Summer is just around the corner and if you’re planning to travel, there are a few things you should know.
With predictions of a record-breaking travel season this year and more people making up for cancelled plans during the first year or two of the pandemic, foot traffic at the airport is expected to increase this summer.
Here are a few ways to ensure to ensure you make your trip, with fewer incidents.
Get the tech
Lots of major airports, including Charlotte-Douglas International, have specialty apps and other technology designed to help make your travel experience more enjoyable.
ParkCLT, on the airport’s official website, allows passengers to plan and pay ahead for parking. This guarantees you a parking spot and helps avoid that panic feeling when all the lots are full.
Charlotte-Douglas also keeps track of security line wait times. Avoid going to a closed checkpoint or one with a long wait by knowing your options in advance.
Airlines have lots of tech options that make travel more simple. If you have a smartphone, you can skip printing your boarding pass by loading it onto your phone; this also prevents it from becoming lost.
And more airlines are adopting from-app entertainment during flight, too. By downloading the airline’s app, passengers can usually access free entertainment like movies, tv shows and other options during their flight. This is a great option to have, especially during flights that don’t offer in-seat entertainment or monitors in the seat.
Pack your carry-on wisely
Imagine landing at your dream destination only to find that your luggage has been left behind at the airport — or worse, on its way to a different place. One way to ensure extra peace of mind when traveling is to be intentional about what goes in your carry-on.
Sometimes, when luggage is delayed, it arrives a few hours later, but varying circumstances can cause delayed bags to arrive the following day or days after.
And it happens fairly often. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported more than two million bags were “mishandled” — lost, delayed, or damaged — by U.S. airlines in 2022.
A well-packed carry-on item includes a change of clothes, chargers for all your devices, and any immediate needs like medication, travel documents and your wallet.
Or travel light, carry-on only
Fewer things are worse than delayed bags on vacation, but a lost bag tops the list.
In 2022, Travel and Leisure reported that of all U.S. airlines, American Airlines — which operates the most flights from Charlotte Douglas — reported the highest average of lost luggage.
To combat this, elect to skip checking a bag altogether and travel with only a carry-on.
Lots of companies offer universally sized carry-on bags that, when packed intentionally, can hold a week’s worth — or more — of clothes and personal items.
Check out a lounge
If you’re wanting to add a little more relaxation or a dash of luxury to your trip, adding a lounge visit is an easy, and cost-effective way to do it.
Most airport lounges offer complimentary food and drinks and provide a separate area to kick back before your flight.
Other lounge amenities can include free wifi, meeting areas, luggage storage, and even showers or hotel-like rooms for those who need a nap between flights.
Some lounges, like the American Express Platinum Lounge, are exclusively for members, while others like the The Club CLT offer guest day passes for a fee.
Get a ride
Parking at the airport can be time-consuming and costly, depending on the length of your trip.
Instead of parking and taking a shuttle to the airport’s entrance, one way to get a smoother start to a trip is by coordinating a ride ahead of time.
Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft allow passengers to schedule rides to the airport in advance. Rideshare costs vary by day and time of day.
You could also ask a family or friend in advance to give you a lift.
Follow TSA’s rules
One easy way to help ensure smooth travel this summer is to know and abide by Transportation Security Association (TSA) guidelines.
TSA helps to keep travelers safe and protect the airport environment. They also check each passenger for contraband or other no-fly items before boarding a flight.
And there are some pretty specific guidelines to know before flying.
For example, can you bring a gun onto a plane? Sort of; guns have to be checked with special instructions, but can’t be on your person nor in your carry-on. Can you bring food? Yes. Can you bring breastmilk? Yes, if it’s frozen. Can you bring peanut butter? No. Can you bring a bottle of water? Only if it’s empty or under three ounces.
People have been arrested, banned from the airport and even placed on the no-fly list for breaking TSA’s rules. Know the rules and what you can bring before traveling.
Plan ahead and have a backup
The best way to ensure peace of mind before your summer travels is to plan ahead. Whether you’re taking taking off from Charlotte-Douglas and landing in Dubai or taking short flight to nearby cities Raleigh or Atlanta, it’s important to have a plan.
Things like transportation are really important. Know how you’ll be getting to and from the airport and what it could cost you, and research your options in the area. If you’re traveling within the United States, there will be a rideshare option for transportation, but international destinations might not offer the same.
Research where you’re going and use resources like TripAdvisor, YouTube, and social media apps to check out other people’s experiences — and how to make the best of yours.