Last week I spent 40 hours on planes flying to India and back. Each year I log over 250,000 miles in the air, and with 25 training days booked in January and February 2019 will be no different. One of my most popular LinkedIn posts of 2018 was my rant about travel and 13 tips to make air travel better for everyone. Since it resonated with so many, I thought I’d share it again on the blog. So here they are, my 13 tips for air travel as we prep for the busiest travel time of the year:
1. Stop complaining about security
Nobody enjoys having to take off their shoes, belt, scarf, jacket and then take out their laptop and toiletries before they go through security but it’s the rules. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly a rule follower, but when it comes to stuff like this I just do what I’m told, especially when it comes to security. Inevitably people either don’t do some of the stuff or they complain about it and cause a scene. Either way, they hold up the line and cause delays. Suck it up and do what they tell you to do. And if you get randomly selected for a security screen, consider it your lucky day and think of yourself as special and have fun with it. The more you give the TSA agent a hard time, the more they will get annoyed, make it take longer and probably take it out on other people throughout the day.
2. Don’t get angry at staff
One of my guiding principles is “what goes around comes around.” Remember, the gate staff, security, and flight attendants are all human beings that are doing the best job they can (for the most part). Not only is being rude, and at times abusive, wrong, you’re also less likely to get what you need. I’ve never gotten an upgrade or the rules bent for me when I was rude. I have only gotten them when I was polite.
I remember recently I was annoyed at a certain airline for various reasons and I took it out on the flight attendant when she asked me to put my seat back up when it was already up. I was short with her and had an attitude and she reacted with an attitude back. Later during the meal service, I apologized for my reaction and told her I was having a bad day and didn’t mean to take it out on her. She was so thankful for the apology that she gave me a hug and then free wine the rest of the trip :). Most of the airport staff have to deal with hundreds of people every day and many of them treat them like crap. Try to make one of them smile instead and see what happens.
3. Get out of the way
A common theme in airline travel is not being aware of your surroundings. When you find your seat, duck into your aisle so the people behind you can get to their seat. If you’re going to put your bag in the overhead compartment then be quick about it or ask for help. If you need to get something out of your bag before you put it in the overhead either do it before you get on the plane or get into your aisle and out of the way while you do it. This brings me to my next point.
4. Backpacks go under the seat. Roller bags are for the overhead compartments
I’ve seen more flights get delayed because someone can’t find room for their roller bag in the overhead compartments, and they need to gate check the bag. I know it’s your right to put your backpack in the overhead if you only have one bag, but do everyone a favor and put it under the seat in front of you. It’s the same thing as going 65 in the fast lane because that’s the speed limit. You have the right to do it, but you’re an ass if you do.
Putting your backpack under the seat in front of you isn’t really that much of an inconvenience and you’re more than likely going to get up halfway through the flight to bring it down and get something out of it anyway. If you’re looking for legroom, pull the backpack out from under the seat when the flight takes off and sit it up under your knees so you can stretch your legs out.
5. Don’t lean the seat back on flights less than 2 and a half hours
Especially in coach! The comfort you get from putting your seat back is significantly less than the discomfort you cause the person behind you. Please be aware of the people around you. Anything over 2 hours, you can do what you want.
6. Recline slowly and check behind you
If you are going to put your seat back, take a quick look behind you. Does the person have their laptop open? Are they reaching down to get something? I’ve cracked two laptops and been hit in the head multiple times by people who slam their seat back as fast as they can. By the way, if you do that to me I will spend the rest of the flight kicking your seat. I know it’s juvenile but I don’t care.
7. Put your tray down slowly
For the comfort of the person in front of you, don’t just unclip the tray and let it slam down. Just like your seat for the person behind you, put your tray down slowly for the person in front of you. The same holds true if you have a touch screen TV on the back of the seat. Please don’t slam your fingers on the screen as you go through the movie options.
8. Keep your shoes and socks on
You know what’s worse than seeing your feet? Smelling them. I get taking your shoes off, your feet swell up, it’s a long flight, I get it. But your socks? There is no excuse for that. Nobody wants to see or smell your nasty feet. And, if you do take your shoes or socks off, then for God’s sake PLEASE do not put them up on the armrest of the seat in front of you. That is flat out disgusting and rude.
9. Keep your voice down
Planes are loud. It can be hard to hear, but that doesn’t mean you need to yell at the person beside you to have a conversation with them. If other people can hear your conversation for an entire flight, you’re talking way too loudly.
10. Don’t bring stinky food on the plane
There are two kinds of food smells that will drive your fellow passengers nuts. Food that gives them a craving they can’t satisfy until they land, and food that makes them want to vomit. Neither are pleasant for your fellow passengers.
11. Stop farting
For some reason, maybe it’s the noise of the engine or the thin air, but people think they can let out farts on a plane. I understand letting one out to see if it stinks, but once you know you smell then get up and go to the bathroom. Seriously. It may sound funny, but it’s gross and farting on planes has lead to fights and emergency landings.
12. Wait for other people to get off before collecting your stuff
Maybe you were late getting on the plane and you had to put your roller bag all the way at the back, even though you’re sitting at the front. Instead of trying to push through hundreds of people who are moving forward to get your bag and then fight your way back, let them off the plane first. It’s your fault for being late in the first place.
13. Let people with connecting flights off first
Of all the rules, this is probably the most important one. On almost every flight, there is an announcement asking people to stay seated and let those with connecting flights off first. Judging by the number of people who stand up, you’d think everyone had a connection. I’ve almost missed flights because of this. This is one of the most selfish things you can do by standing up when you’re not late for a connecting flight and getting in the way of others that are. What if they are going home to see their kid or family after being on the road for 2 weeks? Is you getting off the plane 2 minutes early worth them missing their flight and their family? It’s not.
What are your favorite travel tips? Let me know in the comments below.