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Old Nov 7, 08, 2:54 am   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Kansas
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A little bit of help if you could spare a minute.

Hello all! I am new here, but I found this place when I put "Tips for people who have never flown before" in to a search engine. And well, here I am. I did read the other thread from a few years back. It was a bit informative, however, not all of my questions were answered.

I am flying from Kansas City to Washington DC where I catch the connecting flight to Albany, New York. My total time between flights is 38 minutes. And that is only if my flight isn't running late. Obviously, I have never flown before, and I am pretty much terrified. Not so much of the actual flight... I haven't really given that any thought. I don't think four hours in a plane will be too bad. Actually, until this moment I haven't thought about the flight at all. Now I have more to worry about. However... that is not why I am posting.

I have e-tickets, which I have never had to read before. And, I think my main concern is where I have to go once I get to the airport. What I will have to do, and which gates I will have to go to. And, unless it is some crazy code unknown to people who do not fly, I can not find on my ticket(Or online) where it says which gate I will need to be at. Is there a way to find out where I need to go? And, will it be extremely confusing to find at 5:00 am?
I have looked online for maps of the airports, and from what I have seen, it doesn't look too bad. However, without knowing which gate I need to be at, I am still a bit worried about not finding it in the amount of time given.

Having my bags checked is something I am also worried about. Not because I am hiding anything, or would ever think of hiding anything. But because I am using this trip to move. I am only taking what I need, which is my clothing.... But I don't want to pack too heavily for fear of having to take everything out. I think I am going to just leave all the liquids and just buy them all when I get to Albany. Good idea? Or, will they not give me too much trouble if I pack my shampoo and conditioner, body wash and perfume?

Another thing I would like to know is will I have to have my bags rechecked in DC when getting ready for my next flight? If they don't have to be checked, will they be moved for me, or will I have to wait to get them?

And, I think this is all the questions I have for right now. But, hopefully someone will take a moment to answer what they can for me... I have 8 days, and I just want to be ready. Kind of an OCD thing for me...

Thanks in advance!!!
Raegan
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Old Nov 7, 08, 3:54 am   #2
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Welcome to FlyerTalk, Raegan!

I am not familiar with the Kansas City airport, but as a rule, when you get to the airport, you proceed to the terminal where your particular airline is located. (Large airports have more than one terminal; small airports usually have only one terminal.) Once you determine your airline's terminal, you will follow signs for the "Departures" area. (If you're taking a taxi to the airport, just tell the driver that you are departing on "XYZ Airlines," and the driver should know where to drop you.)

If you will be checking baggage (and you will have to, unless your bags are small enough to qualify as carry-ons on your airline), you will follow signs in the terminal for your airline's "Baggage Check-in" counter, where an agent will ask to see government-issued photo identification -- such as a driver license or passport -- and will then issue your boarding passes to you, tag your bags, and give you baggage claim checks, which are usually printed stickers that are pasted onto a ticket jacket which the agent will give you with your boatding pass. You will then likely have to accompany your bags to a baggage screening station, at which the bags will be screened by Transportation Security Administration agents. You will then be done with the bags in Kansas City. Then, you will follow signs for your departure gate, which should be indicated on your boarding pass, and go through a security screening of your person. You will again be required to show a photo ID, along with your boarding pass.

When you reach your departure gate, listen for announcements instructing you when to board. You will again be required to show your boarding pass.

You do not indicate which airline you will be flying from Kansas City to Washington, or from Washington to Albany. But in most cases, you will be allowed to check your bags through to your final destination (in this case, Albany).

For checked baggage, you do not have to worry about the quantities of shampoo, perfume, etc., that you have packed. That is only an issue for items that are in carry-on bags.

Thirty-eight minutes is not a lot of time to make a connection, but if your first flight is on time, you should not have a problem. Upon arrival at Washington (which, by the way, is served by more than one airport), you should look for TV monitors showing departure information, to find the gate for your connecting flight to Albany), and then look for signs directing you to that gate. If both of your flights are on the same airline, the flight attendant on your first flight MIGHT announce connecting gate information just before your first flight arrives.

If your first flight arrives late and you miss your connecting flight, your airline should be able to reaccommodate you on a later flight. Your checked baggage should likewise be put on a later flight to Albany. (For any baggage that you keep with you on your first flight, you will be responsible for carrying that baggage over to your connecting flight.)

