What Does Airplane Mode Do? (Is It Necessary?)

If you’ve ever been flying commercially in the US, you know that at some point during the beginning of your takeoff, you’ll be asked to put your devices like your iPhone in “airplane mode.”

But what exactly does airplane mode do and do you really need to put your phone in it when flying?

In this article, I’ll explain exactly what airplane mode does and why it might be so important to keep your phone in airplane mode when flying.

I’ll also give you some scenarios where airplane mode can be useful outside of the airplane context.

What does airplane mode do?

Airplane mode disables wireless transmission features on your mobile devices such as: cellular data, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

Airplane mode is primarily designed to reduce the interference from cellular radio waves that could potentially interfere with cellular transmission on the ground but some also believe it helps to reduce navigational and communication issues between pilots and air traffic control.

Let’s look at why airplane mode may or may not be needed.

Reducing radio waves on the ground

Believe it or not, it’s not the FAA but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that is the primary driving force behind airplane mode requirements.

They prohibit in-flight cell phone use to protect the integrity of ground-based cellular systems.

The worry is that a cell phone hurling through the sky could ping multiple cell phone towers at the same time.

Consider that the farther that some phones get from cell phone towers, the more “aggressive” they get with their signal requests.

So you could imagine that with potentially thousands of passengers in the sky shooting out their cell signals nonstop, this could create an unstable environment for cellular data.

When flying at high altitudes of 35,000 feet, it’s very debatable that a cell phone signal could reach cell phone towers on the ground.

It’s not that the cell signal could not extend that far out — a typical cellphone has enough power to reach a cell tower up to 45 miles away.

It’s more about the angles of the signals and how the towers receive and transmit those signals.

Take a look at the image below and that might give you an idea of the direction the signals typically go out. As you can see, it is more of a lateral transmission than vertical.

So when flying 35,000 feet above these towers, it makes sense that the signals would not be properly received.

However, when flying at much lower altitudes (some say around 2,000 to 8,000 feet), it sounds like much more of a possibility that phones in a plane could ping these towers.

cell phone tower signal diagram
Image via brightsandz.co

Protect flight controls

It was once believed that cellular phone transmission could affect the flight controls like the navigation systems and therefore create a major flight safety risk.

That risk may have been more prevalent with older technology with unshielded wiring but it seems this risk on modern planes may be overblown.

According to the North Carolina Consumers Council (NCCC), there are no proven cases of cellular phone transmission interfering with a navigation system.

It’s said that the shielded wires in the cockpit now should prevent those radio waves from penetrating and causing issues.

But there are still a couple of concerns.

One, it’s worth noting that shielding can degrade over time.

Also, with phones always rapidly evolving, it can be hard to predict exactly how new devices could affect flight control systems.

So it seems that while modern planes are more equipped to deal with lots of electronics, there still may be some room for concern in some cases.

The biggest inconvenience these days might be cellular signals interfering with communications between the pilots and air traffic control.

The cell signals could cause distracting noise in the headsets of the pilots which could result in miscommunications.

And that could obviously be a major problem.

The noise in the pilots headset theory is challenged by a lot of people who state this type of interference is extremely rare or potentially even nonexistent with today’s tech.

The evidence is a bit mixed, but I think the conclusion here is that older aircraft and older cellular devices posed a much greater risk when it came to interference from cell signals.

That risk from cell signals is probably very low in modern times but due to all of the factors that would go into testing this and how quickly technology changes, it’s really hard to know for sure what that level of risk is at any given time.

Therefore, I would still err on the side of putting your phone in airplane mode just in case something unthinkable could happen.

What can you do in airplane mode?

When you put your phone into airplane mode, your phone may or may not disable three separate features.

The features that will be disabled include cellular transmission, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

Airplane mode allows you to toggle Wi-Fi and Bluetooth back on if needed which allows you to still use Bluetooth headphones and connect to Wi-Fi on an airplane, for example.

I actually learned this the hard way years ago after unsuccessfully attempting to pair my Bluetooth headphones on a flight.

I went hours without any music or sound only to later find out that all I had to do was toggle my Bluetooth on to get it to work!

Wi-Fi is the exact same way.

Just toggle your Wi-Fi on and you can connect and even engage in text messaging and making Wi-Fi phone calls.

However, be aware that most airlines prohibit voice calls while flying, mostly because it can be super annoying to other passengers nearby.

