For some of you, you’re probably seasoned veterans when it comes to making your air travel enjoyable. I took my first flight just over 20 years ago and now into my thirties, I’m guessing I’ve flown at least 50 times since. I still get a kick out of air travel; so much weight hoisted into the air sustained for hours on end. Modern air travel is a far cry from the days of Kitty Hawk. Flying is a special engineering and scientific feat if you think about it…
I don’t travel often for work, maybe only a couple times a year but I’ve flown enough to know what works and what doesn’t. With all the restrictions that come with flying, coupled with the fact that airline companies are increasingly looking for profits and margins for shareholders, I suspect many of you have some airline travel practices to make flying the skies, well, friendly :) This post offers a few of my own tips. To readers, I encourage you to share yours as well! (I was inspired to write this post a few weeks ago on a flight coming back to Ottawa, after some travel for work to and from Sudbury, Ontario and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.)
1. Select a good airline
Sounds simple enough but if you’re going to book a discount airline then expect discount service. Not all airlines are created equal. Thankfully, I think we have some great carriers in Canada. Domestically, I’ve found Porter to be superior, with WestJet and Air Canada tied for second. Recently, I enjoyed complimentary beer and snacks on my Porter flight to and from Sudbury, ON. Not all airlines offer that nor this service with a broad smile. Porter has dedicated lounges in most Canadian airports and offers complimentary wi-fi service, coffee, juices, water, snacks and newspapers prior to boarding. If you haven’t flown Porter in Canada yet, I encourage you to check them out. If you’re not in Canada, they don’t offer service where you are or you’re looking to travel abroad, check out this website that ranks airline carriers from around the world. My wife and I used this site when trying to
figure out which airline would offer us good service domestically in Argentina. We eventually chose LAN and loved it.
2. Arrive to the airport early
Another simple but easily understated good rule of thumb. Running late for a flight, trying to scurry yourself through baggage check-in then security will only make you, airport staff and other travellers around you anxious. Flying for many causes enough folks stress (maybe it causes you stress as well?) so don’t add any more challenges to the equation than need be. Instead, plan ahead. Arrive at least one hour in advance of domestic flights and for the most part, at least two hours in advance of international flights. On travel day, always double-check your departure time. Always factor in some buffer time to travel to the airport, getting around traffic or construction issues. Some planning on your part is the prudent play here.
3. Travel light
If you can, avoid checked luggage. A few weeks ago for my recent one-night, two-day trips to Sudbury and Charlottetown I had nothing more than a small carry-on bag and my laptop case with my machine and notes inside it. The reality is, while most airline carriers probably try to handle baggage with care checked bags can get damaged, delayed, lost or stolen. Not checking bags at all avoids this issue altogether, just be mindful of carry-on size and weight limitations. If you must check bags, keep those as small and light as possible. Last year when my wife and I went to New York City for a long weekend vacation (on Aeroplan points thanks very much) although we checked one medium-sized bag we also made sure to save lots of room in this bag for NYC clothes purchases. (Trust me this extra luggage room came in handy on the way home :). If you’re travelling for longer than a week, consider packing only a few clothes and take advantage of local dry cleaners or laundromats. My last tip on luggage, ensure to pack some essential toiletries, one fresh set of clothes and all your important travel documents in your carry-on bag(s). That way, if checked luggage does go AWOL you can at least survive on those essentials for a bit.
4. Get a seat upfront
On every flight I’ve ever been on, the in-flight service starts at the front. So, whatever snacks, meals or beverages your carrier offers, you’re almost assured to get the best of what they’ve got if you’re close to the front of the plane.
So, that’s basically it, some straightforward airline advice that will hopefully make your flight amongst the skies a little more friendly.
Any feedback on these tips for me? How about a few tips of your own?
I look forward to your comments!