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! 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. 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.
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.