These tips are mostly for those of us who don't (or can't) travel Business or First Class. But even so, there are many general tips that will help anyone have smoother travels by air.
• Don't wear a belt when at the airport • Empty your pockets into your carry-on before security • Dress comfortably • Stay hydrated, drink water • Bring snacks and entertainment if you are picky
Check-in at the airline's website before your flight, and use the electronic kiosks at the airport whenever possible. These kiosks print your boarding pass, saving you time, especially when some airlines have separate queues for those passengers that have already checked in. (You can also proceed directly to security after printing your pass if you have no bags to check in.)
Security check can go smoother and faster if you:
• Do not wear a belt. Yes, you have to take it off for security, so just skip the hassle. • Wear shoes that don't require a lot of work. You have to remove them and put them back on for security, so keep them easy. No knee-high boots, no complicated lacings, etc. • Take everything out of your pockets beforehand. Everything! Put items from your pocket into your carry-on outside pocket so you don't have to fill your pockets while others are trying to get through security as well. • Take your jackets and sweaters off. These will go through x-ray, so be ready. • Be ready! Usually it's the person in line who's not ready beforehand that causes the line to slow down. Multiply that buy everyone who wants to get on a plane, and you've got a traffic jam. Don't be one of those people.
If you lock your luggage, unlock them BEFORE security asks you to do so. Use TSA approved locks so security doesn't have to cut your locks off. The lock's packaging will state whether they're TSA approved and can be purchased at the airport or travel stores.
Remove previous flight tags and stickers from your luggage to prevent confusion.
Make your luggage distinguishable. Feel artsy? Paint it! Have kids? Sticker it! Or, sew some patches on. (You can also buy luggage that isn't black.) All claims about missing or damaged luggage should be made at the airport, before you leave.
Get up and stretch, walk the aisle, and hover around any spacey spots on the plane to stand for a bit before sitting back down. Commit to some seated exercises, especially if you're stuck in the middle and can't get up as often as you should. NWA has illustrated examples
Take off your shoes. This can relax your body during flight and help the swelling that may occur at such altitudes. Walk around in those warm socks we talked about, or just pack a pair of small slippers in your carry-on.
Thankfully, no one on the flight cares what you look like, so dress comfortably! Wear looser garments like sweatpants or a comfortable pair of jeans. Use button or zip-up jackets or sweaters. Wear a warm pair of socks as temperatures can drop while in flight. Don't wear a top that causes you to constantly fidget. Depending on the climate of your destination, you can layer, or keep that outfit on the very top of your luggage so you can change in the airport's restrooms. If you MUST wear a suit on the flight, choose your most comfortable, pack the jacket and shoes in your garment bag, and tie the tie later.
Bring some food in your carry-on incase the airline runs out, which happens (trust us), or if you need an extra snack. Choose food that is compact, easy to eat, and won't make a huge mess. Health bars usually fill you up, but snacks such as cookies and chips are always a treat. Water is the best bet for quenching thirst; sodas and juices keep you wanting more. (Check with airport security about bringing liquids through - sometimes you can't, and must purchase them afterwards.)
Fight jet lag by setting your watch to your destination's time as soon as you're on the plane. If you'll be sleeping, eat before the flight and inform the attendant you won't be having a meal. (Don't cover your seat belt so that they don't bother you to check if it's fastened.)
Carry tissues! Even some handy wet wipes.
Many people swear by such things as Airborne - in any case, take extra care of your health and hygiene to prevent jet lag and illness. Wash your hands and keep them away from your face as much as possible. Protect your fellow travelers too; cough and sneeze into your handkerchief or arm, not your hand - or worse yet, into the air! On shorter flights, you can wear a protective mask if you're really worried about the passenger behind you that may sound like he's coughing up a lung.
If there's a more comfortable seat open, ask the flight attendant if you can sit there.
Recirculating air not only increases your chances of getting sick, but it dries out your nose and skin. Carry a small bottle of hand lotion and some lip balm. Also, try breathing your nose into a hot towelette that the airline may give you - this can help relieve your airway.
For long flights, we would highly recommend investing in a neck rest. Carry a soft one, or pack an inflatable version in your bag. The soft ones are more comfortable, but aren't space-friendly. Eye masks are handy too if the airline doesn't give you a pair.
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