Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cleared for Departure

I’m getting back on the traveling theme tonight in the spirit of a business trip coming up next week. Flying, no matter for what occasion, always gives me anxiety. I’m not scared to fly, but the whole event of packing, going to the airport, checking in, going through security, and waiting for the inevitable delay always puts me on edge. I’ve got flying down to a science though. I know exactly where to go, and if I don’t I’m just looking for the next sign to point me in the right direction. I don’t dillydally; I try and get through it all as quickly as possible. My husband can attest to the fact that I just have no patience with the “novice/clueless travelers” who don’t know where they are going, aren’t organized, and most importantly get in my way.

I have to give airports credit – these days they do make it much smoother for us “expert travelers.” The first time I saw the new security-line system I was ecstatic. For those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to they have three lines now – one for families that are traveling (i.e. strollers), one for casual travelers and one for expert travelers. Why it took nearly 40 years for that to happen is beyond me, but I digress. In addition to the new lines you have the sky caps outside to check your luggage, avoiding all sorts of chaos inside, you don’t have to check a bag (heck it costs money to do so anyway), and you can already have your boarding pass with you before you even enter the airport – nirvana! This means the time actually spent in the airport can be minimal before arriving at your gate. I’ve made it through in 10 minutes at Midway in Chicago (I also know about the security check points “hidden” off to the side)!

Now, there is proper etiquette to follow when traveling. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone read this blog so they would make our traveling experiences more enjoyable? Here is the skinny from Peggy Post on airport etiquette and some general guidelines to follow.

  • First off, lower your expectations before even heading to the airport – expect the worst and maybe it won’t be so bad.
  • Be pleasant – the airport workers aren’t the ones delaying your flight or changing the weather.
  • Follow the rules – if you break any then you’re only going to hold yourself up and others.
  • Check with the airline’s web site on bag size and weight limits before you pack. Also, find out how many carry on items you can have. (I literally saw one woman emptying her suitcase in the middle of the American Airlines check in space with her clothes all over the floor because her bag was too heavy– did I mention there were about 800 people in line behind her!! AHHHH!!!)
  • Make a habit of writing out a checklist of everything you need to pack before you start: wardrobe, toiletries, personal or business documents, tickets, and your ID.
  • Be alert when going through the security line. Have your boarding pass and ID out and ready.
  • As soon as you can take off your shoes, jewelry, and other small items (also remember to wear an outfit on travel day that is easy to travel in – i.e. lose the belt if you can, wear slip on shoes, little or no jewelry etc.).
  • Take out your laptop from its case beforehand so you don’t have to fumble with it on the security line.
  • Retrieve you items from the security conveyor belt and get out of the way to reassemble everything – don’t’ be a bottleneck.
  • When you arrive at your gate find a seat and don’t put your bag in another empty seat – you could be taking up spots for other people.
  • Be polite when using your cell phone – keep conversations short if possible and walk away from the congested area – no one wants to hear your conversation.
  • When boarding stand clear of the gate – only walk up when it is your turn.
  • BE ORGANIZED - bottom line - be prepared, have everything with you, know where you're going, be alert and aware of your surroundings, and be respectful of those around you.

There is much more to talk about but I will wait for future posts to delve deeper into other aspects of flying the friendly skies. I'll even give advice on how to politely avoid the chatty seat mate.

What are your tips for happy and stress-free traveling? A drink at the bar beforehand? Headphones? Share your nightmare stories and tips!

Thanks for reading.

Click here for an article that talks about the dreaded security check point.


  1. Oh Leigh, I REALLY wish everyone would read this specific post! I agree that those "inexperienced" travelers can be quite bothersome and I can’t wait to read about how to avoid the chatty seat mate :)

  2. This is such a great post on traveling through airports. I'll have to check for the signs when I am traveling to Tanzania!