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#1
Old 07-11-2010, 03:14 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 1,171
I booked a flight and hotel through travelocity. Now what?

I got the confirmation emails. They have my money. Do I just print these emails off and they let me on the plane and in the hotel?

I'm not a frequent flyer (have not flown since 1988 when I was 14) and I would hate to miss my flight because I didn't understand the procedure and forgot to do something.

Last edited by Quintas; 07-11-2010 at 03:15 AM.
#2
Old 07-11-2010, 03:26 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 1,171
Also I have one 45 minute layover. When I get off the plane at that location (Cincinnati) am I gonna have an easy time figuring out where the hell i've got to get to before my next plane departs?
#3
Old 07-11-2010, 03:40 AM
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Staring blankly at my GPS
Posts: 11,874
1 Don't panic!

2 Print off the e-mails. You shouldn't need them, but have them just in case.

3 Pack your junk. Dangerous stuff like pocket knives and shampoo will have to go in the hold.

4 Make sure you have ID. A drivers licence is fine.

5 Go to the airport - plan to arrive an hour before the plane leaves.

6 Go to the check in desk. You can try and use the new fangled auto ticket machines, but there's a human being to help you if you need it.

7 Go through security. They will confiscate any toothpaste or hair gel you have.

8 Get on plane

9 In Cincinnati, there should be someone at the gate to tell you where to go. If not, there are TV screens everywhere to tell you what gate to go to.

10 When you get to your hotel, there shouldn't be a problem, but you have the printed e-mail as back up.

11 Remember not to panic and have a good time.
#4
Old 07-11-2010, 03:57 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Medford, MA
Posts: 21,424
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quintas View Post
Also I have one 45 minute layover. When I get off the plane at that location (Cincinnati) am I gonna have an easy time figuring out where the hell i've got to get to before my next plane departs?
45 minutes shouldn't be too bad (you're 36, so I assume you're reasonably mobile on your feet), but it doesn't leave a lot of room for error. If you're on an airline that has a lot of connecting flights in Cincinnati, check the in-flight magazine to see if there's a map of the terminals and gates. After you've landed and are taxiing, the pilot may announce which gate you're arriving at. (If you've got a really good sense of direction, you might even be able to get your bearings by looking out the window, and comparing that to the map in the magazine.) Sometimes the crew will announce what gates the connecting flights are at, too.

And if all that fails, you can get the same information inside the terminal once you're off the incoming flight. Look for video monitors (probably labeled "DEPARTURES") with information on outgoing flights. You might find a map of the terminals. And there will also be overhead signs telling you which way to go to get to different gates.

The worst case is that your incoming flight is delayed enough that the outgoing flight leaves without you. In that case, look for a customer service, or reservations desk to get you booked on a new flight. Try not to leave the secure area if you can, only because it's such a hassle to pass back through security once you're re-booked.

And if in any doubt, ask. Funny thing about airports, they're just swarming with people who know even more about this stuff than I do.
#5
Old 07-11-2010, 03:37 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Medford, MA
Posts: 21,424
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quintas View Post
I got the confirmation emails. They have my money. Do I just print these emails off and they let me on the plane and in the hotel?
For the most part, yes. What I do is double-check all the information (names and dates, especially), then print each e-mail and staple it. The e-mails usually have a couple pages of boilerplate, and you'll have your hands full with boarding passes and ID, so highlight the really important stuff, like confirmation number, flight number, and time.

When you get to the airport go to the departures counter first. (Some airlines let you do all the check-in in advance, but for a first-timer, the agents there can help iron out any problems.) There may be automated kiosks to handle the check-in, and/or you may have to talk to an actual person (especially if you're checking luggage). They'll want to see ID with a name that matches the reservation. I've heard it's also best to have the same credit card with you that you used to purchase the ticket.
#6
Old 07-11-2010, 04:56 AM
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Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: outside Oslo, Norway
Posts: 4,782
I'm assuming you're travelling entirely within the US?

As others have already said, you should print out the emails, but don't be surprised if you don't need them. You should have gotten some sort of transaction number or similar (which may actually be letters, not numbers, but never mind) in those emails, and that maybe combined with your last name should be all you need.

