Tips for a near stress free flight
With all the advancement in airport and airline security, I feel like many people have been almost lulled into a false sense of safety in airports and on planes. It’s almost as if, once we walk through the TSA screening, all is well and we let down our guard. Unfortunately, that little paranoia button of mine never shuts off. So, here’s a few air travel safety tips I put together to help keep you on your toes.
Use TSA locks on all bags.
Long gone are the days of simply zipping up your bags and heading to the airport. Sure, many people still do, however with all the stories of belongings getting lost or bags thrown around, I find it more a peace of mind to always use these TSA approved locks on all my bags. That includes the bag I bring on board. This way, no one can just open your bags while they’re out of your sight but they also still allow TSA to inspect if necessary.
Write your name and phone number INSIDE your checked bag.
Personally, if at all possible, I like to try not to check any baggage. However, in the instances that I must, I always write my name and phone number and place it inside my luggage. The reason is mostly because I don’t trust those flimsy name tags they give you at the check in counter. This way, if the bag is ‘lost’ and that tag comes off, the airline crew can open the bag and find out who the bag belongs to and how to get ahold of me. You’d be amazed at how many bags get lost with no identifying information attached.
Protect your personal information.
When approaching the TSA checkpoint, in order to get people through quickly, they ask that you have your boarding pass and ID at the ready. Have you ever looked at the people around you in line? Their personal ID information is readily available for anyone that wants to read it or, worse, take a picture of it. Therefore, instead of using paper boarding passes, I use the airline app so all I have to do is bring it up on my phone. For my ID, I place it face down on top of my phone. That way it’s out and handy but all my personal information is covered.
Getting through screening.
When you place your belongings on the conveyor belt for TSA screening, always place any electronics or your purse through last. And, don’t go through the metal detector until your belongings have entered the conveyor tunnel. I’ve seen too many people take their laptops or phones out of their bags and leave them open to the world in a tub on the counter. Yes, 99% of the time the people behind you will just push your bin forward. But there could be that one that just moves your device into their bin.
If possible, while waiting in line strike up a conversation with the person in front of you. That way they’ll be more apt to keep an eye out if your belongings come through before you do.
Don’t get rushed.
When you’re in line to get a bite to eat or grab something from the newsstand shop inside the airport, do you feel rushed by pretty much everyone around you? Me too. However, when we’re rushed, we tend to forget little things. Things like grabbing our charge card back from the cahier. Or if we pick things up too quickly, we drop them and don’t even notice as we’re running out to our gate.
Instead, I always try to make sure I have plenty of time before my flight boards to take my time. When I make a purchase, I move my things over to the side of the counter and carefully put everything inside my bag before I leave the store/restaurant. This way there’s less stress and less chance I’ll forget something.
Don’t leave your bags.
Ok, I know this one is harped onto us over and over from the airport personnel to the overhead megaphone. However, we hear it so much that we tend to tune it out. Don’t leave your bags.
I was in Dallas I believe when a girl, obviously traveling alone, set down her ear buds and her phone on top of her bag and got up to go throw away her garbage as they were beginning to call boarding. When she returned to things, her phone was gone. Now, in this case, someone sitting nearby saw and said something and the phone was returned. However, she got lucky. There have been too many times when people weren’t so lucky.
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As you board your flight.
Remember that ‘rushed’ feeling? Yeah, never more so than when you’re boarding. I’m not sure if it’s more us putting pressure on ourselves or all the looks of the people around us to ‘just sit down so we can go!’ It’s even worse when it’s time to get OFF the plane. However, again, when we’re rushed, we tend to forget things. Many, many things.
My sister works for an airline in Seattle and we got to talking one day about all the things people have left behind on planes. Everything from papers to phones to actual laptops. Yes, laptops. Honestly, who leaves a laptop on board a plane?? That wasn’t even the worst. Once a woman left her wedding ring on board. I’m not kidding. My sister and the pilot spent entirely too long on hands and knees searching for this poor woman’s ring. Luckily, they found it. But just imagine all the items that never get found. You think losing your luggage is bad. Imagine losing your phone.
Another tip I’d like to offer is about your overhead baggage. When possible, I try to not have any checked bags. Therefore, I pay a little extra for early boarding so I am guaranteed to have a good spot for my overhead bag. I like to keep it in the bin across from my seat so that I can keep an eye on it if someone opens the bin during flight. That may be a bit of overkill, but again, I tend to err on the paranoia side.
Tip your flight crew!
This one I learned from my sister and her air crew pals. How often do you tip your drivers? How about your wait staff at restaurants? Well, if you think about it, flight crews perform very similar tasks for you but we don’t think to tip them. Now, I’m not talking about handing them a 10 spot as you leave. However, a great idea is to hand them $5 Starbucks cards as you board. Try to stay away from any food type items as you never know if they have allergies.
Pay attention to the safety plan.
Ok, I’ll be honest, I’ve traveled so much in my life that I’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands, of those pre-flight safety plans the flight crew go through before each flight. I’ve seen them so much that I found myself ignoring them altogether because let’s face it, you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, right? Wrong. Sitting here right now I can probably only recite a couple of the items they go through from memory. For some reason the whole ‘put the mask on yourself before your child’ one has always stuck with me.
If I can’t recite them all to you right now, I surely won’t be able to remember them during an emergency. So, no matter if you fly once a year or once a week, be sure to pay attention to the safety plan. It’s better to be over prepared than the reverse.
Make sure someone has all your flight information.
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, making sure someone knows your route is my #1 tip that I tell everyone. Mostly because you just never know what can happen. Therefore, I like to make sure my husband or another family member or close friend has a copy of my entire itinerary including all flight information before leaving for my first flight. Also, I always message the person I’m leaving and the person I’m going to see before each flight and as soon as we land. Just for the peace of mind of everyone involved.
Above all, traveling on an airplane can be a low stress experience when you take a few precautions to help ease your mind.
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