Seven Tips for Easier Airline Travel

By The Editors of
Busy Airport
Busy Airport  (Hemera)

We here at love to travel—and we’re also aware of all the pains implicit in the travel experience. From packing and getting to the airport to getting through the airport and onto the plane, it’s enough to put us off the whole experience and opt for a road trip.

Thankfully, over the years we’ve come up with a few simple, sure-fire tricks to make the hassles of the airport and the 1,001 airline regulations a bit more tolerable. To help you pursue your own wanderlust, we’re happy to share them with you.

1. Pack a Small Bag Inside Your Larger Carry-On Bags
You’re typically limited to one carry-on and one personal item—though most “personal items” are typically as big as that single carry-on. So, rather than wrestling with a big bag at your feet, we like to pack a smaller bag like those made by Innate, which we pack with all our in-flight essentials. Then we put that bag inside our carry-on. When we get to the seat, we slip the smaller bag out, and then stash the big one in the overhead bin. Instant leg room, and everything you need on hand.

2. Volunteer to Gate-Check
With the increase in checked-bag fees, more and more people carry their luggage, which naturally results in delays as people board and struggle to find space for their bags. If your flight looks crowded and you don’t have anything fragile in your carry-ons, volunteer to gate-check your bigger bag. They’ll typically do this for free, and you’ll either be able to get the bag back at the gate (avoiding the luggage claim), or they’ll check your bag through to your final destination (avoiding the fee).

3. Carry an Empty Water Bottle
You can’t bring large amounts of liquids through security—but you can bring empty water bottles. After you clear security, simply fill them up at a water fountain. This will save you from buying water, or waiting for the long slog of the beverage cart after take-off.

4. Get a Free Seat for Your Infant
If you’re flying with your infant as a free “lap baby” (up to age two), ask about seat availability when you check in at the airport. If there are empty seats on the flight, some airlines (like Southwest) will give you a ticket in your infant’s name for a seat, so you can rest your baby there in an FAA-approved car seat or harness.

5. An Inflatable Ball Is Your Friend
If you’re traveling with restless kids, pack an inflatable ball with your carry-on luggage. Should the fight get delayed, you can inflate the ball and offer the kids something to do other than roam the airline halls. When the plane finally arrives, deflate the ball and slip it back into your bag.

6. There Is a Good Reason to Bring Your Pillow
If you like to use a pillow on long-haul flights, you’ve also got a back-up secret storage option. Say you end up exceeding the max weight of your checked luggage. Remove the offending ounces by taking out some clothes and stashing ‘em in your pillow to avoid the excess weight fees. Most airlines don’t count a pillow as a carry-on, so you don’t have to re-pack your carry-ons. And since you’re dealing with clothes, your pillow stays soft.

7. A Few Extras Can Go a Long Way
We almost always pack an extra pair of clothes into our carry-on (when we check luggage), just in case our luggage gets lost. Changing into something fresh can go a long way in making you comfortable after a day of travel, even when the rest of your clothes are… somewhere else. And most hotels also have free travel toiletries for guests, so we typically go with just an extra T-shirt or dress, as well as socks and underwear.

Published: 4 Sep 2012 | Last Updated: 20 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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