A few helpful hints if you are going to check baggage:

1. Be aware that many airlines now charge fees for checking baggage. If fees apply, they will be collected at the airport when you check the bags. Your airline's website should contain information regarding checked-baggage fees.

2. Make sure that each checked bag has a sturdy luggage tag with your name and address, and probably with a phone contact as well, in case your bags should be misrouted or delayed.

3. It's a good idea to put a copy of your airline itinerary INSIDE the bags as well, in case baggage tags become separated from your bags in transit.

4. Upon arrival at Albany, follow signs in the terminal for "Baggage Claim," where your baggage will be delivered. In some airports, you may be required to show the baggage claim checks issued to you when you checked your bags, in order to remove your bags from the Baggage Claim area.

I hope you find this helpful, and I'm sure other FTers will weigh in with other suggestions. Enjoy your trip!

Last edited by guv1976; Nov 7, 08 at 3:37 pm
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Old Nov 7, 08, 4:00 am   #3
  
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The only thing you have to worry about is that 38 minutes in DC to connect.

Anyway, let's address this in order.

1) Stop worrying. Lots of people fly everyday, and 99% do so without incident. In short, it's not a big deal.

Quote:
I have e-tickets, which I have never had to read before. And, I think my main concern is where I have to go once I get to the airport. What I will have to do, and which gates I will have to go to. And, unless it is some crazy code unknown to people who do not fly, I can not find on my ticket(Or online) where it says which gate I will need to be at. Is there a way to find out where I need to go? And, will it be extremely confusing to find at 5:00 am?
I have looked online for maps of the airports, and from what I have seen, it doesn't look too bad. However, without knowing which gate I need to be at, I am still a bit worried about not finding it in the amount of time given.
If you really, really, really need to know in advance you can go to the airline's website and there should be a "flight status" box of some sort. Punch in your flight number for the first leg and it should have all the information there, and then you can repeat for the second. Airlines have blocks of gates at each airport they serve, so even if your gate changes (this is why it doesn't say on your ticket) the new gate will likely be somewhere near the old one unless you're flying to some huge hub. Even then, in every airport there are multiple screens with every departing flight in the near future with information about departure time, flight status, and the gate number. And if worse comes to worse, you can always ask the nearest gate agent (the people behind the desk at the gate).

Quote:
Having my bags checked is something I am also worried about. Not because I am hiding anything, or would ever think of hiding anything. But because I am using this trip to move. I am only taking what I need, which is my clothing.... But I don't want to pack too heavily for fear of having to take everything out. I think I am going to just leave all the liquids and just buy them all when I get to Albany. Good idea? Or, will they not give me too much trouble if I pack my shampoo and conditioner, body wash and perfume?
Checked luggage has no liquid restrictions whatsoever. The most common item you are likely to have that cannot be checked is a laptop computer with a battery in it. For more information on what you can/cannot check or carry-on, visit your airline's website or www.tsa.gov.

Quote:
Another thing I would like to know is will I have to have my bags rechecked in DC when getting ready for my next flight? If they don't have to be checked, will they be moved for me, or will I have to wait to get them?
No. Provided your flights are on itinerary (and unless you literally booked them separately, they are) your bags will be checked all the way through to Albany. You don't have to do anything.

Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I apologize for any surliness in advance, I'm pretty tired.
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Old Nov 7, 08, 4:02 am   #4
  
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I'll let someone else address connection times in Washington DC... as I live in a capital city many thousands of miles from there. and REALLY lack the local knowledge required!..

Suffice to say if you booked it all on one ticket then you have far, far less to worry about.... I'll assume that IS the case ... and we'll start at the very beginning... (why did the theme from "The Sound of Music" just pop into my head? )

Liquids. If they are packed in the bags you plan to check then there is no problem with any of the stuff you mention... except that liquids can add up weight wise.. and to avoid extra charges you want to keep the bag(s) within the allowance granted by the particular airline...

When you arrive at the Kansas City Airport you need to check in at the desks operated by the airline you are flying... your bags will be checked through to your final destination.. you don't need to worry about them in transit. (see assumption above about ONE ticket)

You will also be issued your Boarding pass(es) for the flight(s)... This/These should have gate info on them but it doesn't hurt to specifically ask if you feel the need... If the BP for the second flight doesn't have gate info (gates can change/may not have been allocated that early etc) - don't sweat it - when you arrive in DC just find the flight number (which really should be on the second BP) on the monitors and look for the gate # there .... You can "practise" that at Kansas City before your first flight... they are all pretty similar..

