1. Don’t pack valuables in your checked bag.
As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t pack anything in your checked bag that you can’t permanently part with or that has a high monetary value. In the event you need to check your bag at the gate, be sure to remove vital items such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, prescription medications and — perhaps most importantly — your passport.
2. Don’t pack items on the TSA’s prohibited list.
It’s no surprise that fireworks and other flammable items are prohibited in checked (and all) baggage, but did you know you can’t pack certain types of batteries? Double-check the TSA’s list of prohibited items before zipping up your bags.
3. Don’t use a non-TSA-approved lock.
If your luggage needs to be physically inspected, a non-TSA-approved lock will be ripped off your bag at security — it’s that simple. Purchase one that’s been okayed by the TSA.
4. Don’t leave any loose ends.
Be sure all of the compartments and pockets on your bag are securely zipped and fastened, and don’t leave anything hanging outside of it, such as shoes laced to a handle or backpack straps dangling in all directions.
5. Don’t book a tight connection.
The shorter your layover, the bigger the chance your bag won’t make it to final destination with you. Of course, most times the bag does make it, but the stress of wondering whether or not it will arrive can be eliminated with a longer layover.
6. Don’t travel with an unmarked bag.
It’s not uncommon for people to grab the wrong suitcase by accident at baggage claim. Make it less likely by tying a colorful ribbon to your luggage or using a unique baggage tag.
7. Don’t get too close to the weight limit.
On many airlines, checked bags can weigh up to 50 pounds — and if you exceed the limit, the charges rack up fast. If you tend to be a heavy packer, purchase a small luggage scale to help you make sure you’re within the limit.
8. Don’t pack all of your clothes in your checked bag.
You’ve probably heard it’s good to pack an extra pair of underwear or an entire outfit in your carry-on, but here’s another reason to pack clothing in your hand luggage: you might get cold! Airports are notoriously chilly, and in the event your seatmate feels the need to blast the air conditioning in the dead of winter, you’ll be happy to have a hoodie and maybe even some warm socks to be comfortable on the plane.