10 Tips to Simplify Flying
TSA pat downs, long lines and flight delays can raise stress levels for even the savviest of travelers. Stay calm and make the most of your next flight with these tips and products.
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Photo By: Scott Goldberg, Minnie Rose
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Cut Lines With Pre-Screening
Signing up for TSA PreCheck can save time via dedicated lines where shoes stay on and laptops remain packed. Fast Track Global Entry makes sense for jetsetters with disposable income who don’t want to stand in the customs line. Both require advance paperwork and fees.
Pros pack with clothes at the bottom and oddly shaped items such as a hair dryer and shoes on top. Pack all the jewelry you will wear that day in an outside pocket of your carry-on, and then put it on once you pass through security so you don't have to take it off and put it on again. This enables the screener to work faster, saving time and keeping you moving. Savvy travelers also carry nothing on their person: no wallet, no keys, no gum.
Many security checkpoint wait times are accessible via an airport’s website. Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta uses Trak-a-Line and will even email you when a line gets longer. MiFlight does the same for 50 major airports. Traffic jams can also put the brakes on smooth sailing. Check your drive time on an app like Waze, which gives you an ETA and reroutes you if there’s heavy traffic.
Be Liquid Free
There are plenty of TSA-friendly concentrated waterless products and collapsible refillable water bottles so that flying through security is a breeze. For example, Lush Cosmetics offers dry shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste in tablet form and solid moisturizing bars that are great for an in-flight refresher. Silicone Bubi Bottles roll up, fit in the palm of your hand and come in many sizes.
Carry On, Carry On
Don’t check bags unless you’re going on a month-long adventure. You’ve already waited around at check-in, don’t create even more opportunities to wait in lines.
Use Airport Apps
Flio connects you to airport WiFi connection and helps locate amenities like power outlets, play areas for kids and connecting gates. If you’re delayed or have some extra terminal time, FlySmart has reviews of terminal restaurants and shops by fellow travelers. The directionally challenged will love iFly, which uses GPS to help you reach that connecting gate without walking the wrong way.
Dress Like a Pro
Invest in a “plane outfit” consisting of classic items in dark or neutral colors made from breathable fabrics like cotton and cashmere. A nice poncho, like this one from Minnie Rose, subs as a blanket and is easily packed. Shorts, flip-flops and warm-ups make you look like an amateur. No gate agent is going to randomly upgrade a passenger wearing anything that makes noise when you walk.
Don't Cut Corners
Don’t skimp on your luggage. Look for pieces that keep all your documents and devices in one easily accessible place. Quality bags will hopefully last a lifetime; a cheap one could fall apart on an unexpected layover in Toledo.
Mind Your Manners
If you think you’re stressed, think of the men and women who do it every day. Should an emergency occur, they’re the ones who will help keep calm and even save lives, so show some respect. Treated with courtesy, a flight attendant might even slide you a free beverage or extra peanuts. One polite gesture can go a long way, on that long 2,134 mile route from ATL to LAX.
A duffel bag or large backpack or other soft bag is the preferred choice for frequent travelers because it can be easily crammed into the overhead bin and is far less likely to be taken away from you to be checked at the gate.