If you can't get both BP's then ASK the check in folks what you are meant to do.... there is NO SUCH THING as a stupid question.. and those folks have dealt with first time flyers before....

Sorry if that was too basic....

EDIT!....[B]WOW.. I clearly type too slow!!!![/B]
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Old Nov 7, 08, 4:02 am   #5
  
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Also, I missed that your flight is not for another week. Usually, gates are not assigned more than 24 hours in advance.

As guv noted, the DC area is also served by multiple airports (in fact, it's served by 3). If you're comfortable with doing so, telling us your flight #s and airline for each leg would help in determining what you may be up against.
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Old Nov 7, 08, 8:17 am   #6
  
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Your only worry might be the short connection. What airline(s) and airport are you flying?
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Old Nov 7, 08, 8:25 am   #7
  
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If you miss your connecting flight in DC because your incoming flight was late, the airline will rebook you on another flight at no additional cost to you, so it isn't the end of the world. You'll arrive at your destination later than planned, but you won't get stuck with buying a new half ticket or anything crazy like that. The only big question is how long it will take for that next flight and that depends on cause of the delay, space on the next flight(s), how many other people are in the same situation, etc. But missing a connection is more an inconvenience (sometimes a big one) than a disaster, so don't get yourself worked up about that either. You've just got to roll with the punches and allow for the possibility of a late arrival at your final destination. Good luck & enjoy flight -- it is addictive!
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Old Nov 7, 08, 10:39 am   #8
  
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Hi Raegan,

Im new to this place too, probably best to take my advice with a pinch of salt, but...

Minimum connection times in Washington for a domestic flight connecting to another domestic are between 20 to 25 mins, depending on the airport. With no hiccups you should be fine.

As those above have said if you do miss your onward flight, the airline will (eventually) sort it out.

Best of luck

Felix
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Old Nov 7, 08, 11:58 am   #9
  
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Raegan,

As others have already said, you will be able to do this. The KC airport is one of t he easier ones to use because it doesn't have the traditional long concourses. If someone is dropping you off, you can hit the sidewalk literally within 100 feet of the gate that you will depart at.

Expanding on what Trooper has said; when you arrive at DC, if it is not immediately clear where you need to go and how to get there, ask a gate agent or other airline representative. There may even be one meeting your inbound flight with connection information in hand.

As a newbie traveler, the less that you carry on with you, the easier it will be for you. The TSA checkppoint will be easier as with getting on and off of the flight. If you do have to run for your connection, the less weighing you down the better.

The airlines are also getting more stringent on the weight limits. At 50 pounds, a bag is subject to a hefty additional charge. The problem, of course, is that 50 pounds in Kansas City may be 53 pounds in Albany. It is easier to leave something at home than to deal with it at the airport.

With short connections, always remember that you haven't missed the flight until you are at the departure gate and the door is closed. I have often seen people miss flights because they assumed that the missed it only to discover that they could have hustled and gotten there in time. Your connecting flight could be delayed and that info not posted on the monitors. Out of breath in the plane seat is better than breathing normally in the terminal.

Enjoy your trip,

lynn
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Old Nov 7, 08, 1:35 pm   #10
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raegan View Post
... will they not give me too much trouble if I pack my shampoo and conditioner, body wash and perfume?
Packing liquids will not present any difficulty whatsoever.

Having said that, be advised that baggage can take a bit of a beating. A lot of work goes into getting your bags from you, through the airport, onto the airplane and then back to you. Many times the baggage handlers will grab a bag and toss it onto a cart. They don't necessarily play football with your bag (although some of them do!) and they're not trying to be disrepectful of your belonging either. But they have a job to do and that job is to move hundreds of bags per day. They need to do this quickly so gentle handling doesn't always enter the equation.

So, if you have perfume and stuff in glass bottles, wrap them well. Don't put breakable stuff like glass in areas of your suitcase where it might get broken. It's a good idea to ensure that all liquids are in bottles that are tightly closed. Then put your bottles individually into plastic bags. Then, if necessary, wrap the bag in a t-shirt or something before putting it into your suitcase.

As others have pointed out, the most difficult portion of your travel plans will be the short connection time. You can ask on the first flight if they know which gate you'll need to be at and how to get there. They should be able to help you out.

