During the past few weeks I’ve been traveling for both business and pleasure. While I was flying home yesterday I realized not everyone flies often, some people haven’t flown in years, and after shooting Sprite through my nose while reading Johanna Stein’s* book How Not to Calm a Child on a Plane, I should probably sit in a row by myself.
The infrequent flyers are easy to spot. They’re the ones who argue with the TSA agent about what they can bring on board. One high-heeled woman in a low-cut top flirted with one of the agents hoping he would let her bring her bottle of water through security. Along with her dignity, she left the bottle at the checkpoint.
Another guy tried to explain that he couldn’t take his cowboy boots off easily so he should be able to go through the scanner with his boots on. He didn’t understand that although he was flying to Texas, the rule about removing shoes (including boots) applies in all states.
As I am often helpful when I travel, and by helpful I mean as impatient as a toddler, I offer these five tips for making traveling easier.
1. Bring a current ID.
While a TSA agent was checking my ID, the guy at the next stand must have forgotten he was inside the airport, considering he was yelling louder than the planes taking off outside. He didn’t understand why they wouldn’t accept his Visa card in place of his driver’s license. Unlike the yeller, my friend remembered to bring her passport for her family’s flight to the Bahamas, but hadn’t checked the expiration date. She and her family, along with her expired passport, spent a week in Puerto Rico instead.
2. Make sure the name on your ticket matches the name on your ID.
A few years ago I didn’t realize until I was already at the airport that the name on my ticket didn’t match my driver’s license. My client had booked the flight for me and confirmed the itinerary with me, but I forgot to mention that Lisa is my nickname, not my legal name. After providing everything but a blood sample, the agent let me board the plane.
3. Store your liquids in a clear bag and keep the bag within reach.
As I was pulling my laptop and toiletries out of my bag, I looked over and saw a woman digging through the clothes in her suitcase like a bargain hunter on Black Friday. I couldn’t believe how casual she was about what was spilling out of her bag while she was searching for her shampoo and perfume bottles. When you see a stranger’s undies, I think they should be obligated to buy you dinner or at least a drink!
4. Limit your carry-on bags to two.
Flight attendants guard their bin space like a stock boy at Costco. If you have more than two bags, they’ll make you check one of them. A couple waiting to board the plane heard the carry-on announcement and started consolidating their five bags into four. By the time the woman had stuffed souvenirs and socks in her shirt and sweatpants, she looked like the Michelin man. But they boarded the plane with two bags each. Mission accomplished.
5. Remember where you park your car.
Normally I leave my car at Ridiculously Priced Parking so I can avoid paying more than $20 a day to park at the airport. After one of my trips, I found two tickets that listed my parking space. I didn’t know which ticket was from a prior trip and which was from the current trip. After walking through half of the parking lot looking for my car, I’ve never made that mistake again.
The next time you fly, feel free to share these tips with your fellow passengers. Keep in mind these tips will not only make flying easier for infrequent flyers, but will make traveling with them more tolerable for the rest of us.
*If you haven’t seen Johanna Stein’s hilarious “Mom Head” video, watch it here.