Plane Ride Tips and Tricks
With all the traveling I’ve been doing recently and the hours spent sitting on my rear waiting to go or be somewhere, I found it’s finally become necessary to share some things about your trips to and from the airport. You would think some of these things would be common sense, but the more I travel, the more I see that’s not the case.
- Make sure your phone (and/or other electronics) is charged. You can check flight status on your smartphone, as well as know about any delays or other flight changes. You’ll be able to contact whoever you’re meeting on the other end, or you know, update your family about where you are. Call the airline in case of emergency or canceled flight, etc.
- Get to the airport early. My timeline is 2-3 hours before my flight’s departure. That may sound ridiculous to a few people, but believe me, you’re never quite as thankful for that extra time until you don’t have it. This allows for traffic to the airport, checking in, going through security, bathroom breaks, getting from security to your gate, and grabbing something from a store or food joint.
- Carry on your essentials. Before boarding your flight and finding your seat, please carry all the things you’ll need for the flight in your hands or somewhere they are easily accessed. I like to have my Kindle handy, a bottle of water, and my iPod and earphones. I keep them in my hands or in my pockets so I don’t have to fuss with them before getting into my seat. Don’t be the person who holds up the boarding passengers because you have to dig around for the things you want. Get your stuff out, find your seat, sit down.
- Ask before leaning your seat back. I wish this was plastered on the back of everyone’s chair. I seriously cannot stress this enough! In some planes, like United’s 747 international flight class, there is literally no more than half a forearm’s length of space between seats. If it’s that tight, I don’t think you should be allowed to lean your seat back all the way. It makes the trip for the passenger behind you absolute hell. It’s harder to get in and out of the seats, more difficult to eat in-flight meals or do anything with a tray, and let’s not even start talking about the increased inability to get comfortable for a 12 hour plane ride. The passenger behind you should not have to ask you to push your chair back up. You need to be aware of the space you have, as well as the space other people may or may not have. Please ask before you lean back your chair.
- Listen to the flight attendants/captain. You know when they tell you to turn off anything with an on/off switch? DO IT! Don’t wait for them to say it three times, and don’t use it while we’re taxiing on or off the runway. Turn it off when they tell you the first time.
- Prep for security. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to wait behind people who I could swear have never flown before. They take forever to take off their shoes, jackets, belts, empty their pockets, take out their laptops, etc. They don’t read the signs and they definitely aren’t in any kind of travel induced urgency. Right after you let the TSA agent check your boarding pass and identification, take off your jacket and/or belt. While you’re in line, scan the lines ahead to see which is running the smoothest. Do not get behind a family with young children or people who have a lot of extra baggage (jackets, full pockets, a number of carry-ons, etc). Wear flats or slip-on shoes. Try not to wear anything with pockets; you won’t have to worry about emptying them before you go through. If you have pockets, put everything that’s in them in your purse/bag before sending it through the x-ray. Get an extra bin for your laptop. Only put the case and your laptop in one bin, nothing else. If you have liquids, like anti-bacterial gel or lip balm, I keep them in a well lined, zip bag. Some places will ask you to take them out, but I’ve never had a problem with mine. Walk through and collect your belongings. Stack all of your empty containers together. The TSA agents will appreciate this, and so will the person behind you. Once you’ve retrieved them, take your things elsewhere and put them back in your bag, put your shoes on, and get dressed.Barring being behind exceptionally slow traffic, I usually make it through the actual security x-ray part in 5 minutes or less. Can you imagine if everyone did that? We wouldn’t have traffic jams in the form of long lines! My order: 1st bin = shoes, jacket, belt, purse. 2nd bin = laptop and laptop case. 3rd bin (if required) = Carry-on bag.
- Use your own headphones. I’ve found that in about 95% of all the flights I’ve been on with entertainment, my headphones were compatible with the in-flight system. Don’t bother using the ones provided, especially if they’re not already pre-wrapped.
- Prep your immune system. I really have to credit my mother for this one. Take some Vitamin C with you in whatever form you can. Carry some anti-bacterial gel or wipes for the trays and arm rests. If you’re on a long flight, especially during flu season, take the initiative and wear a surgical face mask. As my mom so accurately put it, “If you can get over your vanity,” this will help ensure you don’t get sick on the ride over. It takes some getting used to, but when you’re sitting next to a person who’s coughing, you’ll be thankful for one. (There was one guy who was putting his luggage away over another person’s head, and he sneezed on top of the person’s face! The poor dude had to literally wipe his face from the other guy’s spit and the guy didn’t even apologize.) Also, if you tend to fall asleep with your mouth open (like me), no one will be able to see!
- GET UP. Those overseas or transcontinental flights are a pain – literally. Take advantage of when the seatbelt sign is turned off. Walk to the back of the plane so you won’t disturb anyone by standing. Do some in-place lunges, some squats, stretch your legs. Stand for a good 10-20 minutes if you can. Have a conversation with someone you’ll never see again. Go to the bathroom. The attendants shouldn’t bother you unless the seatbelt sign is on. You’ll be glad of the exercise.
- Fill out your international landing cards before landing. This will save you time and a torturous wait at customs.
- Use the next restroom. You made it to your destination, you’ve deplaned, and you’ve really gotta pee. Well, so does everyone else. Don’t go to the first restroom you see because that’s exactly what everyone else is going to do. Go to the second or third designated area, and you’ll have less of a crowd and hardly any wait time so you can take care of business.
- Memorable luggage tags. Luggage looks the same, and there are always going to be those people who don’t double check that they have the right suitcase. Put something ridiculous on your bag. Colorful tape, a yarn flower, ridiculous and eccentric luggage tags. Make sure everyone else knows it’s yours.
Now that this public service announcement is concluded, I want to hear about any tips or tricks you use while traveling. Please share in the comments any helpful hints or disastrous traveling experiences you’ve had.