Airplane Emergency Exit Rows Guide: (Rules, Pros & Cons) [2023]

If you have never sat in an emergency exit row seat you might be wondering why someone would ever choose to sit in those rows.

Doesn’t it just seem like one more thing to worry about on a flight?

Well, it turns out that there actually are quite a few perks for snagging those seats.

In this article, we will cover both the pros and cons of sitting in the emergency exit rows and give you some insight into where these rows are located on different aircraft.

We will also hit on the federal rules and restrictions regarding who is allowed to sit in the emergency exit row, so you’ll know if you are eligible or not.

What is the emergency exit row?

The emergency exit row is a section of an airplane containing seats near an over-wing exit or full-sized exit door.

Sitting here is a slightly different experience from your standard economy seat. For example, the emergency exit row seats may offer more legroom but also may come with restrictions that other seats don’t have.

Keep reading below to find out more about these restrictions and everything that you need to know!

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

emergency exit row
An example of two over-wing exit windows.

Benefits of sitting in the emergency exit row

Let’s start off with talking about the different benefits of sitting in the emergency exit row.

Extra legroom

Typically, one of the main reasons people like to sit in the emergency exit row is because they will have more legroom.

This is because you will generally find more “pitch” (the distance between seats) in the emergency exit rows.

How much extra legroom?

It depends on the aircraft but often you will have at least a couple of extra inches and in some aircraft you may have several more.

For someone who is above average in height, these extra few inches could make a huge difference especially when the flight is several hours.

Fewer seats in the row

Some rows in the emergency exit rows may only have two seats versus the three seats you would typically experience.

So if you are traveling as a couple you can have a little bit more privacy which is one reason why couples like the emergency exit rows.

And if you are seated behind one of these two seat rows, that means you have all the legroom in the world!

Cooler temps

If you are seated by an emergency exit door, you might find that the space nearby the door is a little bit colder.

That’s no surprise considering it could be about -59 F outside at 35,000 feet.

You won’t be getting frostbite but some people might need an extra sweater or blanket when sitting in this row.

Depending on your temperature preference, you might love or hate this.

Not sitting by kids/pets

The truth is a lot of passengers don’t want to sit next to kids, oversized passengers, or pets.

Because kids, some oversized passengers, and people with pets are not allowed in the emergency exit row, if you would like to optimize your comfort, the emergency exit row can be a good place for you to go.

Reduced turbulence

Not many (healthy and stable) people enjoy turbulence.

And for some people, it’s one of the worst things about traveling.

The center of the plane near the wings is known for being one of the best places to sit if you are worried about turbulence.

And often, this is where you can find the emergency exit rows.

Related: Using Turbulence Maps Ultimate Guide

Far enough from the lavatories

Sitting in the back of the plane can be one of the worst places because you may have limited recline and lots of foot traffic going in and out of the bathroom.

You also may have to deal with odors….

On the other hand, if you are seated in front of the economy section you may be prevented from using the first class lavatory and have to walk all the way to the back of the plane to use the bathroom.

But if you are seated in the emergency exit row in the middle of the plane, you are not so far from the bathroom but also not too close.

Did you know? It is basically impossible for the emergency exit doors to open during flight due to cabin pressure.

Downside of sitting in the emergency exit row

More expensive

Some airlines will require passengers to pay more money when choosing a seat in the emergency exit rows.

Sometimes they will consider the emergency exit row seats to be part of the “economy plus” section which is usually slightly more expensive.

For example, when I was looking to book a flight between Tucson and San Francisco, United allowed me to select my seats in the emergency exit row but notified me that I would have to pay $45 to $59 for the seat selection.

Often if you select seats like this you can get extra perks like priority boarding and sometimes even free alcohol.

United may charge you $50+ for the emergency exit row

More difficult to book

Some airlines make booking the emergency exit rows more difficult.

They might reserve them for elite members or not allow you to book them until the last minute.

In other cases they might be classified in such a way that you even have to call in to select your seat. So in some situations you may have to jump through a couple of hoops to get your seat.

Lack of recline

Some of the seats in exit rows will not allow you to recline.

This is typically the case if there are multiple rows of exit row seats for one exit and the seats don’t recline because it would clutter up the space for a clean exit.

Reclining on shorter domestic flights is overrated anyway so I don’t consider this a major con.

Related: 9 Tips to Politely Recline Your Airplane Seat

Different tray tables

Seats in the emergency exit row may have different types of armrests and tray tables than other economy seats.

A standard economy seat may have a tray that drops down from the seatback in front of it but some seats in the emergency exit row may have a tray table that pops out of the armrest.

This means that you will not be able to put the armrest up or down which could be more restrictive for some passengers.

Engine noise

If your exit row is located on or near a wing you may be subjected to louder engine noise. (The front of the plane is always going to be the quietest because you are in front of the engines.)

Some emergency exit rows are in front of the engines so this is not always a drawback.

Obstructed views

Once again if your exit row is on a wing your view out of the window may be largely obstructed from the wing.

If there is an empty seat next to the window, you also might have to stretch out to even catch a window view.

emergency exit row view
Emergency exit row view on Southwest.

Under seat luggage

Depending on the aircraft and airline, you may have issues trying to store your belongings underneath the seat in front of you when sitting in the emergency exit row. Some airlines seem to allow it while others may prevent you from putting anything under the seat.

This means you will have to store all of your carry-on and personal items in the overhead storage bin similar to if you were sitting in the bulkhead.

Outside of takeoff and landing, you may be able to store your belongings under the seat as long as they do not protrude.

Longer wait to get off the plane

Since you will be seated in the middle of the plane you will not be one of the first people to exit the aircraft.

In fact, you could be among the last to get off the plane.

We once arrived in a Caribbean destination when seated in the emergency exit row and the plane deplaned from both the front and the back.

This forced us to be among the very last passengers off the plane which was not very fun because there was a soul-crushing long line for immigration when we finally exited the aircraft.

Extra instructions

This is not the biggest deal to a lot of people but if you are in an emergency exit row you might have to listen to extra instructions about what to do in the event of an emergency.

One thing that I have seen happen (on several occasions) is someone jamming out with their headphones on and getting called out by the flight attendant who is trying to brief the passengers on what they might have to do.

Extra (legal) responsibility

While you might have more room to spread out your legs, by sitting in the emergency exit row you are forced to assume extra duties that could be vitally important.

In a worst-case scenario, your actions could mean the difference between someone living or dying and so your decision to sit in the emergency exit row should not be taken lightly.

There also might be legal implications to your decision to sit in those seats — you could be sued for negligence, for example. So once again you should think through your choice thoroughly.

emergency exit sign

Where is the emergency exit row?

There are two types of emergency exits: over-wing exits and full-sized exit doors.

The over-wing exit rows are going to be located in the middle of the plane (where the wing is attached) and will usually be a smaller window exit. Meanwhile, the full-sized exit door rows will typically be found towards the front or back of the plane (but sometimes can be near the middle).

Because of the different aircraft and multiple exits, there is no way to predict if you will be in an emergency exit row based solely on your row number.

Instead, you will have to check the seat map for your specific aircraft. You can do this with a website called SeatGuru but you can also often view the emergency exit rows whenever you are selecting your seat with the airline.

Below are four different examples with the different aircraft. You’ll see a 787 Dreamliner from United, A321 from JetBlue, 737 from Southwest, and an A350 from Delta. Notice how on the Southwest 737 the exit rows are over the wing but they are not like that with the other aircraft.

Emergency exit row locations
Seat maps via

Rules for the emergency exit row

Not everyone can sit in the emergency exit row.

A good rule of thumb is that if you are preboarding you will not be allowed to sit in the exit rows (there are some exceptions).

But there are also specific instances outlined by the FAA that spell out exactly who is not allowed.

Based on 14 CFR § 121.585(b), there are situations where individuals may not be allowed to sit in the emergency exit row.

The reason is that they may not have the ability to successfully complete the duties talked about below.

The situations where you may not be allowed in the exit row include the following.

Mobility issues

If “[t]he person lacks sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both arms and hands, and both legs” they may not be allowed because they may have issues performing the emergency exit duties.

The lack of mobility provision could apply to people who are severely overweight and struggle to move around quickly or in tight spaces.

Note: If you need a seatbelt extender some flight attendants may ask you to choose a different seat from the exit row.

Under the age of 15

If the individual is “less than 15 years of age or lacks the capacity to perform one or more of the applicable functions [ . . . ] without the assistance of an adult companion, parent, or other relative” they may not be seated in the emergency exit row.

This is a major reason why unaccompanied minors are not allowed in these seats.

Reading comprehension

If “[t]he person lacks the ability to read and understand instructions… in printed or graphic form or the ability to understand oral crew commands” they may be unable to be seated.

A lot of airlines will want to make sure that passengers in the emergency exit row can read and understand the native language of the home country of the airline.

I am assuming that if someone is illiterate this could also disqualify them.

Visual issues

There is also a restriction for sight.

If a passenger “lacks sufficient visual capacity to perform one or more of the applicable functions… without the assistance of visual aids beyond contact lenses or eyeglasses” they aren’t allowed in the emergency exit row.

In other words, if you have a visual impairment, you’re not allowed to sit in the emergency exit row.

Hearing issues

Also, if you have hearing issues, that can be significant enough to keep you out of the exit row as the statute states the passenger cannot lack “sufficient aural capacity to hear and understand instructions shouted by flight attendants, without assistance beyond a hearing aid.”

Communication skills

And finally you won’t be able to stay in the emergency exit row if you lack “the ability adequately to impart information orally to other passengers.”

I take this to mean that if you have severe cognitive deficiencies, you may not be able to be seated in the exit row.

Note that some airlines have their own requirements that they publish. They usually follow along with federal law but may have additional requirements. You can check out the Southwest rules here.

Emergency exit door

What are the emergency exit row duties?

So assuming that you are qualified to sit in the emergency exit row, what could you be expected to do in the event of something going wrong?

Well, you’re not exactly expected to be Captain America but the statute lists 10 different duties you could expect.

These include being called upon to:

  • Locate the emergency exit;
  • Recognize the emergency exit opening mechanism;
  • Comprehend the instructions for operating the emergency exit;
  • Operate the emergency exit;
  • Assess whether opening the emergency exit will increase the hazards to which passengers may be exposed;
  • Follow oral directions and hand signals given by a crewmember;
  • Stow or secure the emergency exit door so that it will not impede use of the exit;
  • Assess the condition of an escape slide, activate the slide, and stabilize the slide after deployment to assist others in getting off the slide;
  • Pass expeditiously through the emergency exit; and
  • Assess, select, and follow a safe path away from the emergency exit.

It’s really important to consider what these duties would entail in practice.

It’s not just about pulling a lever to open the door but there are actual needs for judgment calls to be made.

Are you someone who does okay that type of pressure or would you fold like a lawn chair?

Some passengers might feel safer sitting by the emergency exit because they could presumably be the first people out of the plane in the event of something like a fire.

But if you were to exit that quickly you might be forced to neglect some of the duties you would be called upon to do like stowing the emergency exit door.

Again, you could be sued for negligence.

If you are wondering what it would be like when an emergency exit door is being opened, check out the videos below and they will give you a pretty good picture of what it will look like.

Here’s a video of a window exit being opened:

Here’s a video of an emergency slide being deployed:

Final word

Personally, I am a major fan of the emergency exit rows. I have flown in them many times especially when flying Southwest. For certain people that value legroom and extra privacy it can be well worth it to pay a little bit extra for them but in the back of your head you should always think about what you might be called upon to do in the event of an emergency.

Plaza Premium Lounges Guide (Prices & Locations) [2023]

You may have heard of Plaza Premium Lounges before because they are in a lot of different countries and come attached to several different membership programs. But what exactly are these lounges, where can you find them, and are these worth your time?

In this article, I will break down everything you need to know about Plaza Premium Lounges including things like how to get access, all of the locations, and what you can expect when you visit. 

What are Plaza Premium Lounges?

Plaza Premium Lounges are lounges that are part of the Plaza Premium Group lounge network and they are located all over the world. You will find a lot of these lounges in Australia, Asia, and the Middle East, though you can also find some in Europe and South America.

How do you get access to Plaza Premium lounges?

There are quite a few ways that you can get access to a Plaza Premium Lounge.

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Purchasing a day pass

One option to get access to a Plaza Premium Lounge is to simply purchase a day pass.

These can be purchased/reserved online or you can just purchase a day pass at the check-in desk. To book online simply go to the main website and then search for your desired lounge and after you click on that lounge you will see an option to reserve a spot.

Not all lounges will allow you to book online and keep in mind that there could be capacity restraints if a lounge is particularly busy at that time. 

The cost of your day pass will depend on the lounge, type of visit, and also on how long you plan on sticking around. Typically, for the type of visit you can choose from a standard lounge visit, a shower visit, or a private resting experience.

A Plaza Premium lounge at Hong Kong charges the following rates for a lounge visit: 

  • Two hours: US$82
  • Five hours: US$110

A lounge at London Heathrow charged $58 for a two hour visit and $26 for a shower visit but some lounges in Asia may only charge $8 for a shower visit. So the cost of your visit will depend largely on the location and duration of your visit. 

Some of these lounges have more to offer and you can purchase a full private rest experience.

This will allow you the opportunity to take a shower, enjoy some dining, and get some real rest. With a pass like this, you could spend up to nine hours in the lounge so it is essentially a mini-hotel stay.

The prices for these experiences are going to be much more expensive. For example, the same lounge in Hong Kong referenced above will charge you US$252 for this experience for 9 hours. (Other private resting experiences may be cheaper if you are only using them for 3 to 6 hours.)

