Flying is statistically the safest form of travel, but 1 in 3 Americans still feel anxious or scared to fly. Don’t get me wrong, this is reasonable, given that passengers are willingly boarding a 50 ton hunk of metal to shoot through the sky at upwards of 500 miles per hour. Aviation Accidents and Incidents are rare, but there are preemptive actions you can take to make flying a breeze and to be prepared for a worst-case scenario. Here are our tips for flying this holiday season.
Of course, you should get to the airport with plenty of time to check-in, wait in TSA lines, and grab a pretzel while you wait for your flight. Most people handle this pretty well. The more common mistake, however, is made when planning your connecting flights. It would be ideal to step off one plane and right onto another, but not giving yourself enough time between connecting flights is the easiest way to end up stuck in an airport you don’t want to be in. Fifteen minutes may sound like an ideal layover, but a minor delay or a departure gate on the other side of the airport could very easily leave you out of breath and out of luck.
Morning flights are less likely to have delays, so if you can get to your alarm without snoozing, try to book an early flight. Just like any other business, airports are less congested when a normal person would be at home sleeping. There is a caveat, however, that being that there may be less staff on duty throughout the travel process. For this reason, you may spend more time waiting for a shuttle or checking in.
Know the Rules
Research ahead of time what you can and cannot bring on the airplane, how heavy your checked bag can be, and what identification you’ll need at each stage of the travel process. Check out the TSA travel checklist for a refresher. Fumbling around for your passport, driver’s license, or boarding pass is not only embarrassing, but can waste precious time, especially during busy travel times. Check ahead to see how heavy your checked bag can be. This varies between airlines, and no one wants to spend time stuffing items in their carry-on to make their luggage lighter.
Carry-on for Comfort
Your carry-on should be a miniature version of your life in a purse, backpack, satchel, or bag. Unfortunately, airlines can lose or misplace your luggage (sometimes by thousands of miles), so you need to make sure you are comfortably prepared for anything. Headphones, reading materials, a travel pillow, and a blanket are essential as airplanes and airports can be cold and boring. In case of an emergency or a long delay, a change of clothes and some snacks can be the difference between being severely uncomfortable and making the most of the unexpected.
Flying is only as stressful as you make it. If you prepare for the worst and expect the best, flying can be a fun experience. When else are you going to be able to catch up on sleep or finish that book you haven’t had time to read? Relax. Take a deep breath. Enjoy your time off the grid.