Tips for Flying Like a Pro
Whether for business or pleasure, flying can be stressful. Making your flight on time, hoping you remembered to pack everything, changing time zones, long layovers, crowded airports and long security lines…Take note of these expert tips and you’ll have a smoother journey.
1. Save time by skipping lines. Sign up for TSA PreCheck and go through the lines where shoes stay on and laptops remain packed. Fast Track Global Entry makes sense for jetsetters with disposable income who don’t want to stand in the customs line. Both require advance paperwork and fees.
2. Pack smart/Carry On. Don’t check bags unless you’re going on a month-long adventure, there’s no need to create another reason to wait in line. A Smart Bag is a must, such as a duffel bag or large backpack or other soft bag is the preferred choice for frequent travelers because it can be easily crammed into the overhead bin and is far less likely to be taken away from you to be checked at the gate. Also, don’t skimp on luggage quality – look for pieces that keep all your documents and devices in one easily accessible place. Quality bags will hopefully last a lifetime; a cheap one could fall apart unexpectedly. And of course, keep liquid Free: There are plenty of TSA-friendly concentrated waterless products and collapsible refillable water bottles so that flying through security is a breeze.
3. Dress Like A Pro: Invest in a “plane outfit” consisting of classic items in dark or neutral colors made from breathable fabrics like cotton and cashmere (shorts, flip-flops and warm-ups make you look like an amateur). No gate agent is going to randomly upgrade a passenger wearing anything that makes noise when you walk. Also, if you suffer from anxiety or have trouble sleeping on planes, consider getting a weighted blanket (they hug you, it increases serotonin, producing a calming, sleepy feeling). If you have to take your shoes off, make sure you wear socks or have back up in your bag – no on should be barefooted on that yucky floor.
4. Get Alerts: Many security checkpoint wait times are accessible via an airport’s website. Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta uses Trak-a-Line and will even email you when a line gets longer. MiFlight does the same for 50 major airports. Traffic jams can also put the brakes on smooth sailing. Check your drive time on an app like Waze, which gives you an ETA and reroutes you if there’s heavy traffic.
5. Use Airport Apps: Flio connects you to airport WiFi connection and helps locate amenities like power outlets, play areas for kids and connecting gates. If you’re delayed or have some extra terminal time, FlySmart has reviews of terminal restaurants and shops by fellow travelers. The directionally challenged will love iFly, which uses GPS to help you reach that connecting gate without walking the wrong way.
6. If you’re sitting on a plane for several hours, you might as well use the time to pamper yourself. Use a headscarf to keep hair in place, pack some cocoa butter in your one-quart bag of liquids plus cotton hand gloves for a refreshing hand treatment. Pre-moistened pads soothe and refresh tired and puffy eyes. You may get a few strange looks from people walking the aisle, but you won’t even notice (or care) because you’ll be relaxed to the max. I also always travel with vitamin C packets and green tea.
7. Mind Your Manners: If you think you’re stressed, think of the men and women who do it every day. Should an emergency occur, they’re the ones who will help keep calm and even save lives, so show some respect. Treated with courtesy, a flight attendant might even slide you a free beverage or extra peanuts. One polite gesture can go a long way.
Author: Carrie Mitchell
Carrie A. Mitchell is the founder of L’Aventure Travel, the host of the Suitcase Sojourn Podcast, and author of the children’s travel book “To Be We”. Carrie is a global travel and hospitality expert who works with publications, brands and entertainment outlets on a number of travel related projects, from marketing consulting to editorial coverage to hosting & producing content for the web, TV and podcasts. She is always seeking to learn from people and places around the world, and share through her cultural exploration (40+ countries and counting)