Going through security, grab a bin from the stack you'll find just before the X-ray machines and metal detectors. Make it easy on yourself by putting the following in there:
  • your shoes (again, assuming you're travelling in the US)
  • your cell phone and any other electronics in your carry-on, particularly a laptop if you're taking it
  • any metal objects in your pockets that the metal detector may not like, like keys and coins
  • and of course, any liquids you're carrying on the plane, which have to meet these requirements
If necessary, take two bins rather than overloading one. Put this on the band in front of the X-ray machine. You should also put your carry-on and, if you're a woman, your purse on that band, lying them as close to flat as they will go. If you have a jacket with you, put that on the band, too.

Now follow the security guards' instructions. They will feed your bin and other belongings into the X-ray machine. They will also tell you when you can walk through the metal detector.

Are you flying the same airline the whole distance? If you are, the short layover in Cincinnati shouldn't be a problem at all.
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#7
Old 07-11-2010, 10:19 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 25
If you want an additional confirmation that your flight was booked correctly, you can go to checkmytrip.com or your airline's website, most of them offer some service that lets you review your itinerary (note: checkmytrip.com is a commercial website, but they don't try to sell you anything, they are paid to provide that service by the airlines AFAIK; and I have no connections with them). You may also be able to select/change the seat for your flight there. And I found that the e-ticket receipt you get there is often more concise than the confirmation letter from a travel agency.

For the hotel, I've actually read the advice somewhere that you should call them and get your reservation confirmed. I've never had any problems when booking through an online travel agency, but on the other hand, a call doesn't really cost you anything.
#8
Old 07-11-2010, 10:22 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 24,855
Another thing is that, depending on the airline, you may be able to check in online prior to going to the airport.

(And just a guess, but are you flying via Delta? I'd guess them because Cincinnati is one of their hubs.)
#9
Old 07-11-2010, 10:46 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,679
Make sure you arrive at the airport at least an hour before the boarding time. Check-in, security, and schlepping yourself across the airport can take a long time even in the best circumstances. And there's usually some sort of minor hold-up that keeps you standing in line for a while.

You can save a lot of time and stress by fitting everything into carry-on luggage. That's one medium-small piece of luggage plus an extra "personal item" like a laptop bag, small backpack, or briefcase. I can usually pack a week's worth of clothing into my carry-on if I'm careful.

Without any large pieces of luggage to check, you save money and time. You won't have to wait in line to check luggage or wait at the baggage claim which can easily save an hour. Most airlines have $15-$25 bag-check fees these days (there's a chart here that explains it all). Plus if you don't have to check luggage you can take advantage of all of the newer check-in methods. Most airports I've been to have a plethora of self-serve kiosks that you can use to check in and never have to stand in line. You can also check in at the airline's website 24 hours in advance and print your boarding passes from your home computer. That's what I prefer to do, since it allows you to skip all of the check-in lines and head straight to the security checkpoint.

But if all else fails, you can always stand in the check-in line to get help from the ticket agents. Just allow for some extra time if you do that, since you can be waiting in line for 30 minutes easily (and a hell of a lot more than that during peak holiday travel).

What airline are you flying? Each one has its own slightly different quirks and procedures, so we can tell you those in detail if you want.

ETA: Oh, and compared to flying hotels are easy. Just walk up to the desk and give them the confirmation email, and they hand you a key for your room. And usually if you forget that you can just give them your name (along with ID) and they can look up the reservation.

Last edited by lazybratsche; 07-11-2010 at 10:50 AM.
#10
Old 07-11-2010, 11:16 AM
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Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 27,051
I would recommend getting to the airport well before 1 hour in advance especially for an infrequent flier. It is quite possible to miss your flight at the airports around here if you cut it that close and "being at the airport" means standing in the departure terminal check-in lines, not seeing the airport sign from the interstate. Getting to the terminal, making it through the check-in procedure, and then through the security check-points can take quite a while and many flights have a strict boarding time cutoff these days. It is better to be safe than sorry especially if you are unfamiliar with the current procedures. It is a lot different post 9/11.
#11
Old 07-11-2010, 11:23 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 32,875
I think the others have covered the main points. I just want to reemphasize:

- Carry gov't issued photo i.d. (drver's license or passport are the most common)

- Have the credit card you used to pay online
#12
Old 07-11-2010, 11:32 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Chicago
Posts: 11,790
Things have gotten better, but don't be surprised if the security people act like they're on a serious power trip. They may be obnoxiously rude but always remain calm and friendly with them. They do have the power to make your trip a complete hell.
#13
Old 07-11-2010, 11:34 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: New London, CT
Posts: 3,752
The main change in the airlines' ticketing systems since 1988 is the use of E-tickets; I haven't seen a paper ticket in nearly five years now. Basically, all the information about your flight and your itinerary is now in your airline's computers. When you get to the airport, the airline will retrieve this information and give you your boarding passes. The security folks won't let anyone into the secured area whose name doesn't match the name on their boarding pass, which means that noone else can fly on your ticket but also means that you must bring a driver's license, state ID, passport, or the like to prove your identity.
#14
Old 07-11-2010, 11:40 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Oakland, CA, USA
Posts: 5,623
Surprised by the number of people recommending doing check-in upon arrival at the airport.

