International “Flight" Affair: How to avoid getting stopped during International Travel
It all started with my trip to Barcelona for my birthday. Finding too good to be true flight by way of Norwegian Airways were indeed too good. As I furiously whisk through the Boston airport, the handler yelled, "Cheap isn't always better!" Little did I know I was dealing with the cheap international "Spirit" airlines of airlines. (Spirit, you have been so good to me, but you know your reputation.)
Norwegian... Oh. How I loathe your existence... or was it Boston and your sharp tongue and snarky attitudes. Either way, I wasn't here for it. Both can pretty much kick rocks at this point. What started as a fantastic day suddenly came to a halt when my carryon bag was deemed heavy and didn’t abide by the carry-on rules. Who knew airlines were so strict! They really had the audacity to weigh a carry-on AND my purse too!
Little did I know… or should I say, didn’t pay enough attention to, Norwegian proclaims that when purchasing the cheap, “Low Fare” tickets you get a free carry on and a small purse. They failed to highlight, and I neglected to realize that those items had to come to a whopping 10kg. 10kg!! My polycarbonate, TSA approved handy dandy built Ford tough carry-on luggage weighed a good 4-7kg on its own! Let alone being my version of a fashionista who needs options, now confined to a weight requirement for a bag was ridiculous! I didn’t even bring that much this time!
Needless to say, it resulted in me having to purchase another bag AND pay to check it in both ways.
Oh, and did I mentioned that Norwegian has such great deals because the ticket comes with just that… a ticket. No snack, no meal, no blanket or complimentary headphones. Not even water! And barely a recline! Sounds familiar huh?
And I’m not even going to start a rant about Boston and their smart ass mouths.
Unfortunately, this is just one of the many run-ins I had at a few airports. It's added to the list with always getting my bag searched and issues with my toiletries. I know all airports and airlines are NOT created equal, BUT I believe there are some things I and anyone who finds themselves always having similar problems at the airport can do to avoid problems like this and many others.
Based off my experiences from this past trip and a few others, I put together the top 3 things to avoid.
Avoid 1: Being searched
I know I know. Sometimes it’s the inevitable. At random you can be selected. But sometimes we have some control of being hand selected. For example, I was trying to be cute, but I learned the “left feeling violated” way that faux zippers lead to unwarranted searches. Unfortunately for me, my zippers were on my leggings to give off the illusion of pockets and deemed me searchable by the ultra-sensitive scanner. I don't know what they were going to find in my leggings, but it didn't stop them from coping a feel in my neither regions. Oh, and it happened twice since I had to go through security again to catch my connecting flight.
What about jeans? Yea, I asked the same question. They said that those are known and aren’t detected. Otherwise, we all would be getting a good hand job, I mean pat down.
Solution: Leave the jewelry, faux zippers, and other search-worthy clothing for the trip. Some security systems are more sensitive than others. Kind of how you have to take your shoes off in the US but can walk through with your sneakers in a European airport without a problem. Also, simple outfits help you have less to remove and moves you quicker through the TSA line.
Avoid 2: Packing too much Do you know how much it cost to have to purchase a new bag because you over packed according to the airline guidelines? It will leave several holes in the pockets! How about lugging around a heavy bag full of clothes and only wear half of the items you packed because you needed options. Well, those options, extra pair of shoes you didn’t wear and unread guidelines can lead to overweight charges or worst, having to buy another bag AND pay to check it in.
Solution: Invest in portable bag weigher. The weigher will help you check your luggage weight against the airline guidelines to make sure you don’t go over. Overpacked? Try packing by itinerary or using a packing list. This helps eliminate the extra clothes you don’t need and leave space for your souvenirs.
Avoid 3: Unknown fees
Who wants to spend travel money on hidden fees because one failed to do a proper reading? Clearly, I did. If I would’ve taken the time and read the airline rules, I would’ve known the bag rules and could’ve planned better. Ok… I did read, but I honestly skimmed. I later realized I read the requirements for check-in bags and not carry-ons.
Also, some airlines offer different priced ticket. That’s how they get you with the “awesome” deals. Your ticket may be cheap, but it might not include your bags or a meal. Some countries even have rules of how much you can pack in your luggage and bring home, especially in a carry-on.
Solution: Do your research. And don’t skim! If you do it in advance before purchasing the ticket, you may realize the discounted price might not be worth the appeared savings. Or buying the next level of tickets may cost a bit more but may save you money, time, and a headache if you didn’t.
Avoid 4: Throwing away your travel essentials
YYou would think I would’ve remembered what happened to me last time I went through London’s airport. Specifically, with carry-ons, they are very strict on “liquids.” These are your 3oz and under travel essentials. You know the toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. Well, in this instance, having my “liquids” packed in a bag wasn’t good enough. They have their own bag that all your liquids must fit into or you had to throw them out. This one lady, who clearly raided a housekeeper’s cart, had to throw away the dozens of lotions and shampoos she “collected.” I had to make a decision between my makeup and travel essentials. So in my case, I had to throw out the hair products to save the multiple Colourpop lipsticks l barely wore.
Solution: Packing a check-in bag is fine, but when it comes to carry-ons you're limited. When dealing with a carry-on, only pack what you truly need or purchase when you arrive. You can even ask your hotel for some items. When traveling with a check-in bag, still place all “liquids” together. This helps with minimizing spillage.
Norwegian Airlines are the epitome of “you get what you pay for.” So I can’t complain since I wanted good prices. Would I fly with them again…. HECKS YEAH! The flight was excellent considering the price. I will just make sure I pack accordingly and pay attention to the fees to make sure I purchase the right ticket.
As for TSA, all I can do is pray I don’t get searched and make sure I don’t give them a reason to do so. I’m also working on some packing list to share with you guys. Once I master them, I will definitely share.
Safe flight, XOXO