A lot of smart phones like iPhones will remember the last configuration of your airplane mode to make things easier for you.

So if you enable Bluetooth while your phone is in airplane mode, it should be enabled the next time you put your phone in airplane mode.

Airplane Mode settings on phone

What about GPS in airplane mode?

GPS functionality is a bit different from everything else mentioned.

Airplane mode disables the transmission from your device but GPS on your phone is not transmitting signals; it is receiving signals from satellites.

So, in theory, your phone could still register a GPS signal even when flying on a plane (some devices might disable GPS).

The problem is getting that signal through a high flying metal tube is not so easy.

In addition to that, the absurd speed at which planes fly can essentially confuse a lot of algorithms used by GPS software, making them struggle to pin point where you are.

This is why some people will prompt their phone to receive a GPS signal before boarding the plane — it will make it easier to track.

With your cellular data turned off, you also won’t have the benefit of assisted GPS which helps your phone receive a GPS signal in a timely manner (WiFi might be able to help).

So receiving a sufficient GPS signal on a plane is difficult and maybe even impossible.

However, if you are seated by the windows and you position your phone next to the plane window, a lot of times (with a bit of patience) you can still get a GPS signal.

If you look at your maps on your phone, you might see a little dot located on a “map” that looks more like a sea of blankness. And that is because data is required to populate your map.

But, if you were to have a map downloaded off-line and your phone received a GPS signal through the window, you should be able to see your position on a map, albeit with questionable accuracy.

Airlines with in-flight entertainment (seatback TVs or streaming) often have maps for you to see where you are so relying on your phone for a map view is not always necessary.

What happens if you don’t put your phone in airplane mode?

If you choose to defy the orders of putting your device in airplane mode, here are some of the outcomes that you might face.

Get a slap on the wrist or kicked off the plane…

If a flight attendant notices your phone is not in airplane mode, because you are yapping on the phone or because they just happened to glance over and see your screen (should be very rare), they’ll probably just request for you to put your phone in airplane mode.

This could amount to a polite request but it could also come off as an admonishment.

Basically, it could just be an embarrassing scene and other passengers may not appreciate that you may have put their safety “at risk” by being selfish.

For some people, interactions like this can quickly escalate (especially post pandemic). It could even lead to you getting kicked off the plane like this person or this person.

In a worst-case scenario it might even land you on an airline’s no-fly list!

So it’s a good idea to avoid these situations when possible by just keeping your phone in airplane mode.

You could cause disruptions for the pilots

If it is true about pilots hearing static noise from cell signals in their headsets (which I do believe is the case), you could be interfering with the communications going to and from the person trying to navigate you safely from Point A to Point B.

Is that really something that you want to risk by keeping airplane mode off?

Could you cause a plane to crash?

It seems unlikely that you would directly interfere with plane navigation systems simply by keeping airplane mode off.

After all, if there was a real threat to airline safety from cell phone signals, it would be such a high national security concern that phones would not even be allowed to be turned on in planes.

The risk from a terrorist attack would just be way too high.

But as just discussed, cell phone signals can probably interfere with the pilots ability to communicate and hear instructions from air traffic control.

In a perfect storm scenario, it would not be impossible for something horrible to happen.

So while not putting your phone on airplane mode will not directly cause a plane to crash, it could contribute to a dangerous scenario under the worst of circumstances.

Get hit with a fine?

Although there are some reports that passengers could face a fine for not putting a phone in airplane mode, I struggled to find confirmed cases of passengers getting fined for not putting their phone in airplane mode.

It seems that if fines were being issued on a regular basis, that would not be the case.

But while you may not have to worry about getting a fine, you might still be out of pocket if you choose to leave airplane mode off.

How exactly is that the case?

If you don’t turn on airplane mode it’s possible that your device could connect to the in-flight roaming network and you could be billed several hundred dollars for usage!

Cell phone battery goes dead quicker

Not putting your phone in airplane mode means that it could keep working to connect with cell phone towers.

That could drain your battery very quickly.

When should you use airplane mode?

Obviously, when you are requested by flight attendants to put your phone in airplane mode you should comply.

But there are a handful of scenarios where airplane mode could come in handy.

Coming back in the country

Something that hardly anybody knows about or thinks about is the need for putting their phone in airplane mode when they are coming back in the country through customs.

The point of doing this is to prevent a customs agent from snooping through everything on your phone.

