Contact your airline for the latest flight status. Morning delays and cancellations will affect flights throughout the day. Check with local authorities for the latest road conditions. Power outages could occur. Interstate and airport hotels may experience capacity bookings as travelers choose to wait out the storm. Consider extending current hotel reservations as a precaution.
Monitor local media for weather and travel-condition updates.
In today’s world, even the most well planned vacation or business trip can be derailed by crime, health risks, natural disasters and terrorism. The information provided by The Safe Traveler will help you avoid and manage these potential problems before, during and even after you travel. In this section we offer general tips and information on airport and air travel safety.
Air Rage—What to do if facing a situation plus how to avoid it.
Air Rage has become an unfortunate fact of modern air travel (even the term “air rage” is a recent addition to the lexicon). Although not common, crowded flights, frequent delays and the stress of travel can trigger dangerous situations. As a traveler there are things you can do to minimize your risks if you find yourself in a situation with an enraged passenger. Additionally there are things you can do when traveling to help prevent becoming enraged yourself and inadvertently instigating an air rage situation.
When an incident erupts around you
• Remain seated or, if you are nearby, move away from the disruptive passenger. If the crew is unaware of the situation, alert a flight attendant.
• Assist the crew only if asked.
• Take note of the passenger’s actions and make a statement to law enforcement officials after the plane lands. As early as possible, write down a description of what ensued while the details are still fresh. This will help avoid later confusion.
• Do not be surprised if the passenger is physically restrained. Many airlines provide their cabin crew with restraining devices such as plastic handcuffs. Crewmembers are trained to use these devices.
If you feel yourself becoming angered--Guard against air rage
• Limit alcohol consumption before and during flights. Alcohol has fueled many violent incidents. Altitude can heighten the effects of alcohol, as can mixing alcoholic beverages with medications.
• Avoid tight flight connections that might leave you feeling harried. Arrive at the airport well before your scheduled departure time. When possible, book non-stop or direct flights.
• Before leaving home, call your airline to learn if your flight has been delayed. This will help avoid a mood-dampening surprise at the airport.
• Ticket agents, gate crews and flight attendants do not make airline policy. But they can make your trip unpleasant if you mistreat them. Do not vent your frustration on these employees.
• Understand that most problem situations, especially delays, are beyond the control of those present and that losing your temper will not improve the situation.
• Check your airline's Web site for passengers' rights regarding canceled or delayed flights. Each airline has its own policies about compensation. Airlines are not required to provide overnight arrangements unless the problem occurs between midnight and 0500. If stuck in an airport overnight, ask for a distressed-passenger rate.
• If your flight is cancelled call your airlines reservation department to reschedule. In most cases, phone agents can rebook you quicker than airport agents, especially if there is a line at the ticket counter. Standing in slow lines can cause great anxiety.
• Instead of venting in person at airline personnel, plan to write a well-crafted letter to your airline complaining about a problem. Many airlines give future flight discounts or other perks to customers who had bad experiences. Typically, however, they do this only in response to well-written, objective accounts of incidents.
Don't aggravate an air rage situation by also becoming angry with flight personnel. Instead, remain calm and deal directly with the airline after you've returned safely from your trip.
Luggage & Packing
The most important advice for travelers is to "Pack Smart." Packing Smart means packing light, being organized, knowing airline restrictions and preventing baggage mishaps. Here are some additional tips and suggestions to help you ensure your luggage arrives safely and your travels are as comfortable as possible.
Use luggage that has shoulder straps or handles that do not dig into your hands.
Use a portable, wheeled bag carrier for heavy luggage. Practice hefting your luggage prior to travel.
Prepare a checklist and scratch off items as you pack. The climate will dictate clothing choices, but plan for inclement weather and unseasonably cold temperatures.
Check with your airlines for carry-on limits (number, weight, size).
Most airlines limit carry-on baggage to two pieces, and do not count small items such as purses, cameras and umbrellas. Place items that should be easily accessible in carry-on luggage, including medicine, passports, business papers, and breakable items, such as cameras and glasses. Pack critical items to last a few days in case checked luggage is delayed.
Bring adapters/converters and other special hookups necessary to make computers or hair dryers work.
Pack only as much luggage as you can carry by yourself.
Take a photo of your packed bags, and keep the photo and a contents checklist in a separate bag in case luggage is misplaced.
Pack a carry-on bag with two days of essentials—an extra shirt, blouse, underwear, socks and toiletries—in case your checked luggage is lost by the airline.
Bring a sweater or windbreaker on board planes, trains and buses, even in warm climates, as air conditioning can be strong.
Dress for comfort and ease of movement, especially for air travel or any other crowded mode of transport. Fancy dressers also are likely to catch the eye of pickpockets and hijackers.
Wear comfortable, easily-removable shoes when flying. The change in airline cabin pressure causes swelling, making snug-fitting footwear uncomfortable.
In-flight do not wear jewelry, including a wedding ring or a valuable watch.
Securing your Luggage
Take only what you need when traveling and, if possible, take only carry-on luggage to prevent loss of your bags.
Checked luggage should be hard-shelled and lockable. Keep your well-used and worn luggage because new luggage is an attraction to thieves.
Choose soft-sided, lockable, zippered bags for carry-on bags.
Packing Valuables and Medication
Carry only necessary valuables, and plan to carry them on your person or in your carry-on luggage.
Do not pack jewelry, passport, cash, traveler’s checks, vouchers or credit cards in your luggage; carry them with you.
To lessen customs disruptions, keep prescription drugs in a carry-on bag and in their original, labeled containers. Bring a copy of each prescription and the generic name for each drug; if a medication is unusual or contains narcotics, carry a letter from your doctor specifying your need for the drug.
Airports can give travelers a false sense of security. All the cameras, TSA agents, police and airline personnel can create an environment where it is easy to, "let your guard down." Add to that the stress and hurried nature of travel and it is completely understandable why focusing on safety may be lower on the minds of many travelers. However, thieves know that too and despite the added security, they may see the airport providing a prime opportunity to strike.
A key point to remember: Much of the airport security is designed to keep airplanes, passengers and crew members safe when planes are flying. The security steps in place may deter some criminals but you are still responsible for helping secure your own experience at the airport.
Here is some simple advice to help you ensure your safety at the airport.
When going through airport security, place your bags on the belt only as you are ready to walk through the magnetometer, not while you are still in a line. Immediately recover your belongings on the other side.
Thieves are known to work in pairs. One thief stalls in front of you in line while the other removes your items from the other side of the machine.
Keep your luggage in sight and close by at any public place, especially at airports.
Thieves commonly switch bags at transportation and hotel counters. To help prevent this, mark your bag with a ribbon or tape.
Unattended luggage may be removed and/or destroyed by security staff. If this happens, you will not be compensated.
Do not approach or remain near someone else’s unattended baggage.
Do not agree to guard a stranger’s luggage.
Upon arrival, be present when your luggage is delivered to the baggage area, verify your baggage claim checks and quickly inspect your luggage to ensure that it was not tampered with.
If you must set down your suitcases or bags, place them against a wall or counter and maintain contact with them.
Watch your luggage being stowed aboard your taxi or van at the airport and hotel. If possible, take your carry-ons inside the vehicle.