Why am I here so early?
We have very limited international non-stops from Indy so our first hop is almost always domestic and layover times are often not long enough for any sort of additional security before heading overseas.
The airline industry tells us to be at the airport 1 hour before a domestic flight and two hours before an international flight. To put on my 3 year-old hat, "Why?" Why so early for international flights? In my limited experience check-in takes no longer nor does security. So unless they are just messing with us, something must be going on behind the scenes.
Are they doing some sort of last minute TSA check and might deny you boarding? For leisure travel they have months to do that?
Does luggage bound for international destinations go through additional checks?
Looking forward to your sage responses.
Technically it really doesn't matter. I'm not sure how busy the Indianapolis airport is but I like to get to the airport about 90 minutes before flight time just to make sure I'm not rushing to get through security and making it to gate 94.
I didn't know what a large airport was till I got to Europe. On the way back in JFK, I saw a close second...Just getting to your gate is an issue as I found out in Barcelona..Being early to me, is a good thing:) I sit and relax, read, and, people watch...
What happens with international flights when there is only 1-2 hours inbetween flights? For example, if you were flying from US to London, London to Rome. If they want you there 2 hours before, how is it possible?
Perhaps it is as simple as the fact that most international flights are on much larger planes (747s) which take longer to board, and they are leave from international airports which are much bigger so security lines are longer.
That said I would still insist on booking a long layover because once when my flight out of Kennedy was late the delay caused me to miss the flight out of Dulles, which wasn't delayed.
If your flight is full and you fail to meet the check-in requirements, the airline reserves the right to resale your seats, this also applies to the boarding gate.
Short lay-overs on National flights = USA less than 30-minutes & International flights less than 1-hour on lay-over including change of aircraft may cause your bag to be placed on the next aircraft to your final destination, so you may not find your bag when you disembark at final destination.
Learn how to avoid common pitfalls when flying with checked luggage.
Decided to fly out in the morning on the same day of your trip, so you don’t miss an additional day of work or pay for a hotel. When your suitcase fails to appear on the baggage carousel, you're guaranteed a stressful experience filling out baggage-claim forms and futilely waiting to hear if your bag(s) have been located.
Especially if you’re going on a cruise or catching a land tour. Most likely the bags will need to catch up with you at another location. If you need to check a bag, following these strategies may prevent delays and get your luggage back to you.
Take Photos & Get Insurance.
Use your smart phone to take photo of the outside of your bag and any expensive garments being packed to show the airline if case of loss. It's also wise to take a quick photo of your baggage-claim ticket, in case you lose it.
Electronics are not covered by airlines, unless you get specific coverage, always read the passage contract. Cruise lines and hotels do not cover for lost or stolen electronice either, so if you have a camera, tablet, lap-top, smart phone etc. make sure you add to your home-owners policy (Hazard Coverage) or get renters insurance with specific coverage on the items you will be traveling with. You may purchase travel insurance, but most travel insurance policies are secondary coverage to existing coverage and or airline policies & contain exclusions and or deductibles that render the policy worthless.
Always keep the purchase receipts for proof of cost and take a photo of these items, recently a sting operation at LAX uncovered employees stealing from checked bags.
If it is not covered by insurance you are at risk, so determine cost of coverage and try to carry expensive valubles with you onboard the aircraft!
I personally encountered baggage handlers at the pier during the check-in process for a Caribbean cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, the handlers removed my colognes & i-pod from the zipped pockets, I personally packed the items in an outside pocket for easy access at my hotel 20 minutes before catching a taxi to the pier. when I reported the loss to the cruise line, they simply stated, they are not employees of the cruise lines, SORRY.
Note: I now only travel with Poly carbonate luggage, the heavier style ballistic cordura expandable luggage with outside zippers is to attractive for thieves.
Check in Early & make sure you secure flights with ample lay-over time between connections.
Flyers that check in late, regardless of reason are more likely to get separated from their bags. Baggage handlers will direct your bags to the next flight to your final destination.
Once the Aircraft secures the cargo doors to taxi out on the tarmac. No more bags will be loaded.
United airlines did not offer any reduced mileage awards from ROME Italy back to LAX when I was searching flights, Anyway the flight operated by Lufthansa from Frankfurt Germany had a 15 hour layover in Frankfurt Germany, I reserved a hotel in the airport not requiring a shuttle and will depart the next afternoon NON-STOP to lax. Point being, I will get 10 hours of sleep before boarding a flight lasting 11-hours & 35-minutes on the new 747-800, worlds longest airliner, even longer than the A380-800. I also look at flying as an experience and with the new aircraft such as the Boeing B787 Dream Liner, B747-800 and Airbus Industries with the A380-800 & A350-XWB, make the best of it. I use (seat guru.com) to look up seating before booking flights.
