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 PJ's Airline Travel Tips

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pjschnyder
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PostSubject: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:38 am


This odd FAQ brought to you by PJ Schnyder who travels 80% of her time for the day job and flies at least twice a week. Check into @pjschnyder on Twitter for my tweets at the airport and the occassional PJ's Airport Hijinx contests for giveaways as I'm bored at the airport and entertaining myself.


Booking Your Flight:

Choose wisely between nonstop and flights with stops.
Flights with stops are cheaper, but take longer. It's a game of risk when you have to catch a connecting flight. You may think 30 min is plenty of time to get from one gate to another but many airports have multiple terminals and the run from one gate to another could be long. I personally look for about an hour to catch a connecting flight to make up for potential delays and distance from one gate to the next. It might not be necessary but I'd rather have it than miss my flight.

Schedule early flights if at all possible
Delays tend to accumulate throughout the day so if a few delays happen earlier in the day, your flight has a much higher chance of a much longer delay by the end. If you're going to book with a connecting flight, try to get in as early in the day as possible to avoid a delay.

Make sure you give the exact same information as on the ID you present at security.
No joke here, if your middle name is on your Driver's License, be sure it's on your plane ticket.

Select your seats ASAP
Don't wait to the last minute or when you arrive to figure out what seats you've got. Seat assignments are snapped up fast and if you need a little extra time to get in and out of your seat, you do NOT want to be stuck in a middle seat. Most airlines can allow you to pick seats online with your confirmation code. I think Southwest assigns seats when you arrive at the airport, so for that airline I'd suggest arriving early.

Exit Rows give more leg room but don't recline and usually can't lift the arm rest. Being toward the back of the plane when you have to make a connecting flight could be disastrous as it takes a long time to get off the plane...as much as 15 min or more while you wait for everyone in front of you to stand up, get their bags, straighten there stuff, and get off before you.

Know what terminal you're going to
Different airports have different terminals and different airlines going from each terminal. Most airports have maps online so you can look and see where you're going. Especially if you have a connecting flight, having a map of the airport to know where you're going saves lots of time. Also it will warn you if you have to catch a shuttle or tram to the other terminal for your flight. (Again, 30 min is tough for a connecting flight if you have to take one of these)

Packing:

Extra luggage
If you can, bring an extra bag or plan to have space because you will get a LOT of swag from AAD. Alternatively, plan to box up your stuff and mail it home ahead of you.

Weight limits and Checked Bag fees
Weigh your luggage before you head out and realize it might be heavier coming back. The fines for overweight luggage are insane at the airport and they may suggest you buy another bag and repack to save money. The problem there is many airlines charge you a fee per checked bag. It'd be good to know what your airline's policy is for checked bag fees and weight limits.

Security Lines
Always, security lines require you to take out any laptops and put them through the scanner in a separate bin.

Many require you to take off you shoes, bracelets, belts and empty your pockets. Just do it all before you get in line and keep it in you purse to put on after you go through. Saves a lot of fussing in line to get it all off.

They're really hard core about liquids and the 3.4 fl oz rule, so look up the TSA rules, put all your fluids in a ziploc bag and have it some place easy to pull out to drop in a bin. They WILL confiscate bottles of wine or whatnot even if it's a gift and sealed and can't go through checked luggage cause it would ruin the wine, etc. Seen the argument a hundred times. It just delays you getting to your flight on time, you still lose the wine and the people behind you get angsty.

Some airports have nightmare security lines that can take an hour or more to get through. And then others, depnding on the day and time, you might blow through in 10 minutes. Good luck! Razz

Check the Display Boards
As soon as you get past security, check the display boards for your flight. You want to know ASAP if there's a gate change or delay and they might not tell you when they give you your ticket. If you have a long wait, check every once in a while for changes.

Dress in layers
Planes go from being insanely stuffy and hot while they sit waiting for people to board to frigid cold while they're up in the air. Sometimes the pilot turns on the heater and it's summer in the plane for the whole flight. Dress in layers since the plane temperature could be anything and have nothing to do with the weather that day. Razz

Pack Snacks!
Many flights, even 5 hour long flights, do not serve food in flight anymore. The stuff they've got for sale is highway robbery and not filling at all. Pack your own favorite granola bars, protein bars, chips or whatever and have them with you. Especially if the plane gets delayed on the tarmac and you're stuck in that thing for longer the planned - sustenance keeps you happy.

Water Bottles
Can't pack water bottles in your carry-ons because they'll get confiscated at security. Buying bottled water gets expensive. And assuming you'll get water in flight could leave you insanely thirsty. I carry a small bottle with a built in filter (about a $16 investment but pays for itself in about a week). I go through security with it empty and then fill it at a water fountain. Plus, I have it at my hotel room and don't have to buy more bottled water during my stay. People can drink tap water, but my preference is to have the little bottle with the filter. I pretty much carry it everywhere - staying well hydrated means you feel much better and can have more fun.

Pack baby wipes
Even when they clean the plane they don't usually wipe down the tray tables. Sometimes they don't wipe down the seats and you find a present from the person who sat there before you. Just sayin'...

Watching out for other travelers:
When you're standing in the aisle on the plane, be aware of what the people are doing around you. I've seen people open overhead bins without warning and smack others in the head with them. I've also seen people drop carryons on other people's heads as they struggled to shove it in the over head bins. Others yank out their jackets and smack people in the head with them. Not saying it will happen all the time, but being aware of what the person is doing next to you could save you a bump to the head.

PJ's entertaining things to do when they tell you to turn off all electronic devices:

Listen to commentary as people try to get their bags in the over head bins. I tweet some of the best ones when I'm in flight. They can be hysterical.

Look outside the plane and watch the little guys do the flashlight dance. Some of them get funny about it.

