It’s that time again and many of us are gearing up for our much anticipated (and well-deserved) summer vacation. For some, that means packing up the kids, the luggage, the dog and heading to the beach.
For others, it means a domestic or international flight to board a cruise ship or checking into an island resort or attending a cross-country family reunion.
Whatever your travel plans, if it involves flying anywhere – my advice is to be prepared, organized and patient.
Living in Central Pa, we are so spoiled with our oh-so-convenient and easy-to-manage Harrisburg International Airport.
Unfortunately, all airport experiences are not the same.
Major airports around the world have never been busier and every flight I’m on is completely sold out. Security lines are long, planes are jam-packed and it seems as though passengers (and some flight attendants) appear to be more agitated than I recall from my many years of flying.
We are paying more, and getting less. Certainly less legroom and onboard amenities, unless you are one of lucky ones that can afford to fly business or first class – or even premium plus.
So is flying fun and enjoyable? Maybe not so much. Is it worth it? Absolutely!
Nowadays I suggest you look at flying as transportation only : a means to get you, in a safe and timely manner, to your vacation destination. There is so much to see and experience in this world, just be sure to prepare yourself and your family beforehand. You’ll be glad you did, I promise.
Here are a few flying and security tips that I recommend, especially for infrequent flyers. More are available at individual airline websites and at www.tsa.gov.
*Know what and how to pack. When in doubt, leave it out. Pack light. (For a guideline go to www.tsa.gov.)
*Check flight status and check in online the night before your flight if possible.
*Pack an organized carry-on bag. Bring all prescription and over-the-counter medication plus an extra pair of eye-glasses, hand sanitizer/ wet wipes, chewing gum (good for sore ears during take off & landing ), pen & paper and compression socks (for long flights).
*Wear slip-on shoes (easy on and off for screening) and take your belt and jackets off.
*Have your documents (boarding pass, passport, photo ID) easily and readily available.
*Arrive on time. Better yet, arrive early. (Two hours domestic, three hours international.)
*Bring something to entertain yourself (and your kids), such as books or magazines and favorite fully-charged devices. (Quiet entertainment.)
*If flying with kids, take advantage of early boarding. Pack plenty of wet wipes and never use the seat tray to change diapers. Bring chewing gum – or yawn – for uncomfortable ears upon take off and landing and please, no kicking the seat in front of you.
*Bring healthy and convenient snacks that will not offend other passengers sense of smell. (No garlicky hot subs…please.) If you have to eat what the airline offers, bring a credit card as cash is no longer accepted.
*Respect other people’s space and be considerate – we’re all in this together.
*Wear shoes or throw away slippers in the plane bathroom – never go barefoot. Trust me.
*Plane cabins are usually cold and onboard blankets are hard to find. Bring a sweater or wrap yourself in your own comfy, lightweight blanket or shawl/large scarf.
*If your plane is delayed due to bad weather or mechanical problems, contact your airline immediately either in person at the airport/gate or by phone or both. Be polite.
*Checked bags will cost you, unless you are flying Southwest or business/first class. Have your name and contact number on the inside and outside of all bags in case the bag is lost by the airline.
*Do not leave your baggage unattended at the curb or in the terminal and don’t bring wrapped gifts through security.
*Before buying last minute non-U.S. airport souvenirs ask a representative at the gate if you can get through screening.
*Think before you speak and no jokes about explosives or terrorism. Rude and belligerent behavior will not be tolerated and will result in delays – or worse.
*Several countries require that your passport be valid for six-months following your return date. Double-check with your travel agent.
*Once you are through security, buy a bottle of water and drink lots of water onboard – it’s important to stay hydrated, especially during long haul flights. Plus – getting up to use the restroom will keep you moving and stretch your legs.
*If you have a fear of flying and feel anxious upon boarding, say something to a flight attendant. They are there to make your flight experience a positive one and many times will arrange for you to speak directly to a pilot – before the cabin door is closed.
*Watch your alcohol intake. There is zero tolerance for onboard drunken behavior.
*Get Global Entry or TSA pre-check – especially if you travel internationally.
And most importantly…
*Have a good attitude, be patient and calm. You’ll be enjoying your summer vacation in no time!