no spell or grammar check. no re-read. good luck.
traveling via commercial airline. a full blown nightmare. even the best experience is still miserable. there is so much about it to hate that i dont even know where to start. maybe with the fact that the airlines have you by the balls and they can bend you over however they want and you cant really demand any real service. you pay them to bully you around. perhaps i should begin with the things that other travelers do that make me want to constantly smack them upside the head. meanwhile, youre thinking "great, another bitch fest from captain curmudgeon". let's see if i can spin that. i will present a how-to list instead of a list of things that make me want to smack you.
if you don't travel by plane often then you are not likely to be up to speed on all of the ins and outs of the airport, airplane and the cancer that is the TSA. there is a lot going on that you need to know. the rules change often too. so even if you are well traveled, do a little research before heading out. make sure you are up to speed.
check out the TSA website.
and do a quick look around the website of the airline that you are traveling.
show up on time. depending on the day of the week, the time of day, the size of your party, and how much junk you are taking with you... 1 to 2 hours before take off should be ample. when i fly from home i generally get to the check in counter 1 hour before take off. when i am traveling with a party and we have multiple suitcases we arrive up to 2 hours before. just dont show up late and then start asking people who were much better at planning their lives if you can butt in line. it isnt their fault you are a horrible person.
lots of people will be at the airport. lots of them all wanting to go to the same places at once. get in line. we learned about single file lines when we were toddlers. that was because they work better than clumping up in mobs. whether you are at the self check in, the bathroom, the boarding gate or the ground transportation area.... get the heck in line. everything moves faster when it is in order. dont butt in line either.
bags. a general rule about baggage in the states is that you can check two bags. some airlines charge, some dont. either way, they all have an overweight limit. the standard limit is typically 50lbs. i own a small scale that fits in my suitcase. before i even arrive at the airport i weigh my bag to assure that it wont be over weight. that way i dont have to stand at the check in counter while trying to juggle a pair or jeans from bag to bag to get it under 50lbs. you see, making the people behind me wait around while i do that is rude. so dont do it. (do you see now how this spin from tyrant to teacher is working out).
while we are on the subject of bags.... you get two items to carry on the plane. this one is a little tricky. it doesnt mean two suit cases. quite a few people think it does mean two suitcases. they are poor examples of decent human beings. two items includes a small suitcase (small enough to fit in the overhead bin of a plane) and one personal item. a personal item can include a purse, back pack, laptop bag or anything that can be stowed under the seat in front of you. got it? are you sure? good. that means you wont be one of the ass holes that tries to stick both items in the overhead bin or the stupid lady who doesnt count her oversized purse (or any purse for that matter) as an item. a bag in a bag that you take out of the second bag once youre seated counts as you being an ass hole. cramming both bags above so that you can put your jacket under the seat... you just turned that into 3 items, ass hole. a roller board suitcase so big that you have to check it at the gate (slowing down the take off process) makes you an asshole. now, if that has to be done with an acceptably sized bag due to a small plane, you are not an ass hole. the plane is.
review. small suitcase goes in overhead bin. ONLY the small suitcase. your personal item goes under the seat in front of you. if you are seated at a bulkhead, you must put your personal item in the overhead as well. this is the rule and the ONLY time that it is acceptable. leave your over sized coat on or stick it up your ass. if i have to gate check my crap (and slow down take off) because you didnt follow these rules, i will hate you and hope you slip and sprain your ankle in a lonely shower somewhere soon.
so much for the spin towards a how-to. welcome to my full blown rant.
now that we have our bags checked we must go through security. this is some lame crap but we have to do it. why not make it as smooth as we can from the civilian end. when you get to the checkpoint you will have to show your boarding pass and ID to an agent so have those out and ready. once they check them, put them away. you wont need them until time to board. now you should start to prep for the checkpoint. again, now. don't wait until the last minute to do this. you will slow down the line and people will want you get some kind of non-contagious stomach virus.
no shoes allowed. no belts. no coats or hoodies. nothing in your pocket. any laptops or portable dvd players or even gaming consoles need to be pulled from their bags and put in a bin of their own. OF THEIR OWN. liquids and gels.... if you want to take the time and learn the rules of liquids and gels, go ahead. i advise that you just dont try to carry them thru the checkpoint. personally i have never once had an issue with liquids or gels because i NEVER ever carry them on. problem averted and the line keeps on moving at a great pace. i feel good about it because no one ever looks at me and rolls their eyes. if you must take them on the plane... please be prepared in advance by checking the TSA link i provided earlier. if you try to take them on and are not prepared, well i just hope there arent any witch doctors that i can pay to hold a lighter under your effigy.
there are quite a few different kinds of checkpoints these days. we have the traditional metal detector, the burst of air thing, and now the naked machine. all of these are very simple to deal with and can be mastered just by gazing ahead of your place in line for a few seconds. watch how others use the machines and then repeat that. i still encounter people who have to be told two or three times by the agent how to stand in the naked machine. this has now slowed the line down and everyone wants you to get in a single car crash on your way home from the airport later.
now that you are through, grab your items from the bin, place the bin on the stack of empty bins. dont leave it on the conveyor to block items from coming out of the scanner. take your things to a bench or table and get organized. dont linger at the end of the conveyor and block others from grabbing their things. head towards your departing gate.
while sitting at the gate and waiting to board be respectful of others. they paid to be there too. it isnt your private airport. dont leave your trash hanging around. there are plenty of trash cans in every airport. if you need to charge something, find an outlet. if you need to charge two things, bring a power strip from home. dont take up two outlets. others want to charge their stuff too. again, dont leave your trash.
once on the plane, remember the instructions about carry ons. get to your seat quickly and stay there. obey the rules. we all know electronic devices dont cause planes to crash during taxi, take off, and landing but it is the rule. you are not above the law and dis-obeying will cause the flight to delay. seriously, follow the fucking rules. you are effecting my schedule. i paid to get there on time and you are really messing that up for me. also, that is not your arm rest. it is ours. actually, its not an arm rest. its a border. dont cross it. what the hell makes you think you deserve an arm rest and i dont? same goes for your knee. get it out of my space. i paid for this space. it isnt yours. if i am wearing headphones, dont try to be my friend. if i am sleeping, dont try to be my friend. if i am breathing, dont try to be my friend. chances are, you are boring and we will end up talking about me and my weird job the whole time. ive done that, im over it. just leave me alone.
follow the rules while landing as well. if a flight attendant says something, take it as an order from some dude with a gun to you head. they are there to help make sure that we get from A to B on time.
now that you have landed and are off the plane get the heck out of the airport. if you have to stop by and get your checked bags, do it. why the hell would any one want to stay in that hell hole any longer than they need to? dont take too long getting off the curb outside either. thats not a parking lot. its active pick up. the longer you take, the longer it will take for my ride to pick me up. quit sucking at life and just get out of my way.
like i mentioned, it isnt your private airport. be considerate of others space and time. they paid just like you. you are not special. you deserve no better treatment. everyone can have a better experience if you just learn how to manage your travel experience before you actually even start the journey.
the boy scouts and the golden rule. be prepared and treat others as you would have them treat you. respect authority. this will make everyones flying experience better.