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7 Rules to Fly By

September 2, 2010

If you’re traveling by air for the holiday weekend, following these seven simple rules can take the hassle out of your Labor Day travel.

  1. Know yourself. If you’ve traveled a few times by plane, you have a pretty good idea of what you need to be comfortable. When I fly, I typically select a window seat because I love the view outside the window and I hate being stepped over three or four times during a flight. If you have a medical condition which requires you to get up and stretch your legs from time to time (like DVT), select an aisle seat when possible. A little pre-planning can make a world of difference, which leads me to…
  2. I hope those bags don't ALL belong to her...

    Think before you pack. Most airlines generally allot two spaces to you in addition to your seat: one spot in the overhead compartment and another beneath the seat in front of you. Use them wisely. Pack the things you’ll need in-flight in the bag at your feet. It will save you the aggravation of having to step over your neighbors to access the overhead compartment and possibly endear you to your seatmates.

  3. Don’t eat or drink too much before you leave for the airport. By the time you board your flight and you’ve been en route to your destination for an hour or two, you won’t feel as strong an urge to head to the restroom. Instead, pack a few small snacks (nuts, dried fruit, etc.) to nibble on during the flight to keep hunger at bay and when you do need something to drink, sip it slowly over a long period of time instead of guzzling, which puts more pressure on your bladder and increases the urge to go.
  4. Wear shoes that are easy to slip in and out of. During busy travel periods, things can get pretty crazy at airport security checkpoints. The TSA officers make everyone remove their shoes. Everyone. A friend recently posted on Facebook that they even made her remove her newborn infant’s shoes. Save yourself (and everyone else in the line behind you) time and aggravation by planning your travel day attire ahead of time which also means…
  5. Dress in layers. Seriously. By dressing in layers you can make yourself more comfortable by simply adding or removing a layer to achieve your optimal comfort level. You might not even need to trouble the flight attendant for a blanket because you’re too cold or complain that your overhead fan doesn’t work when you’re too hot.
  6. Don’t expect the airline to entertain you. Bring books, magazines, music, and movies along for the ride (and pack them in the bag at your seat—see rule #1). Yes, most airlines now offer in-seat or aircraft-wide entertainment options, but in the event none of the twenty movies showing interests you or the entertainment system fails, you still have choices to wile away the hours before you reach your destination.
  7. Make a flight attendant’s day: be self-sufficient. Unless you have small children, special needs, or a medical emergency, there’s really very little reason to engage with the flight attendants on more than three occasions: the first, a smile and a greeting when boarding the airplane. Second, a response when one is required. Finally, a smile and a thank you when disembarking. Flight attendants aren’t your personal valets or waitresses, so don’t treat them as such.

(*This post was prepared in advance and scheduled during my visit to San Francisco. If you post a comment, I will respond when I return. Until then, you can follow my trip to San Francisco by visiting me at Twitter. Have a great holiday weekend!)

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