Moving Via Plane: Everything You Need To Know

Moving Via Plane: Everything You Need To Know

woman moving by plane

There are so many ways to move, and it can be difficult to know what is right for you. However, there are some situations where moving one way is the only option. One of those special cases is moving via plane. While the task may seem daunting, a solid walkthrough can help. Lucky for you, this is the ultimate guide to moving via plane!

Moving Internationally

If you’re moving internationally, then moving via plane just got slightly more complicated. It’s certainly not impossible, but with so many factors, it can be slightly overwhelming. Luckily, there’s a way to make things less stressful.

And if you read nothing else past this point, heed our advice and get a printed version of your plane ticket. We have a tendency to put all our eggs in one basket- our cell phones. While having everything you need in one place is great, prepare for things to go awry like your phone dying or being stolen.

You should also consider having printed copies of things like your passport, driver’s license, or any other identifying documents. If one of these goes missing you will need to prove your identity at your country’s embassy.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Before you start your move, you should plan out exactly how you’re going to pursue your move abroad. You don’t want any surprise expenses or delays when it comes to moving to a completely new place. However, you should have money prepared just in case. You may find yourself with an overnight delay, lost luggage, or lost in transit to a connecting airport or somewhere else entirely.

For the same reason, it’s important that you are as prepared as possible for culture shocks and cultural differences such as currency, language, and dining etiquette.

Additionally, you should know exactly what documents you need to bring to the airport, embassy, or any other building that you may need to visit. This may include your passport, citizenship papers, work or school visas, and so on. Every situation is different so ensure you thoroughly research what is required for someone in your shoes.

Finally, you should familiarize yourself with how customs work in any country you may have a layover in and at your final destination.

Flying Out Of Hub Airports

If you have a layover, you’ll likely land at one of these airports. Hub airports are larger airports that connect to smaller airports in one country or region. They often will connect to many other modes of transport like the metro as well.

You’ll likely land in one of these in your new country of origin, and if not, then you’ll have a layover there. These airports have fewer planes, but larger ones, so they hold more passengers.

You may be familiar with hub airports in the United States which include but are not limited to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Denver (DEN), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Atlanta (ATL), New York (JFK and LGA), Los Angeles (LAX), or Honolulu (HNL).


There are a few ways that you can pursue packing, but the most advisable thing you can do is check different airlines’ luggage policies for carry-ons and checked bags. This will help you decide who is best to fly with for your big move and to know exactly the requirements of bag size and how many bags you can afford to bring.

In your suitcases, it may be a good idea to use things like compression bags to save room and make your luggage bill cheaper. This also allows you to put small household items in your bag that are TSA approved.

If you’re not feeling up for doing a whole home makeover when you arrive at your new home, then the cheapest moving option for large items like furniture is through sea freight. This would take longer than choosing air freight, but saving the extra cash can be completely worth it. Of course, the actual cost of shipping your belongings varies depending on numerous factors so it’s advised to par down what you need with you in your new home and get multiple bids from different companies.

What Should I Pack In My Carry-On & Personal Item?

Knowing what to pack in your carry-on bag can be tough, especially when moving. The best way to consider packing this bag is to think of what you’ll need access to quickly.

Things you should put in your carry-on:

  • Wallet
  • Travel documents — passport, social security, birth certificate, etc.
  • Toiletries
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Change of clothes, including socks
  • Prescriptions
  • Reusable bags for things like snacks or items you may buy
  • Your tech items with a portable charger or your chargers

The Actual Move

The hardest part is getting on that plane. Not necessarily emotionally, but you’ll likely have so much to do before boarding! That means arriving early is key. Check that you have all your important items before you leave the house as well.

For your bags, if your airline does things by weight make sure that you weigh your bag before you even leave for the airport. You do not want to be throwing away items right before you move.

The other thing you can add to your bag before heading to the airport is an AirTag. AirTags are a great way to track any of your luggage. They provide peace of mind when traveling internationally, and they can help you find your bag if it is lost or stolen. However, you should be aware that you can only use AirTags if you have an iPhone due to the device using the Find My network. There are plenty of substitutes for luggage GPS if you use an Android.

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What Do I Do If My Bag Gets Lost Abroad?

So, you get off your flight and you head to baggage claim. Upon looking for your bags, you realize that you can’t find them. The first thing you should do is not panic. Head to an airport attendant or customer service and report your bag lost. They may tell you that your bags are simply coming on the next flight and that you should wait for them to arrive. If you’re on a layover, ensure that the timing lines up.

If your bags are truly lost, you must file a lost baggage claim with the airline on top of the previous report. This is where you will report your new address. It may take your bags days or weeks to get to you, which can be frustrating when moving to a new country. If you bought luggage GPS, this will help you and the airline locate your bags quicker and give you peace of mind that they can be found.

Compensation for Lost Luggage

However, you will likely avoid paying any baggage fees and receive reimbursement for the lost toiletries or other necessities. You will have to report any replacement items purchased along with brand and age to the airline so that they can calculate how much money they owe you. Do note that this money will likely come in cash, which means they can only give you so much.

If that doesn’t satisfy you, you can request tickets for another flight as reimbursement. This does come with limitations but can be an excellent way to make up for lost luggage.

Now is also a good time to note that buying travelers insurance is a great way to protect yourself from losing your luggage. This ensures you get some extra compensation for the lost items.