Good luck!
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Old Nov 7, 08, 2:14 pm   #11
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Some more tips:

1. Check in on-line with the airline from 24 to 1 hour before the flight. With boarding pass in hand, you may be able to bypass a long slow checkin line. At many airports, airlines will have a separate and faster line for checked baggage drop if you have already checked in on-line. If you have carryon baggage only and have checked in on-line, you can proceed directly to the security checkpoint once you figure out your flight's gate from the monitors.

2. Arrive at the airport with plenty of lead time before the flight. Follow the airline's suggested lead time for the airport, but add 30 minutes since you are a first time flyer.

3. Do not wear large amounts of metal or shoes that are difficult to take off and put on. If you have metal from knee or hip replacements or have needles for prescription medication (e.g. diabetics' insulin), get documentation from your physician. At the security checkpoint, place metal (keys, coins, cell phones, etc.) in your carryon or in a tray (with liquids and laptops separate), push the stuff into the X-ray machine, and then go through the metal detection gate. Keep a close watch on where your stuff is, since theft there is common, and the security checkers are looking for bombs and weapons, not thieves.

4. Wear clothing and shoes that you can easily walk or run in, in case you need to run for your short connection.

5. Keep with you or in your carryon a day or few worth of clothes (layerable for various weather conditions) and any essentials for the first few days, or if you have to spend the night in the airport after you miss your connection. Essential documents, ID, credit cards, etc. should stay in your pockets, since there are occasional thefts from carryons in airplanes.
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Old Nov 7, 08, 3:27 pm   #12
  
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Great questions, great answers....Thanks from me too.
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Old Nov 7, 08, 5:01 pm   #13
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Thank you all very much for your information. It is very helpful, and I am not freaking out as much as I was last night. I have to admit, I was thinking about this thread all day, wondering if anyone would even bother to assist me. It was an extremely long day... If you can imagine, under the stress.

But continuing on... My flight is with US Airways. It says on the ticket (which I am not too sure how to read exactly) US Airways #3328 Operated by: US3328 OPR BY ** US AIRWAYS EXPRESS-REPULBIC AIRLINES MCIDCA -Please check in with the operating carrier.
I am flying in to Ronald Reagan National in Washington DC. (Pretty cool, being my name is Raegan and such. : ) )

It was purchased as a single ticket.

And, I am not sure if there was anything else that was asked... but, if so, let me know and I will give that also.

Is US Airways a good airline to fly with?
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Old Nov 7, 08, 5:18 pm   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raegan View Post
Thank you all very much for your information. It is very helpful, and I am not freaking out as much as I was last night. I have to admit, I was thinking about this thread all day, wondering if anyone would even bother to assist me. It was an extremely long day... If you can imagine, under the stress.

But continuing on... My flight is with US Airways. It says on the ticket (which I am not too sure how to read exactly) US Airways #3328 Operated by: US3328 OPR BY ** US AIRWAYS EXPRESS-REPULBIC AIRLINES MCIDCA -Please check in with the operating carrier.
I am flying in to Ronald Reagan National in Washington DC. (Pretty cool, being my name is Raegan and such. : ) )

It was purchased as a single ticket.

And, I am not sure if there was anything else that was asked... but, if so, let me know and I will give that also.

Is US Airways a good airline to fly with?
Welcome to Flyertalk, Raegan. Given that you are flying on USAir, I am going to move this to the US Air Forum for further discussion.
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Old Nov 7, 08, 6:15 pm   #15
  
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The earlier replies have given you lots of good advice. I have connected many times on US Airways at Reagan National (airport code DCA) -- it is a very convenient connection as all of their gates are in a fairly small area. Since you are on US Airways Express, your flight from Kansas City might park away from the gates, in which case you'll be brought into the terminal on a bus. Even so, there won't be any problem making your connection. In fact, if you have a few extra minutes, get some French Fries at Five Guys and carry them onto your connecting flight (I think you can get them before 10:00 but not sure).

Is US Airways a good airline to fly? Hmmm ... you may want to read some of the other threads in the US Airways forum here if you haven't already. Be prepared to pay a la carte for your checked baggage and for drinks on board the plane.

In case of delays on your first flight, US Airways does have several flights each day between DCA and Albany, so you shouldn't have any trouble being rebooked since it looks like you're on the early side of the day.
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