In case you were not aware, a customs agent can seize your phone and search all of its contents without needing a warrant or even suspicion.

The limitation is that they cannot access anything that is stored on the cloud. So if you were to exit out of your apps and put your phone into airplane mode, that would be the extent of anything a customs agent could inspect.

You’re unsure about roaming charges

Some phones can be a little bit confusing when it comes to roaming settings.

People don’t always know exactly what setting needs to be turned on or off and because of that they run the risk of getting hit with huge roaming charges.

Some people also just forget to disable roaming.

By putting your phone in airplane mode you can be guaranteed that you will not be subject to any unexpected roaming fees.

When troubleshooting

A lot of times whenever I have trouble getting reception I utilize airplane mode to to get me service.

This will help “reset” your phone to seek out cell phone towers and speed up the process for getting you service.

In my experience, this has been really handy when arriving in a new country. When my phone struggles to get service I simply put it in airplane mode and then take it back out and it often resolves the issue.

Battery saver

If you ever are running low on your battery one of the best ways to preserve it is to put your phone in airplane mode. You’d be surprised how quickly your battery can be drained when it’s attempting to get a signal.

Put your phone on airplane mode, dim your screen, and you just extended your battery life so that you can hopefully make it to your next charging session.

This can be extremely helpful when traveling or when out and about in remote places such as when you’re hiking.

When you need a break

When you just need a break from communication, it’s easy to just put your phone in airplane mode so that you won’t be bothered with phone calls, text messages, and emails.

This is also a refreshing thing to do when traveling.

Nothing is worse than getting hit with a work email when trying to enjoy the sights of a museum or an amazing dinner at sunset.

Airplane mode can be your solution for staying present in the moment.

Final word

Airplane mode is designed to disable transmission from your mobile devices.

While many people doubt or seriously question the necessity for it, it seems that in certain instances cell phones from planes can interfere with cellular data on the ground and also with the ability of pilots to clearly communicate and potentially even navigate.

Future innovation may resolve some of the issues and more studies might give us answers to the questions that remain about the disruption of cell phone use on a plane, but for now given what we know, I think it makes sense to keep our phones on airplane mode until we have more clarity on the potential effect of these devices.

Switching Seats on a Plane? Etiquette Tips for Getting “Yes” and Saying “No”

Switching seats on a plane is a hot button topic for a lot of travelers.

Whether you are switching with a stranger or just trying to swap seats with a friend, there are certain factors that you need to be aware of in order for your plan to go smoothly and to avoid confrontations.

In this guide, I’ll talk about how to properly ask someone to switch seats with you and also how to politely tell someone no. I’ll also give you some tips on how to swap seats with a friend or family member to make things easy.

Call ahead of time

If you’re flying a premium cabin on a well respected airline, you might be able to call ahead of time to figure out your seating situation.

For example, when we booked the first class suites on Singapore Airlines I noticed that one passenger was occupying one of the suites that could be shared.

This meant that Brad and I would be in suites that were not adjoined and because that traveler was a solo traveler it wasn’t a very efficient use of the cabin features.

So I called Singapore Airlines to see if they could contact the passenger and see if they would be interested in changing seats.

I fully did NOT expect my request to work but somehow Singapore Airlines worked their magic and arranged for the seat swap a couple of months before departure.

I would not expect this to work every time but it is worth a shot when flying in certain premium cabins.

Ask the agent at check-in

If you’re not crazy about your seat or you want to inquire about other options you can do so whenever you arrive at the check-in desk.

Medical exceptions aside, a check-in agent is usually not going to move anybody’s seat for you but it could happen.

But even if they don’t relocate others, they might be able to find you a newly opened seat or perhaps a seat that was not available to choose online.

This could help you avoid having to ask another passenger to swap seats with you.

Depending on the type of ticket you purchased and the airline’s same day change policy, you might also just be able to inquire about other flights. Perhaps you can depart an hour or two later but with better seats?

Ask the agent at the gate

Sometimes you run into a less than happy check-in agent that only seems interested in doing the bare minimum (checking you in and checking your bags).

If you get the sense that they are not helping you as much as they could or they are just being not very fun to deal with then consider heading to the gate and inquiring with an agent there.

They may be able to help you with changing seats although they probably will not get involved with calling up on the passengers to give up their seats.

Be sure to arrive early before boarding though because they will be too busy to help you once boarding begins.

