Last month I traveled roundtrip from Los Angeles to Asheville, North Carolina. I researched and planned everything in advance. I travel by air a lot since NY works for a major airline. But since this trip brought about some unexpected experiences I thought I’d share some of my best air travel tips.
Before heading to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) I checked into my flight online at home. A kink in my plans was not being able to print out my boarding pass. Evidently there was a glitch on the part of the airline. I like having the actual boarding pass in hand but thought I’d be able to obtain one at the airport. We’ve made it a habit to arrive at the airport early. This allows for any last minute things like obtaining boarding passes, avoiding being rushed, etc.
It’s a good thing too, because I certainly didn’t expect the above crowd at LAX … at 4:00am! When I walked into the terminal I was glad I was prepared with all my travel information in hand, with the exception of said boarding pass. When I asked an airline employee where the self-serve kiosk was, she directed me to the line of 100 or so people. I was stunned! But I had two hours to spare before my flight, so stand in line I did. While waiting in the line I chatted with David (aka NY), who was driving back home. When an agent pulled me from the line as my flight time grew closer, I literally jumped for joy. I was given a boarding pass within a minute or two and headed to security.
I consider myself to be airport security savvy. I grabbed two bins, one for my MacBook, and one for my shoes, cellphone, liquids (easy to grab in their clear plastic bag), camera & whatnot. I hoisted my 40+ pound carry on bag and 20+ pound backpack onto the conveyor belt. (I didn’t want to check any bags so chose to carry them on board) I don’t have an issue with the controversial security scanners. I also have never had a problem with TSA. I simply obey the rules and smoothly get through security. Since NY makes 4 to 5 international flights every month I welcome any means that will keep him safe in the sky. Just saying.
I prefer window seats. Always have. Out of my small port hole in the sky I like to watch the planet pass below. That’s why I checked with Seat Guru when choosing my seat. When I have a flight with a layover I always plan for at least an hour and a half. My layover in Houston was almost three hours. That’s longer than I like, but my only alternative connection time was less than an hour. On this particular trip I didn’t experience any delays, but there were long delays in other parts the country due to summer thunderstorms. I found a comfortable seat at the terminal food court while I caught up on email and enjoyed people watching. An hour before my flight time I made my way to the gate and found a good seat where I could see the ticket agents and hear all the necessary announcements.
The second leg of my trip (Houston to Asheville) was a first for me. It was a small 40 passenger plane. I loved the small plane. We lifted up off the ground sooner, gained altitude faster and flew lower.
Green and lush! There truly are no other words for North Carolina and the surrounding states. NY and I had previously visited the Biltmore Estate so I was over the moon when I recognized it from the air. It was the huge rectangular green lawn that gave it away!
How absolutely delightful these rocking chairs are in the Asheville airport! And you know what? They are “take all your worries away” comfortable. I know because I sat in one while waiting for my departure flight after spending 4 spectacular days at the Type-A Parent Conference in Asheville.
On the way back to Los Angeles I had a connection at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. I once again had a window seat and looking out the window I realized exactly why the Blue Ridge Mountains are called just that. Aren’t they gorgeous?
What differed from my previous times at O’Hare were unexpected long flights of stairs. Because my flight out of Asheville was on a small plane we didn’t park at a regular gate. We parked on the tarmac and then walked into the lower level of the terminal where we had to climb a flight of stairs. Ordinarily it would not have been a big deal. But this trip I was wearing my 20+ pound backpack and dragging my 40+ pound suitcase. Going up the stairs just about did me in. I was exhausted! The first thing I did was find a bathroom, since I rarely use an airplane lavatory. Afterwards, I gathered my wits, checked the airport map, and headed to the gate where I was to catch a shuttle to my next terminal. Guess what? I had to drag everything back down a flight of stairs and then up the stairs on the shuttle bus. I couldn’t believe it! I was pooped! And you guessed it … when we arrived at the next terminal I got to do it all over again … drag everything up the stairs. I bought a bottle of cold water, found my gate and waited, exhausted for my flight.
Once again, seated by a window, I watched as lakes, mountains, towns, cities, rivers and farmland went by below. It’s what I like to do while traveling by air. That and this trip, nap a bit.
I enjoy travel. Even with my Chicago staircase experiences. And I like traveling by air. Here are a few of my tips for air travel.
- Purchase tickets well in advance. Choose your seat. I like Seat Guru, Seat Expert or Seat Maestro.
- Check-in online to your flight early. Usually available 24 hours prior to flight.
- Print out your boarding pass before leaving for the airport. Most hotels have a business center where you can do this.
- Charge your cell phone and bring a charger. I also carry a portable charger and pack an extension cord.
- Pack any snacks you want to take with you. You can’t take water or bottled drinks through security.
- Pack antibacterial wipes.
- Arrive to the airport at least 2 hours early. Plan for traffic getting there and delays at the airport. It’s so much better to relax and wait at the gate than to rush and quite possibly miss your flight. Airlines DO overbook flights so basically it’s first come, first serve in the end.
- In a 1 qt (or smaller) Ziploc bag have all carry on liquids in 3 oz (or smaller) containers. Have them handy to show at security checkpoints.
- Buy snacks, water or any other drinks you’d like to take on board the plane with you after you’ve cleared security.
- Sit comfortably at your departure gate where you can hear any announcements. You never know when a flight will be delayed or cancelled. This is an announcement you don’t want to miss. Especially if you’re being sent to a different gate.
- Use the bathroom one last time before boarding.
- While on the plane listen to the emergency procedures and familiarize yourself with your surroundings. I’ve seriously flown hundreds of times and still I often feel as if I am the only person listening and following along.
- Check the airline magazine (American Airlines – The American Way, United Airlines – Hemisphere….) in the seat pocket for gate locations at your arrival airport. The magazines have maps and shuttle info from one terminal to the next.
- Don’t blame the flight crew for delays or gate changes. They dislike delays as much as you, if not more.
- I personally choose not use use the airplane lavatories unless absolutely necessary. (This is when I’m traveling alone and not with my grandchildren.)
Do you like to travel by air? What would you add to the list?