Priority Pass Select membership

You can also get access to some Plaza Premium Lounges with your Priority Pass Select membership. Priority Pass is a much larger network of airport lounges that you can find across the world and their lounge network totals over 1,200 lounges. Some lounges in the Priority Pass Select network are also Plaza Premium lounge so there is overlap between the two.

If you are interested in obtaining a Priority Pass Select membership I would suggest getting a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve which grants access to lounges and credits to the airport restaurants that are in the Priority Pass Select restaurant network. With a Priority Pass Select membership, you will typically be able to bring two guests along with you but it depends on the type of card you have and also on any capacity restraints from the lounge.

American Express Platinum Card & other cards

If you hold the American Express Platinum Card you can also get access to Plaza Premium Lounges (along with access to many other different types of lounges). Platinum card members may bring up to 1 companion into Plaza Premium Lounges as complimentary guests.

There is some access overlap because the Platinum Card also provides you with Priority Pass Select membership. However, there are some Plaza Premium Lounges that do not offer access to Priority Pass members and with the Platinum Card sometimes you can reportedly get more extensive access and better benefits such as more free food and drinks.

Other cards may also provide access like those from Capital One.

Flight tickets

If you are flying a premium cabin on a certain airline, then you may be given admission to the lounge based on your airfare. For example, I was once given access to a Plaza Premium lounge when I was flying business class on Thai Airways.

Do you have to pay for children?

You can check the policy for bringing children to a lounge by clicking on the lounge through the main website. But the children policy that you will often encounter is that children between ages 2 to 11 are charged 70% of the adult rates and children under 2 years old have complimentary access.

What can you expect in a Plaza Premium lounge?

In my personal experience, I found Plaza Premium Lounges to be pretty high-quality. They didn’t quite blow me away but they are not a bad place to relax in.

The types of amenities that you will encounter will just depend on the type of lounge that you visit. It’s very easy to see what amenities each lounge has because when you click on that lounge, you will see a breakdown of icons displaying all of the amenities offered. It will look something like this:

Food and beverages

Most of these lounges will have an area with food and beverages, including hot food. If you are only interested in vegetarian options many lounges will accommodate those.


Most Plaza Premium airport lounges will have an area dedicated for alcoholic drinks. Some even might have draught beer.

Just note that if you are traveling through certain parts of the world like Saudi Arabia then you will not find a Plaza Premium lounge with alcohol due to the laws in that country. 

Seating areas

All of these lounges should have comfortable seating areas where you can relax and enjoy winding down between flights. Many of the seating areas are semi-private so you can experience a little bit of privacy as you get work done and await your flight. 

Flight information

Just about any Plaza Premium lounge that you visit should have a display for flight information. This means that you will see a screen with all of the current flight numbers and departure times displayed so that you can easily check on the status of your departure. Just note that some lounges might announce when a flight is changed or delayed but most of the time it is completely on you to keep up with your flight times. 


You should expect to receive complimentary Wi-Fi at most Plaza Premium airport lounges. The speed may vary depending on the airport but in my experience the speed was very good and I was able to get work done without any issues. 

Charging stations

Most lounges will come equipped with the charging stations so you can keep your laptop and electronics ready to go for your travels. Sometimes these might be built into the furniture so be on the lookout for them.

Spa and massage stations

A minority of these lounges will have special spa and massage stations such as the Plaza Premium Lounge (Near Gate 35, Departures) in Hong Kong. Often times a spa or massage session may be very short such as 10 minutes and could be included in an admission package.

Something to keep in mind about massages in airport lounges is that these are subject to availability and often times can fill up quickly. So if you are interested in getting some type of spa session then you need to reserve that as quickly as you can.


Not all Plaza Premium lounges will have showers but some will. Again, showers can be in hot demand sometimes so as soon as you arrive at a lounge you should inquire about availability. Typically, you will be given a set amount that you can use in the shower such as 30 minutes.

24 hours?

Some Plaza Premium Lounges will be open 24 hours. In certain regions, you may find 24 hour lounges more common like in places like India. Other times, you will be facing a more standard open time where the lounge opens early in the morning and closes late at night, possibly around midnight. Often times the open and close hours depend on the flight schedules at that airport.

Departures and arrivals?

Plaza Premium Lounges have both departures and arrivals lounges. A departure lounge is a lounge that you visit while you are waiting for your flight to depart and an arrival lounge is a lounge where you visit upon landing.

Most of the lounges will be departure lounges but there are some Plaza Premium arrival lounges. For example, London Heathrow Airport has several different arrivals lounges. You might think that arrival lounges will be cheaper to visit but that is not necessarily the case. For example, the arrivals lounge at London Heathrow charges $52 for admission good for two hours.

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Full list of Plaza Premium Lounges

Below is a full list of all of the known Plaza Premium Lounges that you can find. 

Mainland China

Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX)

  • Library Lounge by Aerotel Beijing (Northeast Pier Airport Terminal)

Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)

  • BGS Premier Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 2) – Temporarily Closed
  • BGS Premier Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 3) – Temporarily Closed

Changsha South Railway Station

  • DragonPass x Plaza Premium Lounge High-speed Railway Lounge

Guangzhou South Railway Station

  • DragonPass x Plaza Premium Lounge High-speed Railway Lounge

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN)

  • Library Lounge by Aerotel Guangzhou (International Departures, Terminal 2) – Temporarily Closed

Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)

  • No. 77 China Eastern Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 2) – Temporarily Closed
  • No. 37 VIP Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 1) – Temporarily Closed
  • No. 9 VIP Lounge (Domestic Departures, Terminal 1) – Temporarily Closed

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA)

  • V01 VIP International Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 1) – Temporarily Closed

Shenzhen North Railway Station

  • DragonPass x Plaza Premium Lounge High-speed Railway Lounge

Qingdao Jiaodong International Airport (TAO)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (VIP Building)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge V1

Hong Kong SAR

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)

  • Plaza Premium First (Near Gate 1, Departures) – Temporarily Closed
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Near Gate 1, Departures) – Temporarily Closed
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Near Gate 35, Departures)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Near Gate 60, Departures)

Macau SAR

Macau International Airport (MFM)

  • Plaza Premium First – Opening Soon
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Departures)


Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Zone A, International Departures, Terminal 2)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Zone A1, International Departures, Terminal 2) – Temporarily Closed
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Zone C, International Departures, Terminal 1) – Temporarily Closed
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Zone D, International Departures, Terminal 1)

Asia Pacific


Brisbane Airport (BNE)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures)
  • Wellness Spa (International Departures) – Temporarily Closed

Melbourne Airport (MEL)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 2)

Sydney Airport (SYD)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Arrivals)
  • SkyTeam Lounge operated by Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures)


Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures)

Siem Reap International Airport (REP)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures)


Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK)

  • Saphire – Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 3)


Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL)

  • Plaza Premium First (International Departures, Satellite Terminal)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures, Satellite Terminal)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Next to Aerotel Kuala Lumpur, gateway@klia2)

Langkawi International Airport (LGK)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Departure Hall, Outside Secured Area)

Penang International Airport (PEN)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic Departures)


Mandalay International Airport (MDL)

  • CIP Lounge

New Zealand

Christchurch International Airport (CHC)

  • Manaia Lounge in partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge

Queenstown Airport (ZQN)

  • Manaia Lounge in partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge


Mactan-Cebu International Airport (CEB)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Departures, Terminal 2)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic Arrival, Terminal 1)

Clark International Airport (CRK)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Departures, Terminal 2)

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL)

  • marhaba Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport Lounge (Terminal 1)
  • marhaba Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport Lounge (Terminal 3)


Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 1)
  • Swimming Pool by Aerotel Singapore (Transit Area, Terminal 1)
  • BLOSSOM – SATS & Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 4)
  • SATS Premier Lounge (Departures, Terminal 2) – Temporarily Closed
  • SATS Premier Lounge (Departures, Terminal 3)

South Korea

Gimpo International Airport (GMP)

  • Skyhub Lounge (International Departure, Terminal 1)

Incheon International Airport (ICN)

  • Matina Lounge (International Departure, Terminal 2)
  • Matina Lounge (East Wing, International Departures, Terminal 1) – Temporarily Closed
  • Matina Lounge (West Wing, International Departures, Terminal 1)
  • Skyhub Lounge (East Concourse, International Departure) – Temporarily Closed
  • Skyhub Lounge (East Wing, International Departures, Terminal 1)
  • Skyhub Lounge (West Wing, International Departures, Terminal 1)


Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK)

  • Oman Air First & Business Class Lounge

Americas and Europe


Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE)

  • Star Alliance Lounge Buenos Aires


Rio de Janeiro RIOgaleão – Tom Jobim International Airport (GIG)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 2)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic Departures, Terminal 2)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Arrivals, Terminal 2)

GRU Airport – Aeroporto Internacional de São Paulo (GRU)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic Departures, Terminal 2)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Landside, Terminal 2)


Edmonton International Airport (YEG)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Non-US Departures)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (US Departures)

Montréal – Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)

  • Air France Lounge operated by Plaza Premium Group

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic Departures, Terminal 1)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic Departures, Terminal 3)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 1)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 3)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (US Transborder, Terminal 1)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (US Transborder, Terminal 3)
  • Wellbeing Spa (Toronto Pearson Airport)

Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic Departures, Pier C)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic Departures)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (US Departures)

Winnipeg Richardson International Airport (YWG)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Departures)


Cancún International Airport (CUN)

  • MERA Business Lounge (Terminal 2)
  • MERA Business Lounge (Terminal 3)
  • MERA Business Lounge Domestic (Terminal 4)
  • MERA Business Lounge International (Terminal 4)


Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ)

  • Avianca Lounge Barranquilla

Bogota El Dorado International Airport (BOG)

  • Avianca Bogota Gold Lounge (International)
  • Avianca Lounge Bogota (Domestic)

Palonegro International Airport (BGA)

  • Avianca Lounge Bucaramanga

Cartagena Rafael Núñez Airport (CTG)

  • Avianca Lounge Cartagena

Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Cali Airport (CLO)

  • Avianca Lounge Cali

José María Córdova International Airport (MDE)

  • Avianca Lounge Medellin

El Salvador

El Salvador International Airport (SAL)

  • Avianca Lounge El Salvador (International Departures)

United States of America

Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)

  • Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse operated by Plaza Premium Group

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic Departures, Terminal E)

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

  • Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse operated by Plaza Premium Group

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

  • Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

Orlando International Airport (MCO)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge Orlando

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

  • Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse operated by Plaza Premium Group

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

  • Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse operated by Plaza Premium Group


Copenhagen Airport (CPH)

  • Eventyr Lounge in partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge


Helsinki Airport (HEL)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Non-Schengen Area, Departures)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Arrivals)
  • Wellness Spa (Arrivals) – Temporarily Closed


Frankfurt International Airport (FRA)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 2)


Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Departures, Terminal 2)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Non-Schengen Area, Departures, Mezzanine Floor, Terminal 2B)


Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Extra Schengen Area, Departures, Terminal 3)


Gothenborg Landvetter Airport (GOT)

  • Vinga Lounge in partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge

Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN)

  • Norrsken Lounge in partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge
  • Aurora Lounge in partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge


Geneva Airport (GVA)

  • marhaba Geneva Airport Lounge

Zurich Airport (ZRH)

  • marhaba Zurich Airport Lounge


Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic Departures)
  • Plaza Premium Bosphorus Lounge (International Departures)

United Kingdom

Edinburgh Airport (EDI)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Departure Hall)

Isle of Man Airport (IOM)

  • Rendezvous Lounge in partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge

London Heathrow Airport (LHR)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Departures, Terminal 2)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Arrivals, Terminal 2) – Temporarily Closed
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Arrivals, Terminal 3) – Temporarily Closed
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Departures, Terminal 4)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Departures, Terminal 5)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Arrivals, Terminal 4) – Temporarily Closed
  • Blush Lounge by Plaza Premium Group (Departures, Terminal 4)

London Gatwick Airport (LGW)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Departures, North Terminal)

India/Middle East/Africa


Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 2)


Muscat International Airport (MCT)

  • Majan Lounge

Saudi Arabia

King Fahd International Airport (DMM)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures)

King Abdul Aziz International Airport (JED)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures)

Riyadh King Khalid International Airport (RUH)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (Departures, Terminal 1) – Temporarily Closed

South Africa

King Shaka International Airport (DUR)

  • Umphafa Lounge in Partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge

O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB)

  • Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse operated by Plaza Premium Group
  • Shongololo Lounge in partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge
  • Mashonzha Lounge in Partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge

United Arab Emirates

Dubai International Airport (DXB)

  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 3)
  • Their Patio by Plaza Premium Group (Arrivals, Terminal 3)
  • marhaba Dubai International Airport Lounge (Terminal 2)
  • marhaba Dubai International Airport Lounge (Terminal 1)

Sharjah International Airport (SHJ)

  • The Lounge – Sharjah International Airport


Robert Mugabe International Airport (HRE)

  • The Lounge (International Departures)

Final word

As you can tell, there are a lot of Plaza Premium Lounges located all across the globe. These are for the most part pretty high-quality lounges that offer an array of amenities that you might need and there are multiple ways to access them including a couple of ways via credit cards. Personally I’ve had good experiences at these lounges and would not hesitate to give them a visit again.

American Airlines Boarding Groups Guide (Get The Best Seats!) [2023]

The boarding process for American Airlines is very similar to most other major airlines, such as United Airlines boarding. Below, I’ll show you how the American Airlines boarding groups work, including things like the boarding order and how to make sure you have room for your carry-on bags. 

I’ll then tell you everything you need to know about things like check-in and checked baggage so you’ll know when you can get to the airport and check your bags before your plane closes for boarding.

How do American Airlines boarding groups work?

American Airlines has a total of nine boarding groups and at the time of boarding each group should be called up individually. Note that it’s possible that each group might not get called up individually.

For example, sometimes agents might lump several groups together. So it’s a good idea to always monitor when you think you should be boarding.