All airports contain miles of underground conveyer systems that direct your checked bags to the assigned gate for loading onto aircraft. If you have a connection, the handlers must unload your bag from existing flight, then load to conveyer system, where it is directed of the gate where your connection is located. Airlines will not hold an aircraft for your bag, hence the check-in requirement, nothing you can do when you book a flight with a short lay-over. You may make the flight, but your bag may not.
Understanding the reservation system when booking flights & complying with the check-in requirements will help you in the future when securing airline tickets. Terms used in the industry for change of aircraft, is a “EQUIPMENT CHANGE” This is often the reason your bag does not make it to your final destination.
Handlers must unload your bag and reload on underground conveyers that redirect your bag to connecting gate, each time your bag is loaded and unloaded, it is scanned, if your flight is late landing and your connecting flight has closed the cargo door before your bag is loaded, your bag must be redirected to another aircraft flying to your final destination.
A non-stop flight means, NO-STOPS. A direct flight means you will be landing “STOPPING” at another airport before arriving to your final destination.
Place Your Itinerary inside Your Bag & Remove old tags off luggage!
Luggage tags are scanned and sometimes get torn off during the handling process, but a copy of your itinerary, placed on top of your belongings inside your bag with e-mail, hotel or cruise itinerary with mobile number will allow security to trace the owner.
Your bag/luggage should have a secured tag in the pocket or attached to handle with your frequent flyer account name & number, joining the frequent flyer program will allow you to update a profile with all your emergency contact information and more important allow you to get text update on GATE changes, the most common cause of missed connecting flights. I suggest you write on the back of your frequent flyer card attached to the exterior of your bag: open if Delayed or lost (contact information inside). This will make it easier for airline staff to determine whom the bag belongs to and to contact you for directions if the tags are missing.
Use a unique Luggage Strap
Suitcases, unfortunately, sometimes suffer from a case of mistaken identity at the baggage carousel. Samsonnite, American Tourist, Costco, Wal-Mart etc. They all sale slate-gray upright hard side or black ballistic cordura bags, etc.. So give your bag a colorful luggage strap and use a colorful plastic zip tie to secure the colorful strap to your luggage itself through to the handle to prevent removal of colorful strap. You can also use a colorful plastic zip tie to secure the zippers, even if you use an approved lock which will not keep out dishonest people, a zip tie missing will alert you sombody was in your luggage.
Avoid Short Layovers
Tight layovers increase the likelihood that your bags NOT making the connecting flight with you. If your flight is late, the window of time for baggage handlers to transfer your bag from one plane to the next narrows. Pay attention to the length of your layover, especially when booking with an online travel agency (OTA) like Expedia or Orbitz. Or through the cruise lines, whom often sell domestic multi-leg itineraries with layovers of less than an hour, which exposes you to delays.
Remember the cruise line will also start your penalties from the date of your flight, if booked through the cruise line and not the actual date of the cruise, however, if a delay in route causes you to miss the ship, the cruise line will get you to the first port of call at no additional charge.
If you have an international connecting flight, know that you may have to pick up your checked luggage at the baggage claim, clear customs and airport security, and then recheck your bag, all before boarding. This is also the case if you're arriving in the U.S. from an international destination and then taking a domestic connecting flight. For this reason, it's important to allow plenty of time—two or more hours, ideally—on international layovers. Confused? When checking in, ask airline staff if you'll need to recheck your bag at your connection.
If you’re flying International and you find flights departing to a main hub for a connecting flight that may not be scheduled to depart for 4 or 5 hours. Look for a connecting flight that leaves the next morning and get a room at or near the hotel with shuttle service.
Example: I booked a flight using mileage with United Airlines leaving Rome Italy at 5:30 PM local time on a Lufthansa flight to their main hub in Frankfurt Germany 1-hour 50-min flight, which code shares with United in the STAR ALLIANCE program.
Point being, Instead of trying to get home the same day, I allowed for an additional half day in Rome with plenty of time to sleep in have lunch and even see a monument such as the Trivi Fountain in Rome and reduce a 16-hour flight into 2-flights of 2-hours & 11.35-hours.
Planning is everything, but events do happen that require alterations, so always be prepared.
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