Ask a flight attendant

Getting a flight attendant involved with your seat swapping pursuit is one of the best routes to go.

If you are shy they can facilitate the requests and other passengers might be more likely to honor the request of a flight attendant (although it is debatable).

Unless there are weight or balance safety issues, I don’t believe a flight attendant can force another passenger to switch seats with you, although there are some horror stories out there of tyrant flight attendants.

Be sure to ask a flight attendant that is located near your seat for assistance rather than bombarding a flight attendant at the entrance of the plane.

Explain your reason (briefly) and be transparent

Your odds of getting someone to switch seats with you will probably increase if you can provide them with a very short and reasonable (and preferably honest) explanation for your request.

For example, you want to keep your family together or perhaps you are taking care of someone, those are generally good reasons for wanting a seat switch.

Just try to avoid getting too long-winded with your explanation and avoid sounding overly pushy or sob-storyish (spare other passengers your personal drama).

In addition to providing a good reason for swapping, make sure you also are 100% upfront about where exactly your seat is and what type of seat it is.

You also need to disclose relevant details like if there is a crying baby next to the seat, stinky passenger, etc.

Don’t ever poach a seat proactively

The number one tactic to never do (because it is a jerk type of move) is to sit in a seat that is not yours with the expectation that the original seat holder will switch with you when they show up to their seat.

This not only causes confusion for people but it’s actually pretty rude.

Also, you will likely rub someone the wrong way or simply piss them off to the point that they will not want to switch seats with you (even if they would’ve been open to it before).

The much better strategy would be to stand near their seat and make a request when they arrive to that seat before they store all of their belongings.

If you can clearly and calmly articulate the perks of the seat you can provide them with (e.g., “the seat is just two rows back and is the exact same type of window seat”), that will be an exponentially better route to go than simply taking their seat.

Don’t trade for a worse seat

Sometimes it’s very clear what constitutes a worse seat like asking to swap a first class seat for an economy seat.

But you need to be very conscious about both the subjective and objective value of a seat when requesting a seat switch.

First, be aware that many passengers place a high value on a particular type of seat such as a window or aisle seat.

For me personally, I’m a window seat person and not having the window as an outlet is a pretty huge deal to me.

For others, having direct access to the aisle could be worth a lot to them, especially if they have some sort of digestion concerns or plane anxiety by the windows.

Other people might place value in sitting in a bulkhead, emergency exit row, towards the front of the plane, back of the plane, etc. Don’t assume that just because you don’t care for a seat that others will feel the same way.

Also, a lot of times people pay extra money for different seats within the economy cabin.

They could be paying for a little bit of extra legroom or to sit towards the front of the plane. And this is important: the amount that they paid could be different from the amount someone in the adjacent seat paid.

Asking another passenger to essentially cover the cost of your seat upgrade while losing out on their paid benefit is a major ask. Some might even say it’s inconsiderate to put a stranger in a position to deal with that scenario.

If you’re asking someone to switch with a seat that appears to be of equal value such as a seat directly behind them then consider maybe adding on a little incentive.

Maybe offer to buy them a drink or give them a bag of chips or something along those lines. Heck, even $5 can go a long way.

The best way to motivate someone to switch seats is to offer them a seat that is better than what they have.

If you can offer them a change from a middle seat to a window or aisle or perhaps extra legroom you have a lot more leverage.

Don’t get upset if people say no

If you ask to switch seats with someone, even if you have a very legitimate reason, don’t get upset or rude if they refuse.

Once again, you don’t know what type of value they are putting on their seat or what type of situation they may be in.

For many nervous travelers, they’ve just gone through the hectic experience of arriving at the airport, going through security, boarding, and are now anxiously awaiting take-off.

By adding an unexpected seat request swap, you could be throwing them for a real loop and they could be more prone to an outburst type of response if they feel you are getting rude with them over their decision to not grant you their seat.

So if they refuse your request then just be polite and move on to another passenger if you can.

Related: Ultimate Guide to Airline Boarding Policies

Don’t say “yes” for others without asking

If someone is requesting to swap seats with you and other people in your party make sure you don’t just say “yes” on impulse without first checking with the other passengers.

This is something to consider if you’re flying with other people, even if it is someone you know very well like your spouse or another family member.

Don’t ever agree to swapping seats with others unless you have consulted with the other passengers in your party.