Below are all of the different American Airlines boarding groups and the different types of passengers who will board.


If you are a passenger requiring assistance, such as an unaccompanied minor you’ll be able to board with American Airlines pre-boarding. (If you need to make special travel arrangements, you can make them online or call 800-433-7300.)

Pre-boarding is also where those with ConciergeKey members (the highest elite level) are allowed to board along with Five Star customers. However, those who need assistance getting in their seat should be called before elite members.

Boarding Group 1

First class or two cabin international Business class passengers will board in Group 1. Two cabin business class planes are those aircraft without a “true” first class (i.e, the highest class on the aircraft is business class).

Also, after a recent change, AAdvantage Executive Platinum members will board in this group.

Other passengers who can board with Group 1 are those active duty U.S. military members with military I.D.

Boarding Group 2

Group 2 allows those to board with Platinum Pro or those who have oneworld Emerald elite status. This is also where those business class passengers can board in those three cabin aircraft that do have first class.

Boarding Group 3

Group 3 allows those to board with Platinum or those who have oneworld Sapphire elite status.

Boarding Group 4

Group 4 allows those to board with American Airlines Gold and oneworld Ruby status. It also offer boarding to those with Air Pass and passengers flying Premium Economy.

If you hold the premium Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard you can also board with Group 4. This is the premium AA credit card issued by Citi that comes with Admiral’s Club access and additional AA perks like priority check-in, priority airport screening (where available), in-flight savings, and free checked baggage.

This card also offers a pretty decent sign-up bonus at times so it can be one of the best ways to rack up a lot of AA miles in a hurry.  

If you purchased Priority Boarding, you can also board with Group 4. The cost for Priority boarding can be from $9 to $74. Unless you’re flying on a Basic Economy fare, you can buy Priority for your trip on American marketed and operated flights during the following times:

  • Check-in on
  • Check-in at an airport kiosk
  • Through Reservations before departure.

Boarding Group 5

Group 5 is known as “Preferred Boarding.”

If you are flying Main Cabin Extra, you can board with this group and if you are an eligible corporate traveler you can also board with Group 5. (Main Cabin Extra is essentially economy with extra legroom and perks like complimentary alcohol on board.)

Finally, if you have an eligible AAdvantage credit card like the Aviator Red or the Citi Platinum Select, you’ll get preferred boarding. Cards like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select also offer you complimentary checked baggage for domestic flights for you and several companions. If you do a lot of flying on American that can save you a lot of money.

In case you’re wondering, here are all of the eligible cards that will get you preferred boarding:

  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
  • CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select American Express Card
  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select Visa Signature
  • AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard
  • AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard
  • AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard

Group 5 is great because you shouldn’t have issues with overhead storage space. On a couple of recent flights I took, I had Group 5 boarding, and we had plenty of space in the overhead storage bins — it wasn’t an issue at all.

Boarding Groups 6 through 8

Group 6 consists of Coach Groups and then also Basic Economy on longhaul transoceanic flights. Basic Economy is the class that doesn’t allow you many perks like selecting a seat.

Group 6 boarding is when things start to get a little tricky with overhead storage space. It all depends on certain factors like how many elite travelers there are on your flight. You will often be able to find overhead storage space in Group 6 and even Group 7 but it might not always be right where you’re sitting.

Once you get higher up into Group 8, finding overhead storage space becomes much more difficult and you might have to gate check your bag in some cases.

Related: Airline Overhead Storage Bin Etiquette Guide

Boarding Group 9

Group 9 consists of Basic Economy within the U.S., Canada, Mexico & Caribbean. You will be the last to board the plane so as you can probably expect, finding overhead storage space can be very difficult to impossible.

H/T: Flyertalk

American Airlines plane on the tarmac

Missing your boarding group

If you are a higher boarding group and you arrive when a later boarding group is boarding you should be able to enter through your lane and bypass their line. For example, let’s say you’re a business class passenger who can board in Group 2.

Now let’s say that you were hanging out in the lounge and lost track of time and now they are calling for Group 5 when you arrive. You should be able to bypass any other groups and simply make your way to the gate agent in that case.

A polite way to do this is to head to the front of your boarding group line and then try to signal to the gate agent that you have a higher boarding group pass. This will allow you to cut the line without potentially causing an unwanted confrontation with other passengers.

Some people argue that you should just join the current line instead of cutting but that is a matter that is open for debate.

Boarding with other groups

If there are other members in your party that you’d like to board with this shouldn’t be a problem as long as you are moving “down.”

For example, if someone with a Group 3 boarding pass wants to board with Group 5 that should be okay. However, if someone with a Group 5 wants to board with Group 3 that would not be allowed.

American Airlines boarding group sign
American Airlines boarding groups.

How early should I get to the airport for American Airlines?

American Airlines states that you should arrive two hours before your flight for a domestic flight and three hours before your flight for an international flight.

That’s usually a pretty good rule of thumb, but I would also recommend to consider whether or not you have to check bags or not. If you’re not checking in bags you can often shave off 15 to 30 minutes for your arrival time.

Also, if you can rely on things like TSA Pre-Check and CLEAR you can shave some more time off your arrival.

Related: How Early Should You Get to the Airport?

When can I check in for an American Airlines flight?

If you’re like me and you enjoy getting to the airport early, you’ll probably want to know how early you can check-in for your flight.

You can check-in online or from the app starting 24 hours before and up to 45 minutes before departure (90 minutes for international).

When can I check my bags for American Airlines?

When checking your bags at the airport there are two deadlines you need to know about.

The first is the latest that you can check your bags and the second is the earliest that you can check your bags. By the way, if you are looking for information about American Airlines baggage fees click here.

The latest you can check your bags

To check bags at the airport, you must be there a certain amount of time before scheduled departure.

If you are flying within the United States, you’ll need to check your bags at least 45 minutes prior to departure. If you’re flying to or from destinations outside the U.S., you’ll need to check your bags at least 60 minutes prior to departure. 

But note that some airports require you to check your bags even sooner before departure. Check out the rules from the airports below (supplied by American Airlines).

Airport locationAirport codeCheck-in before scheduled departure
ArubaAUA75 minutes
Barcelona, SpainBCN75 minutes
Buenos Aires, ArgentinaEZE75 minutes
Dublin, IrelandDUB75 minutes
Georgetown, GuyanaGEO90 minutes
Madrid, SpainMAD75 minutes
Paris, FranceCDG75 minutes
San Juan, Puerto RicoSJU60 minutes
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin IslandsSTX90 minutes
St. Kitts and NevisSKB90 minutes
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin IslandsSTT90 minutes
Tampa, Florida
Applies only to the Consolidated Rental Car Center
TPA90 minutes
Tel Aviv, IsraelTLV75 minutes

The earliest you can check your bags

The earliest you can check your bags in will depend on the airport.

Generally, I try to check my bags in no earlier than four hours — this is a common deadline for many airlines and some might even impose a three hour deadline.

If an airline allows you to check bags earlier than 4 hours before departure consider that you are increasing the odds of your baggage getting lost by handing them over way before the airline typically has a standard procedure for them (just something to think about).

You can’t check bags more than 4 hours before departure when flying from the following airports:

  • Charleston (CHS)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Honolulu (HNL)
  • Kahului (OGG)
  • Kansas City (MCI)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Portland, Oregon (PDX)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Seattle (SEA)
Honolulu (HNL) is one of several locations where you can’t check your bags earlier than four hours prior to your flight time.

When will American Airlines board the plane?

The time for boarding an American Airlines plane depends on what type of aircraft that you’re flying on.

For the most part, flights will start boarding 30 to 50 minutes before the scheduled departure. Generally, the larger the aircraft or the farther the destination, the sooner the boarding will begin.

Here are some estimated boarding times based on destination via Flyertalk. Keep in mind that these could differ based on your actual flight and boarding could occur earlier.

50 minutes prior to departure

From/To the United States and:

  • Europe
  • Middle East
  • Asia
  • South American destinations: Asuncion, PY; Brasilia, BR; Belo Horizonte, BR; Curitiba, Br; Buenos Aires, AR; Rio de Janeiro, BR; Sao Paulo, BR; Lima, PE; Montevideo, UY; Porto Alegre, BR; Recife, BR; Salvador, BR; Santiago, CL; Sao Paulo Viracop, BR

45 minutes prior to departure

From/To the United States and:

  • Caribbean
  • Central America
  • Hawaii
  • Mexico
  • South American destinations: La Paz, BO; Santa Cruz, BO; Maracaibo, VE; Caracas, VE; Bogota, CO; Cali, CO; Medellin, CO; Guayaquil, EC; Quito, EC

35 minutes prior to departure

Domestic on these aircraft types: A321, A321S, A330, B757, B767, B787, B777

  • Within the 48 contiguous states
  • Alaska
  • Canada

30 minutes prior to departure

Domestic on these aircraft types: A319, A320, A321T, E190, S80, B737

  • Within the 48 contiguous states
  • Alaska
  • Canada
Boarding gate area for American Airlines
Boarding group for American Airlines.

After you check your bags and get through security you will need to wait until the plane begins the boarding process. You can find the estimated boarding time on your boarding pass.

Just note that this time is subject to change depending on the status of delays. In addition, it’s always possible that your gate could change as well so always keep your eye on the monitors.

When to arrive at the gate

You need to make sure you arrive at the gate 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure for flights departing from points within the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands.

For flights departing from points outside the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands, i.e., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Central/South America, Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, make sure you arrive 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure.

If you are not at the gate at that time, it’s possible that they will give your seat to someone else. The doors close 10 minutes before departure and you will not be allowed to board once the doors close.

Note: In the event you are coming from a connecting flight that was late, keep in mind the flight attendants will hold the door open for you — at least for a short while.

Coronavirus changes

If you are boarding a flight during the pandemic, don’t be surprised if you are asked to maintain 6 feet apart from other passengers while awaiting boarding. In addition, you will likely be required to wear a mask while waiting in the boarding area.

Related: American Airlines Lost and Found Guide

American Airlines Boarding FAQ

How can I get priority boarding on American Airlines?

You can get priority boarding by having elite status or flying in certain cabins such as business class.

You can also get priority boarding with Group 4 if you have the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.

When do Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select members board?

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select cardmembers get to board with Group 5 which is known as “preferred boarding.”

When does business class board?

If you are flying internationally on a two cabin business class aircraft you will be able to board with group one.

How many boarding groups does American Airlines have?

There are a total of 10 boarding groups if you include pre-boarding.

Can I board with other groups?

You can board with other groups as long as you are boarding with a group that is lower than your initial boarding group.

For example, if you are in Group 5 you can board with Group 6 but not Group 4.

When does basic economy board?

Basic economy will be the very last to board and they will board with Group 9.

What happens if I miss my boarding group?

If you miss your boarding group, you should still be able to board as soon as you arrive to the boarding area (assuming that you arrive while the gate is still open).

When does boarding start?

Boarding will usually begin about 30 to 50 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time.

Final word 

The boarding process with American Airlines is pretty straight forward. There are many ways to get Preferred Boarding (Group 5) and those should allow you to have overhead storage bin space without much issue so I would generally try to get into that group.

Presidential Suites: Everything You Need to Know

For lots of travelers, staying in a presidential suite is a bucket list item. It’s a way to experience how the rich and famous live and it can be one of the most memorable and exciting ways to travel.

But what exactly can you expect when booking a presidential suite? Just how cheap or expensive can they be and what kind of special amenities or room features might you have?

We researched over 100 presidential suites in the US and abroad and have broken down a lot of the key things you need to know about presidential suites, including how to find presidential suites for under $1,000!

Where did the term presidential suite come from?

Where and when exactly the term “presidential suite” originated is up for debate.

Some sources claim it originated from Woodrow Wilson’s presidency from 1913–1921, while others attribute it back to the time of Ulysses Grant in 1890 or even to the European tradition of royal suites.

Regardless of where the term came from, it’s now undoubtedly a term associated with the most luxurious type of lodging.

What exactly is a presidential suite?

It will help to define a presidential suite before we dive in too deep.

The presidential suite is usually the premier hotel suite offered at a property. It’s the “biggest and the baddest” room. The type of room that makes you feel like royalty.

This top level residence is not always labeled with the name presidential suite and can go by other names like Pinnacle Suite, Ambassador Suite, or even take on a namesake. You might even run into an actual presidential-themed room like the JFK Suite at the Hilton Fort Worth.

One thing that makes these suites special is that lots of these rooms have hosted presidents, world leaders, and other high profile individuals. Case in point: the Waldorf Astoria in New York has hosted every U.S. president since Herbert Hoover.

That would explain the bullet proof windows in some of these suites….

Sometimes there are suites better (and larger) than the presidential suite, especially when you venture overseas.

Look to the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London which has a presidential suite with 1,023 square feet but a number of other suites much bigger like the three bedroom penthouse with a little under 5,000 square feet!

It’s also worth noting that some presidential suites fail to deliver because hotels use the term “presidential suite” wayyy too loosely.

I break down these shortcoming suites into two different categories.

  • Vice presidential suites: These are presidential suites that are nice and quite spacious but lack the unique character and features of a true presidential suite.
  • Faux presidential suites: These are suites worthy of being impeached and that have absolutely no business using the term presidential in their name!


Some hotels don’t allow you to book presidential suites online and sometimes they don’t even publish a lot of (or any) details about them.

Instead, you’ll have to call to make a booking and get pricing information from the sales department although a concierge is sometimes involved.

I’m guessing they prohibit online bookings so that they only get people seriously interested in staying.

For the really pricey presidential suites, don’t be surprised if you are required to pay upfront (even if they have a flexible cancellation policy).

