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Flying With a Student Group

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You’ve decided to skip the motorcoach and try taking to the air with your student group. What are the rules? What do you need to know to make your flight go as smoothly as possible? Flying with a student group can be intimidating. The regulations for air travel change constantly, making it easy to be overwhelmed. Below is a guide to help your group fly the friendly skies.

REAL ID

Beginning October 1, 2020, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States. According to the TSA website, “REAL ID-compliant cards are generally marked with a star located in the upper portion of the card.” Travelers younger than 18 do not need identification, but their adult companions and chaperones do.

What to Take on the Plane

Students and adults have very different ideas of what to take on the plane. Items teens deem necessary to survival are probably not. Think in terms of basics:

  • Photo ID / Passport
  • Snacks for the plane (check with group leader)
  • Backpack with a change of clothes in the event a bag is lost
  • Carry-on liquids, aerosols, creams and gels using the 3-1-1 rule (3.4 oz bottle or less; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger)
  • Headphones for electronic devices like cell phones and iPads (all set to airplane mode, of course!)

Packing Dos and Don’ts

There’s a LONG list of banned items for carry-on and/or checked bags by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Students may not realize items are prohibited and toss them in a purse or backpack, causing delays or even fines. Some items include:

  • Nail clippers with files
  • Pocket knife
  • Pepper spray
  • Electronic lighters, plasma lighters, arc lighters
  • Insect repellent

Students will be glad to know that any artificial skeleton bones or live fish are welcome to tag along!  Be sure to check the list before packing to eliminate any confusion.

Surviving Security

Everyone dreads the security line, but it’s necessary for the safety of all air travelers. Herding a group of students through the long and winding lines can be difficult, but a little advance prep can make it easier:

Plan to remove your shoes. Unless you are over the age of 75, you will probably be asked to take them off

Eliminate the heavy metal. Skip the big belt buckles, heavy metallic jewelry and keys or be prepared to remove them all at security for screening. If you have body piercings, remove them or plan on a pat down

Remove your laptop before passing through security. In some cases, you may be asked to remove all electronics from your bag to be scanned individually

Tips for Success

This may be the first time flying for some of your students. If so, you may want to share some tips to simplify the process. Repeat travelers will benefit from a friendly reminder as well:

Do not lock luggage for easier TSA accessibility

Discreetly label bags with identifying information

Make sure any checked bags are less than 50 lbs.

Limit carry on items to one bag and one personal item (handbag, backpack, briefcase, laptop computer, with or without a bag)

NEVER leave luggage unattended

NEVER joke about bombs, firearms or terrorism while traveling. There is no quicker way to gain unwanted attention from the TSA! Any and all comments of this nature are considered real threats

Flying with a student group will get you to your destination quickly and efficiently. Following these guidelines will help to ensure that it’s simple, easy and fun!