How to say “no” politely when asked to switch a seat

If someone asks you to switch a seat and you want to say no but are afraid of coming off as rude or inconsiderate, first of all, just know that it’s completely reasonable for you to decline the request.

You could just say, “Sorry, not interested in switching.”

But if you would like to also provide a bulletproof excuse (that no sane person or flight attendant should push back on) here are some that you can use:

  • If they are offering you a window seat tell them that you get anxious sitting by the windows or that you need direct aisle access to visit the bathroom.
  • If they are offering you an aisle seat tell them that you have plane anxiety and need to sit by a window to be calm or if you are a larger frame let them know that you get hit constantly due to your wide frame.
  • If the seat is towards the back of the plane let them know that you have a connecting flight and you need to get off the plane quickly or tell them that the back of the plane receives more turbulence and that makes you anxious.
  • If the seat is near a wing tell them that you get anxious sitting near the engines.

You could tell them that you paid X amount of dollars for your seat but be prepared that some people might counter your offer by paying you that amount.

So unless you’re open to receiving payment in exchange for swapping seats try to keep their counter options limited with your excuse.

My usual go to excuse for staying at my window seat is that I get aerial photography shots for my travel blog which is my full-time profession. It’s 100% true but you can use this excuse to help you lock down a window seat if needed too.

How to avoid seat swapping issues

If you want to minimize people asking you to change seats or others poaching your seat there are a couple of things you can do.

First, you can get a seat in the emergency exit row. This will make you a “no sit zone” for kids and families with kids. Therefore, you can avoid getting asked to move so that a family can sit together.

You can also board quicker. The quicker you get into your seat and store your belongings, the less likely someone is to poach your seat.

Print out your boarding pass on paper. If a gate agent decides to screw with your boarding position at the time of boarding you will have your original seating position which you can use to help claim your original seat. This may or may not work.

And finally, if you are in your seat jamming out to your headphones and not making eye contact with passengers coming through you will probably be less likely to be bothered.

Swapping seats with a friend

If you are trading seats with a friend or someone that you have a relationship with, it’s going to be a lot easier.

For example, if you are feeling like an angel and have seats in first/business class but you want to give up those seats for friends or family sitting in economy, most airlines should allow you to trade your seats without a problem.

You could notify a crew member about what you’re doing but you could also just have them sit in your seats and you sit in their seats.

This means that when it is time to board the first class passengers could simply head to the boarding group where the economy passengers are boarding.

This way, you can have the airline scan your boarding pass that belongs to you and then you can swap boarding passes with the other passengers while walking on the jet bridge.

This will avoid having to get redirected to a different seat during a busy boarding process.

Also, if a crew member sees someone from a lower cabin enter the business class or first class cabin during boarding they are likely to question them and if for whatever reason the airline is not on board with the seat swap, your plans could not work out.

Switching seats between economy and premium cabins during the flight is often problematic so it is best to handle this during boarding.

If you’re flying an international flight, especially on a premium airline, it’s not uncommon to get individual attention as a first class passenger.

For example, you might get welcomed with a “Hello, Mr. Johnson.”

So in that situation if you are switching with someone else it’s probably a good idea to let the flight attendant know that the two of you are switching positions.

Final word

Switching seats can get a little nerve-racking sometimes. But you can increase your odds of a successful seat swap if you start trying to work out a solution as soon as you can. Also, if you remain polite and aware of the exchange of value you are offering you’ll find that you’ll be successful more times than not.

Buying an Extra Seat on Delta Air Lines: What You Need to Know About the Process

Are you thinking about purchasing an extra seat on Delta Air Lines because you are a plus-sized passenger or just because you want some extra comfort?

If so, then it will be helpful for you to know how the booking process works along with some other helpful information like how to make sure you don’t lose your extra seat!

Below, I’ve broken down everything you need to know about purchasing an additional seat for your flight and hopefully will answer most or all of your questions!

How to book an extra seat on Delta Air Lines

A Delta representative confirmed that in order to book an extra seat, you need to call customer service.

This is in contrast to some other airlines like United that allow you to book an extra seat online, even if the process is a little bit strange.

When you purchase an extra seat, Delta will create an additional booking that essentially acts like a second passenger is traveling with you.

However, on the name for the second passenger you might see your first name replaced with “EXST.” The gender and date of birth should be the same as your own.

Your extra seat should be linked to your main ticket which means that if you encountered irregular operations, such as a flight change caused by Delta, your extra seat should “follow” you to your new flight.