Finding availability is sometimes difficult because some people — usually celebrities or high profile net worth individuals — occupy the presidential suite for extended periods of time. For example, an actor could be in town shooting a movie and could be staying in that presidential suite for a couple of months.

That’s probably yet another reason why hotels like to have personal interaction to book the suite — they don’t want people tying up inventory.

If you’re hoping to get upgraded to a presidential suite, the odds are definitely stacked against you. However, I have seen some people with elite status get bumped to the presidential suite on occasion.

Usually it’s for something like a one night stay and often that person has stayed with that chain many times, perhaps even earning a high tier of lifetime status. But if you see that the suite is available, it never hurts to ask.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar Grand Suite balcony with fireplace
Fairmont Grand Del Mar Grand Suite balcony with fireplace. Image via

How much do presidential suites cost?

We analyzed about 100 presidential suites in the US and in different countries. On average, we found the price for a presidential suite came out to $4,453 and the median price came out to $2,127.

However, the price range for a presidential suite can vary dramatically.

For example, the cheapest presidential suite we found was at the Riverwalk Plaza Hotel and it was going for only $230 per night. It was a nice suite but it did not have true presidential suite qualities.

As for the most expensive, it was at The Carlyle, a luxury property in New York. The sales team told us that it went for $42,500 per night (and that’s not even including all the taxes).

So obviously your experience in a presidential suite can be extremely different depending on what property you are staying at.

But you’ll be happy to know that we also found plenty of presidential suites for under $1,000 per night.

If you have a credit card like an American Express card, you can often find deals where you can get around $100 to $200+ off on stays when spending several hundred dollars. This can turn one of these cheaper presidential suites into a pretty reasonable rate for a “splurge.”

Also, if you are set in stone on your dates you can purchase an advanced purchase rate (that you can’t cancel) and that could save you a good amount on a presidential suite.

Here are some examples of presidential suites (or rooms that are effectively presidential suites) that cost under $1,000/night:

Riverwalk Plaza HotelPresidential Suite$229
Residence Inn Phoenix Glendale Sports & Entertainment DistrictPresidential Suite$318
Kimpton: Hotel Monaco SeattleAmbassador Suite$364
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tucson – Reid ParkPresidential Suite$388
The Ashton (Fort Worth)Presidential Suite$468
Menger Hotel (San Antonio)Luxury Suite$678
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego La JollaPresidential Suite$694
Andaz West HollywoodPresidential Suite$729
Kimpton: George HotelThe George Presidential Suite$736
Grand Hyatt San Antonio River WalkPresidential Suite$789
Hyatt Regency San Antonio RiverwalkPresidential Suite$845
Kimpton : Hotel Monaco PhiladelphiaPresidential Suite$856
The Statler Dallas, Curio Collection by HiltonPresidential Suite$863
Kimpton : Pittman Hotel (Dallas)Presidential Suite$906
Kimpton: Hotel Palomar PhoenixPresidential Suite$940
The Guild Hotel, San Diego, A Tribute Portfolio HotelPenthouse Suite$940
Pacific Terrace Hotel (San Diego)Master Suite$949
Hotel Elysée (New York)Presidential Suite$959
New York Hilton MidtownPresidential Suite$967
San Diego Marriott Gaslamp QuarterPresidential Suite$969
The Stephen F Austin Royal Sonesta HotelGovernor’s Suite$999

Keep in mind that presidential suites can often go for discounted rates, especially for high-level executives who are capable of bringing in a lot of business for the hotel. Other times a discount might be given for those on an extended-stay.

How big are presidential suites?

After analyzing 100 presidential suites in the US and in different countries, we found the average size for a presidential suite to come out to 1,812 square feet. An average hotel room is probably about 300 to 500 square feet so a presidential suite is easily 4 to 6 times larger than a standard room.

The smallest presidential suite at the Kimpton: George Hotel had only 535 square feet while the largest one was the Park Hyatt Bangkok at 4,100 square feet.

(The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa had the Overwater Reef Residence with a whopping 9,634 square feet but that type of room is designed for multiple guests so it’s sort of in a different league.)

So based on all the above you can probably guess that one of the main qualities of a presidential suite is that they are going to be huge in terms of the square feet.

So what can you expect to find with all this space?

Let’s take a look.

InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile Presidential Suite living room
InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile Presidential Suite. Image via

What to expect inside a presidential suite

Whether it’s the high ceilings, grand entryways, or stunning decor, each room can blow you away with its elegance, features, and sophistication.

Sometimes you’ll find a presidential suite that provides more of a cozy “home” feeling like the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile shown above.

Other times it will be all about the ultra-modern swank or traditional opulence (especially with historical hotels).

But regardless of which way the hotel goes with its interior design style, one thing that I’ve noticed is that the suites often have a much different feel than the other rooms found in the hotel.

Usually, standard rooms, junior suites, and even deluxe sweets, all kind of have a similar look or feel. They get progressively more interesting as you go up in price but the color schemes, decor, and art, all usually fall within the same design theme.

But when it comes to the presidential suite, hotels sometimes put a lot of effort into giving them a very distinguished feel and it’s almost as if you’re entering a different property.

For your bedroom, you can expect it to be extra spacious. Sometimes the bedspread is extravagant with ornate pillows and soft, high-thread-count Egyptian cotton linens.

InterContinental New York Barclay Presidential Suite Bedroom
InterContinental New York Barclay Presidential Suite. Image via

Your room may be tricked out with automated drapes, shades, and lights — you might even have a tablet for enhanced control of things like temperature, lighting, and entertainment. Quality sound systems may offer surround sound that you can easily take advantage of with Bluetooth.

A huge TV often hangs from the wall or you might even have your own projector screen system that lowers from the ceiling. If you’re in a high-rise hotel, you may have the best view in the whole building just outside your windows.

A good presidential suite will also have an impressive office for those people who need to get things done. For example, the office at the InterContinental New York Barclay features a library office with an ultra stately feel. Much different from your ordinary hotel room desk sitting under a TV.

Others offices may even offer a quality work computer like a Mac to go along with personalized stationary.

InterContinental New York Barclay Presidential Suite library office
InterContinental New York Barclay Presidential Suite. Image via

You’ll usually find plenty of comfortable seating in the living area that’s ideal for having multiple guests or even small business events and private parties. They will surely be dazzled by sparkling chandeliers, Spanish rugs, and original artwork.

If you’re visiting during the holidays, small touches to the living areas like a fully decorated Christmas tree can add some festive spirit to your stay.

A large dining table that can also function as a meeting table for eight to 12 people is a staple of a presidential suite because of all of the executives that often occupy these rooms.

And if it’s cooking that you’re interested in, some of these suites offer a full-sized kitchen with a fully stocked pantry and refrigerator, not to mention top of the line appliances.

W Scottsdale Extreme Wow Suite Kitchen
W Scottsdale Extreme Wow Suite. Image via

Some hotels like the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills offer a special media room for you to enjoy movies in your own little private movie theater.

Huge, impressive balconies and terraces are another common fixture for presidential suites.

Often you’ll find wraparound balconies with exceptional views of the city, the coast, or the surrounding hills or mountains. A fireplace can warm you up while you enjoy magnificent sunsets and lounge seating can help you keep guests entertained.

Hotel Emma, The Emma Koehler Suite terrace with fireplace
Hotel Emma, The Emma Koehler Suite. Image via

The bathrooms in the presidential suite can be exceptional.

Expect to find oversized tubs and showers along with beautiful marble floors, counters, and spotless glass. Lots of presidential suites come with a soak tub — sometimes big enough for a couple of people.

The bathroom might even have your own steam room or an interesting shower layout like the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale which features an indoor and outdoor shower. And of course, premium towels and robes will be waiting on you when you get out.

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North Pinnacle Suite bathroom
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale Pinnacle Suite. Image via
Image via

Some presidential suites could have multiple bedrooms allowing extra guests to stay with you. Other times there could be a pull out bed.

But don’t invite all your friends and family for a stay just yet. Despite the huge amount of square feet you may have in your suite, the occupancy limits for the suite may be still relatively low at only a few guests.

And beware: Hotels know that presidential suites are prime targets for partiers. Some hotels like the Kimpton: La Peer Hotel will even make you sign a “no party policy” if you plan on staying in the presidential suite.

Related: Why Do Hotels Ask How Many Guests are Staying in Your Room?

Grand Hyatt Tokyo Presidential Suite bedroom
Grand Hyatt Tokyo Presidential Suite. Image via

Room amenities

Now let’s get into some of the different amenities you can expect to find in a presidential suite.

The special amenities can really make a presidential suite stand out because in some cases you’ll find some pretty over the top amenities like your own personal gym or pool.


Some of the more impressive presidential suites may include a hot tub or even a personal pool. For example, the Cozumel Palace has not one but two hot tubs in a two bedroom presidential suite.

Lots of presidential suites will impress you with their pools like the Hotel Principe di Savoia, which comes with a Pompeii styled swimming pool. One of the coolest features I’ve seen is the private pool offered at the Park Hyatt Bangkok, which also comes with a spa room.

Park Hyatt Bangkok Presidential Suite private indoor pools
Park Hyatt Bangkok Presidential Suite private indoor pools. Image via

But if you really wanted the ultimate private pool experience, you’d have to go with the Grand Hyatt Tokyo. The only drawback is that you may have to play your own life guard. That is, unless your butler is up for it.


One of the coolest features of a presidential suite is an in-room gym which you can find at hotels like the Conrad Hong Kong, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, Park Hyatt Shenzhen, and many others.

You might have your own elliptical, treadmill, peloton, and even a small free weights section and bench to work on.

The drawback is that you are probably missing out on some really nice gym equipment in the fitness center so you may not always want to limit your workouts to your presidential suite. However, if you were a high profile individual wanting some privacy this would be a perfect set up for you.

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa Overwater Reef Residence private gym
Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa Overwater Reef Residence. Image via


Piano players can rejoice because one of the most common features of a presidential suite to find is a piano. These could be grand pianos, baby grand pianos, or some other type.

Other interesting amenities and perks

Some other random amenities include:

  • Japanese Zen garden
  • Private staircase to panoramic tower (Molino Stucky)
  • Pool table
  • Wine refrigerators
  • Complimentary limousine service
  • Fireplaces
  • Expansive balconies
  • Stunning artwork or decor
  • Shoeshine
  • Extra attentive housekeeping
  • Instant hot water
  • Daily gifts
  • Free valet
  • Washer and dryer
  • Telescope
  • Multiple large TVs
  • Complimentary use of conference rooms
  • Steam room/sauna
  • Private elevator
  • Open bar
  • Aquariums
  • Showers with scented water 
  • Powder room
  • Welcome champagne and chocolates/fruit
  • Projector screens
  • Complimentary spa treatments
InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown Presidential Suite living room with piano
InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown Presidential Suite. Image via

Special services

Another way that presidential suites stand out is that they offer you special services.

Butler service

Butler service often comes with a presidential suite reservation.

Sometimes you may have a special phone number you can call or they could have the service linked to a tablet or phone. You can ring them if you need anything, sometimes even on a 24-hour basis.

They can help you out with different things like room service, getting your clothes pressed, dealing with luggage, etc.

Sometimes they have overlapping duties with the concierge so they can help with booking things like shows and restaurant reservations. Or they could hook you up with local services like a barber.


Sometimes you can get special dining privileges as a guest in the presidential suite.

For example, you might be able to get a special breakfast or even have a chef come up into your kitchen and cook something up for you like at the Banyan Tree Bangkok or Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa. We are talking high-quality dining tailored to your preferences and dietary needs.

For true foodies, this might be one of them most enticing reasons for booking a presidential suite!

The overall service level

In addition to all of the above, a good hotel will offer top-of-the-line service throughout the stay for someone staying in a presidential suite.

If it’s not your personal butler staying on top of things, the concierge may be more proactive checking up on you and making sure that you are having an amazing stay.

