10 travel tips to soak up the last of summer

Summer may be quickly turning into fall, but that doesn’t mean traveling is over. Whether you’re looking for one last summer trip or an early fall getaway, here are 10 travel tips to make your experience care-free as possible:

1. Download Alaska’s mobile app.

Our app is the perfect travel companion from the day you start shopping for flights, all the way through to the moment you arrive at your destination. You can use it to plan your trip, skip the lines and get your digital boarding pass right at your finger tips.

Download the Alaska Airlines app for iPhone or Android before your next flight (you’ll be glad you did!). ✈️

2. Check in and pre-order your favorite meal.

Check in for your flight online or with the Alaska Airlines app to save time waiting in ticket counter lines. You can also pre-order your favorite snacks to freshly prepared meals ahead your flight. Meal orders are open 14 days before departure.

Pro tip: Mileage Plan members can store a method of payment in their Mileage Plan account for touch-free inflight purchases, including food and beverages. Join/Sign in Mileage Plan

3. Give yourself time.

Get to the airport at least two hours before your domestic flight departs, and three hours before your international flight. This should give you plenty of time to park, see one of our agents, check your bags and make your way through security.

Visit our airport guides before your trip for recommended arrival times, ticket counter hours, airport services and more. Remember: We begin boarding flights 30 minutes before takeoff. 

4. Enroll in a Trusted Traveler program.

Save time through security with SEA Spot Saver, a reservation program to get you through the security process quicker in Seattle. Similar spot saver programs are also at CHS, EWR, MCO, PHX, YYC.

You can also enroll in a trusted traveler program like TSA Pre✓®, Global Entry, Nexus, or SENTRI. Membership in these programs gives you access to dedicated TSA Pre✓® lanes at more than 200 airports nationwide.

5. Save time by checking your bags

You’ll likely make it through the security line quicker by checking your bags. You can pay for your bags in the mobile app, and print bag tags by simply scanning your boarding pass at an airport kiosk—if you’re flying out of San Jose, look for our tablets in the lobby.

Before you go, brush up on our checked baggage policy to save time at the airport. To make your vacation even more fun, you can bring most sports equipment for the cost of a checked bag. (Be sure to check the approved list of equipment.)

As a reminder, Alaska has a 20-minute baggage claim guarantee.

6. Follow the carry-on guidelines.

To ensure your carry-on bag will be accepted aboard all flights on your journey, we’ve changed our carry-on size limit to 22″ x 14″ x 9”. When measuring your bag, be sure to include the wheels, handle and expandable pockets in the total measurement.

You are allowed one carry-on bag, plus one smaller personal item. TSA allows you to carry on one quart-sized bag of liquids – aerosols, gels, creams and pastes that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Keep the liquids bag easily accessible, so that it’s simple for you to drop it into the security bin without digging through your carry-on bag at the checkpoint.

More questions? Read our guidelines for carry-on baggage. Also, don’t pack your carry-on bag too full, as densely packed, cluttered bags take longer to scan and screen at the security checkpoint.

7. Simplify going through security.

To breeze through the security line try this:

  • Have your boarding pass and ID ready to hand to screening agents.
  • Remove any outerwear, belts with metal buckles, larger metal jewelry and accessories, and the contents of your pockets. Secure these items in your carry-on bag before putting them through the X-ray tunnel or find a small bin to place them into.
  • In general screening lanes, remove electronic devices larger than a cell phone—including laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles—and place in a bin for screening. Cell phones can stay secured in your carry-on bag.
  • In general screening lanes, place the one quart-sized bag of liquids, gels and aerosols in a bin by itself for x-ray screening. Doing this will allow the TSA officer to get a clear view of the items to ensure they don’t pose a security risk.
  • Wear shoes that are easily removable or untie/loosen shoelaces if you can.
  • Once your bags and bin have gone through the X-ray, be sure to retrieve all of your personal property. Take your items to a nearby bench or chair. You’ll have more time to gather/repack your items, while allowing those behind you to do the same.

8. Know what to leave behind.

As you pack, reference the prohibited and restricted items checklist, and make sure you know what’s in your suitcase. You can also use the “Can I bring?” feature on TSA’s app, MyTSA, to learn whether an item is allowed in carry-on baggage, checked luggage or if it should be left at home.

If you’re heading on an outdoor adventure, certain items are prohibited from checked and carry-on bags because they are considered dangerous goods. Don’t pack camping stoves with the residue of flammable liquid, bear repellant, fuel (white gas, propane, sterno, etc.), lighters, matches or wet ice.

Be especially aware of restrictions regarding lithium ion batteries, and devices that use them, including phones, cameras, e-cigarettes, drones, hoverboards and smart luggage/e-bags. If you plan to check a smart bag, the lithium battery must be removed and carried on the plane.

9. Kiddos can travel solo.

If you have kids who will be flying by themselves, visit our site to learn about how to book their flights, download the required forms, and discover the different types of care we offer kids of all ages.

To expedite the process, fill out the Guardian Contact Form before arriving at the airport. This will ensure the safety of your child.

Be sure to allow extra time for check-in and plan on staying in the boarding area until the flight departs.

10. Plan ahead for pet travel.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with our pet travel policies well before you fly. An important note: pets cannot travel in the baggage compartment or in the First Class cabin on Airbus aircraft, which are flight numbers 1000-1999.

Feeling the summer heat? For the welfare of your pet, we may have to deny transportation of any animal when extreme temperatures are evident on the day of departure. To be safe, choose flights that depart and arrive during cooler hours of the day, avoiding midday flights if possible.

If you’re traveling with a service animal, be aware that only service animal permitted on Alaska Airlines is a service dog. Read through our updated policy on support animals for all the documents and timelines you’ll need.

Now, time to relax.

You just fought traffic all the way to the airport, parked like a pro and got through security with all your belongings. Reward yourself with a drink, snack and comfortable spot in airports with Alaska Lounges.