10 travel tips for one of the busiest summers yet

Summer travel season is here. More travelers than ever are driving to the airport, searching for parking and trying to get through longer-than-normal security lines. We want to make sure you catch your flight – and feel those vacation vibes as soon as you get to the airport.

Here’s a few tips for making your experience as hassle-free as possible:

1. Check in and reserve parking ahead of time

Check in for your flight online or with the Alaska Airlines app to save time waiting in ticket counter lines. Those flying out of Sea-Tac International Airport should especially prepare for long airport lines this summer.

Parking garages are filling up early. You can reserve a parking spot in advance at many lots to avoid delays.

2. Arrive early – extra early

Get to the airport at least 2.5 hours before your domestic flight departs, and 3 hours before your international flight. This should give you plenty of time to park, see a ticket agent, check your bags and make your way through security.

3. Enroll in a Trusted Traveler program

Hate security lines? 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.

4. Save time by checking your bags

You’ll likely make it through the security line quicker by checking your bags. Brush up on our checked baggage policy and print your own bag tags at home 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.

5. 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.

6. Simplify your security screening

To expedite the process:

  • 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.
  • 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 return your items to where you want them, while allowing those behind you to do the same.

7. 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.

8. Get your kids ready to 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. Child passengers receive a complimentary Main Cabin meal on flights over 2 hours as well as an entertainment tablet for use on most flights over 3.5 hours.

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.

9. 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, Alaska Airlines 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 an emotional support animal, be aware that our requirements have recently changed. Read through our updated policy on support animals for all the documents and timelines you’ll need.

Finally, don’t forget to cash in on a sweet perk: Alaska Mileage Plan™ members get $30 off 5-star pet care courtesy of Rover. Pet owners also earn miles for Rover services completed by Oct. 1, 2019.

10. Try Mobile Passport Control

Planning an international trip? Mobile Passport Control (MPC) is an app designed to expedite entry into the United States by letting eligible travelers submit their passport information and answer questions prior to their Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) inspection. Using the app doesn’t require preapproval, and it can be downloaded for free from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

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 chair in airports with Alaska Lounges.