Tips to Make Flying Easier

Traveling by plane nowadays can be far from easy so to make your travel as smooth and comfortable as possible, here are some tips to minimize the stress.

Before You Fly

  • Choose a flight that departs earlier in the day rather than later. For the most part, you buy your tickets in advance of your travel, so you don't know what the weather will be. Flying earlier in the day will mean that your airline has more options to reroute you to get you to your destination. If you fly later in the day, there are fewer flights and fewer options. If you are flying to a destination to go on a ship to start your cruise, it's a good idea to fly a day earlier and put yourself up on a hotel. That will minimize the stress if there are delays due to weather, maintenance or any other reason. The hotel is an extra expense but that will be much smaller than the expense of missing your cruise because it's left without you and you don't get a refund.
  • Check in for your flight on the airline website a few hours before you fly. You will be able to pick a seat and your chances of getting an aisle or a window are greater, especially if the flight is popular or you are traveling during peak travel times. If you wait until you get to the airline counter, your choices might only be the dreaded middle seat.
  • Sign up for your airline's flight notification system so that the airline can update you with any delays or changes in your flights via text, email or phone.
  • Print out your boarding passes before you get to the airport. That way you avoid the lines at the airport counter or stressing yourself out at the kiosk. With your boarding pass in hand and your ID you can just go directly to security line. If you download an electronic boarding pass on your smartphone, make sure that your smartphone is recharged to the maximum. It might still be a good idea to have a paper boarding pass as a backup.
  • Make sure that you understand your airline's baggage policies. Most airlines charge fees for checking in your bags. Some airlines have even started charging fees for carry-on bags. To minimize the financial surprise, find out what baggage fees your airlines charges, pack accordingly, and prepay your bag charges. Also, make sure that your bags are not overweight or oversized, because there would be extra charges collected and they are hefty. Bring the receipt so you can show proof that you paid the baggage fees.
  • Bring a bag that meet the federal regulations for carry-on luggage. According to federal requirements, you are allowed one personal item like a purse or computer laptop bag or knapsack and one piece of luggage with dimensions that are no more than 45 inches. If airline gatekeepers assess that your carry-on bags are too large, they will make you check it or you might end up having to go to the side to take out stuff from your carry-on and throwing it out.
  • If you only have carry-on luggage, make sure that your liquid toiletries are not more than 3 ounces and are packed in one-quart plastic bag. It's a good idea to put them in an accessible compartment of your carry-on so that you can easily take them out for the security line.

The Day You Fly

  • Take a look at your itinerary and confirm what airport your flight is departing from, the time of departure, and what airline operates your flight.
  • Make sure that you are packed and ready to go with your travel itinerary, boarding passes, ID and some cash on hand.
  • Your electronic devices should already be recharged to the maximum and the respective chargers packed in your suitcase or carry-on bag. If you want to listen to some music, make sure that you also have your ear buds with you. Don't pack them until the last minute or you might forget them.
  • Have some snacks or sandwiches ready or buy it before you get to the airport. Remember, you'll have to buy any drinks after the security line inside the airport since federal regulations don't allow liquids more than 3 ounces in your carry-on bag. The cost of food inside the airport is much more expensive than buying it outside.
  • Arrive at the airport EARLY. Give yourself plenty of time to get there because traffic going to the airport is awful and lines at the airline counter can be long and the security line may even be longer. If you have to check bags, make sure that you are in the airport at least an hour early before departure time for domestic flights and two hours early for international flights. Some airlines prevent baggage check-in as early as 45 minutes before departure. If the weather is bad, it's a good idea to be at the airport extra early so that you can find out what your options are if your flights are delayed or cancelled.
  • Be aware of your boarding time and be at the gate by then. There are two deadlines that you must meet at the airport; the boarding time and the departure time. The boarding time is when passengers start boarding their flight. Once this procedure starts, you will be unable to check in for your flight at the airline check-in counter which effectively means that you miss your flight, especially if that flight is full. This is one reason why you want to check-in at home or the hotel and print out your boarding pass, because even if you arrive at the airport a little past the boarding time, you can hopefully go through security and get to your gate before the departure time, which is when the plane actually departs from the gate. Even then be aware, if you are not at the gate and they have finished boarding the majority of passengers, they can give your seat away to people on a standby list and then you will have to be re-booked on another flight to your destination on the next available flight which may be several hours or the following day. It is imperative that you are at your gate by boarding time.

  • If you are checking in a bag, take off any old baggage tags so that your bag doesn't go to another destination by mistake. Don't forget to attach a name tag with your name and phone number so that if they need to reach you, the airline has a number to call you.
  • Wear comfortable footwear that's easy to take off your foot, that way do you not have to spend too much time unlacing and lacing up at the security line. Also, don't forget that the pressurized air inside the cabin of the plane will make your feet swell so snug or tight-fitting shoes can be uncomfortable and reduce your blood circulation.
  • Bring current, government-issued ID because that is the only identification that the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) agent will accept. A current driver's license or passport will meet those requirements.
  • Before going into the security line, make sure that you only have two bags. Any food for personal consumption is allowed and does not count as a carry-on bag.

If you follow these tips, then traveling by plane may not be so bad after all.

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