July 13, 2011 1:24 PM PT

Airline Travel Tips

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Vacations are fun but flying to your destination can be stressful. With the crowded airports, increasing fees and always changing security policies, there is a lot to deal with when you’re navigating the terminals to get to your plane.

Here are some tips you can implement the next time you take to the friendly skies to help alleviate the stress.

Brush up on security guidelines — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is able to increase security measures if it is deemed necessary. This means that the security rules may have changed since the last time you flew. To ensure that you are adequately prepared, it’s best to take a quick visit to the TSA website (www.tsa.gov/travelers/index.shtm) before you pack for your flight.

Pack smart — With airlines constantly tightening up their baggage policies, it’s important to pack smart when flying. If you are going on a weekend trip, you may want to try to fit your items in a carry on bag. If you will be going for an extended amount of time, you may still want to pack essentials in your carry on. This way, if your luggage gets separated from your flight, you will have the items you need until your bags arrive at your destination.

Give yourself time — The current safety checkpoints make it important for you to arrive at the airport early for your flights. The recommendation is to arrive at least an hour before your flight but you will want to allocate two hours if it is a holiday or you’re departing from a major airport hub.

Take advantage of your benefits—Some credit cards now offer their cardholders travel benefits like luggage protection. If your bags are lost or stolen, your credit card program will reimburse you for the cost of replacing the lost items. Review your cardholder benefits before you leave for your trip so you are familiar with the benefits in the unfortunate instance that you need to use them.

Fly early — If you book the first flights of the day, you will decrease the odds of being affected by delays. So this is especially recommended if you have connecting flights. The later your flights are in the day, the more likely it is that delays will affect your itinerary, which could leave you stuck in an airport if you miss a connecting flight.

Dress appropriately — According to IndependentTraveler.com, confining clothing can cause deep vein thrombosis, which can be life-threatening. Leave the restrictive clothes and shoes in your bags and opt for loose, breathable pieces instead. Also, it’s best to dress in layers so you can adjust your outfit to keep you more cool or warm depending upon the temperature of the plane and your destination.

Eat in advance and bring snacks — free food is a rarity on flights these days. Some flights don’t even offer passengers paid options. If you research your flight and find they do offer food for purchase, be sure to bring cash with you. And you’ll want to bring a back-up snack in the instance that they run out of food before they get to your row.

If you’re bringing food from outside of the airport, remember that you will need to comply with TSA regulations, so skip any creamy foods like yogurt cups, applesauce or individual peanut butter or jelly packets, as those will be thrown out at security checkpoints.

Know the lay of the land — If you will be flying through an airport that you have never visited before, it never hurts to look up a map of the airport before you leave home. This is especially helpful if you will have a connecting flight through a busy airport, and the flight is through a different airline than your first flight. Taking a look at a map in advance will help you prepare so you won’t have to lose any time between terminals. The last thing you want to happen is miss your connecting flight!

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