List of Presidential Suites

Hotel NameSuite NamePriceSquare ft.
Riverwalk Plaza HotelPresidential Suite$229631
Residence Inn Phoenix Glendale Sports & Entertainment DistrictPresidential Suite$318701
Kimpton: Hotel Monaco SeattleAmbassador Suite$364960
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tucson – Reid ParkPresidential Suite$388990
The Ashton (Fort Worth)Presidential Suite$468810
Menger Hotel (San Antonio)Luxury Suite$678922
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego La JollaPresidential Suite$6941,175
Andaz West HollywoodPresidential Suite$729800
Kimpton: George HotelThe George Presidential Suite$736535
Grand Hyatt San Antonio River WalkPresidential Suite$7891,751
Hyatt Regency San Antonio RiverwalkPresidential Suite$8451,100
Kimpton : Hotel Monaco PhiladelphiaPresidential Suite$8561,366
The Statler Dallas, Curio Collection by HiltonPresidential Suite$8631,350
Kimpton : Pittman Hotel (Dallas)Presidential Suite$906970
Kimpton: Hotel Palomar PhoenixPresidential Suite$9401,325
The Guild Hotel, San Diego, A Tribute Portfolio HotelPenthouse Suite$9401,809
Pacific Terrace Hotel (San Diego)Master Suite$949850
Hotel Elysée (New York)Presidential Suite$959950
New York Hilton MidtownPresidential Suite$9671,259
San Diego Marriott Gaslamp QuarterPresidential Suite$969650
The Stephen F Austin Royal Sonesta HotelGovernor’s Suite$9991,600
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge LondonPresidential Suite$1,0131,420
Hyatt Centric The WoodlandsCentric Suite$1,0571,635
Hyatt Regency AustinPresidential Suite$1,0951,404
Mountain Shadows Resort ScottsdaleCamelback Presidential Suite$1,0991,123
Banyan Tree BangkokPresidential Suite$1,1452,195
Legacy Resort Hotel & Spa (San Diego)Presidential Suite$1,2002,600
Hilton Americas – HoustonPresidential Suite$1,2101,904
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & SpaPresidential Suite$1,2191,250
Courtyard San Diego DowntownPresidential Suite$1,279985
Kimpton: Hotel Born (Denver)Presidential Suite$1,2821,140
Manchester Grand Hyatt San DiegoPresidential Suite$1,3481,050
Omni Dallas HotelHospitality Suite$1,3491,770
The Westin Dallas Stonebriar Golf Resort & SpaPresidential Suite$1,5041,288
Andaz SingaporePresidential Suite$1,6672,023
Royal Palms Resort and SpaPresidential Villa$1,7291,700
The Westin Kierland Resort & SpaPresidential Suite$1,7571,708
Kimpton: Alma – San DiegoSkyline Penthouse Suite$1,8041,510
Loews Philadelphia HotelPresidential Suite$1,8171,650
Loews Ventana Canyon ResortPresidential Suite$1,8492,000
Omni La Mansion del RioPresidential Suite$1,8991,900
Kimpton: La Peer HotelLa Peer Penthouse Suite$1,9101,200
Hotel Van Zandt (Austin)Presidential Suite$1,969900
Thompson San Antonio – RiverwalkPenthouse Suite$1,9782,100
W ScottsdaleExtreme WOW Suite$1,9792,100
Virgin Hotels DallasRichard’s Flat King Suite$1,9941,400
Graduate Roosevelt IslandPresidential Suite$2,0001,145
The Westin San Diego BayviewPresidential Suite$2,0002,000
W Chicago – City CenterExtreme WOW Suite$2,0571,600
Hotel EmmaThe Emma Koehler Suite$2,0951,643
Andaz Scottsdale Resort & BungalowsAlbers House$2,0991,800
Hotel Valley HoPresidential Loft Suite$2,1541,500
Kimpton: Tryon Park HotelPresidential Suite$2,2221,290
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and SpaPresidential Suite$2,2792,840
JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & SpaPresidential Suite$2,3312,240
JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & SpaManor House$2,4101,866
The Shay (Los Angeles)Presidential Scene Suite$2,4591,100
JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVEJW Suite$2,4891,189
SLS Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Beverly HillsPresidential Suite$2,5551,900
Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria ResortVilla Two Bedroom Suite$2,6031,600
Conrad New York DowntownConrad Suite$2,7331,500
The Driskill (Austin)Cattle Baron Suite$2,7341,230
InterContinental Chicago Magnificent MilePresidential Suite$2,7911,700
W Dallas – VictoryExtreme WOW Suite$2,9401,323
W AustinExtreme WOW Suite$3,4291,798
The Ritz-Carlton, SantiagoPresidential Suite$3,4401,937
The Ritz-Carlton Marina del ReyThe Ritz-Carlton Suite$3,5001,500
The Logan Philadelphia, Curio Collection by HiltonPresidential Suite$3,6682,500
JW Marriott Houston DowntownPresidential Suite$3,6931,320
Austin Proper HotelProper Penthouse Suite$3,7701,110
Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at MonteluciaCamelback Presidential Suite$3,7942,800
Fairmont Grand Del MarGrand Suite$3,8092,840
Hilton Molino Stucky VenicePresidential Suite$4,0603229
Hotel Casa Del MarPacific View Suite$4,0801,800
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & SpaPresidential Suite$4,1002,140
Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and SpaPresidential Beach House Suite$4,1752,500
The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, ScottsdalePresidential Suite$4,3371,800
Park Hyatt BangkokPresidential Suite$4,5504,100
Conrad Hong KongPresidential Suite$4,6102,519
Park Hyatt ChicagoPresidential Suite$4,6251,600
The Westin Houston, Memorial CityPresidential Suite$4,9091600
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon NorthPinnacle Suite$4,9403,000
Marriott Marquis HoustonPresidential Suite$5,0002,130
The Rittenhouse Hotel (Philadelphia)Presidential Suite$5,0991,400
The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San AntonioPresidential Suite$5,3603,012
Beach Village at The Del, Curio Collection by HiltonPresidential Suite$5,5752,035
Hotel Chinzanso TokyoPresidential Suite$5,9952,077
The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, MiamiPresidential Suite$6,0452,800
InterContinental Los Angeles DowntownPresidential Suite$6,5702500
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, LondonPresidential Suite$7,0221,023
Grand Hyatt TokyoPresidential Suite$8,1422,799
Four Seasons Hotel HoustonPresidential Suite$8,3701,570
Hôtel Plaza AthénéePresidential Suite$8,7291,180
Four Seasons Hotel PhiladelphiaPresidential Suite$9,9202,137
Park Hyatt Maldives HadahaaOverwater Reef Residence$14,1009,634
Park Hyatt ShenzhenPresidential Suite$14,9743,229
InterContinental New York BarclayPresidential Suite$25,0003,400
The Ritz-Carlton New York Central ParkPresidential Suite$25,0002,175
Waldorf Astoria Beverly HillsPresidential Suite$25,0003,215
The St. Regis New YorkPresidential Suite$28,0003,000
Park Hyatt New YorkPresidential Suite$30,0002,300
The CarlylePresidential Suite$42,5002,722

Final word

Staying in the presidential suite can be extremely memorable. You can instantly feel like royalty and enjoy special amenities and perks that could blow your mind. But do your research because the price and quality of a presidential suite can vary drastically!

Alaska Airlines Lost and Found Guide (What to Expect) [2023]

Have you recently lost or misplaced an item while traveling on Alaska Airlines? Well then you are in luck, our comprehensive guide to help you locate your item is exactly what you need. It can be very stressful to lose an item during your travels and unless the right steps are taken and taken quickly, the chances of recovering your item diminish considerably.

The important thing is to remain calm and take the necessary steps outlined in our comprehensive guide below to ensure that you have the best possible chance of being united with your lost item.

Alaska Airlines’ lost and found policy

People lose items while traveling on Alaska Airlines frequently so they have proper protocols and staff in place to look into helping their passengers recover their belongings.

The immediate step

Did you leave your belonging in the aircraft cabin itself? If you have and you are still in the aircraft, do not leave the aircraft. Due to increased security protocols in place these days, once you leave the aircraft you cannot go back in. Patiently make your way back to your seat and search it as thoroughly as possible. 

If you’re reading this article, however, chances are you have already left the aircraft.

In the event that you have left the aircraft but are still near the arrival gate, immediately make your way back to the gate area and get hold of an Alaska Airline official. Usually, these people have access to the aircraft or know someone who does have access.

Give this person all the information on what your item looks like and give them your seat number. If they send someone back immediately and find your item you might be able to get it back right then and there.

In other situations, if they find it later the staff will follow the lost and found protocols and may forward the item to the airline or airport’s lost and found counter.

The reason why I am constantly urging you to do things immediately is that there is a short window of opportunity before it becomes more and more unlikely that you will find your lost belongings. Anyone from the crew, cleaners to the other passengers may pocket your item.

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You have left the aircraft but not the airport

If you are still in the airport premises but can’t make your way back to the aircraft arrival gate then your most prudent line of action is to immediately find an Alaska Airline counter and get hold of the staff there. The Alaska staff is trained to help you with starting the lost and found recovery process.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You may want to get hold of the general airport staff instead of the Alaska Airline staff but it will be most likely counterproductive. In most cases, they will simply go through their own protocols and have you end up with the Alaska Airlines staff because that is the aircraft you arrived on. Needless to say that the only thing this will have achieved is to have wasted precious time.

You may be asking why time is of so much importance here. Well, since the Covid-19 pandemic, aircraft are thoroughly sanitized by larger cleaning staff. The longer it takes for officials to be alerted about your missing item the more people go through your seat.

Now, these people are usually very professional and if they find any unusual items on or around a seat they report it immediately. Having said that, in real life, not everyone is as honest.

Related: Airlines & Airports Lost & Found Tips (Ultimate Guide)

Alaska Airlines baggage services counters

The next plan of action is to locate the Alaska Baggage Services counter. You can find them easily by going to any information desk usually spread throughout airports.

While Alaska Airlines baggage services counters primarily deal with things like lost luggage, the staff at these counters may help you even when you have lost something on a plane.

Usually, they will ask you to fill out either this form or a printed version of it. This is also the form you can fill out if you have already left at the airport.

You must enter as much detail as possible in this form regarding both your travel and the item itself.

On your travel details mention your flight number, arrival/departure time, boarding airport final destination (if you are in transit), seat number, etc.

It is also important to give as much information as you have on hand like: make, model, color, serial number, etc. Any distinguishing marks such as scratches or customization marks on the body can quickly help confirm to the authorities that the item indeed belongs to you.

Note: If the staff has not been able to find your item while you are at the airport, make sure you are very clear on the next steps before you leave the airport. Ask the staff about the next procedural steps, local contact details (phone, email, etc), when you should follow up, policies on lost and found, etc.

You can visit this page to find the phone number(s) of every Alaska Airlines local agent for all US airports and if you are unable to reach them for any reason you can call the system-wide baggage support office for general assistance at 1-877-815-8253. The working hours are daily between 6:00 am – 10:00 pm (PT).

Items left at the TSA Security Checkpoint

In the event that you feel you have misplaced your items in the above-mentioned areas instead of the aircraft then you have to make your way to the TSA security staff as these specific areas come under the jurisdiction of the TSA.

TSA has its own Lost and Found department at all US airports and you can find the contact details for the relevant one here.

TSA has officially partnered with Rejjee to help you find lost items misplaced in TSA’s jurisdiction. The service is absolutely free and easy to use and you can file an online report to start the process.

Related: What Happens if Your Item Is Not Allowed Through TSA Security? Can You Get It Back?

For items lost in and about the airport facility

In the event that you have not misplaced the item on a flight or any of the TSA designated areas mentioned above then your lost item will probably find its way to the airport’s Lost and Found Counter… yes each airport authority also has its own lost and found department it may be associated with the airport police department.

The general staff at the airport will be able to assist you to find this counter. In any case, even if you have registered a complaint with the airline or the TSA, it is a good idea to make your way to the airport Lost and Found and search for your item here as well. In some cases, lost items in other areas have been known to turn up here.

If you are registering for a complaint here, again make sure you give as much detail as possible for these people to help locate your item. Remember that these people have their own dedicated contact numbers and emails so make sure you get a local person’s number and non-generic email before you leave the airport.

Responses on generic emails are usually slower versus those from a specific person who is aware of your case.

There is also a chance that you might have left your belongings at a local business at the airport such as a rental service or a restaurant. In this case, your best bet is to contact them directly as they will hold on to the item for a while in the event the owner shows up before they pass it on to the airport authorities.

What if you have left the airport?

Luckily, even if you have left the airport Alaska Airlines has the lost item form available online here. Filling it out and submitting it will automatically initiate the search procedure. But remember that you must do this within 14 days of having lost the item otherwise it is very unlikely that you will be seeing your belongings again.

Also if you happen to discover more details about your lost item like a serial number, after you have left the airport you can use this form to update the relevant information.

Traveling first or business class?

Traveling on first or business class has its own perks and one of them is the extra attention you get from the airline staff. 

Because airlines make extra effort to please passengers using their premium services or those passengers who are part of their frequent flyers clubs, it is a good idea to mention if you are using any of them.

Third-party services

There are also independent third-party Lost and Found services out there like Crowdfind but I normally don’t recommend you go to them… unless of course, they are officially working with your airline. If, however, your item is really valuable or very important to you these options are available.

How long will Alaska Airlines keep looking for your item?

Alaska will look for your item for a period of 30 days from the filing of the report. After that, they will send you an email informing you that the search was unsuccessful.

Final word

The odds of finding a lost item at airports are generally better than in other places due to the extra security in place these days. Also, if you act quickly and follow the right steps that we have outlined in the guide above your chances of finding your lost item increase greatly.

I wish you the best of luck in recovering whatever it is that you have lost.

Alaska Airlines Club 49: (Deals & Baggage Fee Benefits) [2023]

Some airlines like to provide special perks to residents who reside within their home states and countries in order to make life traveling a little easier and less costly. Alaska Airlines is one of these generous airlines and they have something called the Alaska Airlines Club 49.

The Alaska Airlines Club 49 can help certain residents save money and capture savings with different discounts on things like baggage fees and even shipping.

In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about the Alaska Airlines Club 49 deals and benefits and other things like eligibility and how to sign-up. 

What is the Alaska Airlines Club 49?

The Alaska Airlines Club 49 is a special program that offers special discounts and deals to Alaskan residents who are also Alaska Mileage Plan members. Due to the geography of Alaska, there are unique travel needs for its residents and this program works to address those needs in practical ways.

Related: 20 Best uses of Alaska Airline Mileage Plan Miles

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

What are the Alaska Airlines Club benefits?

By joining Club 49, you will be able to receive the following benefits:

  • Two free checked bags on select routes
  • Travel discounts
  • Shipping discounts

Unfortunately, you do not get Alaska Lounge access or put in a priority boarding group but these three benefits can still be valuable. I will talk about each of these benefits in more detail below.

Mendenhall Glacier Ultimate Guide: Tips for Exploring

Two free checked bags

Club 49 members and passengers on the same reservation can check two bags for free when traveling to or from Alaska on Alaska Airlines. With Alaska Airlines, your first checked bag will cost $30 and your second checked bag will cost $40, so this could save you lots of cash over time (read more about the baggage fees here).

There are a few things to note about this perk.

Applies to your entire itinerary

This will apply to all passengers on the same itinerary (up to seven passengers). However, the benefit does not extend to all travelers in a group reservation. Only Club 49 members receive the free-checked-baggage benefit on group reservations.

Eligible airlines

This benefit can also be used on other airlines including: Horizon Air, PenAir (between Anchorage and Dutch Harbor), and SkyWest Airlines (Flight Series 3440–3499).

