Keep airport stress grounded

With longer lines and increased airport security, air travellers may see their tension levels climb to new heights. So how’s a traveller to cope?

The Associated Press has these strategies from travel experts:

In case your checked luggage is lost in the confusion, label your bags well, with name, business address and phone on the outside, and an itinerary and contact information packed inside, on top. The advice comes from Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler.

Rather than throwing away banned items, take a checkable bag big enough to accommodate items you can’t take on board. Business travelers “must carry essential tools with them,” Foster said, but be prepared in case a ban on all carry-on luggage is suddenly imposed domestically, the way it was in England. Leave room in your checkable luggage for that stack of reports. Consider faxing, e-mailing or FedExing copies of important documents ahead to your destination.

Personal care
“Airplane air is as dry as the Sahara,” said Linda Wells, editor-in-chief of Allure magazine. Butnew rules ban moisturizer and similar items from carry-ons. So put on heavier-than-usual moisturizer before you leave home, with either a moisturizing self-tanner or tinted moisturizer on top. Wells also advises travellers to wear as little makeup as possible. She says what’s worse than not having your makeup with you is having it smear all over your face and you not being able to fix it. Other cosmetics that will last include waterproof mascara, and lip and cheek stain.

Traveling with children
Prepare kids for long lines and stringent security. “Tell the kids, ‘This is what we have to do to make sure everyone is safe,”‘ said Eileen Ogintz, a syndicated columnist who offers advice on family travel on her website. Explain to toddlers “why they need to put their blankie or teddy on the belt,” she added. Give a lollipop or other small reward for cooperation. Check kids’ backpacks for toy guns, plastic swords and the like. If your kids are flying unaccompanied, make sure they understand the new rules.

Be sure to warn them against making sarcastic comments or jokes about security threats. Teenagers should notify airline personnel if they are flying alone, so that they get priority to stay on the flight in case passengers are bumped. To entertain young children, bring a deck of cards, and paper and pencil. “You can draw pictures, make designs, play hangman,” Ogintz said. Play “I Spy” on a long line or if you are forced to check the toy bag, she added.

If you miss your cruise because of a delayed flight, “you fly to the first port of call,” advised Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of a website that offers advice to cruisers. Contact your cruise company to see if schedules or policies have been revised because of the new rules and delays, or if their staff can help you rebook. Holland America delayed the weekend departure times for several ships around Europe and North America to give passengers extra time to make connections.

If you bought trip insurance, you may be eligible for compensation related to delays, according to John Ansell, president of the US Travel Insurance Association, which represents 90 percent of US -based travel insurance firms. Comprehensive travel insurance typically covers rebooking flights, hotels if you are stranded, loss of personal belongings and other problems related to missed connections and cancellations, he said. Most travel insurance companies have hotlines to assist you. If you want to buy insurance for a future trip, a comprehensive cancellation policy – which typically includes medical insurance too – will cost 4 to 7 percent of the total price of your trip, Ansell said.

And experts say that a bit of creativity can go a long way in avoiding security hassles. For example, SmartMoney recommends substituting non-liquid alternatives for any must-have toiletries or non-vital medications in your carry-on. Many traditionally liquid products come in towelettes (bug spray, makeup remover, hand sanitizer) or dissolvable strips (mouthwash, soap). Also consider the pill forms of any liquid medications, such as Pepto Bismol, Vicks or Benadryl.