Posted by: Korry | November 22, 2011

Your Pilot’s Holiday Travel Tips (Part 2)

Yesterday in Part 1 I talked about travel tips I’ve picked up over the years including packing, checking in, and easing through airport security. Today, I’m going to take you the rest of the way through your trip.


Now that you’re through security, you may think you’re home free. Just be sure not to make one of these rookie mistakes.

  • Recheck your flight’s gate assignment on the departure display boards. Gates often change, and if that happens after you printed your boarding pass the night before, you may end up missing your flight.  
  • DO NOT BE LATE! Gate agents will close the door 10-15 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Even if the plane is still sitting there you may NOT be permitted on.
  • If your flight is delayed, stick close to your gate and never assume that the revised departure time is hard and true. Delays, especially those for maintenance or ATC, may not last as long as originally published.  
  • Go to the bathroom before boarding, especially if you’re sitting in a window seat.

When it comes to stowing your carry on luggage:

  • Be a nice traveler. Follow the limits and don’t hog the overhead space.
  • Place jackets over luggage, not next to them.
  • Try to fit your bag lengthwise even if that means you have to put it upside down with the wheels up to fit in the bin.
  • Valuable items such as purses or computers should go under the seat in front of you where you can keep an eye on it.

Want to see the flight deck?

  • Ask a flight attendant when you’re entering the plane. We almost always have time for a visitor, especially kids.
  • Please keep in mind that preflight is a busy time for us, so be considerate with how long you stay and visit. It’s a cool office. If you’ve never peeked inside, definitely stop and say hello!

In Flight

Most in-flight tips have to do with courtesy and comfort.

  • Be considerate of those around you. Recline your seatback slowly; the man or woman behind you may have a laptop open or drinks on the tray table.
  • Resist the temptation to play “conquer the armrest.” The traveler in the middle seat is often squished and can use the space, so if you’re at a window, lean towards the window, and if you’re on an aisle, lean towards the aisle.
  • When traveling with children, try to keep them from kicking the seat in front of them.
  • If you get up to use the bathroom, avoid using the seat in front of you as leverage.

The rest of the tips are really about your comfort.

  • If you’re too hot or cold, tell a flight attendant. They’ll let the pilots know and we can adjust the temperature as needed. You pay too much for a ticket to be miserable.
  • When the “free” drinks come by, ask for the full can or a second glass of water. Most flight attendants will be happy to provide them to you.
  • When the aircraft is parked at the gate, the pilots will turn off the seat belt sign. This is the signal that you’re free to get up…but keep in mind that it takes a few minutes to connect the jetway, open the door, and get the crowd moving.

One Last Thing

I hate to even mention this, but cancellations do happen, even on the holidays.

  • If the cancellation is within the airline’s control (such as a mechanical issue), most carriers will provide food and possibly hotel vouchers.
  • If the cancellation is outside of the airline’s control (such as weather), you’re probably on your own.
  • If the lines at the customer service desks are not too long, the nice folks there can help you. If they’re a mile long, reach in your bag and grab that number you wrote down before you left the house and call your airline directly.
  • Cancellations are unfortunate and stressful, but please do me a favor and don’t take it out on the customer service rep. They’re good people and they really will try to help.  

Review Time

That’s it. Those are the travel tips I’ve gained over the years. Pack smart so you’re prepared if your bag is delayed. Carry on an extra change of clothes and critical items like medications. Dress for success at the security line. Save time by checking in online, selecting seats in the rear of the plane and printing your boarding passes at home. Leave extra time for parking and getting through the security line. Double check and get to your gate early. Remember that most flights will close the boarding door 15 minutes prior to departure time. Don’t hog the overhead space and be courteous to fellow travelers. And go ahead…drink the whole can of soda. It’s “free”!

Hopefully these tips will help you avoid stress and ensure travel success!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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  1. […] earns the top spot). So aside from being ready to use the travel tips I wrote about here and here, there’s something else you should be prepared for: Delays. And while some delays are easy to […]

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