Sometimes this may not happen and you may have to work out the situation with Delta but that should be rare according to the rep I spoke with.

For some other airlines, the second boarding pass gets printed out and scanned during the boarding process so you might need to print out that second boarding pass when flying with Delta and scan it.

The reason is that if you don’t scan the second boarding pass it could trigger a “no-show” which could mean that an additional passenger is assigned to your flight and that could cause issues for your extra seat.

Delta’s system may not work that way but you may want to confirm that.

If you want to use your SkyMiles to purchase the extra seat, that should be allowed as long as there are open awards.

Just be aware that you cannot purchase a basic economy ticket as an extra seat. That’s because a seat assignment is required and those basic economy fares do not allow for advanced seat selection.

Delta airline seats

A seat just for comfort?

Unlike Southwest Airlines that does not allow you to purchase an extra seat solely for comfort, Delta is among the airlines that allows you to purchase an extra seat even if you don’t need it for size reasons.

It’s also possible for you to purchase more than one extra seat if you would like.

For example, if you were on crutches and wanted to keep your foot elevated during the flight, you could purchase two additional seats and occupy an entire row.

(Of course, during takeoff and landing you need to comply with safety requirements.)

Will you be required to purchase an extra seat?

If you are a customer of size, often a major question is will you be required to purchase an extra seat?

This always depends on the circumstances but Delta seems to be one of the more plus-size friendly airlines as I will explain below.

If you need a seatbelt extender…

If you need a seatbelt extender, you are NOT required to purchase an extra seat. One reason for this is that people are just built very differently.

Some people carry their extra weight in different parts of the body so just because you need a seatbelt extender, that does not mean that you will be intruding on the passenger next to you.

The armrest does not have to come down

One of the big reasons why Delta is friendly to plus-size passengers is the armrest policy.

They state:

Delta does not require a passenger who needs a seatbelt extender or is unable to lower the armrest to purchase an additional seat

So just because the armrest cannot go down, that does not mean that you have to purchase an extra seat.

Often, whether or not the armrest can come down (and remain down) while a plus-sized passenger is seated is sort of a test of whether or not the passenger will be able to fly without buying an extra seat.

If the armrest can’t come down, the passenger is required to purchase an extra seat. But that is not the case with Delta.

While this is good news for many, to ensure that you don’t need to purchase an extra seat you still have to make sure that you are not “impeding on” another passenger….

If you impede on another passenger

Delta states that if you impede on another passenger, that’s when things become problematic.

Now what exactly “impede” means is the million dollar question.

Typically, this means if you are body is occupying space in the next seat (with the armrest acting as the official divider).

But it gets a little bit tricky when you talk about elbows, shoulders, etc.

In the end, this likely is a case-by-case determination that could largely depend on the passenger next to you.

Some people are just much more tolerant than others when it comes to rubbing arms or bodies with others.

If the crew determines that you are impeding on another passenger then there are a few different scenarios that could play out.

You could be asked to move to another seat.

For example, maybe there is an empty seat somewhere else on the plane or even just a smaller passenger that you can sit next to.

(Sometimes the passenger next to you may volunteer to swap with someone else or move to a different seat.)

If the flight is full then you could be asked to take a later flight that will have available seating.

To ensure that you will have space, you may want to purchase an additional seat for that later flight but that will not be required because the next available flight may not be full.

But obviously if that flight did become full — perhaps with standby passengers — you could find yourself right back in the same situation so it’s usually a good idea to purchase the extra seat to avoid these situations.

If the next flight is more expensive, Delta reps told me that you would not be responsible for paying the fare difference.

I should point out that some airlines will also cover a hotel and meals if you are refused the ability to fly until the next day. I did not get confirmation that Delta does this but since other major airlines do, it’s worth asking about.

Delta Air Lines planes

Can you use preboarding?

Preboarding is available to a lot of different passengers and it is required under the law to provide it to people who need extra time or assistance to get settled in their seat.

If you are a customer of size, you could easily make an argument that you may need extra time to get into your seat so I think preboarding should be on the table. After all, it is something that you self identify for.

If you are interested in preboarding then simply speak with a gate agent and they should be able to get you situated for it.

How an extra seat affects your luggage

If you were hoping to get an extra carry-on when purchasing an extra seat, that is not going to happen.

Instead, your carry-on allowance is strictly tied to the passenger flying — not the seat. (I believe this is a safety issue and not strictly an airline issue.)

