If you haven’t flown to Europe lately—or ever—you might feel a little confused about the newest regulations for flying abroad or within the European continent. Keep these pointers in mind, and you’ll do fine.
1) There are no “tickets” anymore—just online documents called E-tickets, often provided by email when you book your flight.
2) You may generally check in online at the airline website, usually within 24 hours of your departure. If you choose not to check in online, you can do so at the airline ticket counter at the airport. Either way, you’ll need to provide a boarding pass to board the flight. Boarding passes can usually be printed at home, at the airport (at kiosks for this purpose or at the counter), or sent to your email or smartphone as a digital document.
3) If flying round trip, you’ll follow the same procedure upon your return. Simply go online to check in up to 24 hours in advance of your return flight. You can ask your hotel to print the boarding passes for you; they’ll let you know the best way to arrange that. You can also check in online and choose the option of printing the boarding passes at the ticket counter or kiosks at the airport or sending them to your phone.
4) If you’ve pre-printed your boarding passes, you may be saved time at check in because there is often a separate line simply to check your luggage.
5) When flying from the USA to Europe, passengers are typically allowed one checked piece of luggage weighing no more than 50 lb, and measuring no more than 62 linear inches (width + length + height).
6) When flying from the USA to Europe, passengers are typically allowed one carryon bag (such as a very small suitcase or backpack) and one personal item (such as a handbag).
7) Medical equipment such as CPAP machines, walkers, etcetera, do not count against your checked or carryon baggage limit. You may be required to show a prescription for medical equipment.
8) You may carry liquids on board the aircraft if they meet current guidelines—generally 3 ounces or less each, placed together in one clear, quart-size bag, to be shown at the security checkpoint.
9) It is advisable to arrive at the airport no less than two hours in advance of your international departure. On many international flights, check in closes approximately 45 minutes to one hour in advance of departure.
10) When booking international flights, allow a minimum of 1.5 hours for connections. Many frequent travelers prefer 2.5 – 3 hours for connections when entering the USA or the European Union to accommodate late arrivals and to allow time for processing through passport control and/or immigration.
11) When flying within Europe, checked and carryon baggage restrictions may be different than on your transatlantic flight. If you are flying between the USA and Europe with a connection, the luggage restrictions of your originating flight will be honored until you reach your final destination.
12) When booking flights separately within Europe, be sure to pre-purchase checked luggage privileges, if necessary, and be sure your suitcase meets weight restrictions. Many European airlines allow one piece of checked luggage up to 20 kg, but a 50 lb suitcase comes in at 23 kg. Extra “weight allowance may need to be purchased. It is almost always significantly less expensive to purchase bag and weight privileges online in advance of your flight.
13) Be sure your passport is up to date, expires no less than six months beyond your return from Europe, and that you have 3-6 empty pages available. Click here for more information on passports.
14) Be familiar with the visa requirements of the country to which you’re traveling. Click here for information on the Schengen zone.
Every airline website provides detailed information on luggage restrictions, allowable items, checking in online, and recommended airport arrival times, so be sure to visit their sites for specific requirements and recommendations.
And have fun on your trip to Europe!
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