Five Tips for A Great Flight Experience
[En route to Costa Rica]
Travelling by airplane is something that I do often. I've also witnessed people doing some straight up baffling things in airports and on airplanes. You don't have to be one of them. Here are five easy tips to make your flight experience smooth from start to finish.
1. BE ON TIME
Get there on time. Seriously. This seems like such a no-brainer. Leave enough time for shitty traffic. Better still, use Google Maps to get the fastest route and an accurate time of how long it’ll take you to get to the airport from where you are. Being on time will also alleviate the stress of standing in the security line, biting your nails while wondering if you’re going to make your flight.
Find out which terminal (if applicable) you will be departing from and arriving to. I look at a map of the airport on the airport authority page prior to travel to get an idea of terminal and gate location. Keep in mind your gate information is subject to change - double check the reader boards once you're at the airport.
Tip: Get a Nexus/trusted traveler card (currently $50 CAD and good for five years) to use the priority line to get through security faster in Canada, clear US customs and immigration in a flash, a quicker return into Canada on your way home and feel like a boss while doing it.
There are check in cut off times for your flight. Find out what they are. For International and flights to the US (from Canada) it’s advisable to be at the airport 2-3 hours prior to your flight. If you’re travelling during a peak season, give yourself more time as there will be a lot more people checking in, going through security and clearing US Customs and Immigration if you’re headed Stateside.
If you don’t show up on time and get denied boarding, don’t get flip out at the check in agents. It's not their fault that you’re late and secondly, there are a lot of back end processes that have to be followed before a flight can take off such as final counts and loading bags. Accept it and ask what your options are.
[Below: En route to Kelowna, British Columbia]
2. PRE BOARDING
Have your boarding pass and identification ready to present to the gate agent. When you are fumbling for these items while you are standing in front of the gate agent, it slows down the flow and holds up everybody behind you.
If you travel with carry on items (a back pack and small rolly suitcase, for example), drop your backpack on your seat and put your small rolly suitcase in the overhead bin quickly so as not to hold up the people behind you who are also trying to do the same thing. This isn’t the time for conversations or deciding which bag should go up. Just get it done and then you can stow your backpack under the seat in front of you.
Now is also not the time to ask the flight crew for a glass of water as they are busy doing the first part of their job, which is to assist passengers with boarding. Be patient.
Now is also not the time to ask people to trade seats. Most airlines give you the option choose a seat in advance for a fee or you can usually get your seat for free when you check in. Realize that other people may have done this to get the seat that they’re in and may not want to switch. Again, be patient.
Don’t be stinky, loud, or ignorant: Too much of your perfume may be overwhelming to others within the confines of an airplane cabin. That goes the same for body odour, so maybe have a shower before travelling.
If your neighbour can hear the music coming from your earbuds, it’s too loud. For them and for you.
Verbal and non-verbal cues are real! Not everyone wants to talk or listen to your super loud conversation. If someone is engrossed in their book or otherwise engaged (or ignoring you,) leave them be.
[Right: Leaving Montego Bay, Jamaica]
If you need to get off of the plane quickly to catch a connecting flight – or race off of the plane to get to customs quickly, consider paying for a seat in the front of the cabin or take your chances with a free seat check in 24 hours before your flight. *Depending on the fare you book, you may not be able to pre select a seat.
If you've checked a bag, know that all the racing in the world won't get your bag to the carousel faster. I recommend travelling with carry-on bags.
[Left; Chasing the sunset]
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