Tis the season for holiday travel, crowded airports, weather delays, understaffed airlines, first timers and stressed out flyers. The best advice is “be prepared” for it all. Think it through, fly smart! We’ve compiled a few helpful lists with tips to get you started. The rest is up to you. Again, the best advice is “know before you go” and “be prepared”.
Have we left anything out? How do you survive holiday travel? Add your tips below!
20 Tips from Air Travel Insiders
Before snuggling up with a plane blanket or tying a ribbon to your bag, read these tips.
Know the difference between “direct” and “nonstop” flights, and always opt for the latter.Unlike nonstops, direct flights can touch down at other airports on the way to their ultimate destinations, says Macon Dunnagan, a baggage handler with US Airways. And while stops are built in to the total travel time, the potential delays they can cause aren’t.
Make sure you buy your ticket under the exact name that appears on your ID. It might seem obvious to you that Betsy is a nickname for Elizabeth, but it may not to a skycap, a desk agent, or a security officer―any of whom could ask you to show ID with that name before boarding, says Delta Air Lines public-relations rep Katie Connell.
Select your seats ASAP. “If you have a disability and need a premium seat in the bulkhead, tell the agent when you make your reservation rather than at the airport,” says David Martin, a Delta passenger-service specialist who creates the airline’s policies for customers with disabilities. Other passengers might be able to nab those seats 24 hours before the flight, when they’re made available to everyone through the airline’s website.
Get to your gateway city as early as you can. “Since delays stack up as the day progresses, it’s smart to book the first flight you can into a hub [if you have a connecting flight],” says Dunnagan…. (click for more)
How to Stay Healthy on Your Flight
1. Before you fly go for a walk if possible to get some fresh air and sunshine (weather permitting). Do try and get a good night’s sleep before travel.
2. Stay calm and relaxed. Get to the airport in good time and try to remain calm during the check-in and security procedures. Try to breathe deeply and relax both before boarding and once on board the aircraft. Put a drop of lavender oil on your temples and wrists to help with relaxation.1. Before you fly go for a walk if possible to get some fresh air and sunshine (weather permitting). Do try and get a good night’s sleep before travel.
3. Keep hydrated as the air inside a plane cabin is very dry with humidity levels under 20%. Drink water regularly during the flight. Avoid any alcohol, carbonated drinks (sodas) and coffee – these will only dehydrate you and also create an acidic environment in your body which will make you more prone to viruses. These days, unfortunately, there are severe restrictions on bringing your own water through airport security. However you should be able to purchase natural mineral spring water on the departures side, albeit at a premium price…. (click for more)
Make Your Trip Better Using 3-1-1
TSA and our security partners conducted extensive explosives testing since August 10, 2006 and determined that liquids, aerosols and gels, in limited quantities, are safe to bring aboard an aircraft. The one bag limit per traveler limits the total amount each traveler can bring. Consolidating the bottles into one bag and X-raying them separately from the carry-on bag enables security officers to quickly clear the items.
3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure.
Be prepared. Each time TSA searches a carry-on it slows down the line. Practicing 3-1-1 will ensure a faster and easier checkpoint experience.
3-1-1 is for short trips. If in doubt, put your liquids in checked luggage.
Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint. Officers may need to open these items to conduct additional screening.
Surviving Air Travel with Children
At the airport
1. Get to the airport early.
2. Check as many pieces of luggage as possible to avoid overloading yourself.
3. Remember that your child will have to be taken out of the stroller when you go through security.
4. When you check in, tell the desk attendant you are traveling with a baby. Let her know if you have a stroller or carseat with you.
5. Change your baby’s diaper immediately before boarding the airplane.
6. Avoid breast- or bottle-feeding your baby just before boarding as he may fall asleep and wake up crying as you struggle to carry him and your belongings to the gate. Wait until you are seated and unloaded, then feed him and maybe he’ll take a nap. Saving food and drink for when you’re on the airplane is also a great way to keep older infants entertained.
7. Whenever possible, check your stroller at the gate just prior to boarding so you don’t have to carry your infant through the airport.
8. If traveling with two adults and multiple children, ask if one adult can do early-boarding to set up while the other adult gives your little ones a chance for some last-minute exercise before boarding.
Top 10 Safety Tips for Children Traveling Alone
Many airlines, including all of the major U.S. airlines, allow children as young as five to travel alone. In addition to the usual risks that come with flying, there are additional risks that are associated with children flying alone. Many of these risks can be overcome by using common sense and taking a few basic precautions. The following tips will help both children traveling solo and those responsible for the child to deal with many of the problems that may be encountered.
1. Consider the maturity of the child: While airlines allow children as young as five to travel unaccompanied, younger children may not be ready or willing to be in the presence of strangers for several hours, and may not be able to handle unusual situations that they may encounter. AirSafe.com makes the following recommendation: if your child is old enough to travel alone on public transportation, is able to spend time away from family in an organized setting like an overnight trip with a youth group, then that child is probably old enough to travel unaccompanied on a flight that includes a change of planes. Nonstop flights would be appropriate for children with less maturity…. (click for more)
Air Travel Tips for People with Disabilities
- Whenever possible, plan and book flights well in advance and inform travel agents and airline representatives of the following:
- Type of disability and equipment aids such as canes, crutches or wheelchairs (manual or power).
- Special dietary requirements or need for assistance at meals (airline personnel are not permitted to assist with eating, but should assist with opening packages and identifying food items on a meal tray).
- Whether another person will accompany the disabled traveler.
- Call the airline directly to ensure that all disability-related needs will be met. Ask for the name and position of each person you speak with and record this information.
- Make arrangements for travel to and from airports. Many U.S. companies like taxis and airport shuttles offer this service free of charge. Make these arrangements well in advance along with your flight arrangements to avoid frustration upon arrival and departure.
- European facilities have call buttons or telephones at designated points to enable you to communicate your arrival at the airport and ask for assistance both outside and inside the terminal building.
Traveling with Pets
Most people feel that it’s next to impossible to take their pet on a plane when, in reality, it’s largely a matter of being well informed. While we do not recommend you take your animal on a plane (except as carry-on baggage), we know that sometimes you may not have a choice. Unfortunately, if you own anything larger than a small dog, you cannot take it in the cabin. This means your pet has to travel as checked baggage or cargo. Not a great option. But, whatever the case, knowledge is power and so we’ve gathered as much information as possible from all the major airlines so that you will be familiar with their particular rules and policies.
But first, here are some general tips to bear in mind:
- Never sedate your pet on a flight. High altitudes and sedatives are a dangerous combination and should never be mixed.
- Always have your pet’s leash and collar easily accessible for walking prior to departure, but do not take the pet out of the kennel inside the airport.
- Identification tags for your pet and travel kennel, including pet’s name, home address and phone number, are essential.
- Never use a muzzle on your pet during travel, as this is dangerous to the pet.
- Familiarize your pet with the kennel prior to the trip so that it is comfortable to him/her at travel time.
- Always make advanced reservations or arrangements with the airline when you are making your own reservations. The airline always reserves the right to refuse travel if there are too many pets on board, so make sure you advise them early.