PLANE SPEAKING: Travel Secrets from a Man of Many Air Miles

As a frequent traveler, I attribute my never being “that guy”– that guy impeding someone else’s journey — to a few tricks that also keep my own airline experience efficient and stress-free. Thought I’d let you in on a few:

Before the airport . . .

  • Use the FlightView App. Enter your flight(s) info and the app shows the scheduled flight time, departure/arrival gate, baggage claim info, etc., for ANY AIRLINE. You get real-time text alerts for gate changes, flight delays, and more. Also, you can share your flight info via the app so others can track your progress in real time.
  • Have your boarding pass. Download your mobile boarding pass or print it out. If you have to check bags and print a pass at the airport, write down your confirmation number and keep it handy so that at the kiosk you have it in hand.
  • Pack lightly and smartly. I travel with my briefcase and a soft-sided duffle bag. The day before, I lay out everything and decide on clothes–no multiple-outfit options. To save space, I stuff undergarments, bag of toiletries and socks inside my  shoes. And though a shoulder-strap duffle bag is work to carry, it’s easier to fit in overhead bin.
  • Double check flight info en route. Check your FlightView app en route to verify departure gate and time. (I also memorize my seat number on the boarding pass.)

Through security . . .

  • Physically prepare in the security queue. Empty your pockets, remove your belt, sunglasses, jewelry, etc., and stuff everything in the side pocket of your briefcase or purse. At the TSA podium, keep your ID card and boarding pass in hand. After TSA scans your boarding pass and checks your ID, add those to your purse or briefcase side pocket.
  • Approaching the x-ray table. In line to grab bins, remove your shoes. Unzip your briefcase so your laptop is easily removed and placed in a bin.
  • Order your items on the x-ray table. I like this order: 1) unzipped briefcase, 2) bin with laptop only, 3) bin with shoes, and 4) duffle bag. As the items come out the x-ray, I grab my briefcase, drop in my laptop, grab my shoes and duffle bag, and head to the “redressing” benches. To repack/dress at the x-ray table is to hold up everyone else.
  • Go straight to your gate–even if you’re early. Physically see your gate to verify location and departure time. Last-minute gate changes are rare but they happen.

Pre-boarding . . .

  • Prepare your bags to board. While you wait at the gate, put items you want inflight in the outside pocket of your briefcase/purse. Remove shoulder straps from your bags and secure them in outside pockets because dangling straps snag chair arms as you move down the aisle.
  • In the boarding line. As you wait for your boarding group to be called, STAY SEATED/STANDING IN YOUR GATE AREA UNTIL YOUR GROUP IS CALLED. STAY CLEAR OF THE MAIN TERMINAL WALKWAY. Other people need to get to their gates. When you unnecessarily block the main thoroughfare, you drive people like me crazy.
  • Have your boarding pass ready. Once your group is called, your boarding pass should be in hand. If it’s on your cell, unlock your phone and have the boarding-pass screen open and ready to scan.

Boarding . . .

  • Stepping onto the plane. Before you start shimmying down the aisle, lead with your under-seat bag (briefcase/purse). Keep your overhead bag trailing behind you.
  • At your seat. Throw your under-seat bag onto your seat. Immediately stow your other bag in the overhead bin. Slide into your row and stow your under-seat bag. The goal is to get out of the main aisle asap.
  • Seat belts. Before you sit, clear your seat and drape your seatbelt straps over each armrest. Sit down, then, and drape the seatbelt straps over your lap. WAIT TO BUCKLE UP until everyone in your row is seated.

De-planing . . .

    • Stay seated when you hear the ding. As you wait, try to get eyes on your bag.  Wait your turn to get up.
    • Help other people with their bags. Not only is it courteous, but helping a fellow traveler struggling with a stubborn bag will keep things moving.
    • Grab and go. You can reorganize your bags and belongings once you’re off the plane.
    • Thank the flight crew.

 

 

By Lucas Fairchild