How many people usually spend their time in the check in line reminiscing about the latest airport nightmare? For anyone who has flown in the past 10 years, they have probably been subject to unsolicited chaos. I’m going to add some spice to my regular posts about where I have been and share some of my hard won advice, some of it may be common sense, hopefully some of it will make your life easier.
1) Treat all airport staff like gold-they have can break your experience. This may be the most important advice I can give. Not only do they determine whether you can get an upgrade, but if they like you, a flight attendant can share insider information like the best restaurants and shops for your destination. If you are stressed out because of a delay or cancellation, remember that you are likely one of many and treating people like crap will not win you any favors.
2) Drink the complimentary wine on your international flight. You already have to sit uncomfortably close to a stranger. Airplane seats don’t go back far enough to sleep (or even sit like a normal person). Soften the edges. The wine is your consolation prize. It may not be good quality but as said by someone in the show Weeds “If it’s free, It’s me”.
3) Bring earplugs. In fact, bring three pairs. Teething babies and belligerent adults both have a right to ride the airplane, but you are not required to suffer with them. The first pair of earplugs is for you. The second and third are for your neighbors on either side of you (everybody needs allies).
4) Negotiate. You got bumped from your flight in Amsterdam and they airline only wants to give you $500 for your inconvenience? Try and negotiate for some perks like an upgrade on your next flight out, extra meal vouchers, access to the nap room,or some extra miles on your account. Some of these things are more fluid than an airline would like you to think.
5) Your carry on is for the unexpected. Pack what you would need for 24 hours of delays. This includes medication (both daily meds and things like aspirin to help with small issues), chargers, converter, a change of clothes and toiletries. You will thank me when you are checking into a hotel room in Denver at 2am after 7 missed standby flights.
6) Think outside your final destination. Sometimes it is cheaper to fly from Europe to New York City and then buy a separate ticket home, rather than buying a complete ticket. This comes with risks of missed flights that are not reimbursable (buying insurance might fix that). When considering if time or money is more valuable to you, if money wins, getting stuck in New York isn’t that bad, you can always Couchsurf.
7) Keep your most prized possessions in your carry on. This applies most to international travel. Have you ever seen suitcases coming in from Ukraine completely wrapped in plastic film? That’s because some airport security might like the sweater or watch you have in your suitcase. You have some level or control over what is taken out of your carry on. The other option is to wrap your suitcase in a thick layer of plastic wrap.