The need to travel for business spiked in the last year and it seems I am on a plane every few weeks. The frequent travel, my acute awareness powers and ability to easily recognize a travel noob has driven me to write this post. Whether it is your first time flying or if you have evolved into an aloof tool these air traveling tips are for you.
There are many stages of air travel that we will explore while providing valuable wisdom to ensure your next flight is enjoyable for all.
Do you really need all the bags you packed? Does a two or four night trip really require five bags? Realize you will be transporting and lugging all of those bags to and through an airport. Practice moving all of your bags from one room to another at home. Places chairs, children, dollies and other objects throughout your path to replicate an airport filled with people.
If you cannot carry all your bags then you should not pack as many. If you can carry all of your bags yet proceed to injure or destroy the objects between your starting point and destination point then again consider leaving a suitcase or two behind.
There is a limited amount of room in the cabin of an airplane. Even the really big planes can only hold so many suitcases under or above your seat. Each airline posts size limits alerting travelers which pieces of luggage should be checked and which can accompany you to your seat. There are also well established limits on how many items you can carry-on the plane. Typically, one small sized piece of luggage and one personal item (purse, laptop bag).
You are not permitted to bring on five small pieces of luggage onto the plane. Check in a few because trying to drag five through the security lines (see that circus below) and trying to get that many onto the plane in the cabin will result is disastrous failure. Save yourself and those traveling on the same flight the hassle.
Airport security has been around ever since I took my first flight circa 1979 so it is understandable why this novel annoyance can be made even more miserable by an air-for-brains traveler. Compounding this problem is the recent advances in airport security; i.e. the ID check and metal detector.
Lets tackle the easy one first. An ID check is when someone wants to identify you. Just saying your name does not cut it. The security agent wants to see your airline ticket with your name on it and compare that name with some photo identification. The photo identification should be government issued with your name on it; presumably the same name on the airline ticket. A driver’s license or passport will suffice. Please leave your high school student body card behind. Also, remember this happens every time you travel so when you get in the security line have your ID and airline ticket in your hand or an easily accessible location every time you are going to fly. How about a front pant or coat pocket and not at the bottom of your carry-on.
Now for one of the most challenging portions of the security line; the metal detectors. The term itself should be self-explanatory yet for some every encounter with the metal detector is more impossible than qualifying as an Olympic Decathlete. These are devices that you will walk through and they detect metal. That means if you have metal on your body when you walk through one the machine will detect it. You will be asked to remove all metal and then walk through it again. The rest of us behind you will agonizingly watch you repeat this process. Thankfully the person removes their watch. But of course the first warning about removing metal failed to sink in completely because most will give a second attempt knowing full well they are still wearing a thick gold 70’s style bracelet. Oh you did not realize gold is a metal; my bad.
Here are a few other common items that may have metal or require removal before you even think about getting into a metal detector line:
- Belt (whether it is metal or not remove it)
- Jacket, coat, zipped hoodie (whether it is metal or not remove it)
- Metal things
- Shoes (whether it is metal or not remove it)
- Other metal things you think the metal detector will not detect (Trust me it will detect metal)
Remove your computer from the carrying case and place it in the tote alone when placing it on the screening conveyor belt. Do the same for your liquids and gel-based toiletries. Hair-gel, hair spray, toothpaste, mouth wash, shampoo, conditioner and more apply. Do not remove any of those items and put in your pockets. Put them in a tote and send them on the conveyor through the scanning device.
Bonus tip: This also happens every time you fly. So start removing these objects before you are the next person in line to go through the metal detector.
Boarding a Plane
Similar to over-throwing an ensconced dictator, boarding an airplane requires agility, foresight and really good listening skills. The airline ticket will include a flight number. Some really big monitors throughout the airport will communicate which gate your airplane is located. Go to that gate and wait for a gate official to announce who can board and when. It is never a free for all (although I have not traveled on Southwest or any other economy airlines recently. Those may be a free for all so disregard this section if that is the case).
