While security is the same whether you are flying within the United States or abroad, documents and carry-on restrictions for domestic airlines vary. For a stress-free and enjoyable flying experience, ensure you have the following items and documents packed and ready to go for your next domestic flight
When flying, ensure you have a government-issued photo id with you at all times. Otherwise, you may miss your flight. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), any traveler over the age of 18 must present his or her domestic airline with a valid identification card. A driver’s license, valid passport, passport card or military ID are some of the most common forms. A full list of acceptable forms of identification for air travel can be found on the TSA website (tsa.gov), review these prior to leaving for the airport in order to allow for a stress free airport security screening. For even less stress, consider the process of gaining TSA precheck.
Aside from identification, your ticket is the most critical document for domestic travel. Whether you collect it at the baggage counter, print it off at home or use an electronic boarding pass, ensure you have your ticket before lining up for the TSA security checkpoint.
Kids under 14
According to the Transportation Security Administration, kids are not required to show any identification at TSA checkpoints; still, some airlines require a birth certificate for children under 14 to prove their age. To avoid any hassles, travel with at least a copy of your child's birth certificate, or for the best-case scenario, obtain a passport for your child. If you’re traveling with children and their parents are not with you, make sure to obtain a “Travel Consent Form” from their guardian to present to a TSA agent.
Kids 15 to 17
While kids 15 to 17 are still considered minors in the eyes of the TSA, some airlines require that they have some kind of identification when they're traveling alone. The rules can be somewhat looser than for adults; a school-issued ID card or a library card may be all that is required. For teens traveling alone, be sure to check with your individual airline.
Accommodating passengers with pets and service animals varies between domestic airlines. For example, Alaskan Airlines requires advanced notice as well as specific documentation for service animals. No matter the regulations or airline, though, if you are traveling with a pet, you should bring copies of your animal’s vaccinations, as well as proof of training and ownership, to avoid delays.
Documents for Non-Residents
Guests of the United States
A foreign national traveling in the United States requires more documents than a resident. You should have your passport with you at all times. Losing a passport can be a massive inconvenience, so consider investing in a hidden traveler's wallet for carrying important documents. If you plan to drive, you may also require an international driver's license, depending on your nation of origin. You should always have your visitor's visa paperwork handy as well.
Traveling as a Legal Alien
As a green-carded resident of the United States, that is, a foreign citizen who resides in the U.S., you must always have your green card with you as well as your regular photo ID. In some cases, your green card functions the same way as a driver's license or other photo ID, but you should always have both with you at all times as you travel in the United States, to avoid any potential confusion. You are not required to carry a passport to travel inside the country.
Many airline tickets will allow travelers to bring a carry-on bag and personal item. Carry-on items must pass through security as it is screened by TSA officers so be aware of prohibited items to carry on flights such as aerosols. Carry-on luggage often has size parameters that must be met and during the flight it is often stored in the overhead bin or under your seat. Anything that does not fit the requirements to carry on will have to be a checked bag. Checked luggage is dropped off at the airline check in desk in the airport and should be checked in (preferably) one hour or more before domestic takeoff. While carry-on baggage stays with you at all times, checked bags will not be in your hands again until you reach the final destination.
Bring a neck pillow and a small fleece blanket if you plan to sleep or think you may get cold on the flight. Alternatively, scarves are excellent for keeping warm in the sky. Snacks and a water bottle (filled or purchased after going through security) also can make travel more comfortable, as well as a charger for any important electronic devices. Unlike most international travel, complimentary warm meals and beverages are not offered on domestic flights but some airlines may serve a small snack or have food to purchase with a debit or credit card.
Traveling with Children
Parents also might want to bring a car seat or stroller, especially when traveling with young children who are unable to walk long distances. Most domestic airlines check these items at the gate. Domestic flights generally have changing tables in the plane bathroom as well, so don’t forget a diaper bag. Blankets, toys, snacks and noise-canceling headphones for babies also can make flying with children less stressful.
Traveling with Animals
If you are flying with your pet, don’t forget an approved pet carrier that can fit under the seat in front of you along with bowls for food and water. Further travel tips and advice for animal policies can be found through the FAA or specific airline carriers.