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9 Tips for Flying Every Traveler Needs to Know

Beth Ann Chiles has some practical and important traveler tips on getting from security to your seat on your plane with as little fuss and complication as possible. It’s everything you need to know before your flight. Read more from Beth on her blog.

I am a traveling kind of gal. Whether it be by car or airplane–whatever means it takes to get me from Point A to Point B —I usually love the entire experience. This month finds me with trips to North Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Like I said—I am a traveling kind of gal.

Airports are always a great place to people watch and I prefer arriving early just so I can see what is going on all around me. Usually my trip to the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport includes a trip to Starbucks where the baristas seem to have difficulty with my name.

starbucks

When I travel with “Mr. Diamond” I am treated to top of the line service. Easy check in, pretty yellow priority tags on my luggage which ensures it gets handled first, and always courteous treatment and thanks for being a valued customer. When I am on my own (although I currently have Gold status and usually get TSA Pre-Pass) I have to go through the normal security line, usually travel in steerage (I try to get Economy Comfort or exit row) and don’t always get those flashy yellow tags. Either way I don’t mind. Yes, the special treatment is a little nicer but as long as I reach my destination I am happy.  Maybe I should say as long as my luggage also meets me in my destination I am a happy camper.
My recent travels have made me think about some of the things that happen when traveling. There are some great ways to be able to handle airport and airplane travel a bit easier so here is my quick list off the top of my head without much thinking.

How-to-travel-comfortably

1.Know the “rules” of your particular airline that you are using. A little preparation ahead of time by just going to their website can save a lot of time and high blood pressure upon arrival. Know what their rules are on luggage sizes and how to transport pets!
2. Live and breathe the 3-1-1 rule. It applies to EVERYONE flying in the US. No liquid more than 3 ounces each in a 1 quart bag with 1 allowed per traveler. You would be amazed at how much you can fit in a 1 quart bag. Have it already bagged BEFORE you go through security–ready to pop in the bin.
3. Don’t forget that that last minute purchase of a liquid might not be the thing you want TSA to pull out of your luggage. On a trip over Valentine’s Day Chris and I witnessed a thoroughly embarrassed middle aged woman try to escape the TSA’s loud announcement that the lovely tube of KY Warming Jelly was larger than the allowed 3 ounces. Oh the mortification as he pulled it out, held it high and announced to her that if she wanted to go back and put it in her checked luggage she could do so…..
4. Once in the security line please make sure that you are ready. Be a Scout—prepared to take off those shoes, belt, that sweater, and the lovely accent scarf that you have donned to complete your airport attire.If you have clunky jewelry or sunglasses—put them in the bin right away so if they trigger the detectors you already have it covered.  Have your liquid bag, your laptop and anything else that needs scanned out and ready and move, move, move as quickly through the line as possible.
5. Avoid lines with families and frail older people or people in wheelchairs. This is not being mean—-it is just a matter of fact that this is going to lengthen your wait time in security if you get behind strollers laden with Cheerio encrusted toddlers and the occasional pensioner who depends on a wheelchair for transport.
6. Once you are in the boarding area PAY ATTENTION! The time on your ticket that says “Board Time” is not absolute but you should be there by that time to ensure that you hear all the instructions for boarding. The flight attendants and gate staff can be very helpful but only if you ask!  Just make sure you allow them time to finish all the work they need to do for the last flight out of the gate before you approach them for your later flight.  Their priority is to get the flights out on time and they can get snippy at times if you try to get help for a flight that is not up on the board yet.
7. Board when it is your zone. Most airlines board by designated zone with a few exceptions. Pay attention and don’t board when it is not your zone being called. That just makes people angry.
8.  Pay attention to your carry on size.  Just because you don’t want to pay the extra fees does not mean you should test the waters and take the largest carry on on board.  On the smaller planes they just do not fit.  The flight attendants will tell you that.  LISTEN to them. They know the capacity of the bins and you don’t want to be the one who is swimming upstream like a salmon on a full flight trying to get your suitcase gate checked.  Trust me on this one.
9. Be careful when you do board the plane that you don’t bump everyone on the way down the aisle with your luggage or handbag.  It is often a tight fit so the best protocol is to keep your luggage close to your body and not swinging wildly where it will whack someone (probably me) in the face.  Ouch.
10. Finally my basic rule of thumb is simply to BE NICE!!!!! I find that engaging the TSA folks as well as the airline folks in simple polite conversation makes a world of difference. Just think how many bozos these people have to deal with on a daily basis. If I can smile and say “thanks and have a great day” to them maybe it will in turn affect the way they react to the next person in line.

So there you have it—just a quick list of a few helpful tips. Nothing revolutionary or new but just practical every day tips. Got any of your own?

Beth Ann Chiles

i am a 50 something wife and mother of 2 grown sons who takes life one day at a time. I find joy in seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary and love meeting new folks.