A few noob questions - first flight on my own

 
Old Jun 28, 08, 2:33 pm
  #1  
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A few noob questions - first flight on my own

Hello,

I'm 16 and I'm going to be flying to a summer camp tomorrow. I've flown a few times in the past but this will be my first time where I'm entirely on my own. So I got a couple of questions...

1) How does check-in work? I have a driver's license, and an itinerary with a barcode on it. What do I do when I go up to the counter?

2) I'm flying to ORD first, then ORD -> LGA. If I check luggage in at my home airport is it going to end up at LGA automatically? Should I ask anyone at ORD to double check?

3) As an alternative to checked luggage I have seen people drop off bags at the gate just before entering the plane. How does this work? Do I have to tell the check-in person that I want to do this, or can I just drop off the bag at the gate?

4) Who do I talk to in case my ORD -> LGA flight is cancelled?

Thanks in advance
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Old Jun 28, 08, 2:36 pm
  #2  
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Welcome to Flyertalk!

You don't say what airline you're flying on. Some have introduced extra bag fares, so make sure you know if that would apply to your flight. Your bag should be sent to your final destination. Remember to always bring a carryon with any electronics, and any breakable items. I always bring 1-2 days of clothes in case the airline loses my bag.

I'd guess from your routing that you're flying UA or AA. If you check in online, you can usually print out your boarding pass. Some airlines have a drop off counter, for people have checked in online.

Make sure you've signed up for the airlines frequent flyer plan, and make sure that number is entered on your boarding pass. Don't forget to keep the boarding pass too!
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Old Jun 28, 08, 3:02 pm
  #3  
 
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Originally Posted by ayer View Post
Hello,

I'm 16 and I'm going to be flying to a summer camp tomorrow. I've flown a few times in the past but this will be my first time where I'm entirely on my own. So I got a couple of questions...

1) How does check-in work? I have a driver's license, and an itinerary with a barcode on it. What do I do when I go up to the counter?

2) I'm flying to ORD first, then ORD -> LGA. If I check luggage in at my home airport is it going to end up at LGA automatically? Should I ask anyone at ORD to double check?

3) As an alternative to checked luggage I have seen people drop off bags at the gate just before entering the plane. How does this work? Do I have to tell the check-in person that I want to do this, or can I just drop off the bag at the gate?

4) Who do I talk to in case my ORD -> LGA flight is cancelled?

Thanks in advance
Welcome to Flyertalk, ayer!

I too am 16 and have been travelling alone for about 3 years now and I truly enjoy it. You have a lot of very valid questions that freaked me out at first while travelling alone.

Regarding check in: Your parent may need to be with you to check in, though I don't think this is required. When I've travelled alone I never checked bags, and checked in online so I went straight to security. I would recommend checking in online and then going to the ticket counter marked "Bag Drop for Online Checkin" or something similar. If there is no dedicated counter, or you don't wish to/can't check in online, simply proceed to the check in counter, and hand them your itinerary and drivers license. It is here your bags will be checked in and you (hopefully) will not see them again until you get into LGA.

The scenario you described checking bags planeside is called "gate checked" bags and it usually only applies to strollers for mainline flights. Gate checking becomes important for express jet flights -- flights operated by small, regional jets -- bags that are gate checked for express jet flights are generally small enough to fit into regular overhead bins but cannot fit into the overhead bin of an express jet.

My recommendation would be, if possible, to not check a bag. Since you're going through ORD I'm going to agree with the previous poster that you're on American or United and they both charge for $15 for your first checked bag, unless you have elite status.

In the event of a cancellation, proceed to any ticket counter or customer service counter for rebooking. I would also recommend calling the airline's reservations line if the customer service line is super long. Sometimes the phone agents can help in those situations.

Now...bring a music player and headphones, sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight!

Feel free to PM me with any questions or concerns you have. As a young traveller, it can be very nerve wracking.
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Old Jun 28, 08, 3:03 pm
  #4  
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Thanks for the quick response!

Yeah I'm on AA

I think I'll just check in in person. The airport in my hometown is really small so the lines are very short.
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Old Jun 28, 08, 3:08 pm
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Originally Posted by UnitedF1RST View Post
Since you're going through ORD I'm going to agree with the previous poster that you're on American or United and they both charge for $15 for your first checked bag, unless you have elite status.
I think it would depend on when the ticket was purchased, as most tickets don't have to pay the fee yet, only ones bought after a certain date. I'm sure that you can find the details on www.aa.com
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Old Jun 28, 08, 3:18 pm
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Originally Posted by UnitedF1RST View Post
The scenario you described checking bags planeside is called "gate checked" bags and it usually only applies to strollers for mainline flights. Gate checking becomes important for express jet flights -- flights operated by small, regional jets -- bags that are gate checked for express jet flights are generally small enough to fit into regular overhead bins but cannot fit into the overhead bin of an express jet.
Thanks for your very detailed post, UnitedF1RST! Sorry I didn't see it before I posted my previous reply. my internet connection dropped for a second.

