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What to Bring
What is the difference between a checked bag, carry-on bag, and a personal item?
A small backpack or purse is considered a personal item, and you bring this with you onto the plane. A carry-on bag is a bag you carry with you onto the plane as well. There are size restrictions on both the personal item and carry-on bag, and these restrictions vary by airline. You check your checked bag in when you arrive at the airport, and you do not pick this bag up again until you reach your final destination. There are weight limits on the checked bag, and some airlines do not charge to check the first checked bag. Check with your airline for details.
Do I have to pay for additional checked luggage?
This varies by airline, so check with your airline. If you choose a low-budget airline, it’s very likely that you will have to pay for the first checked bag plus any additional luggage you check.
What is the weight limit on baggage items?
Check individual airlines for their baggage limits. They vary.
Can I bring food and/or drink onto the plane?
Yes. To be on the safe side, bring food that is sealed or unopened. You may not bring liquids through the security checkpoint if it is more than 3oz. Once you are past the checkpoint, you can purchase food from vendors and stores that you can bring onto the plane without size restrictions. TSA maintains lists of permitted and prohibited foods and also offers an app.
TSA offers pre-check options, a way to avoid some of the wait and stress of the check-in process. Checking in online the day before your flight—rather than checking in at a kiosk or with an agent the day of your flight—can save you time and stress and sometimes gets you a better seat. You can print your boarding pass at home, and you can reprint again when you arrive at the airport. You will have to show your photo ID (your passport for international flights) and your boarding pass to go through security.
Whether checking in, dropping off your checked bags at luggage security (not in all airports), or going through regular security, always make sure you are in the correct line. It can be confusing, and you can always ask an airport employee or someone else in line.
Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) now allows non-ticketed visitors to accompany travelers to their gate through the DTW Destination Pass. This is a great way to spend extra time with family or friends before departure and receive extra support before boarding the plane. Other airports may offer similar services -- check with the airport you will be flying out from!