Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The One About Flying

I have done a LOT of flying in the last five years. I decided it was a good idea to go to college in Texas (most brilliant idea of my whole life), but I live in Alabama - so there were a lot of trips back and forth. PLUS the BF lived in Virginia, so that required a place as well. During all of those plane flights I have discovered some invaluable information.

So, in honor of my upcoming (30 hours and 18 minutes from now) trip to Texas and the millionth plane flight I'll be taking, here are my top 10 things to DO or NOT DO on planes, in airports, and during the packing process.

10. Try to wear flip flops, or flats. I don't actually adhere to this rule - but I always regret it. The security people are going to make you take off your shoes, there is no way around it, so the easier they are to slip on and off the better. I like to be comfortable on planes, so I have frequently left for the airport in UGGS, or walking boots - trust me when I tell you, this is not a good decision.

9. The best way to sleep is folded in half, head down on the tray table. Granted, this only works if you're a reasonably small person - but I am, so good for me. Don't fall asleep BEFORE you get on the plane. Airports like to change things, and they don't come find you when they do. I almost missed a flight home once because I was asleep at gate such-and-such when they announced that the flight had been moved to gate far-enough-away-to-take-the-train.

8. Speaking of taking the train...check your bags in the most convenient location, and then get on the train to actually find your gate. It's a lot less complicated than trying to figure out where you should check your bags so that you're close to your gate. Note: this doesn't apply to BHM, there aren't that many choices. In other transportation news, it's sometimes worth it to pay the extra $2 a day for Express parking at DFW - Remote is like parking in Siberia. It's a long way from Siberia to the airport.

7. DO NOT EVER SET YOUR iPOD DOWN. do. not. do. it. People in airports love finding preloaded iPods to play with. Don't even try - they won't give it back. I don't care if all you did was sit the thing down, walk to throw your trash away, and then come back to your seat. I promise, the guy that just took your iPod is not giving that sucker back.

6. When packing, socks will fit inside your shoes, but shoes are the biggest thing you're packing - so this is an essentials only situation. Don't worry - I understand, some things are essentials to you that aren't to other people. This weekend I'll probably have casual flip-flops, nice sandals, dress shoes for the wedding, heels of two kinds (black and brown), and cowboy boots. I know that seems nuts - but didn't we just talk about not judging other people's shoe habits?

5. It's more expensive to buy anything in the airport. Magazines, books, iPod headphones, gum, lunch at Chick-Fil-A. It's all more expensive, so try to avoid it. That is not to say that I won't buy the new Martha Stewart Weddings if it's staring me in the face, and I spent a lot of time purchasing perfume in DFW because that was the only place I could find what I like - but, be aware that you're probably paying more for it just because you don't have another choice. Supply and demand people.

4. Wear the heaviest and largest items on the plane. This advice is good for two things. 1. If your cowboy boots and winter coat aren't in your suitcase, you can pack two more pairs of jeans and an extra pair of shoes. 2. Planes are ridiculously cold, it's a fact, so having covered toes and your coat isn't going to hurt you.

3. Bring all the paper you have. If you have a confirmation number, and it is printed out - bring it, that makes it easier to check in at the speedy kiosk. If you don't, you have to go talk to the people at the counter. If you have to talk to the people at the counter, they're much more likely to weigh your bag...just a fun fact I've noticed. In my experience, it's always a good thing when they don't weight my bag.

2. They're pretty seriously about that liquids rule. One time they made me throw away lip gloss that can only be purchased in Birmingham - unfortunately, I was leaving. HOWEVER - I sometimes forget what counts and what doesn't. Handy idea - keep a quart size baggie in your suitcase and you can put things it if necessary. They used to sell them in the airport, right next to security - but I'm not sure if they still do it. Either way, it's not a good idea to buy Ziplocs from the airport. See #5.

1. Don't be late, and if you're late - be really nice. The airport helper people are just as annoyed that they work in an airport as you are that the airport makes life difficult. The catch is that they have a LOT of control over your life. If you're really nice, they'll be really helpful. If you're not - they won't be. Being nice could get you on an earlier flight, get your luggage on the flight with you, get your 53 lb. bag on the plane...there are endless possibilities. Don't get me wrong...sometimes people are just rude for fun (I'm talking to you US Airways) but that's their problem - not yours.

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