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Monday, September 21, 2015

Tips for flying

 Katie's Tips For Flying

Sunday I headed back west to Salt Lake City after an amazing 10 days back East (and I think the 12th plane this summer- hello layovers).  After flying so frequently, I think I compiled a pretty good list of dos and do nots.  Especially after flying SO many domestic flights (think smaller planes and heavier Americans) I think this tips are pretty crucial to keep your travel experiences fun and healthy. Some I learned firsthand (like which water bottles will shower your neighbor at 10,000’) and some I learned from my devout people watching at airports. Lets dive right into my tips for flying.  

What to wear:  I try to find a medium between wear something comfy and looking nice. I mean, you are never going to see me walk off a plane in heels (wedges once, quick 1 hour flight to Vegas), but never in heels.  But it doesn’t have to be my pajamas either.  I try to find somewhere in the middle.  If I am carrying heavier clothing items, I try to wear those.  If it is fall/winter I will wear the boots I plan on bringing, or if I am bringing sneakers and I am short on room, I will wear those.  Flip flops take up little room, pack those and wear on heavier footwear. I usually go for a comfortable pant (jeans or tights), long sleeve shirt, and a sweater or scarf to keep me warm.  Comfortable, but not the person who shows up in their PJs. 

Wear a scarf.  A scarf is one of my best tools for flying.  I can wear it around my neck, or unwrap it as a blanket if I am cold.  I can roll it up and use it as a head support.  Lots of options with a scarf.  If you get really chilly I suggest bringing a jacket, but again, this can get clunky on the plane with you.  If you are traveling somewhere cold with limited luggage space, then I advise wearing a jacket.  If you are not bringing a jacket, a scarf will be a great tool in flight to keep you warm and comfortable. And hey, stylish. 

Always try to carry on.  This is important for a few reasons.  A-- it forces you to THINK about what you are packing.  Let’s face it, we never wear all of the things we brought along. It is also a good motto for life, keeping it simple, and only taking what you need.  B-- if you check your baggage you never have to wait at the baggage claim or wait in line to check bags.  When I get off a plane I am going RIGHT to ground transportation.  My impatient self hates spending 30 minutes waiting at baggage claim, or waiting in line to drop bags.  On that note, by always carrying on you will never lose luggage.  Important for me because again, I do not have time or patience to wait for my bags to be found.  C-- its free to carry on.  Most airlines charge you for bags these days (with the exception of Southwest who allows you to check TWO bags for free- but again, I still carry on for the reasons mentioned above).  Carry on and you avoid a lot of headaches and a few fees.  According to data released this year by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, domestic airlines raked in $3.35 billion in baggage fees last yearSource That is just crazy, carry onners unite. 

Here is an article that details what outfits and how to pack for a carry on suitcase.  What outfits will work best for your trip.  The down and dirty is to make sure you have a lot of pieces that match (If you are bringing one pair of jeans (all you need) making sure all your tops match that. 
 And once you figured our what you are bringing,  here you can buy some amazing packing cubes that will help maximize space in your carry on- I swear by these for fitting all my clothes in my carry on, and keeping them organized.  Do be mindful that because of the baggage fees, more people are carrying on, meaning sometimes it is a fight for cabin space.  A good boarding position or seats assures you baggage room.  If not, they may have to gate check your bag, but at no cost to you.

Always bring an empty water bottle.  The flight attendants sometimes take a while to come around for beverages (Not their fault) but flying is very dehydrating (dry air) and keeping hydrated is SO important for jet lag and overall good health.  Having a water bottle you can fill past security and bring on the plane with you is a great option. I highly advise one without a flip straw.  My water bottle has a straw that flips up and you can only guess what happened at altitude with the change in pressure.  I opened up my bottle to take a drink and water shot out like a cannon allllll over the plane and my neighbors.

Wash your hands.  Wash your hands as often as you can.  Those planes are basically the flu virus with wings.  You are touching seatbelts, trays, arm rests, along with the rest of the sick population.  I even saw one guy bring wipes with him and wipe down his tray before he had his snack or worked on this computer.  Nothing is worst than catching a bug on the plane and spending your vacation sick. 

Bring snacks.  The days of meals on planes is long gone.  You are lucky if you get peanuts or pretzels.  And I give airlines enough money, I will not pay for those snack packs (see a common theme here?). Bring some healthy options from home (yes, you can bring food from home! Just no liquids!).  This way, you can avoid the garbage airport food, long lines, and high prices. 

Get there early.  Flying can be stressful enough. I get rid of the time factor all together by always getting to the airport super early. 30 minutes of extra sleep isn't worth the stress of close calls at the airport.  You never know what security lines will be like.  Just get there early.