It is also smart to put identification inside your bag, not just on a tag outside the bag.

Moving Cross-Country

If you’re moving cross country, you have more options when it comes to flight pricing, how you pack, and how you move large items. Often, your bill will be cheaper than someone traveling internationally. However, you still need to plan and be completely prepared. Packing can go similarly to international travel as well when it comes to carry-on and checked bags, but transporting everything else will be different.

Transporting Items

The biggest dilemma when you’re moving cross-country is how you will transport your things. You have so many options, and it can be difficult to know what is best for you as the planning process begins. These are your options when it comes to transporting: plane, movers, and mobile self-storage.

If you’re able to ship by airfreight that is quite impressive as this option can get pricey. However, for some, it is the perfect option. Your items will essentially arrive at the airport and be shipped to you. This can also be done for international travel, but it can cost more than sea freight.

You can also hire movers, but this option takes some coordination. They will meet you at your new home and unpack from there. This means that you will need to arrive before or at the same time as your movers, which could be difficult depending on flight delays and layovers.

Another great option is renting a mobile self-storage unit from places like PODS. The way it works is the storage unit will be dropped off at your home for you to load up and then picked up at a designated pick-up time. It will then be driven to your new home and dropped off for you to unload when you arrive. This can be great if you know someone in your new community who can help you unload. You can also hire people to help you unpack, and this eliminates the hassle of coordinating times with movers.

shipping items for a move via ship
shipping items for a move via ship

Day of Moving Via Plane

Like international travel, you should make sure you have all the important and necessary documents. It’s worth noting that U.S. citizens may need to get their driver’s license updated to have a “real ID”. This term refers to the classification of the license indicated by a gold star in the corner of your photo ID. Many states will be requiring real IDs for domestic air travel within the next couple of years if they have not already. To update your license, visit your local courthouse well in advance of your flight to give the county time to process your request.

You should also weigh your bags before leaving and plan on arriving early as well to accommodate for any mishaps.

Ensure you have your luggage GPS in your suitcases. As previously stated, this can help you determine if your bag is lost or delayed. Finally, give your luggage a once over for all your favorite and necessary things.

Common TSA Restrictions

While we can’t list every TSA restriction and guideline here, we can definitely give you some of the ones that affect those who move via plane.

Body Piercings & Surgical Implants: Not all piercings or implants cause the alarms to go off, so you can attempt to enter through the large X-ray machine. If your piercings or implants do set off the machine TSA will simply ask you to either remove them and walk through again or manually wand or pat you down. This is no cause for alarm or worry so just be prepared for a slight delay as you go through TSA.

Liquids, Gels, Aerosols: You are allowed one quart-sized bag of these items per person. They must be individual travel sized, which means they need to be 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters. This applies to makeup as well.

Lighters And Matches: These are permitted. Lighters can have fuel. These two things should not be stored near each other. These are only allowed in carry-ons, not checked bags.

E-cigs And Vapes: Policies surrounding these items vary per airline. Generally, they are approved by airlines but check directly with your airline before your scheduled flight. Failure to comply may result in your items being discarded by TSA.

Razors: They are allowed in both carry-on and checked bags. However, they must be put in safe storage to prevent injury.

Moving Via Plane with A Pet

Moving with pets is tough as it is, but in the air, it gets a little more complicated. We encourage talking with your vet and doing extra research if you’re in this position. However, here is a rundown of all you should know and consider before you take the next steps.

The first thing you should know is that not every airline will allow pets. So, it is essential you check the airline’s pet policy. You should also call and confirm that your pet can fly 24-48 hours before take-off.

If you have a small dog or cat, they can likely come into the cabin with a pet carry-on. However, for large dogs, they must travel in a kennel. The kennel should either not have wheels or have them detached or locked to keep the pet safe.

If you have an anxious pet who does not fly well, you can ask your vet to prescribe some medication to calm them. Sedation is not an option on flights due to the heart and respiratory risks that it can cause.

You should also comply with any other rules that your airline may have regarding moving your pet with you via plane.

You’re Ready for Moving Via Plane

Congrats! You now know the basics of what moving via plane is going to look like. You should do research into any topics or personal questions you may have, and if you’re not getting an answer, you can always call the airline or ask a forum.


Can I call my prospective airline with any questions?

Absolutely, they would rather you come prepared for the process of boarding and checking baggage than miss your flight due to unnecessary complications!

What if I forget something?

Hopefully, there is someone in your city who can retrieve it for you and send it to you. You could also ask your new owners to send it to you. If you’re okay with simply replacing it, then you can go with that option as well.

What if I lose my luggage?

Find an airport attendant immediately and report it missing. It will either come on the next flight or come up missing. If not found, you have to fill out a lost report.

How can I make sure I don’t lose my luggage?

Sometimes accidents happen, but one good way to prevent your bags from going missing is to put an AirTag in them. They ping off of the “Find My” network and are tracked easily.

Can I use copies of my ID and Passport at the airport?

Yes, you should have real forms of every piece of identification. However, TSA understands that accidents happen so they have a helpful list of ID alternatives that will work in place of your ID. It is best that you simply check and ensure you have real forms of all documents and IDs you will need.

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Maura De Cicco attends the University of Iowa as a Journalism and Anthropology student. She plans to pursue a strategic communications track when it comes to writing, and an archaeology track when it comes to Anthropology.

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