This article was published on September 28th, 2014
People who fly regularly know the rules and go about their business quickly and efficiently. They don’t need to be told what to do and flying is a relatively stress-free event. They are fast, efficient, and easy-going.
However, when it comes to people who are inexperienced air travellers, the thought of going to the airport and getting on a plane brings up emotions of fear, stress, and chaos. The simplest things, like following signs and directions seem to be in a foreign language.
Flying shouldn’t be stressful or confusing. Just use common sense, follow the signs, and stay calm, and you’ll be just fine.
If you are an experience flight traveler, here are some air travel tips experienced travellers know and live by, to make their journey fast and efficient:
- Think security screening. Post 9/11, you cannot take liquids, creams or gels in containers larger than 3oz in your carry-on. If you are flying, either don’t bring it if it’s over 3oz, put it in your checked-bag if it’s over 3oz, or get travel-sized versions. Experienced travellers will begin taking off shoes, belts, watches, and other accessories while waiting in the security line to avoid delays when putting stuff into the bin. They also know that they need to remove their laptops, and not their iPads or other tables, from their carry-on, so they are easily accessible and go into a separate screening container quickly and without being told. Experienced travellers are prepared, move quickly and keep the screening line moving efficiently.
- Pack only the shoes you need. People pack way to much stuff travelling. Look at the weather forecast and what events you’ll be at. An experienced traveller will lay out their clothes in advance and only take what tey need. Try to re-use pants, accessories and shoes multiple times throughout a trip; no one will notice or care anyway.
- Go carry-on. Many airlines now charge a $25 surcharge on checked bags. Experienced travellers only take carry-on luggage; usually a roller-bag for the overhead compartment and a small bag or backpack for under the seat ahead of them. Don’t be one of those people who try to bring an extra-big carry-on aboard; you’re just ruining it for everyone else.
- You don’t need it. It happens all the time. You’re packing for your trip and you’re not sure if you’ll need to bring an item or not. When you get home, you realized that you never even used it. Always use the rule of thumb that if you know for sure you need it, bring it, but otherwise, leave it behind. If you do need something that you didn’t pack, like deodorant or a toothbrush, don’t stress; just buy it at a local convenience store.
- Get duty free alcohol. When travelling out-of-country, smart travellers always stop by the Duty Free shop in the last airport before the last flight into their home country. Most duty free shops have great deals on liquor; but beware, not all liquor is a deal. Typically vodka, scotch and whisky are the best deals in duty free. Avoid liqueurs, gin and rum; they are often not great deals. Also avoid the other impulse purchases like chocolate and candy; they are never a deal. Occasionally, you can find a deal on cosmetics or fragrances.
- In-flight washroom protocol. If you’re in an aisle seat, it is your responsibility to allow other people in your row the opportunity to get up to use the washroom. An experienced traveller will wait until everyone is seated, and then announce the rest of the row that you would be more-than-happy to get up if someone needs to use the washroom. It’s common courtesy. When in the washroom, be as quick as you can, flush the toilet and wash your hands with soap and water. When returning to your seat, before you do anything else, clean your hands again with anti-bacterial hand wash.
- Bring music. It’s a hurry-up and wait game when it comes to air travel. Music really helps to pass the time. Load up your favourite songs into a playlist. Keep in mind, if you’re listening to music, keep an eye on the time so you don’t miss your flight and to listen for changes to your gate and/or flight time. Once on-board, be courteous of your fellow seat mates not to blast the music so loud that it disturbs others.
- Keep charged. Keep your smartphone charger handy, like in a backpack pocket or your pants pocket. When waiting at the departures lounge area, find a plug in and maximize every moment to get as much juice as you can into your phone. When you land on the other side, nothing is worse than finding out you have a dead battery and can’t look up your hotel address. Most experienced travellers also have Mophie or other back-up battery device to re-charge their phone on the go.
- Work mid-air. Most travellers will maximize every free moment to work on their laptops while travelling. Before it was just fun to be able to re-connect to the internet in the hotel room and send out 80+ emails, but today, most flights have WiFi on board, which means you can work from 30,000 ft. If you don’t want to pay for WiFi, it’s still a good time to work, distraction free.
- Bring snacks. Don’t pay $12 for a chicken-Caesar wrap in the airport or on-board. That’s highway robbery at it’s best. Instead, pack your own snacks. Remember, it’s only liquids, creams and gels you cannot bring, along with meant, fruits and vegetables, when travelleing internationally. You can still bring lots of other snacks with you from home, which can help cut the cost of your meals, especially when leaving home. For example, protein bars are a great, long-burning source of nutrition, and store easily in a small side pocket in your backpack.
- Be friendly, but not too friendly. When you get to your seat, it’s good to introduce yourself and say hi. No one wants a long conversation that is going to take the entire flight time, but it’s nice to break the ice; after all, you’re going to be spending the next four hours together, so you might as well get along. And if the plane crashes, your seatmate might just be the one who will be there to save you, and you want to be on good terms.
- Drink tea, not coffee. Coffee can be a traveller’s worst nightmare. The acid just adds to the stress in your stomach. Instead, head the Starbucks for a cup of green tea if you need caffeine, or mint tea if your stomach is really upset. While you’re at it, grab a bottle of $4 water, to keep hydrated. Inexperienced travellers often don’t drink enough water while on the road, so might as well start getting in your water early on in your trip and making a habit of buying expensive water. An experienced traveller will never drink tap water when travelling.
- Don’t be rude. If the flight attendant asks you to take off your headset, put up your tray table, or take your seat during turbulence, respect their commands. They aren’t giving you directions to be mean. An experienced traveller will know that as soon as they hear the sound of the cabin door closing it means seat backs and tray tables must go up, seatbelts on, and be ready for takeoff. The last thing flight personal need is someone mouthing-off. Besides, they have the authority to detain unruly passengers, especially when they are intoxicated, yelling profanities, or acting violent.
- Follow the signs. When getting off the airplane and back into the terminal, don’t follow the person ahead of you. They might not be going the same place as you are. Experienced travellers read signs. They also know that on connecting flights to check the flight status boards to ensure their gate hasn’t changed and to confirm the boarding and departure times. If you’re on a connecting flight, go immediately to your gate, confirm that it’s your flight, and then proceed to take on other tasks like going to the washroom, getting water or a bite to eat, or purchase duty free.
- Take public transit. When arriving at your destination, taxis are the most expensive form of transportation. Experienced travellers will look at other options like an airport train or shuttle bus to get to their accommodations. Some airports have ride-share services, like SuperShuttle and Uber. If you’re in a group, it might even be cheaper per person to take a limo!