Airline travel is what makes America great. Really. With very little cash, we can do just about anything. Haul our fat butts on to a plane and see new sights. Take our kids to national parks and important historic monuments. Stay connected to distant family members.
Many countries won’t allow you to assemble in a public square let alone an airport. We encourage assembly at ORD, ATL, DTW, MSP, DFW, and all kinds of coded places throughout the country. We even encourage people to travel to and from AZO! (Have you ever been to Kalamazoo? You should go. Then leave. Right away.)
It’s too bad that more people don’t travel. It broadens horizons and gives you a new appreciation for diversity and inclusion. And it’s also unfortunate that traveling is a confusing mess of rules and processes. Sometimes it’s hardly worth the hassle.
But if you have somewhere to go and you’re worried about the travel, let me help you out.
Here are some tips.
- Google is your best travel buddy. So is Bing, Ask Jeeves, and just about any search engine on the internet. No joke. If you haven’t been to an airport since 2001 (which is not uncommon), things have changed. In fact, they sometimes change regularly and differ from airport to airport. Go to your airport’s website and read the FAQs on how to travel, what to pack, and how to pack it. I still do it.
- Find out where to park. I can’t tell you how many people arrive at the airport, freak out about parking, and nearly miss their flights. With a little preparation, you can park and have plenty of time to reach the gate.
- Call someone who travels frequently. Everyone has a cousin who is on the road for work. Call that person and ask — how do I check my bags? How do those fancy kiosks work? Where do I stand in line? Do I tip the skycap? There are no dumb questions and your cousin is totally willing to help out. He’s a nice guy.
- Eat before you fly. I know it’s a long haul to Chicago and you want to bring a cheeseburger on the plane. Please don’t. The surfaces of planes are covered in MRSA, the flu virus, and all sorts of other disgusting germs. Also, your food smells. Let me say it one more time. SHIT STINKS. We are in a contained space. A few weeks ago, I sat next to a dude who went to KFC for a chicken sandwich and A&W for curly fries and then brought his food on the plane. That’s pretty diligent. Had he been more diligent, he would have budgeted enough time to eat before the flight.
- Don’t request a window seat if you have prostate trouble. Dudes, I’m talking to you. Be a little self-aware and get the aisle seat.
- Don’t put your coats in the overhead bin. For the love of Jesus, your puffy coat fits on your lap nicely. Chill out and stick it under the seat. There’s plenty of space for your chubby dawgs and your Landsend parka. And PS — the overhead bin space is precious. Be considerate.
- Try to store your suitcase in an overhead compartment near your seat. Nothing chaps my ass more than some dude who is seated in row 18 but stores his suitcase in row 7. Rude.
One more thing. Airlines tell you how to board the plane and — even with instructions — it’s still a clusterf@#%. What’s weird is that it’s super-easy to leave a plane but the flight attendants don’t instruct you how to do it. Quick tips: The first row gets up and exits the plane. Then the next row. Then the next row. You don’t jump rows when leaving the plane if you have more than 30 minutes to reach your connecting flight.
My #1 piece of advice? Chill out, don’t be rude, and try to put yourself in your fellow traveler’s shoes. And please don’t bring your chicken feta mushroom pizza on the plane. You are making me gag.