Many of us, myself included, will be flying into San Diego for Comic-Con. This can be another level of stress to an already stressful event. Here are a few tips and things to keep in mind when booking your airfare.
It’s important to keep in mind that most airlines now charge fees for bags. A few even charge for carry on luggage. You’ll want to check the website for your airline to see just how much these fees are. Remember that in most cases a bag over 50lbs will cost you more. It’s good to keep that in the back of your head for when you’re heading home. If you can, try to weigh your bag before heading off to the airport. You don’t want a surprise fee to pop up because of a weight issue. As far as I know, Southwest is the only airline that doesn’t charge you a baggage fee. I know a few airlines wave the fee depending on their frequent flier programs. That’s something else to look into. Don’t forget that you can also mail a lot of your con swag back to your home instead of trying to check an extra bag.
Using Two Airlines or Two Different Bookings:
It’s something that I don’t think many people think of when booking airfare. It’s just easier to book with one airline and to book both legs of your flight at the same time. Guess what? You don’t have to! You can book with two different airlines if you want. If you’re shopping around and notice that Airline A is lower on the way out but Airline B has the better return price, feel free to book your flights separately! Or if you want to use the same airline but maybe your funds are limited but you don’t want to miss a decent price, you can book that way too. That’s what I did. I had enough points for a free flight to San Diego. I went ahead and booked that a few months ago and just recently booked my return flight. Also keep in mind that different airlines offer different amenities. Virgin America has free live television for all passengers while others have cheap or free checked bags. All of these things should weigh just as heavily in your budget as the price of a seat.
Use Those Points:
If you have frequent flier miles or earn credit card points, now is the time to look into using them. While most of the time you can’t use points for hotels during the Con, there’s no issue when it comes to airfare. You could even find yourself upgraded to a better seat if you have enough built up.
Or Ask For Gift Cards:
If you have a birthday coming up, why not ask for a travel related gift card? We’ve mentioned it before in other posts but it’s worth repeating. I normally get a few for Southwest at Christmas time and they really come in handy for an expensive trip like this. San Diego Comic-Con already costs an arm and a leg, why not cut that cost where you can!
Check Different Airports:
Some of us are lucky enough to live within driving distance of a few airports. While I normally use BWI for my flights, I could easily head down to DC if I wanted to. You might be able to save a few bucks. Once I flew into Milwaukee instead of Chicago because it was $100 cheaper. Just be sure to check the different flight times and give yourself enough time to get to the airport. The traffic heading to one airport might be 100 times different for the next. If it’s too much of a hassle, and if time is of no concern, it might not be worth it in the end. You might even be able to fly into LAX for a lower price if you don’t have an issue driving the two-ish hours down or taking the train to San Diego.
Don’t forget all the little “common sense” issues as well. Be sure to check the TSA website to make sure nothing has changed as far as what can and can’t be carried on a plane. A perfect example is liquid. They have a 3-1-1 rule which you can see illustrated below for carry on baggage:
If you’re new to flying, remember you’ll need to remove your shoes (which I doubt will change before July), belt, and anything in your pockets. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stuck behind “That Guy.” Please don’t be “That Guy” in the security line. If an Agent tells you to remove a belt do it. Don’t argue and explain how it’s never set the metal detector off before. If you plan on bringing some snacks with you, your best bet is to try and ship them ahead of time or put them in your checked bags. If your cosplaying with props, be sure to read this list about what should be packed away and what can come on the plane. Are you going as Hawkeye? You can pack your bow and arrow in your checked luggage but you cannot bring it on the plane. Maybe you have nunchucks for your character. Checked bags, yes. Carry on, no.
In the end, if you have any questions be sure to call your airline ahead of time or check their website. Most of your questions could probably be answered there. Oh and one more thing, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and catch your flight. I’m normally there 2-3 hours early. My parents laugh at me about it but I have yet to miss a flight, even with gate changes.
Just a little note, this was written as someone who flies within the U.S. I can’t speak for what security procedures are like for other countries.