Assess your fellow passengers and determine which of them would survive a zombie apocalypse and which should be tossed out to slow down the oncoming zombies.

Realize the guy a few aisles back or the lady sitting next to you will likely read over your shoulder. They're bored too. I write outrageous things and spice up all our days.

Watch the carryons for the little pooch travelling on your plane. Likely the pooch is bored and you're bored and if you like puntables, then you might make a new friend and play for a couple of minutes.

Watch for the Mile High Club. People get insanely funny when they're trying to rendezvous in the bathroom for a quick high altitude boink. They go to the wrong bathroom, or have funny expressions as they pretend to be normal getting up to go. All sorts of shenanigans. Plus the flight attendants know. They always know. and they're funny about it too. Razz

Listen for comments about the best hair day ever. Airplanes have very low humidity. This means hair behaves very nicely, thank you. And you can literally watch ladies step off the plane into the NOLA heat and high humidity and their hair goes *poof* or *sproing*. To prevent this in your hair, a touch of hair product goes a long way. I use pony tail holders.

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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:12 pm

Thanks for those tips PJ.
Lots to watch for on the planes.
Question: what type of water bottle has a filter? Brand name?
Thank you.
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pjschnyder
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:22 pm

I use Bobble, available on Amazon or in some stores. (I've seen them at Bed, Bath and Beyond). These come in multiple sizes and I have a big 34oz one for my hotel rooms and a lil 13 oz for airport fun.

Britta also has a brand, haven't tried them yet.

Some friends of mine use one by Camelbak called the Groove. It's got replaceable mouthpiece too if you don't want to occasionally wipe down your mouthpiece with an alcohol swab (lip gloss transfer, ya know).

They run around about $16 - $35 but heck, think about how many bottles of water you buy at places...
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:02 pm

thanks
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bluesun1218

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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:53 am

Thanks for all the info PJ! I will definitely print out maps. I never would have thought of that.
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:09 pm

I have printed out airport maps.
You get an idea of how big the airport is and what is nearby.
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:03 pm

Thank you for the tips! I travel quite frequently and fervently agree with your recommendations. This will be my first AAD and I am super excited. Not sure what to expect but am excited about going for the first time!
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Alisha MNtR

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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:54 am

Insdespensible information....thank you for sharing!


p.s. - Yep, Bobble water bottles are the truth! ^__^
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:28 pm

Awesome PJ... thank you for the insight and entertainment. I will likely spend most of my flight clutching the arm rest and praying Smile
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bluesun1218

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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:01 pm

lol me too Intensewhisper. It will be my first time flying pale
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:18 pm

Oh no, blueson! You will be just fine. A tip... do not look out the window once the airplane is moving. Ever. LOL

TIP:
Take an allergy type pill 45 minutes before flying to avoid ear pressure pain. I take motion sickness pill at this time as well.

I also tend to ask the person next to me a ton of questions... "Do you fly a lot?" "Do you think we will make it?" "Do you mind if we cuddle?" Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:33 pm

[quote="intensewhisper"]Oh no, blueson! You will be just fine. A tip... do not look out the window once the airplane is moving. Ever. LOL

LOL! I think my seat IS by the window.... silent I don't know if I should have a few drink before hand or not. I'm not usually a queasy person, just nervous! Never would of thought about the allergy pills, thanks for the tip!
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pjschnyder
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:17 pm

Anyone ever see the scene from Bridesmaids?

Allergy pill is a good tip, but be careful of combining alcohol with any sort of allergy medication.
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Drea

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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:07 pm

Thank You for the insight! I am a pretty punctual person, and like to be early for everything. This reduces stress, and allows for much more "people watching".
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:23 pm

[quote="pjschnyder"]Anyone ever see the scene from Bridesmaids?

It's been awhile since I've watch Bridesmaids but I do remember that part, so funny... I'm hoping I don't get that loopy! lol! I feel sorry for my cousin that's coming with me. It might be more than she bargained for Laughing
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RoxanneRhoads

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PostSubject: thank you   Thu Jul 12, 2012 2:29 pm

thank you for the airplane tips

this is my first con and my first trip on an airplane, so I am very nervous

your lighthearted and humorous approach just helped calm my nerves- alittle ;-)
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:46 pm

I'm sure you will do fine.
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:12 pm

Ok so ALL liquids like shampoo, body wash etc. has to be put in a bin at security, didn't know that. I'm guessing all travel size items are ok, right? Also was wondering, what about other electronics (besides laptop) like Kindle or Ipod's, do they get put into a bin too?
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:10 pm

I think it depends on the airport. When we left Minneapolis we removed all of our electronics including small ones as well as the bags with liquids. When we left Florida I was told I did not need to take out small electronics and totally forgot about the bagged liquids. They did not say a thing. Just ask when you are there or take it out in case. We always try and pack these items separate so we can get to them easily.

Liquids (including tooth paste) can not exceed 4 oz and must all be in a quart zip lock bag.
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:00 pm

You can check the TSA home page for more tips.
A quart zip lock bag can hold your carry on liquids.
Check your airports home page for more information.
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:22 pm

Question, I printed off my flight itinerary and seen where it says check in. Can someone tell me more about this, by doing a check in before I get to the airport does it speed things along? Thanks
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pjschnyder
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PostSubject: Re: PJ's Airline Travel Tips   Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:57 pm

It depends. If you do NOT have a bag to check, meaning you'll only be travelling with your carry on and personal item, then you can check in online and print out your boarding pass then proceed directly to the TSA security line. This saves you some time.

However, if you are planning to check luggage, you'll still need to report to the ticketing counter to check your luggage anyway and checking in advance with pre-printed boarding passes doesn't save you waiting in that line. You'd still be checking your bags...then proceeding to the TSA security line.
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