Get the app.  This day and age, you can check in at home the day before, and use an app for a boarding pass. No printing, no waiting at kiosks, no checking in on the plane.  Apps also notify you of delays, set up timers, and give you important gate information.  The apps are free from the supporting airline and are a great tool to keep you organized and informed.

Be courteous.  If it is a quick flight, do not recline your seat.  These seats are getting smaller and smaller and we need all the room we can get.  Be courteous and leave your seat in the upright position during shorter flights.  My next time will come off as insensitive, but I’m here to tell it like it is.  If you are a heavier individual… plan accordingly.  Whether that be buying an extra seat or an upgrade to first class, if you cannot fit in your seat, you need to make adjustments, and not at your neighbors sake. More than once I have had to sit next to a HEAVY (fine obese) person and it’s a nightmare.  Having to share my tiny seat, touching someone else’s thigh, and to a point where I can’t get the armrest down and have to see T Rex style for a flight is awful.  Be considerate. Also in this column I would add noise considerations (always always headphones), neck supporters if you plan on sleeping (no drooling on your neighbor) and most importantly, eat your smell food in the terminal, don’t bring your Chinese food on the plane to munch while flying. 

Do some research.  I was glad to find out that Southwest offers free in flight entertainment.  However, if you want to watch a movie, you need to download this particular (and free) app.  However, I am not sure if you can do that in flight without purchasing wifi, so knowing ahead and downloading the app at home was key. Also, just knowing about the perks helps. I found out I can watch chopped up in the sky for free.  This means charging all my devices at home so I can watch bad tv and do some homework on my flight.  Good to be informed. 

Give up your seat for a voucher.  If you don’t have a serious time commitment and your flight is overbooked, race your butt to that kiosk and offer your seat.  I booked a $100 flight to Vegas (didn’t pay for it, paid for with credit card points, that’s my next tip), and on the way back, gave up my seat for a $400 voucher.  I made money off this flight.  The flight was free, and I got a free flight home to Connecticut for Christmas, the time when people are poor and the flights are not cheap.  If you have some flexibility, give up your seat the credit is worth it.  Sometimes it is just a few hour delay (2 in my case from Vegas) or sometimes its an overnight.  If its an overnight-er, they put you in a hotel room for the night.  And hey, what a fun way to explore a new city, on an unexpected overnight layover.  I am a fan of giving up my seat for that credit on my next flight.

Don’t pay for your flight (if you don’t have to!).  Some people go really heavy into this credit card miles deals, I am not into that.  Constantly opening and closing credit cards just can’t be good for credit and for my identity security.  Instead, I chose a credit card with a great point system and put everythingggg on my credit card.  I then rack up the points, and only use my points on flights.  80% of my flights are paid for through credit card points, without any cost to me. 

Always stay at the gate.  Always.  (ALWAYS).  Even if your flight is delayed.  As I type this, I am watching a frantic family fighting with the attendant.  A flight was delayed two hours, and then moved back to the original time.  The family decided to grab some food while waiting for their flight (now delayed then undelayed) and never heard the latest memo about the flight taking off at the original time.  She did URGE everyone to stay by the gate in case things change, but I get the need to kill time at the bar.  However.....Stay by the gate, and check your app.  No one wants to miss a flight. (And if you stay at the gate, you are first in line to take up any upgrades or give up your seat).  Get there early and stay put.

Always confirm your gate.  And not just by checking the monitor. I always walk up to the exact gate first thing, make sure I am in the right place, before I head to a bathroom or get some food (if I have to, stay by the gate if you can to be the first updated about changes (my tip above!).  I am so glad I did this in Chicago because after walking to my gate on one end of the airport, I noticed my gate had been changed to the other end.  In a large airport with short layovers, you do not want to risk missing your flight because you stopped at Panda Express before checking your gate.  Verify your gate AT that gate before you kill free time in the airport.  A lot of airports are huge and if there is a last minute gate change, you need to know as soon as possible to have time to get there.  Get to the gate early and always confirm.

Be flexible.  Traveling comes with its own ups and downs, and a whole lot of uncertainties.  Weather turns, flights get delayed, gates change, and flights get overbooked.  Be flexible and try to keep your positive side high on days you fly.  

Image result for plane icon

Have any travel tips you swear by>  Share them below! 

Happy Flying!

1 comment :

  1. Yes, yes and um yes! I don't have anything I can add! All of these things are important and convenient to keep in mind when flying!

    N- Naomi in Wonderland


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