Maybe you’re like me and enjoy the sight of flying through clouds. It’s amazing to think that the clouds we view from the ground don’t appear all that different when inside them either. When I was younger I thought the plane would have to have wipers on the windows so the passengers could see when flying through clouds (we hadn’t gotten to this topic in science class yet, lol). But when you think about it, there are things of this world that do appear different upon closer examination yet clouds remain the same-fascinating. I sure hope I’m not boring you at this point and I hope you’ll continue reading because I do have experiences to share with you. I think you get the picture of the joy I find in flying. J
There really are some basic concepts in flying and if you’ve done it recently you’ve probably picked up on a lot of it, but if the last time you’ve flown was before the 9/11 terrorist attacks or if you’ve never flown there are some helpful tips to point out. Travel as light as you can manage, but be reasonable and plan ahead. If you’re planning a backpacking trip than make it an actual backpacking trip. Think about who you are-are you someone who loves to collect little trinkets or souvenirs from each place you visit? Or do you plan on getting birthday or Christmas gifts for family and friends while you travel? These will make a difference in how you pack. Sometimes you might have an option of shipping a box home but if your budget is tight carefully weigh the options of the spatial limits. I’ve found that I usually pack a collapsible soft cover bag such as a sling bag or tote (similar to the reusable shopping bags that are widely popular-in fact they make great bags to bring with). It’s also important to recognize your needs while on the trip and plan accordingly. Do you really need that big tube of toothpaste or bottles of shampoo and conditioner? Maybe you can get by with the travel size or a combo shampoo and conditioner or you have the option of purchasing what you need once you arrive or using what available at your hotel. If you are only planning on having a carry-on be aware of the federal TSA guidelines as well as the specific guidelines your specific airline or flight may have. There are actually weight restrictions for a carry-on as well as size restrictions depending on your airline and destination. You can find these on your airline’s website. It’s also essential to be aware of what you might have access to-if you have frequent flyer program you may have an option of using miles toward baggage fees or a higher weight limit for the same price. There are numerous possibilities if you take the time to do a little research.
Being aware of airlines and airports can also be beneficial when traveling. This is where my not-so-pleasant experiences have benefited me. I now know that the Denver International Airport and Charles de Gaulle-Paris Airport are not where you want to pass through on a short layover. The multiple times I have been in these airports I’ve found myself struggling to reach my gate on time resulting in missed flights or impatient fellow passengers upon arrival. I’ve found myself sprinting from one end to the other of a terminal at Denver’s airport never so thankful for the moving walkways in my life desperate to reach the final flight out to Sioux Falls for the night. Most flight attendants will have listings available for connecting flights and if you make a request you can usually get assistance. In this specific case a fellow passenger and I were given priority when departing the plane in our attempt to reach the same connecting flight. Other times I have had them contact the gate of my connecting flight alerting them that I was still coming and to hold the plane if possible. In Paris, my one missed flight resulted in a little extra for the next flight they booked me on-being moved up to business class and allowed access to their lounge until it was time to board the flight. Make sure you don’t become too angry and aggressive with the gate attendant or customer service worker-it’s not their fault your delay occurred or your flight was missed. Make them aware of your situation and give them the facts don’t exaggerate your claims because more often than not you will not benefit and it will likely count against you in how your specific situation is handled. Working in customer service myself, I know how difficult it can be to be the person on the other side of the counter or phone conversation. Please be courteous to those assisting you and if you cannot manage that for whatever reason at least be indifferent in how you treat them rather than all-out rage or frustration.
If you’re looking for airports easy to get around in on a short layover the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport is one of the nicer and more organized ones out there. Also, the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in The Netherlands, and the Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix are two other well organized and easily maneuverable airports. I know not everyone’s views will be the same when it comes to airports or even air travel in general but if you know how to avoid certain situations or how to handle difficult occurrences that may come up your experiences should be relatively smooth. I have my own personal preferences of airports to travel through and in some instances I have no way of avoiding those I dislike because of the limited connections available to me from a small-town regional airport.*Side Note* If you are a student, faculty member, or under the age of 25 when traveling or purchasing airfare, be aware of the resources you have available to you. One of my favorite sites for researching airfare is www.studentuniverse.com. They offer some great prices for both domestic and international travel. Make sure you look around and see what is available before you make a purchase-it’s not one you can easily change once you commit.