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Common Carry-On Mistakes To Avoid Next Time You Fly!
Take advantage of our tips and tricks for how to best pack your carry-on and make your next flight a great experience!
The most stressful part of traveling might just be getting on the plane. No matter how organized the airline’s boarding procedures may be, at least in theory, the process of getting on the plane usually feels like being packed into a can of sardines in a slow-moving, claustrophobic line. We think this hold-up can largely be attributed to mistakes travelers make when they pack their carry-on luggage.
If carry-on bags are too heavy, overpacked, or don’t fit under the seats or in the overhead compartment, well-meaning passengers can inadvertently hold up the line. Alternatively, someone who has to search for their airplane essentials in their luggage before sitting down can also cause a backup. Then, there’s always a passenger or two who tries to carry on more bags than they are technically allowed. Here’s how you can avoid making these common mistakes with your own carry-on, and some of our favorite travel accessories to make your flight better!
Don’t overpack your carry-on.
When people start packing for a flight, they are often most concerned with ensuring their checked suitcase doesn’t exceed the standard 50-pound weight limit. However, it’s also possible to overpack your carry-on, which can cause backups during boarding and deplaning. If your carry-on bag is too full, it might not fit in front of your seat or in the plane’s overhead compartments. If this is the case, you may be forced to check your bag at the gate, creating travel delays.
Alternatively, some passengers overpack their carry-on luggage and then can’t safely lift it into the overhead compartment. This may create a delay when that passenger then has to ask other travelers or flight attendants for help. Bags that are too heavy also create a risk of injury to yourself or to others who try to help you. Keep in mind that many airlines also have policies in place that forbid flight attendants from helping to lift luggage and prohibit them from receiving worker’s compensation if they are injured while handling suitcases.
Turn your carry-on bag on its side.
This tip is just common courtesy for the other passengers that will speed up the boarding process. When you insert your suitcase into the overhead bin, turn it on its side if at all possible. Keeping the suitcases on their sides instead of flat maximizes the room in the overhead compartments, subsequently making it easier for the passengers who board after you to find a spot for their baggage. When other passengers don’t need to spend as much time looking for overhead bin space, the entire boarding process is expedited.
Keep items you’ll need on the plane accessible.
When you pack your carry-on bag, be strategic. Make sure to pack the items you will need on the plane so they are easily accessible once you get on board, or take them out prior to getting on the plane. Don’t hold up the line or block the aisle because you need to fish out your plane essentials before taking your seat.
Don’t bring more bags than you are allowed.
With rare exceptions, passengers are only allowed to bring two bags on an airplane: a carry-on suitcase and a small personal item, such as a purse or small backpack. All other baggage must be checked and retrieved at the destination. Don’t be the person who tries to carry on more bags than you are allowed. This creates delays when airline staff have to ask the passenger to consolidate everything into the allotted two bags or to check a bag at the gate. You may also be subject to additional fees if you show up at the airport with an extra carry-on bag.
Pack your liquids correctly.
During our travels, our team has seen way too many people who get their liquids confiscated by TSA for being packed incorrectly or in the wrong quantities. Similarly, we’ve seen our fair share of passengers who get stuck with a mess when their water bottles or toiletries spill in their luggage. Don’t let that happen to you.
First, make sure you are only putting TSA-approved liquids in the correct quantities in your carry-on before you arrive at the airport. The information is readily available on the TSA website, but generally, you are allowed to have liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in your carry-on as long as they are contained in travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Make sure to choose your travel-sized containers wisely to prevent unwanted leaks, and consider keeping liquid products in a plastic bag as an extra safeguard.
Stay hydrated and bring snacks.
Staying hydrated during your flight is extremely important. According to The Aerospace Medical Association, travelers should drink 8 ounces of water each hour they are in the air. We recommend packing a reusable water bottle that you can fill up for free at the airport once you enter the terminal and keep with you during the flight.
While flight attendants will typically offer your snacks and drinks during your flight, there are some instances when the cabin crew may not be able to serve you timely. For example, flight attendants have to remain seated if there is heavy turbulence for their own safety. Make sure to have your own snacks and something to drink on hand in case this happens on your flight. Don’t let yourself get dehydrated or hangry. You can buy snacks and drinks in the terminal, but you will save money if you pack your own snacks and bring a reusable water bottle instead.
If you are traveling with only a carry-on, park smart.
If you are going on a quick trip, you might not need to bring enough stuff to warrant checking a bag. But if you’ll only be taking a carry-on, make sure to pack smart. Little tricks like rolling clothing items to make more room and packing your smallest items last can really help to maximize the amount of available space in your luggage.
Whether you are checking a bag or not, we recommend wearing heavy items like big winter coats. If you are checking your luggage, wearing your heavier items on the plane will help make sure your suitcase is under the airline’s weight limit. If you are only taking a carry-on, keeping those heavy items out will make more room to bring other essentials. Plus, heavy items like big jackets can double as blankets or pillows to keep you comfortable during your flight.
Not sure what to bring on your next trip? These are the travel essentials we never fly without.