However, the good news is that you will be entitled to extra checked baggage based on the number of seats that you purchase. Read about Delta baggage fees here.

What seats can you select?

If you are a customer of size then you want to avoid the emergency exit row.

That’s because seatbelt extenders are not allowed in those seats and the arm rests cannot be pushed up which means you will be dealing with limited seat width.

If the aircraft has rows with only two seats, that would be the ideal seat selection. However, if you are traveling with a companion then a row with three seats also works just fine.

Delta Air Lines seat

Protecting your extra seat

One of the drawbacks of purchasing an extra seat is that sometimes you have to keep people away from trying to poach your seat.

Also, there are reports of flight attendants trying to put people into the extra seats in order to accommodate other passengers or even to accommodate standby passengers.

Because of this, it’s a good practice to notify a flight attendant that you have paid for an extra seat as soon as you get settled in.

That should let them know that the seat is off-limits to others and they should help you “guard” the seat.

If for some reason your extra seat is occupied by a passenger then be sure to follow up with Delta to request some type of compensation.

Can you earn extra miles?

It appears that you can earn extra award miles at least for one extra seat. However, if you were trying to earn MQDs, MQMs, MQS, and Medallion bonus miles that might be a different story. Speak with a Delta agent about those requests.

What happens when you try to upgrade?

If you are I’m a Medallion member trying to be waitlisted for a complimentary Medallion upgrade then you should probably contact Delta reservations customer service.

It’s worth being aware that Delta says that if the complimentary upgrade clears, there are no refunds for the extra seat if it was a nonrefundable fare.

Final word

If you want an extra seat because you need more space or because you want to be more comfortable, you need to call Delta in order to book.

If you suspect that you will be impeding on another passenger then you might need to purchase an extra seat so that you don’t get put on a different flight.

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 www.seatguru.com

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.

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 aa.com
  • 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.

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.

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

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.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

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 alaskaair.com 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. 

Tip: Use WalletFlo to help you maximize your credit card spend on purchases like Southwest flights!

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 Southwest.com.

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 Southwest.com.

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.

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.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

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.

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

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: www.chargerback.com.

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.

Delta Airlines Lost & Found Guide [2023]

Losing an item on a plane or in an airport can be a nightmare. I know this from personal experience.

But thankfully, airlines and airports have pretty sophisticated lost and found services. Many people are reunited with the lost items every day so if you lost something when flying Delta Airlines, don’t lose hope.

Below, I’ll outline all of the steps you can take to recover something lost on Delta Airlines including how to timely file a claim and how to optimize your chances of getting your item recovered.

The immediate step: get to the Delta Airlines gate

If the de-planing has started and you realize that you have a lost item while you are still on a Delta Airlines plane, then just try to be calm and search around your seat while everyone exits.

Eventually, as the passengers exit, a flight attendant will probably approach you to see what’s going on and you can let them know that you have a lost item.

They might be able to help search for you right there but depending on the flight schedule, you might also be ushered out quickly.

If you have already entered the airport from your arrival, and you realize that you have a lost item then you should try to go directly to the Delta arrival gate.

If there is a line for the gate agent, feel free to jump (politely) to the front of the line and just let the agent know that you have something urgent.

Let them know about your lost item and where you were seated and they might be able to get some crew members to help.

If nobody is attending at the desk then you might be able to catch crew members entering the terminal from the jet bridge.

Unless they have somewhere to promptly be, you’ll be surprised how helpful crew members can be in these type of situations.

Past the sterile area

Every airport has a sterile area.

This is the part of the airport that is past security and it means that everyone wandering through those corridors has undergone some type of security screening.

Once you leave the sterile area, you cannot re-enter the sterile area unless you go back through security to make sure that you are in compliance with the TSA rules.

You should always see a sign marking the sterile area as you head towards the baggage claim section of the airport. (it might look like something from the image below.)

If you have already exited the sterile area then you’re not going to be able to get back to the gates unless somehow you were able to get through security which is unlikely as well.

Therefore, your best bet will be to locate a Delta Airlines help desk. Some airports, especially Delta hubs, may have a few Delta help desk’s located in different parts of the airport.

But most likely if you have already exited the sterile area, your best option will be to go to a Delta Airlines desk at baggage claim.

Typically these agents deal with lost luggage but on occasion they can also help you out for your personal lost items.

