A network of social service agencies and transportation services

Traveling By Plane

Flying Tips

Need Help While Traveling

Travelers Aid maintains information booths in 17 U.S. airports. In 9 airports, these information booths are operated using the Travelers Aid brand name and logo. In the other 8 locations, the airport operates the information booths in conjunction with Travelers Aid, but under a brand name unique to that airport.

Use the map on our home page to find an airport you will be passing through on your travels. The information box for each airport lists the hours of service, a phone number and the travel assistance services provided at that airport. If you anticipate a potential challenge during your trip, contact our airport volunteers ahead of time to make arrangements.

Arrive Early

Many airlines suggest that inexperienced travelers arrive at least 90 minutes to 2 hours prior to departure. Long TSA security checkpoint lines have been in recent headlines.There are several ways to check on the wait times: the TSA has it own monitor; a web app, What’s Busy; and many airports also monitor and post wait times.

Some airlines will not accommodate travelers arriving just 30 minutes prior to take-off. Check with you carrier.


Before you begin packing, confirm with your airline their restrictions and limitations. Many airlines charge for checked luggage.

  • Weight limits on checked luggage vary with each airline and while some will charge an extra fee for suitcases exceeding their weight limit there are airlines that will not accept these too heavy suitcases.
  • Also check the size and number of carry-on items. Again, the size varies with airlines.
  • Both the FAA and TSA have specific tips.

Family and Friends

Individuals taking or picking you at the airport are not permitted beyond the screening checkpoints.

  • If you do need assistance getting to the gate, talk to your airline and they can make special arrangements.
  • When you return, make arrangement to be met at the airline baggage claim areas, ticket lobbies or parking areas.

Wheelchair Assistance

Make arrangements ahead of time with your carrier to be met curbside with a wheelchair. This is an airline responsibility, not the airport’s. Be sure to make similar arrangements for wheelchair assistance at your destination and also when you return home.

Pets and Service Animals

There are different rules for traveling with service animals rather than just bringing your pet along.

  • Pets need to remain in their carriers and you need to check your airline’s regulations on transporting your pets.
  • The FAA mandates that airlines permits dogs and other service animals used by persons with a disability to accompany a person on a flight. It is good to contact your carrier so you are familiar with how they will assist you and your service animal.
  • Most airports now have pet relief areas for service animals. Check with your airport ahead of time.

Traveling with Small Children

The FAA has special tips on traveling with small children on the use of child seats, child restraint systems for toddlers and strategies on buying tickets. Also check with your airline on their policies before you make your reservations.

Security Screening

The TSA maintains a detailed list of suggestions, directions and prohibitions.

  • Basically, everyone will be screened at the security checkpoints.
  • You are encouraged to remove all items from your clothing. Unless you a child or over 75, you will need to remove your shoes that will then be screened along with any carry-on items.
  • Review the TSA website videos ahead of time so you know what to expect.

3-1-1 Liquids Rule

You are allowed to bring a quart-size, zip-lock bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes though the checkpoint in carryon luggage.

  • These combined items need to be less than 3 ounces.
  • More information from the TSA.
  • So the 3-1-1 rule is the TSA’s quick reminder: 3 ounces, 1 quart bag and 1 bag per traveler.
  • Note that food items, such as peanut butter, sauces or beverages need to fit within this 1 bag and larger items will be confiscated and discarded. If you are buying food items as gifts or to eat at your destination, then pack them in your checked suitcase.

Medications and Disabilities

The TSA does allow travelers to carry medications with them while traveling and these medications do not need to be packed in you 3-1-1 bag.

  • Medications in pill or other solid form must undergo security screening.
  • It is recommended that medication be clearly labeled to facilitate the screening process.
  • Bring evidence verifying a medial implant or device if it is likely to set off an alarm while being screened. This is not a TSA requirement, but it may ease the process. TSA has extensive guidance on this topic.

Prohibited Items

Many household items, sports equipment or tools are not permitted in the cabin while flying because they could be used as a weapon.

  • The TSA has an extensive list on permitted and prohibited items.
  • In addition, the FAA has a list of products that can be considered hazardous while flying. The list includes some batteries and most aerosol products.

More Info

To get more advice, contact you airline and airport along with the TSA, FAA and Customs and Border Protection. These organizations all have tip sections on their websites along with information as to how to contact them directly.