I've always loved flights. The excitement of packing up and going somewhere far away has never worn off completely. Both of my parents worked for Braniff Airways. One of my earliest true memories, not a memory recreated by photographs or home video, is passing out candy to passengers during a flight with one of my mom's co-workers. It only happened once, I think, but I remember feeling special. Oh, the little things! When I got older and started traveling solo, I felt like such a grown-up. I'm not going to lie. I still have that funny "I'm such a big girl now" feeling when I travel alone! Some things just never get old.
For whatever reason, that "big girl" feeling usually makes me the best airplane seat neighbor in the universe. I have entertained kids while (grand)parents catch a break, given a mom and her baby my aisle seat, and traded seats with taller people who clearly would not be comfortable in a middle seat. More than once. You'd think it was Christmastime with that kind of giving mood. The interesting part of the scenario is that I think doing things like that made the flight more enjoyable for me too.
These may not apply to everyone, but here are...
Five Ways I Make Air Travel More Enjoyable
- Plan to get to the airport early.
The standard recommendation is to check in at the airport 90 minutes before departure for domestic flights. I always plan to get to the airport at least 15 minutes earlier than that (30 minutes if I'm parking at the airport). Traveling is stressful enough. The last thing I need is to be late and running through the airport.
- Avoid checking a bag, if possible.
This makes a world of difference. Even when I've flown home for weddings, I have only taken a carry-on suitcase. Skipping baggage claim saves me time on both ends of the trip.
- Put your best foot forward.
It is amazing how much more likely people are to help you if you smile, make eye contact, and put your best foot forward. When I do this, the airline staff is always more willing to help me with questions about tickets, seat assignments, shuttles, and directions. That makes my life a lot easier.
- Say hello to your seat neighbors.
Similar to point #3, those people you have to sit next to for hours? Yeah. They'll like you a lot more if you greet them when you sit down. You don't have to be their new BFF. Just smile and say hi when you sit next to them.
- Bring something to keep you busy.
It makes the flight go by quickly. I can rarely sleep during flights, but it's boring as Hell to sit and stare at the back of the seat in front of you. I never assume I'll be able to sleep. I always bring a book to read. If I get to sleep, it's an added bonus.
What kind of traveler are you? Do you keep to yourself? Make new friends?
What do you do to make your travel experience easier?
* All photos taken on my trip to Philadelphia last week.