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Seven tips for sane holiday air travel

December 12th, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life, Opinion

By Courtney Rhodes

The holiday season is in full swing and that means it is time to travel. This peak season is one of the many times of the year airports see a rise in people flying.

The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) estimates that an average of 2.5 million people fly every day during the week before and after major holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

Although the holiday season is welcomed by many as a chance to reconnect with family and friends, nobody want to spend days getting there by waiting in line, crammed into a tiny seat, or stuck at the airport with 2 million strangers. For families or individuals readying themselves for another holiday trip, the following tips should help make this travel season a little less stressful.

1. Take the First Flight: Take the first flight of the day to avoid delays. Airports are bound to get backed up as the day goes along. Weather delays, plane maintenance, or simple delays can cause a chain reaction for people departing on later flights. Leaving early in the morning not only increases the chances of getting to the airport before flights back up, but will also allow even more time to spend with the family.

2. Arrive Early: Arriving early provides more space for patience because stress levels rise when passengers are late for their flights. Arrive at the airport no later than 90 minutes before the scheduled departure. Airport security is especially stringent during the holiday season, which can cause the long lines and delays at security check points. Arriving at the airport early cuts back on stress and allows you to enjoy the flying experience—at least a little.

3. Check-In Online: Most major airlines like Delta, Southwest and American offer passengers the opportunity to check in online. Passengers can log onto the airline’s website with their confirmation number or e-ticket to check in, register and pay for checked luggage, and print boarding passes. Doing this ahead of time saves time and hassle.

4. Travel Light: Fees on checked baggage can get expensive, with some airlines charging $50 to $60 per bag. A quick fix to this problem would be to pack smart and light into a small carry-on bag. Pack clothing that can be easily washed or that can be mixed and matched into a variety of outfits. Carry on the main clothing bag to leave more room for presents in the checked luggage. Costs can also be cut at airports, by shipping presents instead of checking them in baggage. This also prevents presents from being damaged by airline employees unloading your luggage.

5. Don’t Bring the Whole House through Security: In order to help keep the security line moving, wear clothing that can be easily removed. Wear footwear that can be easily taken off for security checks and do not bring more than one jacket to wear on the plane. The less clothing you have to remove and the fewer items that need to be taken out of your carry-on, the better. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports that 90 percent of security delays are caused by people who try to bring as much of their luggage with them as they can.

6. Reclining Seats: Anyone who has flown knows how small airline seats are. That space gets a lot smaller when the person seating in front of you reclines into your lap. Flying is one of the most uncomfortable ways to travel, so please resist the urge to recline your seat. It is a matter of consideration to all passengers and helps not to violate others’ personal space. Passengers can recline their seats, but should resist the temptation to allow their seats to be reclined the entire way.

7. Personal Hygiene: Flying is unpleasant enough without sharing a row with someone who smells like moldy bread. Make sure to shower before flights and try not to drench clothing in too much cologne or perfume. Passengers hope to retain their sense of smell when they deplane.


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