How Not to Stress Air Travel
Before You Get To The Airport
Let me just start by saying that I have never been outside the United States. If you are flying domestically you have nothing to be worried about, but if you are going somewhere internationally feel free to be concerned. Especially if you’re Randy Quaid. No if you’re going anywhere for the first time you just need to do a few steps and a little research.
Before you get where you’re going you should look into how the city operates. Some places you are better off using the well constructed train systems and a taxi service such as Uber or Lyft, or city taxis if you have a bottomless wallet. Don’t bother with a rental car if the traffic is too insane (see New York City). However there are other towns where you can feel free to rent a car. Especially if it has a half-assed transit system (see Baltimore).
2. What Exactly Do You Want To Do?
It’s no secret that various cities have their own paints of interest, that others don’t provide, and makes them worth seeing. For example if you’re going to Washington D.C. you might want to tour the White House or head to the Smithsonian Institute. You only have so many vacation days so plan ahead.
A round trip ticket and a hotel room for only $410? Why won't my laptop accept cash when I throw it at the screen?
3. Know Where You’ll Be
There are several good websites for booking a flight+hotel; Orbits, Travelocity, and Expedia to name a few. Once you find a good deal (or at least something you’re content with) get the address of the hotel then hop on Google to pre-plan your routes.
4. Choose The Right Airline
As you’re booking your flight you will notice multiple airline companies. The cheapest, it seems, being Spirit. However friends have told me that Spirit makes you pay extra for carry on bags and fees you on other things. Essentially not making them any cheaper than other options. I personally want to go with either American Airlines or Southwest. Southwest costs a little extra but at least you get to fly on an actual big boy plane. Not a private jet pretending to be a commercial bird. United is also a good choice if you want to fly on a Boeing 737. You know an actual plane. Might have to deal with delays some times.
Depending on how long your flight is you shouldn’t have to worry about the comfort. Although if you’re going to Tokyo or Australia I recommend paying a little extra for first class, much more leg room. More leg room equals a healthier you when you get off at your destination.
5. If You Don't Receive Confirmation DON'T Panic
Everything in our modern technological world makes things easier (though actual free anywhere wifi would make it that much better). Travel websites and their helpful alert e-mails let you know where you need to go before you get to the terminal. However your chosen browser seems to get concerned with losing you and sometimes decides to not make the proper info appear. Luckily their TECH support staff are always very helpful and can work with you through the hiccup. Not to be confused with CUSTOMER support which IS pretty much useless.
6. Give Yourself Plenty of Time To Get There
They always say it’s a good idea to get to the airport a couple hours before your flight. Why? First of all you need to know which terminal you need to go to. In some cases depending on whether you take a train, taxi, or get a ride to the airport you need to know where you check-in airline is. The train station obviously won’t drop you off right at your needed location so you might have to hoof it to the other end of the airport. Getting your boarding pass shouldn’t be a long wait thanks to self-check-in kiosks. However if you’re opting to check a bag in, you will have to wait in line to talk with a live human. I don’t bother checking in any luggage. Not that I don’t like talking to humans, but I do hate lines… and losing my stuff. So always settle with just carry-on. You also need to afford your self time in case there is a massive line with the T.S.A. checkpoint.
7. One electronics bag, one everything else bag
So thanks to modern technology, and the ever growing need for better common sense, airlines technically allow two carry-ons. I recommend keeping all of your boredom killers (laptop, PS Vita, cell phone charger, etc.) in your small under-the-seat bag. Then everything else in your luggage (the one that will God willing be allowed on the plane once you get to the gate). Which reminds me…
If You're Flying Southwest...
I recommend upgrading to boarding group A when you get to the gate. Southwest Airlines does not have assigned seating like other companies. Trust me when I tell you that being in boarding group C sucks! Especially if you sit between some old couple.
8. Tag Your Luggage
Most luggage bags have built in tags where you can put your name and address in case your bag goes missing (that is if you checked it in). There are cases where at the boarding you will be told that it needs to be checked, before getting on the plane, due to lack of space in the over-head compartments. This means that the baggage handlers will put your bag in the luggage hold, then hand it back to you once you land.
When You Get To The Airport
Since you already have directions to the airport, and gave yourself plenty of time before your flight the hard part is over. You have your confirmation code so type it into one of the boarding pass kiosks, this saves a lot of time from having to stand in line (or at least a long line to speak to a receptionist). Once you have your boarding pass head toward the TSA security checkpoint.
If you carry too much crap in your pockets, like I do, make sure to put most of the stuff in your laptop bag. Don’t feel bad about using two trays. One tray for your under-the-seat bag and shoes, and the other tray for your laptop. If for some reason you have a tablet keep it in your bag otherwise whoever is scanning everything will insist on holding up the line while they rescan both your laptop and tablet.
That reminds me you might want to wear some shoes that you can slip on and off. Also there’s nothing wrong with wearing socks with sandals. Depending on the TSA agent they might let you keep your wallet, cellphone, and watch on when you go through the body scanner. It’s best to wear cargo pants or other type of pants with a built in belt.
Make sure your liquid bottles are all in a single 40 oz plastic bag. Within that bag make sure you wrap each bottle in it's own sandwich bag to help prevent leaks. As far as electronics are concerned you can put your tablet and laptop in the same basket. Just keep them both in your electronics bag. They have changed that policy a few months ago so don't let that Jim Parsons commercial discourage you.
Do not put your laptop inside your carry-on luggage, they don't like that for some reason, and besides you don't know if the airline will put your bag in the cargo hold once you get to the gate (depends on the size of the plane). You should keep all of your sensitive items with you in your electronics bag.
You will have extra time while waiting for your flight. Depending on what airport you’re using there could be more stuff to do. Also expect to see multiple locations for the same eatery, with some differences. Want a quick bite? Get a donut. If you want a full meal there are restaurants to choose from.
Explore around and enjoy yourself, it’s pretty much like a mall. If you’re feeling nervous about the flight (and you really don’t have to) grab a beer. Just not too many or you won’t be allowed on the plane. Also while I’m talking about things NOT to do, and I mean besides the obvious like talking loudly in Arabic or clutching a trench coat, try not to explore the entire airport. A little rinky dink operation like Baltimore’s BWI is an easy trek. Your feet will be raw if you try to cover every inch of Chicago’s O’Hare International. Once you’re ready head to your boarding area by following the helpful signs. Your gate will be listed on your boarding pass as letter-number. Like B7 or G2 for example.
Once you get there find a seat and wait for yourself to click the link to part two of this Hub.
The Best Airline?
What is Your Favorite Airline?
Where's The Advice On The Flight? Right Here...
- How To NOT Stress Air Travel: The Flight
It is always healthy to get out of your home town for a change of scenery. Sometimes that requires the not so relaxing concept of flying. Don’t worry this will make it much easier.