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Feeling rusty? TPG staffers and readers share their recent travel faux-pas.

July 31, 2021
8 min read
Airport rush
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Even the savviest of travelers feel a bit of rust after a year off from travel, myself included. The other day as I was flying out of Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, I came to the abrupt realization that I was out of practice from the usual airport routine. After my Clear membership catapulted me to the front of the line at security (all good thus far), I arrived at TSA screening and as I stepped foot into the metal detector, the beeping sound went off.

I. Was. Mortified.

I had set off the detector — something that rarely, if ever, happens to me because I know the TSA screening procedure by heart after hundreds of thousands of miles flying through the air. But I had left my wallet in the back of my jeans pocket and after a peeved eye roll from the TSA agent, grabbed my stuff off the conveyor belt and bolted from security to avoid further embarrassment.

Thankfully, I'm hardly alone on the mental lapsing of air travel procedures. We recently asked our TPG Lounge readers and some of our TPG staff to share their recent mishaps upon returning to airports and the skies. Here’s a look at some of our favorite answers. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity).

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TPG Lounge members

"I have TSA PreCheck and use it quite frequently. After a long hiatus from flying due to the pandemic, on my first return to the airport, I left my cell phone in my pocket and a bottle of water in my purse as I went through security. I then floundered around at the Turkish Airlines lounge in Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD) because I forgot they needed my boarding pass. Glad to be traveling again, though, I definitely need to get back into the groove again." — Anna McKnight-Matney

Related: 7 reasons to get TSA PreCheck now — even during a pandemic

"I forgot to add my Known Traveler Number (KTN) to gain access to TSA PreCheck on my latest flight reservation and instead, had to go through the regular security line. I forgot that without TSA PreCheck, I had to remove my shoes, laptop, liquids and belt. You would have thought I had never traveled before." — Kevin Thornton

Related reading: Top credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck

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With TSA PreCheck, security is much less of a hassle. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

"I never leave home without a debit card that reimburses me for international ATM withdrawal fees. Well, in May, I left my trusty debit card at home while we spent a week vacationing in Mexico. I had to wire myself money and pay a fee. Hopefully, that'll never happen to me again." — Erin Chisman

Related: The top 9 checking accounts for avoiding foreign ATM fees

"I have traditionally been a very good packer — practically on auto-pilot — and for my first few trips this year, I felt like I had to think way too hard. The longest trips this year have been six days, but I've got a 14-day and a 16-day trip coming up soon. I feel somewhat nervous, like I'm going to forget something important, even though I have a packing list saved to my computer. As long as I have my vaccine card, passport, and the right travel credit cards, I should be fine." — Nicole LeBlanc

Related: This Army packing technique could save you money on baggage fees

"We were going to use our Priority Pass membership to visit an airport lounge. However, since this was our first time flying in more than a year, I didn't have a Priority Pass digital membership card to show proof of membership at the lounge. I actually had to call Chase to get my membership number in order to access the lounge. From now on, I'll always carry my physical Priority Pass membership card with me when traveling, just to be on the safe side." — Blair Lownsbery

The Wingtips Priority Pass Lounge at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL). (Photo courtesy of Wingtips/Facebook)

Related: Priority Pass continues to single-handedly offset my credit card annual fee with this overlooked benefit

TPG staff

"I thought I could check a bag one hour before my flight's departure. Granted, I usually have no issues doing so when I fly out of my hometown airport of Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). I recently had a flight to New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) from RDU and because my friend gifted me a bottle of Casamigos tequila, I had to check a bag. With travel soaring again and because I didn't leave enough time to check my bag, I had to ditch a perfectly good bottle of tequila at the airport. Lesson learned -- get to the airport early if you need to check a bag!" — Stella Shon, credit cards writer

Related: How to avoid checked baggage fees on major domestic airlines

"I forgot an international charger on my latest international trip. Rookie mistake, but it’s been a while since I’ve left the country. Usually, an international power adapter is part of the travel arsenal of items always in my bag. Luckily, my friend let me borrow his." — Ryan Patterson, miles, points and deals intern

Related: This international travel necessity is the secret to a better domestic flight

"I used to be an expert at carry-on-only packing and loved having fewer things to carry when traveling. On a seven-night cruise last month, I bashfully brought a full-sized suitcase, a carry-on bag and a backpack. I also didn't realize that many airports scrapped the "take your liquids out of your bag" rule at some point, so there I was, struggling to take them out of my backpack at security, and the agent was like, "Nope, not necessary." — Ashley Kosciolek, travel writer

Packing for a trip is an essential part of the planning process. (Photo by martin-dm/Getty Images)

Related: Everything you need to know about liquid rules

"On my way to Paris last week, I forgot that there are still checkpoints and airlines that don’t have TSA PreCheck, so I got dinged because I forgot to remove my laptop and iPad from my bag — something that rarely happens to me. And while jet lag is usually hard to fend off when crossing time zones, I've always had an effective strategy that works for me where I stay awake and active all day at my destination. Then two hours before my local bedtime, I take melatonin, drink plenty of water and go to sleep, ready to conquer the next morning in my new surroundings. My jet lag approach didn't work this time." — Benet Wilson, senior editor

Related: 10 ways to get through airport security faster

"Before my last flight, I forgot to add my boarding pass to my iPhone wallet for easy access. Instead, I had to pull up the boarding pass in the American Airlines mobile app, which delays the process of getting through security and is at the mercy of connectivity issues. While it's only two additional steps, I much rather have the boarding pass saved to my phone's mobile wallet (or screenshotted) to expedite the process of getting through security." — Taylor Jenkins, director of earned media

Related: How to check in for flights on American Airlines

Bottom line

From packing full-sized liquid carry-ons to forgetting the right travel card at home, even experienced travelers have encountered their fair share of unusual blunders when embarking on trips again. As we continue on a path to normalcy for air travel, infrequent travelers and even frequent flyer pros may find themselves the protagonist of silly travel gaffes. Don't beat yourself up too much over it, it happens to the best of us.

Related: Travel is a crapshoot right now — here are 8 mistakes to avoid on your next trip

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.