Goucher College draws students from all over the country – and the world – which means most of us deal with airline travel at least four times per year (maybe a few more if we decide to go home for Thanksgiving and Spring Break). And since all of us will go abroad at some point during college, it’s pretty safe to say that everyone here at Goucher has or will have flown on a plane by the time we graduate.
With that in mind, I’ve come up with some helpful tips to make traveling easier.
DO pack wisely. Packing up your entire closet to ensure you have all the clothes you need might feel necessary, but in reality, packing minimally translates into NO CHECKED bags, and that saves time at every airport departure and arrival point. Packing minimally also means that your suitcase doesn’t break your back when you go to heave it up on the security belt or to place it in the overhead bin. Remember, there will probably be laundry facilities wherever you are traveling to, so you can count on a clean set of clothing without packing something new for every day of the trip.
DO be quick entering and exiting the airplane. The only thing more annoying than waiting for the people in front of you to settle into their seats before takeoff is waiting for the people in front of you to get out of their seats after landing. While it’s impossible to expect everyone to be incredibly efficient when they’re trying to squeeze themselves and their (likely over-packed) luggage into and out of their designated seat, you can help speed up the process by stowing your personal items and taking your seat quickly during boarding and exiting quickly once the aircraft has parked at your destination. This saves travel time for everyone.
DO follow the instructions of the flight attendant. My mom was a flight attendant, and she and her former co-workers, with whom I spoke to, made it abundantly clear that the instructions they provide are Federal Aviation Regulations (FAA) and should always be followed for safety purposes. The fasten seat belt sign exists for a reason, and getting up to ask for more soda or to use the restroom when the fasten seat belt sign is illuminated, especially during takeoff, turbulence or landing, is UNSAFE. Interfering with flight attendant instructions can result in being fined, so no arguing, please!
DO be a generally pleasant person. If the person in front of you is struggling with a bag, help them stow it in the overhead bin. Be respectful of others’ personal space. If someone is clearly involved with the book they’re reading, don’t try to start a conversation with them. If you are seated at the window, and the person next to you is trying to sleep, closing your shade during the flight is a kind gesture. There is little to see at 35,000 feet anyway, and each seat is equipped with a reading light if you need one. Little things like that can make everyone’s travel a little more pleasant.
And finally, DON’T complain about having to turn off your electronic devices … because that rule has officially been abolished! It is no longer an FAA rule that cell phones, iPads and iPods, and other devices must be turned off during takeoff and landing, so no more eye rolls or passive aggressive huffing and puffing during takeoff and landing. You can keep your devices turned on, although in retrospect, was it ever really all that big of a deal to turn them off for ten minutes at the beginning and end of each flight? Probably not, but hey – we can all celebrate the small victories in life.