by Anna Fletcher
Flying can be both exciting and a pain. Here are some tricks to make it the best it can be!
Take Only a Carry-On. The best way to avoid baggage fees, lost luggage, and having to go to baggage claim is to travel with only a carry-on. Sure, this will require you to do some strategic packing to get everything crammed in there, but it’s absolutely worth it. So use vaccuum-sealed bags, roll your clothes, stuff your socks in your shoes – do whatever you can to get down to one backpack or small suitcase.
Get the Most Leg Room. Give your travel-weary legs a break! Make coach as luxurious as it can get by booking the right airline and seats. The average seat width (called seat “pitch“) for a domestic flight is 31”. However, some airlines have larger seat pitches. Frontier Airlines has a 33″ seat pitch, US Airways has a 34″ seat pitch in their A330, Southwest Airlines has a 32-33″ seat pitch, and Jet Blue has 34″ seat pitches in the last 16 rows of their A320s, for example. Also, shoot for seats on the first row of coach or next to the emergency exits. These will allow you more room to stretch out and revel in the jealous gazes of cramped fellow passengers who didn’t think of it first.
Swap Your Kindle for a Made-Out-of-a-Tree Book. You won’t have to worry about battery power, and you’ll be able to read it throughout the entire flight (instead of having to shut it off for 30 minutes when taking off and landing).
Dress for the TSA. Many would agree that getting through airport security can be one of the most aggravating, drawn-out affairs. You have to take off your shoes, socks, and belt, put each thing you own in a separate bin, chug all of your water, and pray to God that you don’t have any bottles of hand sanitizer bigger than 3.4 oz. All while a long line of people wait behind you, willing you to go faster so they don’t miss their flight. It can get pretty hectic if you have a lot of clothes on or many things to carry. Avoid any kind of metal jewelry or watches, stick to the simplest clothes (e.g. a t-shirt, pants that don’t require a belt, and a non-zip jacket), and wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Limit yourself to one carry-on, and don’t bring a pillow. It’s too big for the tiny airplane seats, and you always end up just holding it in your lap.
Free WiFi! Most airports charge for using their WiFi and before you know it, you’ve shelled out a fortune watching cat videos on YouTube. So find a lounge in the airport – like a frequent flyer lounge – and hang out close enough to use their WiFi.
Bring Your Own Food. These days, airports are charging more and more for food that they sell in the terminal and on the airplane. And due to budget cuts, many airlines have stopped supplying free snacks and light lunches during domestic flights – instead, they are charging insane amounts for them. I mean, $4 for a Clif bar?? Gotta be kidding. Some airlines have even stopped giving you peanuts! So avoid the ridiculous overpricing of airport food by bringing your own. Pack some trailmix, beef jerky, and power bars to tide you over until you get to your destination. Don’t be forced to sell your house to pay for a pre-packaged sandwich at the airport. Chances are, it won’t even be a great sandwich.
Sleep Like a Baby During a Layover. The seats in airport terminals are about as comfortable as flat rocks, so bring a more comfortable option – your hammock! Find a little space near your gate to post up, and relax in airport bliss!
And Just for Fun – Some Airline Lingo. If you want to be “in” with the flight attendants, drop some of these phrases:
- Blue juice: The water in the lavatory toilet. “There’s no blue juice in the lav.”
- Crotch watch: The required check to make sure all passengers have their seat belts fastened. Also: “groin scan.”
- Crumb crunchers: Kids. “We’ve got a lot of crumb crunchers on this flight.”
- Deadheading: When an airline employee flies as a passenger for company business.
- Gate lice: The people who gather around the gate right before boarding so they can be first on the plane. “Oh, the gate lice are thick today.”
- George: Autopilot. “I’ll let George take over.”
- Landing lips: Female passengers put on their “landing lips” when they use their lipstick just before landing.
- Pax: Passengers.
- Spinners: Passengers who get on late and don’t have a seat assignment, so they spin around looking for a seat.
- Two-for-once special: The plane touches down on landing, bounces up, then touches down again.
- Working the village: Working in coach.