How to Travel with Sunglasses and Eyeglasses

A pair of sunglasses seems so simple -- it's two pieces of tinted glass or plastic in some sort of plastic or metal frame. How hard could it be to take these on an airplane? It turns out that that it could be either easy or hard, depending on how much planning you do. This article will tell you how to travel with your eyeglasses and sunglasses the next time you head to an airport.

There are five things that a good pair of eyeglasses sunglasses should do for you when you fly:

  • Sunglasses provide protection from ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Ultraviolet (UV) light damages the cornea and the retina. Good sunglasses and even some specially treated regular eyeglasses can eliminate UV rays completely. This is especially important if you are in a window seat on the airplane.
  • Sunglasses provide protection from intense light. When the eye receives too much light, it naturally closes the iris. Once it has closed the iris as far as it can, the next step is squinting. If there is still too much light, as there can be when sunlight is reflecting off of snow, the result is damage to the retina. Good sunglasses can block light entering the eyes by as much as 97 percent to avoid damage.
  • Sunglasses provide protection from glare. Certain surfaces, such as water, can reflect a great deal of light, and the bright spots can be distracting or can hide objects. Also, intense glare over a long flight can lead to headaches.
  • Sunglasses eliminate specific frequencies of light. Certain frequencies of light can blur vision, and others can enhance contrast. Choosing the right color for your sunglasses lets them work better in specific situations.
  • A well-fitting pair of sunglasses or eyeglasses will also stay on your face. The last thing you want is to take a nap during the flight only to wake up and find that your glasses have slipped off your face. If you are lucky, it will be in your lap. If you are not lucky, it will have been crushed by by your seatmate's backside.

How to Pack Sunglasses and Eyeglasses
The best place for your glasses is on your face. If you are traveling with both regular glasses and sunglasses, the pair that you are not wearing should be in an eyeglass case. Not one of the soft sided ones, but a solid hard case that will protect your glasses. Remember, even if you carefully place your glasses in your carry-on bag, it can be crushed by another bag, especially if the bags in the overhead storage bin shift around during the flight.

How to Get Your Glasses Through Security

When you go through airport security, the TSA and most other security agencies around the world will check your identification. If you are wearing sunglasses, or if you are wearing any kind of glasses and your photo ID doesn't show you wearing them, you may be asked to take them off. Once that is done, you have to walk through a metal detector. You should not have to take them off to go through the detector, even if you are wearing metal framed eyeglasses. However, if you set off the alarm, you may want to take them off before going through a second time.

Why Glasses Should Never Be in Your Checked Bag
Because checked bags are sometimes lost, stolen, or damaged, you should not pack your extra glasses in your checked bag. Instead, keep any extra pairs in your carry-on bag. Also, most airlines will not compensate you for lost, damaged, or stolen prescription eyewear. Even if you have insurance that will cover these kinds of losses, you don't want to go through the hassle of going on trip without being able to see properly.

Other Baggage Resources
Top 10 baggage tips
General baggage Advice
Prohibited and restricted items

How to Travel with Sunglasses and Eyeglasses -- Revised: 18 June 2010