Especially if you're an infrequent flyer with absolutely no status you're going to want to check-in online 24 hours before your departure time. It'll be your last best chance to get yourself a decent-ish seat (assuming the flight is anywhere near capacity). You can print your boarding pass at home as well and just go straight to security screening when you get to the airport.

If you're going to check-in at the airport definitely arrive more than an hour ahead of time because who knows what hell you'd run into at the check-in counter (generally, in my experience, far worse than any security line).

Do print out the confirmation emails with the flight and hotel information but odds are you'll never have to show them to anybody.
#15
Old 07-11-2010, 04:42 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 7,445
The one thing that people have touched on, but not mentioned specifically:

The critical piece of paper you need to get through security and board the plane is not any of the emails you have now, but a document called a boarding pass. You can get the boarding pass at the check-in counter on the day of your flight, or, as obfusciatrist mentioned, you can print it at home for most airlines up to 24 hours before your flight.
#16
Old 07-11-2010, 08:40 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Medford, MA
Posts: 21,424
Quote:
Originally Posted by obfusciatrist View Post
Surprised by the number of people recommending doing check-in upon arrival at the airport.
Well, the OP already booked the ticket online and wasn't sure about the rest of the process, so I would think that even more computer interaction wouldn't put his fears to rest. Seeing a real person at the airport would be a reassurance that everything is okay.

I've never quite understood how the advance check-in from home is supposed to work. What happens if you check in 24 hours in advance, and then something happens? Maybe I'm too much of a literalist, but how can you check in when you're not actually in, yet?
#17
Old 07-12-2010, 10:43 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Montréal, Québec
Posts: 8,772
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
Well, the OP already booked the ticket online and wasn't sure about the rest of the process, so I would think that even more computer interaction wouldn't put his fears to rest. Seeing a real person at the airport would be a reassurance that everything is okay.

I've never quite understood how the advance check-in from home is supposed to work. What happens if you check in 24 hours in advance, and then something happens? Maybe I'm too much of a literalist, but how can you check in when you're not actually in, yet?
As I understand it, checking in online confirms your intent to use that seat on the plane, and so it becomes unavailble for overbooking/standby seating by the airline. Early check-in allows the airline and airport to more effectively manage last-minute and rebooked passengers by being able to resell the seat to them sooner rather that at the last minute at the gate. When you check in online (IME) you still have to "check in" at the airport in order to get baggage tags. Otherwise you are assumed to be at the gate until final boarding, at which point if they haven't boarded you, your seat goes to someone else.

This is related to overbooking, by the way. I think I recently read that most flights are overbooked about 3% or so, so that if you don't make it to the gate, your seat is already assigned to someone and the airline gets that extra money.
#18
Old 07-11-2010, 05:05 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 24,855
If you're flying Southwest Airlines, you definitely want to check in online. The reason is that on Southwest, unlike most other airlines, there are no assigned seats. Instead, each passenger is assigned a group letter (A, B or C) and number (1 through 60). The passenger assigned A1 boards first, followed by the rest of the A group, then the B group and ending with the C group. If you check in online you can get a higher number and board earlier than those who check in at the airport.
#19
Old 07-11-2010, 05:27 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 1,171
Thanks everyone.
#20
Old 07-11-2010, 09:09 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: In the mountains
Posts: 7,939
For the hotel, you can also call them directly to confirm you have a reservation. I get a fair number of such calls. But do give it a day or so after booking first; it's not an instant process.

Be warned that if you need to change that reservation they may tell you you have to go through the company you booked with. Don't think we like it, but that's the way it goes. We tell people who book through regular travel agents the same thing; the idea is that the agents should know if there's any changes because it affects their commission.

Last edited by whiterabbit; 07-11-2010 at 09:09 PM.
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