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Tips for Traveling with Gifts on Airplanes

Taking gifts to family and friends on your flights at year-end holiday time was once a simple, pleasant task. Bringing the gifts with you added to the joys of sharing the happiness of the season. These days, however, when everything involved with flying requires more time, cost, searches and restrictions, traveling with gifts is much more stressful than joyful.

Year-end holiday flights are especially difficult because of airport crowding and heavy flight schedules. Added to it all is this year’s very heightened danger alerts for possible terrorism. You can expect boarding security at airports this holiday season will be more difficult than ever before. Some sensible tips may help reduce the stress on you and those traveling with you while you take gifts on your holiday flights.

1.If possible, avoid taking large, bulky gifts aboard with you. Keep them small enough to fit in a carry-on bag, in coat pockets or a take-along knapsack.

2. If you must check big boxes, be prepared to pay extra fees which for some flights could be as high as $50 each. Example: Is a big $25 Teddy Bear for Cousin Susie worth flying on your flight for an extra $50?

3. Don’t leave any gift-wrapped items in your carry-on as you open it to go through security. You can be sure it will be unwrapped sloppily and the contents tossed around and examined closely. You’ll never be able to put it all back again neatly, especially if you’re in a hurry to get to your flight.

4. Before considering taking gifts on your flight with you, check carefully on the latest airline rules for banned products, liquids and other substances. Example: That large bottle of shaving lotion for Grandpa may not be allowed to go with you on your flight.

5. If gifts you plan to take aboard are made with metal components, and/or have batteries and electric or electronic components inside, take them out of gift boxes or sealed plastic. They need to be separated as they go through the x-ray belt. Be prepared for further inspections and delays by security officers before your messed-up gifts are returned to you.

Consider something other than hauling gifts with you when traveling. Unless they’re very small and fit into checked suitcases or free carry-on bags, just don’t take them on your holiday flight. It may be much more convenient, and possibly cheaper, to ship them to friends and family a week or so before you leave home.