- Be familiar with the TSA rules and guidelines BEFORE you enter the checkpoint security line. TSA has a helpful website with loads of good information that just might help you avoid the enhanced patdown. All the passengers standing behind you will appreciate that you are armed with the knowledge that yes, you have to take your belt off, yes, your coat has to go in that plastic thingie, no you cannot take your giant bottle of water through security and YES we know you just paid $3 for it.
- If you are traveling on any plane that has two seats or fewer per row it is considered rude to recline your seat. See the picture above for an explanation of why this is so. You just may thrust the tray table belonging to the person in front of you into their abdomen and do permanent bodily harm. I spent most of the flight in the above picture attempting to uncross my leg. The exception to this is First Class, there are only two seats in each row, but there is plenty of room.
- Bring your own snacks, except for Southwest, and maybe JetBlue, you may, or may not get a soda and you are certainly not getting a free snack. The charge for snacks will be astronomical, $5 for a package of almonds, for example. Stop by Starbucks or a convenience store on your drive in, and purchase some of their nuts and popcorn snacks inexpensively, yes, food can go through security. The exception to this is First Class, where snacks and drinks are free and plentiful.
- Airplane mode on your device is still not OK during takeoff or landing, turn off your device as directed. Airlines don't recognize Airplane mode during takeoff or landing.
- NEVER, EVER use the pillows or blankets on a plane, the only exception is if the blanket is still sealed in plastic, assuring it has been laundered. Airlines launder their blankets infrequently, sometimes as inoften as every 30 days. Bring your own pillow and blanket combo, US Airways offers a cute Nap Sack for $7 with a pillow, blanket, eye mask and ear plugs on every flight, a great deal. Jet Blue also offers a similar option, or check out Amazon for more options.
- If you are sitting in the bulkhead row (no seats in front of you) you will need to put your carry on in the overhead as well as your purse as there is no storage in front of you.
- Wear slip on shoes with socks, makes getting through security easier.
- Stop complaining that the overheads are full, that is because you paid $99 for your ticket that used to cost $200 and the airline has to make money somehow. To save $50 you crammed a roll aboard full of stuff instead of paying to check a bag and so did everyone else on this plane.
- Be prepared! Here is what I pack in my backpack/laptop bag:
Mini pack Kleenex (for yourself or your seatmate)
Mini pack Clorox wipes
(they very rarely clean the surfaces of a plane in Coach or First)
Mini hand sanitizer
Immodium (um, yeah, hello, you are stuck in the air)
decongestant (great for popping ears)
band aids (2)
All meds: Bring 1-2 capsules place them in a sandwich bag in original blister packs.
All of these things are helpful for you, but they are helpful for your seatmate as well; there is nothing that can ruin two hours in the air faster than a seatmate that needs a tissue, or worse, an Immodium. If the baby two rows back starts screaming, you will be oh so happy you sprung for the ear plugs. When the indeterminate yellowish substance crusted on your tray table appears, you will thank me when you whip out your Clorox mini pack (available in the travel section at Walmart)!
Stay tuned for a post about traveling with babies and kids.