Regarding gate checking, my flight to ORD is on a RegionalJet which I've been on before. The overhead bins are indeed very small. So if I want to gate check a bag for this flight, then carry it on with me from ORD-LGA where the bins are larger, what should I do?
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Old Jun 28, 08, 3:48 pm
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Originally Posted by ayer View Post
Thanks for your very detailed post, UnitedF1RST! Sorry I didn't see it before I posted my previous reply. my internet connection dropped for a second.

Regarding gate checking, my flight to ORD is on a RegionalJet which I've been on before. The overhead bins are indeed very small. So if I want to gate check a bag for this flight, then carry it on with me from ORD-LGA where the bins are larger, what should I do?
Usually gate checking is not something done by choice for most people, rather the gate agent will require it. I've never had to do this before, but I believe you approach the gate counter and request a gate check. Where are you flying out of?
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Old Jun 28, 08, 4:17 pm
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Welcome to Flyertalk, ayer. As you have indicated that you are flying AA, I am moving your thread over to the Flyertalk Forum which is dedicated to American Airlines.
Please continue to follow the discussion there.
Thanks..
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Old Jun 28, 08, 6:55 pm
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Although you didn't ask, you might also want to be aware of the Liquids/Gels carry on restrictions. You can find the info on aa.com. Enjoy summer camp!!

Here's a brief summary (from aa.com):

Place all liquid containers in a separate clear plastic, zip-top bag no larger than 8 inches x 8 inches (20 cm x 20 cm) or is quart size. Items must fit in the bag comfortably so that it closes completely.

Individual liquid containers should be no larger than 3.4 ounces/100 ml.

Remove the plastic bag from the cabin bag at the security checkpoint for separate x-ray screening.
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Old Jun 28, 08, 7:18 pm
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Originally Posted by ayer View Post

Regarding gate checking, my flight to ORD is on a RegionalJet which I've been on before. The overhead bins are indeed very small. So if I want to gate check a bag for this flight, then carry it on with me from ORD-LGA where the bins are larger, what should I do?
On regional jets, at least ones that I have flown on with DL and US, there is something called a pink tag check (the tags were actually pink on both DL and US, not sure about AA). The pink tags are given out by the gate agents at the gate and are for carry-ons that would normally fit on a mainline aircraft but are too big for regional jets. Normally, when it is time to board your flight on the regional jet, you take your carry-on bag with the pink tag affixed down the jetway or stairs with you and there should be a baggage handler or baggage cart at or near the aircraft entrance stairs (or at the end of the jet way) where you leave your pink tagged bag.

At your destination (ORD in this case for you), you wait for your pink tagged bag to be unloaded as/while/when you deplane the aircraft, not at baggage claim.

This is a special way of handling carry-ons on regional jets where your carryon actually gets stowed in the luggage compartment as you board the flight and then all of these pink tagged bags are immediately unloaded when the regional jet lands so you can collect your carry-on when you exit the aircraft...and then you just go on your way to your connecting gate with your carry-on over your shoulder. Any of the larger luggage that you actually checked when you checked in for your flight will get unloaded separately and sent to your connecting aircraft and you would ultimately collect those larger pieces of checked luggage at your final desitnation at the baggage claim area.

.

Last edited by chicagorich; Jun 28, 08 at 7:54 pm
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Old Jun 28, 08, 8:26 pm
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Originally Posted by chicagorich View Post
On regional jets, at least ones that I have flown on with DL and US, there is something called a pink tag check (the tags were actually pink on both DL and US, not sure about AA).]
Red on AA/American Eagle.
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Old Jun 28, 08, 10:16 pm
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Ok, thanks everyone for your help. I have a medium sized duffel bag which I think I will gate check.

Actually, this bag might be small enough to fit in a RegionalJet's overhead bin. Would it be ok to see if it fits first, and then if it doesn't I'll just give it to the flight attendant?
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Old Jun 28, 08, 10:42 pm
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Originally Posted by ayer View Post
Ok, thanks everyone for your help. I have a medium sized duffel bag which I think I will gate check.

Actually, this bag might be small enough to fit in a RegionalJet's overhead bin. Would it be ok to see if it fits first, and then if it doesn't I'll just give it to the flight attendant?
Unless there's something in the bag you need during the flight, it'd be better for everyone if you just check it.

But yes, you can try. Actually, the under-seat space is usually a bit more roomy than the overhead.
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Old Jun 28, 08, 10:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Plato90s View Post
Actually, the under-seat space is usually a bit more roomy than the overhead.
... but then there will be no place to put your feet.
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Old Jun 28, 08, 11:08 pm
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Ayer,
I would highly recommend checking in with a person, as the agent can explain everything to you about the flight, checking bags and the tradeoffs associated with that, including the new fee for checking a bag.
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