Air Travel - One Way to Fly

For short hops across the ocean and back, always try to travel light when you fly - especially if you have not flown recently.

These are merely suggestions. Feel free to take them or leave them.

Always arrive in airports early.

I get laughed at a lot for this one, but I don't particularly care. I don't mind killing time in airports, and on my most recent flight, if I had not arrived 4 hours early - I would not have discovered that my first flight had been delayed until it was too late to do anything about it.

If I had shown up on time, I would have either been stuck in my departure airport city for one more night, or I would have had to wait on the delayed flight because it was the only one leaving that night, and then been stuck in an American-city-not-of-my-choice.

Since I arrived early, I was able to change my flight to make my connecting flight.

Tips:

  • Check your airline web site for when to arrive before a flight. For international flights, some airlines say 2 hours - some say 3 hours.
  • For domestic flights, airlines usually state that you must arrive 1 to 2 hours prior to departure.
  • I try to arrive a minimum of 4 hours prior to departure time for all flights - and call it a living, breathing contingency plan.

No checked baggage (again, just a suggestion):

  • I travel with a medium size backpack that fits the correct dimensions for a piece of carry-on luggage.
  • Whatever you carry must be small enough to slide in and out of one of the size-checker cages you see displayed near airline ticket and check-in counters.
  • I bring one change of clothes, extra socks, under-stuff and toiletries.

Personal lessons-learned are that my checked luggage has a fluorescent Lose Me! sign on it somewhere that is not visible to me - which leads to:

  • Don't forget to put your name, address and phone number labels on any baggage that you carry or check. Your checked baggage will generally always show up at some point in time - eventually:
  • The specific reason I'm writing this article is because my checked luggage in the past is somehow either misplaced and/or has shown up later at my home address (sometimes long after my trip was over).
  • I hate to keep reiterating the point, but something always seems to happen along the lines of my bags being placed on the wrong plane as I change planes in an airport (reasons for changing planes can range from normal transfers, to missed planes due to weather or mechanical difficulties).
  • If you can afford non-stop international flights, or if you are merely flying domestic from one city to another, I'm happy for you. Otherwise, you may have to run like OJ through the airport to catch a connecting flight - with or without your luggage - which is an additional reason that I often travel with only a backpack.

If you trust the valet- / stair- / plane-side check thing, be my guest and use it.

Mail stuff back or buy a piece of luggage for the plane ride back.

When I get to where I'm going, I start buying inexpensive clothing and washing the one set I brought along.

Before I leave, I mail a box of clothes back, or buy an inexpensive piece of luggage and check it with the airline for the flight back.

These techniques obviously won't work for everybody: If you're a business person and have to travel with dresses, pantsuits or suits, the above may not make too much sense - although maybe you have your own techniques - feel free to comment below.

You don't have to take any of the above advice - sarcasm:

You can take one or two full bags (whatever the limit is these days), plus a carry-on bag, plus that extra bag that I'm always hesitant to attempt. I see people trying to get on planes all the time with extra stuff, I just don't do it (I probably watched the Anger Management movie one too many times).

You can also fly during heavy air traffic season such as the American Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year holiday season (this sentence is a very specific recommendation to not do this).

You can ... have a nice flight.

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