Eligible flights

You just need to remember that the flights must be traveling to or from Alaska.

Also, the member’s Mileage Plan number must be on the reservation before bags are checked.

The free checked bags are not available when connecting to another carrier for international travel or checking in with a codeshare or airline partner. Alaska has a lot of great partners but unfortunately if you are flying with one of them you will not get this benefit if flying internationally. If flying domestically and connecting you will be able to get the discount. 

Keep in mind that you can also get a free checked bag if you have the Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card.

Travel Now discounts (30% off)

As a Club 49 member, you will receive two Travel Now discounts per year, good for 30% off one-way travel in a Refundable Coach (YAS) fare to, from or within Alaska on Alaska Airlines, booked within four days of departure.

These will be issued upon enrollment and then every following year when your membership is verified. Here are some key considerations:

Refundable Coach (YAS) fare

Refundable economy fares are going to be some of the most expensive fares. So even with the discount you still might be paying more than you normally would for an economy fare that cannot be cancelled. So be sure to compare prices before going for that discount.

Related: Alaska Airlines Saver Fare vs Main Cabin: What Benefits Do You Lose?

Eligible airlines

You can use these discounts on flights operated by Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, PenAir (between Anchorage and Dutch Harbor), and SkyWest Airlines (Flight Series 3440–3499).

Eligible flights & four day limitation

In order to get this discount, travel must include one Alaskan city and take place within four days of ticket purchase. Being forced to use this discount for essentially last minute tickets makes it a little bit harder to take advantage of, so these discounts are not for everyone.

Unlike the free baggage benefit, only one discount may be used per reservation. If more than one Club 49 member is traveling, a separate reservation must be made for each discount used.

Travel Now discounts are displayed in the discount code section of the member’s My account profile.

Weekly deals

You can also view the Deals page to see some good deals.

Each Tuesday they update the page with deals only available to Club 49 members. If you don’t want to miss out on these deals you can sign up for emails to get notified about them.

Head to your My account profile and sign in, then navigate to the My info and subscriptions tab and check the “Insider newsletter” box to subscribe.

Freight for Less

The Freight for Less discount will allow you to ship up to 100 lbs within the state of Alaska for $49* (plus tax) using cargo shipping. You’ll be able to use up to two 35-gallon totes or sturdy shipping containers that do not exceed 20”x30”x15” each.

This benefit can be very valuable to those who live in certain remote areas in Alaska where air shipping is needed/required.

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Club 49 Eligibility

If you want to join Club 49, and you will need to meet the following eligibility requirements.

First, you must be a resident of Alaska or military personnel permanently stationed in Alaska.

Residency is validated at at the time of registration using Alaska state public records and requires customer’s consent for validation. (P.O. box numbers are acceptable.)

You must also have an active Mileage Plan account and My account profile.

Eligibility will be revalidated annually on the anniversary date of original enrollment. If Alaska Airlines is able to revalidate eligibility automatically, members will automatically be reenrolled for the following year. If Alaska Airlines is unable to revalidate residency automatically, members are required to reenroll.

If you would like to join Club 49 you can click here

Note: Children under age of 13 cannot be enrolled online,  but you can call 1-800-252-7522 (TTY: Dial 711 for relay services) between 5 a.m. and midnight (PT), seven days a week.

Constituent fares

The constituent fare offers Club 49 members affordable access to Alaska state legislators and government agencies during the annual legislative session. The constituent fare rates offer a 30% discount off the 7-day & 3-day advance purchase fares.

The discount codes are sent out via the Club 49 Insider email each year at the start of the legislative session (mid-January) to Club 49 members who live outside of the Juneau area.

Once you have received your codes, select the “Redeem” button in the email to automatically load the discount code in your My account profile.

Final word

Alaska Airlines Club 49 is a great way for Alaskan residents to save a little bit of money on flights to and from Alaska.

It also can be a great way to cut down on your expenses if you are needing to ship some freight.

Since it is so easy to sign up for I would recommend checking it out and considering signing up if you meet the eligibility requirements, since you never know when it could come in use.

Southwest Airlines Family Boarding Policy Explained [2023]

Traveling with a family can be stressful not to mention expensive.

Luckily, Southwest Airlines offers a number of special perks to families that can help them to both save money and time.

In this article, I will break down all of the benefits that you can expect to receive as a family traveling on Southwest.

I’ll cover things like family boarding age limits, child fares, and policies for infants. I’ll also talk about how to complete the all important age verifications and what to do if you’re flying while pregnant.

What is the Southwest family boarding policy?

When traveling as a family with kids aged six or under you can get special boarding privileges and you might be able to take advantage of the other perks like special savings depending on the ages of your kids. Keep reading below for more details!

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Southwest family boarding group

If you are traveling with a child six or under (younger than seven years old) you can choose to board with the family boarding group. This allows you to board the plane between Groups A and B.

If you are not familiar with the Southwest boarding policy this is how it works:

First, you will need to check in to your flight beginning at 24 hours prior to departure.

You can do this by going to the Southwest website or by using the Southwest app and just waiting for exactly 24 hours prior to take off.

Once you check in you will be issued a boarding position. This position will consist of a group number and a number within that group.

There are three different boarding groups with Southwest: Group A, Group B, and Group C. Within each group you will be assigned a number that will be between one and 60.

So if you have A50, you’ll line up when you see the “A” sign or monitor and then you’ll locate the section that might have something like “50 to 55” marked.

This means that if you are ever traveling with a child six or under and are assigned Group B or C, you should definitely consider taking advantage of family boarding so that you can board directly after Group A.

At the same time, if you have a Group A boarding pass then you don’t need to use family boarding.  

Something interesting about Southwest is that they allow some people that would qualify for pre-boarding to board just before Family Boarding.

They state that if “a Customer with a disability simply needs a little extra time to board, we will permit the Customer to board before Family Boarding, between the “A” and “B” groups.”

So be sure to be aware of these passengers whenever you lined up for boarding.

Note: Sometimes family boarding may not be offered/available. 

Also note: Military members (usually in uniform but not always) can board between Group A and Group B. If you’re not traveling in your uniform, consider showing your military ID to a gate agent and inquiring about priority boarding.

Related: Comprehensive Military Airline Benefits and Discount Guide

Can both parents board with family boarding? 

The language that Southwest uses to describe their family boarding policy it’s a little bit tricky.

For example, it states the following:

An adult traveling with a child six years old or younger may board during Family Boarding, which occurs after the “A” group has boarded and before the “B” group begins boarding.

The reason that this language is tricky is that it specifies “an adult” and “a child” which are singular.

This almost seems to suggest that you can only board as a family with one adult per one child six years for younger.

However, in practice Southwest allows all kids to board with an adult.

If there are two adults, they will often get to board together with the kids too but sometimes there could be exceptions (such as when a lot of families are doing family boarding). 

If you have any questions or concerns about this then I would suggest you talk to the agent at the gate to clarify if your entire family can board together.

Other family members such as grandparents can board with family boarding but they have to be the only adults. So for example you could not have both parents and a set of grandparents boarding in the family boarding group. Instead, Southwest would likely limit you to only two parents (along with the kids).

Related: How Early Should You Get to the Airport?

Southwest EarlyBird

If you’re traveling as a family you might be tempted to go for Southwest EarlyBird.

This will allow you to be checked in beginning 36 hours prior to departure for a fee of $15 to $25.

This means that you will usually get a good boarding position often in Group A but sometimes also in the B boarding group.

Since you can board after Group A with family boarding, then it is really not necessary for you to get EarlyBird. Thus, I would typically not to go for that if I was traveling as a family. 

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Saving seats for families 

There’s an ongoing debate on whether or not you should be able to save seats on Southwest.

Since there’s an open boarding policy, every seat is open to just about any passenger.

So when it comes to saving seats for the family, you’ll want to head towards the back of the plane to save your seat. People are usually much more open to saved seats in the rear of the cabin.

However, if you try to save seats for your family in the front of the plane or on the seats with extra legroom then the risk of confrontation goes up.

Southwest child fares

Accompanied children ages two through 11 may purchase the applicable Child Fare for the flight.

Child fares are discounted Anytime fares. Anytime fares offer you flexibility so that you can make cancellations and still get a refund.

This means that they probably won’t be as cheap as Wanna Get Away fares, which are the cheapest fares for Southwest that don’t offer as much flexibility.

Contact Southwest via phone at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) to confirm if a child fare is available for a specific flight. Note that proof of age will be required at the time of travel.

Related: Southwest Airlines Unaccompanied Minor Policy

Checking in 

If your child is traveling on an Infant or Child Fare and is age verified, you may request his/her boarding pass on

If your child is traveling on an Infant or Child Fare and is not age verified, you must provide valid proof of age at the airport when exchanging the confirmation number for a boarding pass.

How to verify age 

There are a couple of different ways that you can get your child’s age verified and I will discuss both of these below.

The first thing is that you need to do is to create a Rapid Rewards or Southwest account for your child. You can easily do this online and it will only take a couple of minutes. 

After you create an account, you can go to different routes to verify the age.

The first thing you can do is to present a valid Government-issued I.D. providing age (child) or a birth certificate (infant) to the Customer Service Agent at the airport when you check in for your flight.

At that time, the date of birth listed in your child’s account will be updated to indicate that age has been verified.

You can also mail in copies of your documents.

You may mail a copy of the child’s valid Government-issued I.D. proving age (for children) or the birth certificate (infants) to:

  • Southwest Airlines Customer Relations
  • PO Box 36662
  • Dallas, TX 75235.

Be sure to include your child’s Rapid Rewards or Southwest account number with your request and submit it at least two weeks prior to your child’s flight.

The date of birth field in your child’s account will be updated to reflect that he/she is age-verified. Allow two weeks for processing. If you submit your request in writing, you will receive a confirmation letter in the mail once the date of birth has been verified.

Once the date of birth has been verified, you may check in online and request a boarding pass as long as your child’s account number is present in the reservation for which you are checking in.

Southwest Baggage fees

If you have a lot of different people in your tribe then traveling can get really expensive when it comes to baggage fees. You could easily spend a few hundred dollars with a family of five for a simple round-trip ticket.

Luckily, Southwest Airlines allows you to travel with two free checked bags. This is one of the more valuable perks of flying with Southwest and it’s great for families. 

Tip: Get all the tips and pointers you need for your checked bags in our ultimate guide to checked luggage!

Traveling with infants

One child over 14 days and under two years of age, not occupying a seat, may be carried free of charge when traveling with an adult (12 years of age or older).

Although a boarding pass is not required for the infant, you will need a Boarding Verification Document.

  • A copy of the child’s birth certificate is required to validate the age of all infants under two.

If you don’t want to bring your infant on as a lap-child, affordable Infant fares are also available allowing a customer to reserve a seat for an infant and use his/her FAA-approved car seat/Child Restraint System.

Southwest Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly recommend securing infants and small children in a CRS that is government approved for use onboard.

Here are some things to know about using CSRs on a plane: 

  • Once onboard the aircraft, the CRS should be secured in a middle or window seat.
  • If placed in a middle seat, the CRS may not impede the exit path of a Passenger in the window seat.
  • CRSs may not be placed in an exit seat or in a row directly forward or aft of an exit row of seats.  
  • The FAA prohibits the use of certain types of restraint devices, such as backless booster seats, safety belt extensions (commonly referred to as “belly belts”), and vests or harness devices that attach to an adult.

Online checkin is available if the infant is traveling on an Infant fare and is age verified.

To book Infant fares for international flights, contact Southwest to book via phone at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792). After booking, you can view or cancel existing international itineraries for any of these fare types online at

A medical release for travel is required for any infant under 14 days old.

Traveling while pregnant 

Here’s what Southwest has to say about traveling while pregnant.

While air travel does not usually cause problems during pregnancy unless delivery is expected within 14 days or less, in some cases, traveling by air has been known to cause complications or premature labor. Female Customers at any stage of pregnancy should consult with their physicians prior to air travel. Southwest Airlines recommends against air travel beginning at the 38th week of pregnancy. Depending on their physical condition, strength, and agility, pregnant women may, in some cases, be asked not to sit in the emergency exit row.

Southwest Group travel

If you are traveling as a family in a large group of 10 or more passengers, then you might consider utilizing the southwest Group travel policy.

This allows you the following benefits: 

  • Flexible Payments: No upfront payment required to create a Group reservation.
  • No Extra Fees: No booking, ticketing, or change fees.
  • Unlimited Name Changes: Unlimited name changes up to 72 hours prior to departure.
  • Earn Roundtrip Tickets: Earn one roundtrip ticket to be used on your Group’s itinerary for every 30th passenger booked (taxes and fees will apply).

In some situations it might just be cheaper to book the fares individually but in other cases this can actually be a great way to go. 

One of the biggest drawbacks is that it can take a long time to get through to customer service when dealing with the Southwest group travel so you want to keep that in mind. If you want to read more about how to travel as a group then you can click here.

TSA Pre-Check 

If you are traveling as a family you might be able to take advantage of TSA Pre-Check. TSA Pre-Check is a program that provides you with access to an expedited security lane.

When you go through this lane you won’t be inconvenienced as much as the standard lane because you can keep your electronics and liquids in your bags, among other things. 

If you are traveling with the children 12 and under those children do not need to have their own TSA Pre-Check Membership in order to accompany you through the line.

However if they are 13 years or older they will need to have their own TSA Pre-Check account. You can read more about TSA Pre-Check here.

Final word

Southwest has a number of benefits that they offer to those families traveling. These benefits can save you time and money so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with all of the possible perks. 

Cover photo by BriYYZ via Flickr.

TSA Approved Locks Guide (Worth It?) [2023]

Nobody wants potential criminals or strangers having access to personal items in their travel luggage. One way that people add an extra layer of security to their baggage is to place a TSA approved lock on their bag.

