The busy holiday travel season is almost here. At American Airlines, nearly 80,000 employees stand ready to fly you to that long-awaited vacation, that much-anticipated trip to Grandma’s, or even that last-minute business meeting. Wherever you go this year, consider these helpful items and tips from American to make your holiday travels go as smoothly as possible:

As You Pack…

Each ticketed customer is allowed two pieces of checked baggage free of charge. Each checked item may weigh no more than 50 pounds each, and must measure no more than 62 inches (measured length + width + height).
Customers may carry onboard one bag that fits in the overhead bin or under the seat, plus one personal item. Personal items include things such as purses, briefcases or laptops. Note: Carry on restrictions for flights departing the United Kingdom are different. See for baggage-related information.

Remember “3-1-1.” The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) limits the amount of liquids, gels and aerosols you may carry on board. Each customer traveling domestically is limited to items that are each three ounces or less, all of which must fit into one, quart-size, clear zip-top bag. For more information, including limitations on international travel, visit The TSA’s Web site,, is also a good source of information.

Hold on to your valuables. Be sure to put all cameras, jewelry, documents, prescription medicine, car keys and other valuables in your carry-on luggage and keep it with you at all times.

Place your name and flight number inside your luggage, too. Include your name, flight number and itinerary inside each checked bag in case the bag tag becomes detached in transit. It will help in returning the bag to you more quickly.

Leave gifts unwrapped – even in checked luggage. Consider bringing gift bags and tissue paper with you instead. TSA personnel may unwrap gifts to check a package’s contents.

Think of kids’ needs. If you’re traveling with small children, prepare their own small backpack filled with crayons, coloring books, inexpensive toys and snacks.

Before Leaving for the Airport…

Bring proper documentation. Traveling domestically? You’ll need a government-issued photo ID. If you’re traveling internationally, don’t forget your passport, as well as other important documents such as visas, tourist cards and the like. Make copies and carry an extra set with you (or electronically scan them and e-mail a copy to yourself); let others back home have a copy, too.

Consider trip insurance. American offers travel insurance at a reasonable cost through You’ll receive a refund for the prepaid, nonrefundable portion of your travel costs if your trip gets cancelled or interrupted for a covered reason. See for details, or call (800) 628-5404.

Check in beforehand at At you can check in up to 24 hours prior to flight, select or change seats, and print out your boarding pass – all of which can reduce time and stress at the airport. Checking a bag? When you arrive at the airport, simply scan the bar code on your boarding pass at a self-service machine to check your luggage.

Sign up for Flight Status Notification. By signing up at, you’ll receive flight arrival/departure times, as well as gate and baggage information – all via e-mail, phone, pager or PDA. Or, alternatively, get gate and flight information ahead of time at

At the Airport…

In the event of inclement weather and flight disruptions, your itinerary will be automatically rescheduled. Passengers should log on to, check with agents at the gate or ticket counter, or call American Reservations to obtain flight reaccommodation information or for additional help in arranging a flight. At some larger airports, a special reaccommodation desk may be activated for additional assistance.

Note your parking spot. Eliminate walking in circles upon your return. Instead of trying to remember your parking location or writing it down on a scrap of paper which can get misplaced, take a picture of your location sign with a camera phone or digital camera.

Beat the crowds and arrive early. Allow extra time for traffic, parking and transportation to the terminal. Travelers should plan to arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before departure for domestic flights and two to three hours prior to departure for international flights. Some cities have even earlier suggested check-in times because of lengthy TSA security checkpoint lines. See for cities where earlier check-in is recommended.

Use Self-Service Check-in machines. If you haven’t already checked in beforehand at, try one of American’s quick and easy Self-Service Check-in machines. They’re a great time-saver and can be used for both domestic and international flights. You can print a boarding pass, check luggage, select or change seats, confirm flight changes and purchase upgrades or One-Day passes to the Admirals Club ® lounge.

Try Curbside Check-in. Another great time saver. Check your bag with a skycap at the curb (the fee is just $2 per bag at most airports), and then it’s a straight shot to the Security line and your gate.

Move through Security quickly by being prepared. Have your boarding pass and valid government-issued ID or passport available for Security, and wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Take your laptop, portable DVD player or large electronic items out of their cases, and put cell phones and pagers in purses or other carry-on bags before getting in the Security line.

Buy beverages after clearing Security. TSA guidelines prevent bringing standard-size beverage bottles through Security, so buy your beverages in the terminal once you clear the checkpoint. Or, American offers complimentary non-alcoholic beverages onboard its aircraft, and juice and milk are available for children.

Keep children safe and protected. Give your child a passcode that only you and he/she know so your child can’t be tricked by another adult in case you get separated or lost. Make sure your children know the full names of their parents and how to contact them. Keep items with children’s names on them out of sight.

Be at the gate at least 30 minutes before departure. American typically begins boarding aircraft about 30 minutes before flight time for domestic flights (45 minutes for international flights) in order to help ensure an on-time departure.

Onboard the Plane…

Bring along some entertainment. A portable video player, audio player, or reading material can make the time fly while you fly. And don’t forget your headphones. As a courtesy to fellow travelers, it’s always a good idea to use them if you have electronic equipment.

Stay hydrated. Experts recommend drinking plenty of water during your flight.

Prevent ear discomfort in small children. Air pressure changes in the cabin during descent may cause discomfort in small children. Be prepared by having a bottle, pacifier, chewing gum or hard candy with you. Frequent swallowing allows air to flow freely out of and into the ear and sinus cavities, preventing discomfort.

Let your flight attendant help. American has more than 16,000 highly trained, professional flight attendants. If you have a question or special need, be sure to alert them; they’re travel experts and are there to help make your travel experience on American an enjoyable one.

For still more valuable travel information, visit American Airlines is a founding member of the global oneworld® Alliance.

About American Airlines
American Airlines is the world's largest airline. American, American Eagle and the AmericanConnection ® airlines serve 250 cities in over 40 countries with more than 4,000 daily flights. The combined network fleet numbers more than 1,000 aircraft. American's award-winning Web site,, provides users with easy access to check and book fares, plus personalized news, information and travel offers. American Airlines is a founding member of the oneworld® Alliance, which brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business, enabling them to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own. Together, its members serve nearly 700 destinations in over 140 countries and territories. American Airlines, Inc. and American Eagle Airlines, Inc. are subsidiaries of AMR Corporation. AmericanAirlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection, and AAdvantage are registered trademarks of American Airlines, Inc. (NYSE: AMR).

Source: American Airlines 


Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".