I’m flying home today and I started thinking about the rituals I go through when traveling through airports, that now seem like second nature. I know how to fly. I know how to navigate airports. I know how to get my own way. This only happened after years of being the idiot traveler, over packing, lost luggage and sitting in the middle seat on international flights. I’m no savant when it comes to air travel, I just made a million mistakes along the way. I’m like the guy that finally graduated high school…
I sometimes get texts from friend’s asking for air travel advice. I’m always happy to oblige. The time has come to drop some of my knowledge.
Some of my tips are common sense, some are unorthodox, but all have gotten me to from point A to B with a smile on my face. And you all know how much I like to smile. Here are my 10 tips. I hope they help, but mostly, I hope they make you laugh.
1) Get a frequent flier membership with your airline. Yes, it accumulates points. But at the very least, it protects you from being bumped by someone else that has a membership. Airlines always shaft the non-members first when comes to overbooked flights or the standby list. Join their club, it has its perks. There’s an easy way of not getting bumped up the A.
2) Check in online beforehand. Pounce 24 hours before check in and get the best possible seating options. I always opt for a window seat. More on that later.
3) Don’t check baggage. First of all, if you are, you’re over packing – unless you’re moving to Alaska or something. Secondly, you’re sh*t will get lost. I once crashed a SouthWest Airlines Convention and learned a lot. Trust me.
4) If you have to check baggage, make up a story about its contents. Say it has something breakable in it or your Grandfather’s ashes. The airline staffer will either put a Fragile or High Priority tag on it. Basically, the 25 outfits you packed for the weekend will be waiting for you when you land.
5) Please treat the Security Checkpoint like a time challenge. You owe it to yourself, fellow travelers and Homeland Security. Throw your watch, change, jewelry, belt, phone, etc., into your backpack or purse. Untie your shoes beforehand and attack that line. Breeze through like a pro – you can put on your $120,000 Patek Philippe watch after emerging from security. Don’t be that person that triggers the metal detector machine 8 times. Or leaves a belt on. Also, always go through the Expert Traveler line. They never check your creds.
6) If you need to self medicate when traveling, go with liquor. Beer or even wine drinkers will be urinating all flight. Stick to a good bourbon or if you need a mixer, a Vodka Cranberry is mighty refreshing. You don’t want to make multiple trips to the aircraft bathroom. I mean, who does? Especially since you’ll be in a window seat.
7) Always board early. Create an excuse if you have to. Say you have something breakable in your bag and you want it safely stowed. Tell them you’ve never been on a plane before and you’re afraid you might get lost. Go with you gut. Your goal here is to get on the plane and not have to put your bag under your seat, or god forbid, have it stowed 8 rows behind you. That is the worst. If anything, you want it in the overhead a couple of rows in front of you. This allows you to swoop it out with ease as you’re exiting. A seamless exit strategy.
8 ) Always get a window seat. It affords the best views. And unless you’ve have had (4) 22 oz beers (and ignored Tip #6), you should be able to avoid using the restroom. You can also lean your head on the window and sleep. Let’s review – there is no need to get out of your seat. So don’t. And honestly, let’s not bother with the small talk either.
9) Determine what you need while in your seat. Have that handy and throw it in the seat back holder. You’ve already boarded early because you said you’re in the military. Get your bag put away, grab your headphones, iPad, xanax, gum, etc., and sit yo @ss down. Make yourself at home, you’re not getting up for anything. Heck, you can even take your shoes off.
10) Sit back, relax and listen to some music. I recommend Elton John’s Rocket Man – the perfect flying song. Or you can just reflect and think “Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.”
Now I’ve missed a lot of tips here, including –
How to get an upgrade?
What to do if a flight is cancelled?
What to do if the person next to you picks a scab on their neck and it starts bleeding profusely and he dabs it with his airline issued pillow (this actually happened to me)?
So I’ll follow up on that. In the meantime, what tips do you have for airline travel?
WOW…seems a week of 10 things yadda yadda yadda! I like to do all 9 of your items mentioned and fly easily 16 times a year as a casual traveler. I do not suggest that you impersonate a military type just to board early; a close realative of mine has died suddenly many times…..sympathy ALWAYS seems to work
If engaged in conversation with the person sitting next to you, what are the best ways to remove yourself from that conversation without being rude or getting up?
Paul – I would never impersonate a member of our military. Plus, I could never pull it off.
Ben – Why did you engage in conversation? You’re on your own.
Roll your clothing, you can fit more in you bag that way.
Great tips although for the long haul intercontinental flights the strategy should always be to get a centre aisle seat. That way you’ve only got one person who will be climbing over you and on the 24 hour NYC to Sydney or London to Auckland flights your bladder is not going to last the whole journey.
I’d also add the need on long haul for over ear noise canceling headphones. Not only do they reduce fatigue they have the added benefit of not having to have the volume on the in flIght movies up so loud.
And of course fly a premium carrier on long haul. Cheap airlines always mean longer recovery times at the other end – and if you are on holiday then you are just saving on the flight to waste two days in your hotel.