As my Sunday evening is drawing to a close, I am packing my bags for a 3-day whirlwind trip which will take me to 3 different time zones. I travel quite a bit with my job, averaging about 40 flights per year, so I guess that some could say that I am a "seasoned" traveller.
So I began thinking, as the holidays approach, many rookies will hit the air, so what wisdom can I share with my fellow travellers?? Here is a sampling of what have I learned over the last 5 years as a Road Warrior--
1) When going through security, try to get in a line behind the people in suits with laptop bags--follow the Road Warriors---they know the ropes and don't dawdle. Stay away from the lines with the Grandmas, children, and the college chics with so many piercings that you know the TSA is going to have to wand them. Also stay away from the middle-aged women with pageant queen hair, coral nail polish, and Vera Bradley purses--they are ALWAYS the ones that that pitch a fit when they have to take off their shoes.
2) A note about carryons--keep it light. You are going to have to lift this bag over your head. It is not a good idea to attempt to transport a case of Ale-8's in glass bottles in your carryon bag--especially on the puddle jumper from Lexington to Minneapolis. Trust me....been there.
3) NEVER put any part of your body in someone else's seat space. Like the long-legged man who thought that he could stretch one of his Green Giant legs out under my seat--hello!! I am already licking the window over here.....not my fault that you are unnaturally tall and too cheap to book in First Class. ( Note: this rule does not include the inevitable Armrest War)
4) Always be SUPER NICE to the people checking you in---this person has the power to bump you up to First Class. (I have also learned--never ask to be bumped up. The only times that I have gotten an upgrade is when I was nice and did not request one)
5) You know those offers for a free ticket if you take a later flight???? Don't do it unless you are really NOT in a hurry to get home. I got stuck over-night in the twin cities once--didn't get to my hotel until midnight, b/c the later flight turned into the next morning at 6am. Oh, and you don't get to take your luggage either--it travels on to your destination and the airline gives you a tee-shirt, razor, comb, and a disposable toothbrush with toothpaste built into the bristles.
6) Don't argue with the TSA.....you have no power in the security line.....these people sometimes tend to be like the Mall Security Guard when you were in High School--don't be "that guy", don't give them their power trip. (Note: worst places for TSA Ego-Mania I have found are Wichita Airport and sometimes Atlanta.
7) The best airports to have a long lay-over or to get stuck in for an extended period of time:
Charlotte--love the rocking chairs
Minneapolis--lots of shops
Cincinnati--love the layout
Chicago Midway--love the food
8) Worst airports in which to get stuck:
Atlanta--once you get delayed...it could last forever
Chicago O'Hare--almost guaranteed delays
Detroit--bad record for lost luggage. In an 18 month period I connected in Detroit going to Lexington 5 times--on 4 of those flights my luggage didn't make my flight and was delayed as much as 2 days.
9) Speaking of Detroit, that reminds me--if they do lose your luggage--don't panic. Usually you get it back in less than 48 hours. I have never had a bag forever lost. However, one time it came back so badly beaten that a hole was worn in the front of the back and the side of my hairdryer was sanded down flat. I suspect that it had been drug across the tarmac of the Detroit airport while being transported to my flight.
10) A note about the motion-sickness bags, as soon as you get in your seat check to make sure that you have one. Also, it would not be a bag idea to always carry on your own seal-able plastic bag. Take it from me--when the urge strikes, the opening of the airline bag isn't really that big, and in a panic is easy to miss. And if it is a bumpy flight, you could need more than one.....
As a preventative--Drink plenty of water and keep away from the booze while flying--flying makes you dehydrated--which is enhanced by the liquor. Also note--getting tanked and then ending up stuck in turbulence in an enclosed space with no fresh air and only a paper bag to ease your woes---bad news. If you do get sick---NEVER throw up in the bathroom toilet. #1--Those airplane toilets never feel clean #2--they are small and there is too much potential for a "spray-back" #3--Don't put your face that close to any kind of public restroom.
This concludes my random airline learnings. Bon Voyage and happy travels to you all this week!