But how exactly do these TSA approved locks work? And can they really be trusted?

In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about TSA approved locks including the pros and cons of using them.

You’ll see exactly when it’s worth it to use them and also get some recommendations for finding the best locks. But most of all, you will see why they might be a security risk in some cases.

What are TSA approved locks?

TSA approved locks are special locks designed by Travel Sentry and Safe Skies that TSA agents can easily unlock with a master key. They provide travelers with an additional layer of security while also allowing TSA agents to inspect bags when necessary.

However, there are some major security concerns with these locks. Keep reading below to see when you should and should NOT use TSA approved locks.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

How to know if a lock is TSA approved

It’s very easy to quickly identify a TSA approved lock because they will have a red diamond (Travel Sentry logo) on the lock that is pretty hard to miss.

Check out the four locks below. Notice how they each have a red diamond icon in the top right for easy recognition.

In addition to the red icon, you can also often find etched lettering indicating the type of TSA lock such as “TSA-007” (but more on that below).

TSA approved locks can come in a lot of different forms including:

  • Three number combination
  • Four number combination
  • Cable Locks
  • Pad Locks
  • Built-in luggage locks

These locks, which can come in all sorts of different colors, shapes, and sizes, can also come from quite a few different brands including:

  • Anvil
  • Forge
  • Master Lock
  • Sure Lock
  • Samsonite

In total, the Sentry Lock system is licensed to over 500 companies worldwide!

So don’t be surprised if you encounter a lot of locks from brands you have never heard of — they may very well be legitimate companies.

It’s worth noting that there are also TSA approved locks designed by Safe Skies. Their website is a bit more old school so I think they are a smaller player in the space but as far as I can tell, you can still order their locks.

Why should you use TSA approved locks?

You should use TSA approved locks so that you can keep your belongings a little bit more secure while not wasting money on travel locks.

Keep your belongings a little bit more secure

One use for TSA approved locks is that these locks provide one extra hurdle for thieves.

Even if the locks could be easily picked or removed, the fact that a thief would have to take one extra step to get into your bag could deter them and cause them to choose a different bag.

It’s similar to using a hotel safe — they are not full-proof but could force a thief to look elsewhere.

This probably works best against pick pockets that you could encounter around the airport, on shuttle buses, trains, and in hotels.

But consider that some thieves may be attracted to a suitcase that has a lock on it because they could view it as a sign that there is something extra valuable on the inside!

Keep your luggage zippers from coming open

Personally, I think TSA approved locks are most useful for making sure that their luggage zippers do not come undone while traveling.

Cheaper bags and bags that have been used a lot could be more prone to this because they lack sufficient tension in the zipper slider to keep the teeth connected.

The result could be a disaster where your wardrobe and luggage contents are spilled all over the place! So placing a lock on your luggage can help you avoid worrying about this scenario.

Avoid wasting money on travel locks

To understand how you might be wasting money, it helps to first understand how the screening process works for checked bags and what TSA’s liability policy is for damaged locks.

TSA screening process

TSA screens about approximately 1.4 million checked bags per day.

Contrary to what many believe, during the screening process, TSA is not actively looking for drugs. So if you have marijuana in your checked baggage it’s not like TSA agents are trying to catch you with some bud.

Instead, TSA is much more concerned with things like explosives and other dangerous items.

The exact screening process that your bag undergoes can vary based on the airport since TSA and airports are constantly testing out new technologies.

But typically, your checked bag will go through an x-ray machine after it is checked in with the airline.

There could be someone watching the x-rays in real time or more likely the x-ray machine could be utilizing some kind of algorithm that detects prohibited items.

If the algorithm is tripped then your bag may go to a TSA inspection room where an agent will perform a physical inspection of your luggage (only about 5% to 10% of checked bags are physically inspected).

In this room, all of the contents of your bag could be removed and swabbed for traces of explosives.

The good news is they do keep cameras in these inspection rooms so if something goes missing, there should be a proper investigation to check the footage.

Your bag could also be inspected if an airport sniffing dog alerts a TSA agent to your bag or perhaps agents see something suspicious on CCTV.

Finally, there are also random inspections.

The bottom line is you never know if your checked bag will be inspected by a TSA officer and will need to be opened. So you should always prepare for the possibility.

No liability if damaged

If your bag needs to be inspected and you have a non-TSA approved lock on it, then agents will cut away that lock in order to inspect your baggage.

They will not be responsible for the damage to the lock, so you’ll be out of luck on having a lock for your luggage.

This is one of the major reasons why you would want to use a TSA approved lock — you can avoid the risk of wasting money on a lock.

Something else to be aware of is that many times locks get stuck in the conveyor belts and break.

So just because your bag comes back missing its lock, that does not mean that your bag was physically inspected. It could have just been bad luck.

Some TSA approved locks have lifetime warranties so you could always file a claim and potentially get a free lock replacement.

Notice of baggage inspection

If your checked baggage is opened and physically inspected, TSA will place a notice of baggage inspection inside your bag (which you can view below).

If this happens to you, you should check your bag to see if you are missing anything.

It’s possible that you could be missing prohibited items that were removed from your baggage. For example, if you had excessive cans of hairspray or vape batteries, a TSA agent could find those and remove them.

If that’s the case, then you should just be grateful that you were not tracked down for a violation of bringing prohibited items in your luggage. Many prohibited items could land you with a big fine!

In some cases, you might find that you’re missing a valuable item.

It’s recommended to put your electronics and other valuable items in your carry-on bag so that they don’t leave your side but that is not always possible.

If you find that some of your items are missing or maybe even just damaged, you can file a complaint with the TSA.

Note that you need to file your complaint within 180 days of the events in order to get the matter properly looked at.

TSA Notice of baggage inspection

Why should you NOT use TSA approved locks?

There are a couple of reasons why you do not want to use TSA approved locks in certain instances and they both come down to a lack of security.

Universal master keys are widely available

Something that a lot of people don’t know is that it’s very easy for people to get access to a TSA master key.

TSA approved locks come in different versions.

You can usually see which version the lock is by looking for a number etched on the lock ranging from: TSA001 to TSA008.

These numbers tell the TSA agent inspecting your bag which TSA master key to use in order to unlock the lock.

The problem is that master keys have been available to the public for quite some time.

One can easily go online and purchase a TSA master key for under $20.

There’s no guarantee that the key will work but I’ve seen instances online of people successfully using these master keys for their own TSA locks.

Then there is the 3-D printer issue. In 2014, the Washington Post published an article with photos of the TSA master keys.

It did not take very long for people to create templates for the TSA master keys and start 3-D printing their own TSA master keys that also successfully unlock the locks.

This has been going on for over almost a decade. And even before that, it’s speculated that people were able to reverse engineer the keys starting back in 2011.

What does this mean?

This means that TSA approved locks offer a minimal level of security and should never be seriously relied upon outside of the context of an airport.

Remember, TSA approved locks also come with bright red diamond indicators on them that basically scream, “Hey I’m easy to open!”

If you were a thief with a master key, you could easily spot them and target them for your next criminal act.

TSA Master Keys
Image via Reddit.

TSA approved locks can be picked

TSA approved locks can easily be picked.

One quick YouTube search will yield several videos showing how easily these locks can be picked.

But even if someone does not have a master key or the ability to pick a lock, they could easily just use a writing pen to pop open the teeth of the zipper.

The zipper could still be used and the bag won’t even be ruined if done properly. See this video for how it could be done. This means that baggage handlers could still easily get into your bag and potentially even use your bag to transport illegal substances like drugs.

At lots of airports, the baggage handlers don’t have to go through normal security.

So they could easily bring drugs into the baggage loading area and slip them into luggage. If they have connections where the airport is landing, those people could then pick up the drugs. Or, there could be passengers who are in on it and simply pick up their checked baggage at the destination.

What does TSA think about all of this?

TSA doesn’t really seem to care about the ability of others to open these locks judging by the statements they made to The Intercept that:

“The reported ability to create keys for TSA-approved suitcase locks from a digital image does not create a threat to aviation security. These consumer products are ‘peace of mind’ devices, not part of TSA’s aviation security regime.”

And that makes sense.

The primary concern of TSA is to ensure dangerous items are not getting through security screening.

The fact that members of the public could open up these locks does not really change anything about what TSA is doing — the screening process remains the same.

Not really needed for carry-ons

If you never check your bag, there’s a good chance you will never need a TSA approved lock.

The reason is that your bag is always within reach and you should be able to keep a close eye on it at all times.

If you are worried about your zippers busting open then a cable lock might make sense but even in that case you can often get away with using something else.

Some people like to put locks on their smaller bags to prevent pick pockets.

This might work but as mentioned placing locks on backpacks and other small bags can also make your item more of a target for some thieves. And we’ve already shown how easy it is to bust through a zipper.

Are TSA approved locks just not that useful?

Considering that just about any member of the public could get their hands on a master key and that these locks can be picked with relative ease, what use do these TSA approved locks really have?

You can narrow down the benefits of these locks to a few things:

  • Helps you avoid wasting money on locks for your travel luggage
  • Helps you keep your zippers closed so contents don’t spill out your bag
  • Helps create an extra barrier for thieves

International travel

TSA rules apply when traveling in the US so TSA approved locks naturally are well-suited for travel within the US.

But what happens whenever you are traveling internationally? Can you still use TSA approved locks and expect the security screening agents to not cut off your lock?

It’s a good question and the answer is: it depends.

Currently, there are over 500 million Travel Sentry locks and luggage in circulation.

As a result, a lot of airports around the world will recognize TSA approved locks and have the ability to use a master key to open them.

If you are traveling internationally, a good idea is to check ahead of time to see if the countries you are traveling through will recognize these locks. You can search for the country of your airport here.

If you have a Safe Skies lock, those also I recognized in different countries but the network seems to be smaller.

TSA approved locks

TSA approved locks are not very expensive and are not hard to find. Whether you were shopping at Amazon, Walmart or Target, you can often buy them in packages so that you can purchase a handful of them at once.

Here are some of the recommended TSA approved locks:

SURE LOCK TSA Compatible Travel Luggage Locks

These type of locks are nice because they have a special indicator that will let you know if your luggage has been opened. If you see your bag has been opened and you don’t have a notice of inspection, something is not quite right. You can get a two pack of them for only $13 which is a great price.

Forge TSA Approved Cable Luggage Locks

With the Forge TSA luggage lock, the TSA agent has to re-lock your suitcase to remove their key so it’s a great way to reduce the chances of your lock being left unlocked. These locks also have the indicator to show if your lock has been opened. Forge is also reportedly one of the more durable brands.

Master Lock 4697D

The Master Lock offers you the ability to input a four digit combination code, which offers a better level of security than the three wheel combination codes.

The three combination code means a bored thief need only make 1,000 guesses to unlock your bag but with four digits, that number jumps up to 10,000. It only requires you to memorize one more digit so you may as well make it harder on the thief.

Anvil TSA Approved Luggage Lock

The Anvil TSA Approved Luggage Lock is another four digit combination code but this type of lock comes with a hardened steel shackle. These should be more durable than a cable lock. They also offer you a comprehensive lifetime warranty.

Lewis N. Clark Mini Brass Square TSA Lock

If you are someone that likes to use a key to unlock your locks rather than being forced to remember a combination, then you also have some options.

Personally, keeping up with a luggage key lock is just one more thing to keep up with when traveling and I’d rather stick with a combination. Still, these are very durable locks with brass and steel construction. 

A word about luggage with built-in locks….

I’m not a huge fan of using the locks built in to luggage bags.

The reason is that if they malfunction and cannot be opened, agents at the airport may cause damage to the lock or your bag in order to open it.

This would likely be more common when traveling internationally if the airport you were at does not have the appropriate master key.

However, if you stick to using external locks, those can always be cut away without the risk of damaging your bag. Therefore, at least when flying internationally, I would try to avoid the built-in locks.

TSA approved locks FAQ

How much do TSA approved locks cost?

TSA approved locks are not expensive and can be purchased for under $10.

Can I use TSA approved locks when I travel to other countries?

Yes, many countries around the world accept TSA approved locks. You can search for the country of your airport here.

Can TSA approved locks be picked?

Yes, TSA approved locks can be picked with relative ease according to many lock pickers.

Are TSA approved locks safe?

TSA approved locks are not very safe when used outside of the airport because they can be picked and virtually anyone in the public can obtain a TSA master key capable of unlocking the lock.

Do you have to use a TSA approved lock?

No, you are not required to use a TSA approved lock. However, there is roughly a 5% chance your bag will be physically inspected and in that case your non-TSA lock will likely be destroyed.

Where can I purchase a TSA approved lock?

TSA approved locks can be found online at and at stores like Wal-Mart.

Final word

TSA approved locks can help add a layer of security to your luggage without causing you to waste money on locks that could be destroyed by TSA. They can also help keep your zippers from coming undone and allowing the contents of your luggage to spill out.

But beyond that, they have limited utility due to the fact that the master keys can easily be reproduced and because it’s so easy to access a zippered bag.

So feel free to use these locks when going through the airport and flying but my advice would be to stray away from using them when in the real world.

TSA Pat Down Rules & Procedures: Everything You Need to Know

When it comes to pat downs, TSA doesn’t have the best reputation and it’s one of the reasons why it’s even earned the nickname of “Touching Sensitive Areas.”

But all jokes aside, getting a pat down by TSA can be a very uncomfortable experience.

The thing is, TSA agents are not free to do whatever they want when it comes to pat downs and they have to abide by some pretty specific rules and policies (that TSA has set).

If you are aware of these guidelines then you can call out TSA if you ever suspect an agent is failing to live up to the standards.

In this article, we will get into detail about the policies for TSA pat downs and provide you with some insight on how agents are required to conduct themselves when performing pat downs at security checkpoints.

