for about $1 each. For less than $10 you can go to the electrical aisle or your hardware store or home center and buy a bag of the not-so-pretty kind that will supply you, your children, their children and all of your friends, neighbors and in-laws for the next 20-years. <g>

And, don't forget to toss a couple in your bag to use for the return trip.

If you're going to carry-on your bags, you can have two (or more) of any one item such as toothpaste as long as each container is less than 3-ounces and all easily fit in the 1-quart bag. Your carry-on should also have any medications or valuable items on the outside chance your checked bags are delayed.

Finally, you may want to carry a couple extra plastic bags in your carry-on. It's much easier to toss the contents of your pockets into a bag at the screening point and retrieve it than to forget your cellphone or try and retrieve the dimes you dropped all over the floor. Have a good trip.

Northville, Michigan
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6. Re: Help! Haven't Flown Out of Detroit Metro in Twenty Years!

For in flight food NWA sells snack boxes for $5 on most flights. I think they offer sandwiches sometimes too. Also for domestic flights now you must be onboard the aircraft 20 minutes prior to the scedueled departure. I don't think this was mentioned, but be prepared to power on all electronics at the security gate(you probably won't have to but it's good to be ready just in case). Additionally for airport parking look on the parking lot company's website, there is often coupons for one day free or a discounted rate. Enjoy your flight!

Manistique, Michigan
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for Manistique, Curtis
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7. Re: Help! Haven't Flown Out of Detroit Metro in Twenty Years!

Hello Sultana, You sure have some nice post from people here that seem to cover all the main things to do. My Sister is coming to visit this summer and she hasn't flown in years either. One main thing I told her that was different then it was years ago is the Departure Time. The Departure time nowadays is the time the airplane is on the runway and ready to takeoff. As mentioned above you start boarding early because the departure time is the time that plane is on the runway. It isn't like it was before when the departure time was the time you could still get on the plane and the gates closes. If you get to the gate 10 minutes before your departure time, there is a good chance the plane has already left.

Northville, Michigan
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8. Re: Help! Haven't Flown Out of Detroit Metro in Twenty Years!

The food sold on airlines now is pathetic. The trail-mix type options are the best choice around $2. or, $2 for a shortie can of Pringles.

Bananas, your own trail-mix, or mixed nut type snacks, and a sandwich bought in the terminal ($7) in a carryon bag, are your best option.

Actually, you should have time to get a nice burger platter, etc. in a sit-down restaurant in the terminal before the flight, and you will be mostly satisfied for the duration. A can of pop or juice is free during the flight.

For security lines, be read to get rid of belt, shoes, pocket change into bin or your carryon bag for x-ray and metal detector

Getting to the right terminal is no problem, you just tell the QuikPark driver which airline

Dundee, Michigan
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9. Re: Help! Haven't Flown Out of Detroit Metro in Twenty Years!

Thanks for the info. Since our flight is only about four hours, I think we'll be okay if we just get something at the terminal before we leave. Things have sure changed! When we flew all those years ago, free breakfast was provided by the airline, as well as a bag of peanuts shortly after the breakfast was cleaned up.

I have another quick question: If we want to take our camcorder and digital camera, can I put them in my carry-on bag? I definitely don't want them in our luggage in case it would get lost, but I also don't want them to be dropped or handled roughly if they dump our carry-on contents out when they run us through the metal detectors.

Thanks!

Dearborn, Michigan
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10. Re: Help! Haven't Flown Out of Detroit Metro in Twenty Years!

Yes, you can put the camcorder and digital camera in your carry-on. When you go through security, you will put them into a large, plastic box (I think they are the same ones that restaurants use to bus dirty dishes) and the box with its contents goes through the x-ray machine.

Ditto for all electrical items you carry on (computers, cell phones, iPods, etc.). No dumping of anything. Multiple boxes may be needed, and definitely will be if you are carrying a computer, as that needs to have its own box.

You will have to remove your shoes you are wearing and run them through the x-ray too, along with your outer coat/jacket, hat, briefcase, purse and 1-quart toiletries bag. Loose change and other metal items may be placed in the pocket of the jacket that is going through x-ray. Careful not to wear bulky watches or very large belt buckles or you will have to remove them and put them through x-ray as well.