By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: Any tips for air travel during the holidays?

A: The holidays are the busiest time of year at the airports so it’s always good to preplan your trip there ensuring your departure goes off without a hitch. So leave home early. This gives you plenty of wiggle room for those unavoidable check-in line-ups. When you pack, pack small items like toiletries in clear plastic bags.

It might speed up security inspections as the screener can inspect these items without opening the bags. Do not wrap gifts. Security officials are very strict about personal items that could be considered weapons (e.g. nail files, medical syringes, etc…). Even electronic devices and toy guns may be scrutinized.

You can check-in before going to the airport as most airlines allow online check in up to 24 hours before and until 90 minutes prior to departure. You can also select seats and print boarding passes from your computer.

If you're planning on checking baggage, attendants are available at the Self-Service Check-In kiosks or at the ticket counter. For Canadian citizens traveling to the United States, the Foreign Affairs web site publishes a free publication “USA Bound Advice for Canadian Travellers” available for download in .pdf format and html at

Or you can request a copy via snail mail by mailing your request to Enquiries Service, Foreign Affairs Canada 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2 or by calling them at 1 800 267-8376 (in Canada).

The DFAIT also has issued a Holiday Travel Tips section on its web site. You can view the list which includes some of the above listed tips. Effective October 4, 2005, travelers entering the U.S. by air or by sea will be required to include their address while in the U.S.

While U.S. authorities currently do not have a legal requirement that Canadians carry a passport, Foreign Affairs Canada strongly urges all Canadians traveling to the United States to obtain and carry a Canadian passport before leaving Canada.

“It is the only document that conclusively proves that you are a citizen of Canada with the right to return to Canada,” reports DFAIT. So remember that a Canadian passport is still the best internationally accepted evidence of your Canadian citizenship and the best possible photo identification.

For inquiries on whether your airline offers the pre-check in service, contact your airline or travel agent.


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