The evolution of the TSA pat down

TSA pat downs have not always been done the same way.

A few years ago, a report came out that TSA agents had missed 95% of dangerous items during an internal investigation. That prompted a review of policies which led to some major changes for pat down searches.

In the past, a TSA agent could choose to perform a pat down in one of five different ways. They made the judgment call based on the circumstances and what they believed was required for the individual. But after that report came out, the policy changed.

A few years ago, TSA adopted a new pat down policy that introduced the standard pat down, which is what most passengers get and that is what we will focus on below.

Why you may get a TSA pat down at the airport

One thing about TSA pat downs is that they are often predictable.

There are a few different reasons why you might get a pat down at the airport.

Refusal to go through the metal detector or body scanner

One of the most common reasons you will get a pat down is if you refuse to go through the walk-through metal detector or the full body scanner. For some people going through a metal detector is not an option, while others just may prefer to not go through these.

But regardless of your reasoning for refusing the traditional screening methods, TSA will need to verify that you don’t have objects on you so it’s understandable that a pat down would be necessary.

The scanners detect a foreign object

You can also get a pat down if the screening methods show that you have an object (or anomaly) on you.

If you can simply pull a detected object out of your pocket and then go back through the screening without the alarm going off then you should not require a pat down.

But if the officer cannot determine why the alarm is going off then you may need a pat down or some other type of additional screening. For example, you could have an implant that sets off the alarm (see the section on medical devices below for more details).

Enhanced screening

If you have something like SSSS on your boarding pass, which requires enhanced screening, then that usually requires a pat down in addition to other screening methods like swabbing.

Sometimes this can happen on a random basis but other times your travel habits can trigger SSSS.

Behavior Detection Officers

Behavior Detection Officers look for certain behaviors that could indicate a passenger is up to something.

The efficacy of these officers is in question but if they found that someone was displaying signs of nervous behavior, they could select them for a pat down.

Travel document checker

A Travel Document Checker (TDC) could determine that there is something suspect about your travel documents and recommend that you undergo a pat down.

There also may be a random element to getting a pat down, although I was not able to find much information on random pat downs.

One thing to be aware of is that TSA Pre-Check does not exclude you from potentially getting a pat down.

What happens during a TSA pat down? (rules and procedures)

Based on 2018 training documents, we know a lot about the pat down process.

While a lot of that information is redacted, we know that during a TSA pat down you can expect to encounter the experience detailed below.

First, an agent will let you know that in order for you to get through security, you will have to submit to a pat down. You are not forced to undergo a pat down but you will not be allowed through security if you refuse.

At that point, you should be presented with the option of getting the pat down done in an open area nearby security or in a private area.

If you elect for a private screening, you can bring along one person with you who can act as a witness.

For travelers who are worried about being subject to abuse or mistreatment, they should be able to have the other person record the pat down session so that if anything happens there is video evidence.

Your carry-on luggage should also be brought to the private screening room, although you will not be able to access it until after the pat down is complete.

If you don’t go for the private screening room, your carry-on luggage will likely remain at the conveyor belt.

A TSA agent of the same gender will be performing the pat down and if you go to private screening route, a second TSA agent of the same gender should join the room as well.

According to their training, it’s possible that an agent of the same gender may not be available and TSA could attempt the pat down with an officer of the opposite gender.

As far as what gender is used, the gender is based on what the passenger identifies as.

If you want, you can request the TSA agent to wear a fresh pair of gloves although it appears that this may be a requirement now, especially after coronavirus.

The universal patdown method hits on pretty much every area of your body and before beginning the agent performing a pat down should explain the entire process to you.

To relieve some of the tension and awkwardness, as they go through the pat down they should alert you as to what part of your body is going to be searched next.

If you have any medical issues or have sensitive regions of your body, let the agent know and they should respond accordingly to avoid causing you pain or severe discomfort.

The agents are instructed to use the back of their hand for sensitive areas such as the breast, groin, and butt. However, TSA has mentioned that sometimes the front of the hand may be needed.

You should only be asked to remove outerwear such as jackets and your belt and shoes. Items should also be removed from your pockets .

Other clothing should remain on although there are reports in the past of TSA doing a strip search which does not seem to be in line with any TSA policy.

An agent could request for you to hold up your shirt so that they can check your waist line but if they request for you to remove an article of clothing that should be a big red flag.

When the inspection begins, you will be asked to stand with your legs shoulder width apart and raise your arms.

The agent should verify that you’re able to remain in this position for four minutes before beginning the search. If that’s too difficult for you then make sure that they provide you with a chair.

The pat down may start with your head. If you have a lot of hair or a poofy/tall hairstyle, your hair could also be subject to an inspection.

Next, they will move onto your collar and arms, including your underarms.

The pat down then may move to your sides and back with the agents hands applying firm pressure to potentially detect anything hidden under your garments.

When it comes to your waist line, they will feel around on the inside of your waistband in both the back and the front.

TSA agent doing pat down on waistline
Image via TSA.

They use an up-and-down and side-to-side motion when checking your rear end and groin area.

This is typically the most controversial aspect of a pat down and there are videos out there that look very suspect with some agents really overdoing it. (Link to video w/music.)

But generally, after a couple of swipes in either direction the officer should be able to tell if there is anything hidden.

TSA agent doing pat down on buttocks
Image via TSA.
TSA agent doing pat down on groin
Image via TSA.

The inside of your thighs and legs will also be rubbed with the officer likely to come very close to your groin area.

If you are wearing something like a dress or a kilt the officer will ask you to take one step forward and inspect each leg separately that way.

TSA agent doing pat down on thigh

If an item is found in your garment or on your person, a TSA agent may need to run that item through the x-ray machine or give it a close physical inspection.

If you have a prohibited item it will be handed over to a supervisor and you could potentially face a fine.

It’s possible that the agent may also want to do a swab of your hands, your clothing, and possibly some of the belongings and your luggage. This is typically a pretty quick process that they only take a minute or two if everything goes correctly.

What the officer is doing is looking for traces of explosives and they use a special machine that can pick up on different chemicals associated with explosives.

After all of this is done you can exit with your luggage, breathe a huge sigh of relief, and head out to your flight which you hopefully are not going to miss because of the delay.

The time it takes for a pat down will vary based on the available personnel and how things go during the search. You could be done in around 10 minutes but other times the process can drag out to even longer.

Will TSA perform a pat down on children?

For children 13 years and older, the standard pat down policy described above will apply, so teenagers are essentially subject to the same pat downs as adults.

However, for children 12 and under, TSA states that “officers will consult parents or the traveling guardian about the best way to relieve any concerns during the screening of a child and to resolve any alarms during screening.”

The child will not be involuntarily separated from the parents or guardians and the adult can even hold a child’s hand during the process.

Also, there must be an adult witness during the pat down which could include an aircraft operator escort in the case of an unaccompanied minor.

Reportedly, TSA modified the screening method so that children 12 and under have a reduced odds of getting a pat down.

Pat downs and medical implants/devices

If you have had a hip replacement or knee replacement, or have a metal plate, screws, metal rod, or other types of orthopedic implants, these could cause an issue when going through security screening

But there are different ways you can go about it.

First, some people may want to avoid going through the scanners. For these people, the pat down is inevitable and they will just have to adjust to it.

But if you have one of the medical devices or implants mentioned above, there is a chance you will set off the metal detector or something will alarm in the full body scanner when you go through.

This will often lead to a TSA agent utilizing a metal detector wand to verify that the location of the metal is only in one specific spot. If the agent is satisfied with your explanation and the findings, then you may be able to go on your way.

However, if the agent has some doubts or something does not line up then you may have to undergo a pat down.

Often times you can get a medical card from your doctor that explains your condition and that could help you avoid a pat down in some cases but not always.

X-ray of knee replacement

Final word

Getting a pat down from TSA can be embarrassing and extremely uncomfortable for some people. If there is any good news, it is that you can often anticipate when a pat down is going to happen so you can mentally prepare for it.

It will help to familiarize yourself with the rules and policies above because then you will be able to call out a TSA agent if they are not abiding by the guidelines!

American Airlines Lost and Found Guide (What to Expect) [2023]

Losing an item when flying can be an incredibly stressful and frustrating experience. But there are many people who lose items on planes or in airports every day that get reunited with their valuables — even expensive items like laptops and tablets!

So if you recently lost an item on an American Airlines flight there is still hope for you. In this article, I will break down what to expect with the American Airlines lost and found process.

American Airlines Lost and Found

Items left on American Airlines aircraft are returned to their rightful owners all the time so if you have left something on the plane don’t lose hope and just follow these guidelines.

If you are exiting or have just exited the plane and realize you left an item on the plane you should contact the nearest gate agent immediately. However, if you have already left the airport then you will need to file a claim online.

NOTE: This is a different process than losing your luggage. If your luggage has been lost or it’s not showing up at the baggage claim there is a separate process for reclaiming your baggage.

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Still at the airport

If you are just exiting the plane or have already exited the plane and are still located in the airport then your best course of action is to contact an American Airlines agent.

I would advise you to head over to the gate that you arrived at and try to speak to an agent at the desk right there. Even better, if you can locate a crew member or even a pilot from your flight they might be willing and capable of going back on the plane and retrieving your item.

If they are searching for a small item such as a wedding ring and they cannot locate it American Airlines planes are deep cleaned every night. This means that the cleaning crew might be able to find it later so you still have hope but the process to recovering the item will be a little different (you’ll likely have to rely on the online process discussed below).

If you have already made your way through the airport and you were not able to make your way back to the gates without going through TSA airport security then you may want to contact an American Airlines agent at an information desk.

Provide them with all of your details like your flight number and a detailed description of the item and they might be able to take action right there on the spot. There are reports of people getting their items delivered to them while they are waiting at baggage claim services so there is a possibility you can get your item back before even leaving the airport.

If they can’t help you then be sure to get clarification on the next step. They may ask you to file a claim online yourself or they may be able to take some initiative for you. Either way, just make sure that you are very clear on what your next step is to retrieve your items before you leave the airport.

Boarding gate for American Airlines
Contact an agent at the gate as soon as possible to improve your odds of recovering your item.


If you suspect that you may have lost your item at or near a TSA security checkpoint chances are that your item may have been placed in the TSA lost and found. TSA has its own lost and found department for different airports. You can find the contact information for the relevant airport you need here.

Related: What Happens if Your Item Is Not Allowed Through TSA Security? Can You Get It Back?

Around the airport

If you think that your item may just be sitting around the terminal somewhere then you likely want to contact the lost and found for the airport. Typically, an airport will have a phone number for its lost and found and a dedicated email address that you can get in touch with.

Below are some of the main airports that American Airlines serves. You should be able to find the contact information for the airport pretty easily.

If you think you may have left the item within a bar or restaurant at the airport then try to contact that individual business. Sometimes contacting a specific business within an airport can be difficult to do so one method is to contact a business nearby and ask one of their employees to walk over to the business you were trying to contact and inquire about your item.

I actually had to do this one time when I left my wallet in the rental car and the Avis rental car desk was not answering the phone. I got into contact with one of the neighboring rental car services and they walked over and got somebody at Avis on the phone for me.

As soon as you get in touch with someone your goal is to quickly get a point of contact via email. This will help you keep everything in writing and allow you to confirm details such as the location that the item should be delivered and how shipping will work out.

Try to insist on getting a (non-generic) email contact as soon as possible and don’t rely on someone to just “get back with you.”

If the entity locates your item they may choose to hand it over to the airport lost and found so that they do not have to deal with it but you can also work out a situation where they mail the item to you directly (that’s what I have done in the past).

The situation can sometimes take a long time to get worked out so my advice to you would be to be as patient as possible while these things are processed. Try to keep in touch on a weekly basis until you receive your item because if you do not hear anything there is a chance that your “claim” could be closed without you getting notified.

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If you’ve already left the airport

If you have already left the airport or you are not able to contact an agent while you are still there then you should file a claim online.

American Airlines uses a third-party service to process their lost and found claims. It is a different service used from other airlines like JetBlue but you will be going through the website:

The online form will ask you to fill out the following information:

  • Category — you will need to choose the type of category your lost item belongs to. Once you select the item type such as an iPhone you will then need to input more description details (this is where you can enter your serial number)
  • Flight information — provide your airline and flight number
  • Date you lost the item
  • Airport that you lost item at
  • Unique description — if there is anything that makes your item stand out this is the place to and put those details
  • If you were item has a tracking device like an AirTag you can list that here
  • Contact information — input all of your basic contact information

Once you finish inputting all of your details you will be issued a tracker number. If your item is discovered then you should be hearing back from American Airlines via email. In the event they track down your item you can then arrange for your item to be shipped to you and you will have to cover the cost.

American Airlines states that they will search for your item for up to 30 days.

American Airlines lost and found form
The American Airlines lost and found form is simple to fill out.

Admirals Club

If you think that you left an item in the Admirals Club then once again my advice would be to first try to persuade an American Airlines agent to check the lounge for you. If you were not able to get someone to check the lounge for you then you likely will need to file the claim online as shown above.

When you are not sure

If you simply have no idea where your lost item might be then my advice would be to contact all of the departments above.

Third-party claim providers

If you are searching for solutions to your lost and found issues you may come across businesses that require you to pay to handle your lost and found claims. I would generally try to avoid these services.

Unless they have an amazing reputation for their services, there is not a need to pay someone to file a lost and found claim for you. Also, some of the lost and found providers for the airlines explicitly ban these type of services. So my advice would be to work directly with the airline, airport, or TSA to retrieve your item.

Final word

If you lose an item when flying American Airlines your first step is to check with agents at the airport to see if they can immediately retrieve your item. If that is not practical then you can file a claim online and American Airlines will search for your item for 30 days. In the event that they locate the item you can pay to have it shipped to you.

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