In one scenario, I recall a passenger even got an agent working the baggage claim desk to radio to agents sweeping the plane.

They were soon reunited with their lost item at baggage claim which is one reason why I always recommend for people to give this method a try.

Related: Delta Air Lines Boarding Policy Guide

airport sterile area

Items left at the TSA Security Checkpoint

If you think that you may have left your items at the TSA security checkpoint then your priority should be to get in contact with the Lost and Found for 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.

This is a separate lost and found department that is distinct from Delta Airlines and from the airport.

If they don’t have any record of your item, then it’s possible that item could’ve been referred to the airport’s lost and found so don’t lose out all hope until you check with them.

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

For items lost in and around the airport facility

What about if you suspect that you left your item sitting around the airport terminal?

For example, maybe you were at ATL and you left your phone sitting on a bench somewhere in the airport? Or perhaps, you suspect that you may have left your last item in a bathroom at SLC or MSP.

If you think that you may have left your item somewhere in the airport then you want to check with the specific lost and found department at that airport.

Head to an information desk and ask them where the airport’s lost and found counter is and that will be the easiest way to find them.

Sometimes the lost and found works in partnership with the airport police so you might also find a desk where you’ll find the police.

Airports also will have a dedicated webpage for their lost and found.

You might be able to submit a claim or simply find an email or phone number that could be helpful. I always prefer to handle these things via email so that you have a paper trail of what went on in your discussion.

If you left something in a Delta Sky Club airport lounge then try to contact Delta ASAP. You could also contact the airport and see if they can transfer you to the lounge.

See if they can get you in touch with someone at the lounge and give them all the details you can such as what time you were in the lounge and where you were seated.

Related: Delta Airlines Baggage Fees Guide

What if you have left the airport?

Okay, now let’s say that you have already left the airport. Maybe you were taking an Uber back to your hotel or you are already back home when you realize that you have a lost item.

If this happens to you then you can immediately call the airport or Delta and see if anything can be done.

But there’s a good chance that you’re going to have to just file your claim online in order to proceed with recovering your lost item.

How to file a Delta lost and found claim online

Like other airlines such as JetBlue, Delta Airlines utilizes nettracer to process lost and found claims.

To file a lost and found claim for Delta Airlines click here.

Make sure that you select you are looking for an item that was NOT lost in your checked baggage to begin your claim.

Filing the claim is a very simple three step process but you don’t want to rush through the steps because detail is as important as ever when resolving these claims.

Also, keep in mind that you really want to file a report within seven days of your item being lost to increase your odds of it getting recovered.

The first section is going to ask you to describe your item. You’ll select an appropriate category and provide details like the item color, case color, brand, model, and item size.

If you have the serial number on hand or some other type of unique ID number you definitely want to input it here.

Finally, there will be a box you can fill in that asks you to describe what makes your item unique.

Once again, think of anything that you can that could possibly allow your lost item to stand out such as any scratches, stickers, screen cracks, etc.

The more detail that you supply, the more your claim will catch the eye of someone working on your file which will likely increase the odds of it being found.

After you input all of your item information, you then need to input some contact details and also details related to your itineraries.

After you file your claim, you should receive a confirmation email about your claim. If for some reason it does not appear then be sure to check your spam box.

If they find an item that matches the description of your lost item, you will receive an email notification or a phone call with further instructions on what to do.

For example, they may ask you further questions to confirm that you are the true owner of the lost item.

In some cases, they might ask you to call your phone which is why it’s recommended to leave your call service activated on your phone for at least one week after you file your claim. (You may want to deactivate any associated data plans.)

If you can verify ownership then they will arrange for shipping the item to you and you will be responsible for paying for the shipping costs which can be paid with a credit card.

The search efforts will take place for approximately 30 days after they receive your lost item report.

If no item is ever recovered that matches your description then you should receive an email stating that they were unsuccessful and that the search is over for your item.

Items that are never recovered may be destroyed, sold, or donated. However, certain items like military IDs or passports get sent to places like the US Department of State.

Final word

Delta Airlines relies on one of the same Lost and Found services that other major airlines rely on. It’s a service that has helped thousands of people find their lost items.

While those services are helpful you can increase your odds of recovering your item by timely filing your report and providing the highest level of detail possible.

In many cases, you might also have to rely on a little bit of luck but if you follow the steps above you should maximize your recovery odds with Delta Airlines.

1 2 3 4 5 18