Priceline and Hotwire Air Travel Check List
Tips to help your flights go smoothly
This page gives you practical, easy-to-follow tips to help your airline trip go smoothly. Most of this information is helpful for travelers with any type of online ticket, not just Hotwire and Priceline travelers.
Although we list many steps here, it's easier to do these than to try to solve some reservation problem at the last moment.
These airline travel tips add to what you learned in Airfare Savings Strategies.
Once you have your on-line reservation, you have a few more essential steps to take.
Ask about check-in times and kiosks
When you call the airline to check on your reservation, also ask the suggested and minimum check-in times for your flight.
There are two deadlines you should know:
Ask if your departure airport has check-in kiosks—computers for automatic self-check in.
If your airport does not have check-in kiosks, it's best to allow extra check in time. You’ll find out how to use these kiosks below.
Seventy-two hours prior to departure (unless just booked)
Due to higher fuel prices, airlines have been canceling and consolidating more flights than usual.
Go online or call the airline to make sure that your flight numbers and times have not changed. If flight times or numbers have changed, ask your airline to confirm that you're on the new flight.
The earlier you find out about changes, the easier it is for your airline to fix any problems, if it has not already done so. You can also let the airline know if you can leave earlier or later if you're interested in more flight options.
NOTE: For some international trips, especially when flying on non-U.S. airlines, you must reconfirm your return reservation with the airline at least 72 hours prior to departure, or your booking may be cancelled.
Avoid checking luggage if at all possible. Increasingly, you have to pay extra to do so. More importantly, although airlines eventually recover most missing bags, too many are delayed.
Instead, spend extra time carefully planning what you will carry on.
Generally, for domestic flights, you may carry on one smallish bag plus one personal item, such as a briefcase or purse.
I use a soft-sided suitcase that squeezes into small spaces.
For the personal item, I use a small backpack made for a laptop, which has room for other items.
(For additional suggestions, ask a female or male friend who frequently travels for professional reasons. Almost invariably, they've learned not to check luggage.)
If you need to pack a lot, call your airline to find out allowed dimensions and weight for your larger bag—both as carry on and as checked luggage. Allowances vary by airline and destination, and are steadily being reduced during this time of increasing fuel costs.
Never pack prescription drugs or valuables in your larger bag, in case your airline wants to check it (or store it out of sight on a smaller plane).
Be especially careful that you don't accidentally attempt to carry on prohibited items. The following link, which opens in a new window, lists prohibited items for U.S. departures: TSA: What to Know before You Go.
Twenty-four hours prior to departure
If you have access to a printer, print out your boarding passes online. Visit the check in area on your airline's home page.
At this time, you'll be given the chance to change your seating assignment.
You need not complete this check-in process exactly 24 hours prior, but I like to do so, because of the chance to get better seats.
If you don't have some of the information needed to check in online, call your airline.
Prior to traveling to the airport
Check your flights online one more time, in case of weather or other delays. The homepages of airline sites have a section where you can enter your flight numbers for quick updates.
If it looks like any of your flights may be delayed, and you might have trouble making a connection, call your airline. It's much easier to correct this situation now than at the airport.
At the airport
If you printed out your boarding pass online and have no luggage to check, you're in luck. Go directly to security bypassing the check in lines.
If your airline has check-in kiosks at your airport, you'll may still be able to check yourself in and board very quickly, as long as there are no delays at the security check point.
You'll find that the on-screen instructions are very easy to follow.
Typically, you can insert (and then quickly remove) any credit card with your name on it or perhaps your passport, in order to print a boarding pass, which you’ll need to show security. The credit card does not need to be the one used to buy your ticket. Alternatively, you may be asked your frequent flyer number.
You should also request specific seats at this time, if you have not already done so. You can also check if better seats are available.
If there are no kiosks, just get in a check in line to get your boarding passes.
At security, wait until you are first in line for the metal detector before putting your laptop or other valuables on the conveyor belt. Otherwise, these could move out of your sight, and easily be stolen. (Put your larger bag and shoes on the belt first so that you're not holding up the line.)
Once through the detectors, remember to collect all your items. This point seems obvious, and yet Security sometimes finds jewelry, computers, and even purses left behind.
Because departure announcements as well as other loudspeaker messages often compete with each other, it can be hard to hear your own departure announcement. Protect yourself by being near your gate at or before the time to board.
BidonTravel wishes you a smooth trip!