First off, this is my first time flying and really first time traveling on my own. I usually go with my husband who takes care of everything for me, but now it's just me.
I'm going to be flying Airtran next weekend from Richmond, VA to Bloomington, IL with a stop in Atlanta. As this is only going to be a 3 day visit I am not planning on checking any bags, just taking a duffel bag as carry-on. This is also January so I will be needing my coat as well. Airtran's website says 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item. Will I need to pack my purse into my duffel so as not to go over this limit?
Would any of you recommend getting a small wallet to put in my pocket just in case my duffel gets separated from me (example: I'm sitting in row 12, and only overhead space is all the way in back of plane or I'm out of luck and have to check bag)?
What about the book I'm planning to read during flight? Will I need to pack that into duffel and get it out before trying to get bag into overhead?
How helpful is staff with getting bags into overhead...I'm only 5 feet tall and can't reach most things over my head, will they help me to get bag in if I can't reach?
Also, should I do the 24 hour check in online for both flights at the same time, or should I wait to check into flight leaving ATL until I get there?
I think that everything (at least for now). Any other recommendations for first time flyer you can think of?
In my experience Airtran isn't very uptight about carry ons, so take your purse and a small carry on. Make sure the duffel bag meets the specs for carry on. Duffel bags come in many sizes -- most of them would be too large for the overhead bins. I would suggest that you get yourself a small "roll aboard" suitcase -- that way you'll enjoy many more trips in the future with confidence that it will fit into the overhead bins.
If you are worried about getting bin space, sign up for priority boarding with airtran -- it costs a bit extra. But most of the time - especially on the flights to Bloomington, there is no rush and there is enough bin space for everyone.
If you have never flown before you should orient yourself in advance about the Atlanta airport (by looking at a map on the internet).
Welcome to Flyertalk. Also, an early welcome to my hometown of Bloomington. Definitely bring your coat, it is cold here this time of year.
I am a little confused by your post, but I think you are bringing a duffel bag, purse, coat, and book? Is that correct? If that is the case, you will be allowed to bring all on board as the coat and book do not count as a carry-ons. I would recommend stowing your duffel overhead and the putting your purse and coat under the seat in front of you. In my experience with Airtran, you can usually find overhead space pretty near your seat.
I wouldn't worry about getting your bag in the overhead. If the Flight Attendants aren't available to help you, there is usually a passenger in the area that is more than happy to help.
When you check-in 24 hours before your first flight, you should be able to get boarding passes for both your Richmond to Atlanta flight, and your Atlanta to Bloomington flight. I would recommend getting a seat closer to the front of the plane if possible, since Airtran's 717's have the engines in the rear. Don't worry if you are stuck in the back, it is just noisier.
Other advice I have is to bring headphones as Airtran has free XM radio. I enjoy flying Airtran and I think they generally have exceptional inflight staff. Also, don't forget to look for the windmills just east of the airport as you land in Bloomington.
Your duffel (if small enough) will be your carry-on, and your purse will be your personal item. No need to put your purse into your duffel. Your coat is your coat, and you can carry it, too.
AirTran says that your duffel must not exceed 24” long + 18” wide + 13” tall for a total combined linear measurement of 55 inches in order to qualify as a carry-on.
Take your book out before you sit down. Put it in the seat pocket in front of you for take off (or read it).
You may or may not get help putting your duffel up into the overhead bin. If it fits under the seat in front of you, that's a better place (more accessible) to put it anyway.
Enjoy your trip!
Edited to add: I notice that you have cross posted this in the AirTran forum as well. There's no need to have the same question in two fora, so I'm moving this one to the AirTran forum and will ask the moderator to combine it with your other thread.
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Originally Posted by DrDot
In my experience Airtran isn't very uptight about carry ons, so take your purse and a small carry on.
I would say Boston would be the exception to this, in different situations, they've made me gate check an empty laptop bag and counted an umbrella as a carry-on so I couldn't bring on my carry-on bag (got on the plane and found out the flight was less than half full).
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Agreed with what most of what others have said. I would only add that if you have a bigger purse that could fit your book, it might behoove you to use that as your personal item. It would streamline boarding for you and therefor make the general boarding process faster for everyone. It can be a pain reaching into the carry on for extra stuff before you take your seat, and everyone behind you will be glad all you have to do is put your bag in the overhead and take your seat with your purse. Plus that way you'll have a little bit more luggage space if you need it.
Coats are never counted as carry ons, so just put it with your bag in the overhead or at your feet when you get settled.
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Originally Posted by cooger72
...It would streamline boarding for you and therefor make the general boarding process faster for everyone. It can be a pain reaching into the carry on for extra stuff before you take your seat, and everyone behind you will be glad all you have to do is put your bag in the overhead and take your seat with your purse. Plus that way you'll have a little bit more luggage space if you need it.
Coats are never counted as carry-ons, so just put it with your bag in the overhead or at your feet when you get settled.
While we're offering tips to speed your boarding along...
1) Please place your duffel bag in the overhead compartment lengthwise (longways in). Those behind you with roll-aboard suitcases will appreciate it.
2) Wait until everyone with baggage has had an opportunity to fill the overhead space above you with less pliable items (like suitcases), THEN lay your coat across whatever empty space is available. Having to wait for bags to be gatechecked just holds everyone up.
Thank you, everyone for the advice! I'm one of those people who like to plan, plan, plan before doing anything, especially if I've never done it before. This all really helps me to have an idea of what to expect and how I should handle it all.