The gate person will say things like, “First class can only board now.” That means only people with a first class ticket can board. Do you have a first class ticket in your hand? No? Then do not try to board the airplane. You may also hear the following groups can board at a certain time:
- Parents with small children
- Gold Class Members
- Section 15 and above
- Row 6
If any of those groups are called and you do not meet those qualifications then please do not attempt to board. The gate official will turn you away and you have delayed boarding by a handful of seconds. “What is a handful? Now you are being so nitpicky.” Multiply a few seconds by the five people that try to board at an inappropriate time for each flight. Then multiply that number by the amount of times you will travel in your life and you will realize precious days were burned because of imbeciles trying to sneak on-board too early.
Can we let out a sigh of relief since we got past the gate person? NO. Now you must find your seat and I emphasize the “YOUR SEAT” part. Match the seat number found on your ticket with the designated seat number of the seat on the plane you are boarding. So if your ticket says you are sitting in 15A I suggest your find 15A and sit there. SixA, 28B, 14C will not do because someone else has been assigned those seats. Those seat numbers are on other airline tickets. Ones not in your possession.
Once you find your seat stow your carry-on items quickly. Know there is a bin above your seat for a larger item and space under the seat in front of you for your smaller item. This is where checking the right luggage comes in handy. Say you actually get a massive suitcase past everyone. When you try to shove that behemoth ten day trip bag in the overhead bin you will find this an insurmountable task.
Hark back to your toddler years when your favorite toy required you put the star shaped object through the star shaped hole. The rectangle shape never fit through the star shaped hole. Surprisingly, only the star shape fit through the star shaped hole. Now picture the small sport utility sized vehicle you are trying desperately to shove into a tiny space. It will not work. What will happen is a flight attendant will observe your miserable attempt and ask/demand you check your bag. They now need to walk down a small aisle filled with people trying to get to their seats, not your seat, while carrying your big suitcase. Boarding passengers will need to back track out of the plane or sit on laps of already seated passengers and no one wins.
Once you are in your seat you will be required to TURN OFF YOUR ELECTRONIC DEVICES. Similar to figuring out what metal is, an electronic device is an object that has a power source. Like a battery. Common devices include cell phones, portable music playing things, computers, tablets and eReaders. In other words, iPads, iPods, iPhones, Kindles, Nooks, other mobile-like phones that go in your pocket and do not require an analog wire or base that you commonly use in your home. Keep them off until electronic devices are allowed on. The flight attendants will check and if you are watching a movie on your Galaxy S tablet they will tell you to turn it off. Ignoring them does not make them go away. Ignoring them delays the plane from moving. If the plane does not move the plane will not get you and everyone else on the plane to the destination. What is the happiness level of the other passengers when you refuse to stop watching Yentil thus preventing the plane from moving? Not very high. People want to break your expensive toy; they want to break it real bad.
Do not recline your seat or put down your tray table either until the plane is at a designated cruising altitude. Just like the electronic device issue above failing to comply will result in a non-moving plane.
Once the plane lands and arrives at the destination gate it is time to get off the plane. Most planes only open one exit for deplaning so note which door has opened up and migrate in that direction. Here are a few treasured nuggets to assist you in this goal:
- Do not forget your carry-ons
- If seated in the last row of the plane and the open deplaning door is at front wait your $%!&ing turn (That means you will exit last)
- Do not bull over people in the very narrow aisle to get ahead one person
Once you are off the plane and into the gate area you most likely are no longer in a position to vex your fellow passengers. At this point feel free to wander around in confusion and let the stupid ooze from your pores. Go ahead and tempt airport security with innuendo that you possess weapons. Try boarding another plane without a ticket for that flight. Select a random carousel at baggage claim and wonder why your suitcase was lost.
I sincerely hope some of this advice will aid smoother future travel for you, me and everyone else that uses airplanes. Did I miss any flying tips?