109 years ago, the first airplane, invented by the Wright brothers, rose into the air and landed safely. Just eleven years later, the first airliner—or passenger airplane—took flight, changing the world in significant ways. The airplane and airport have featured prominently in many of our lives, and its status and operations have changed significantly. Airplanes used to be the height of luxury; people would don their Sunday best and look forward to flying. In fact, airplanes were so popular for a while that in 1948 Edward Brown, Jr. invented a fly-in theater, where those who owned small planes could travel to Asbury Park, New Jersey, taxi up their airplane, and watch a movie.
Nowadays this is not the case. The airport is a hectic place; trips are stressful. You always seem to get a crying baby on your flight, they change your gate four times, and the food is overpriced. So you need to be prepared, because when you are prepared, flying can be a nice experience again. Here are some tips to make that happen.
- Choosing your flight: Choosing your flight will all depends on your own preferences and needs as a traveler. Red-eyes are good for sleeping. Having layovers is cheaper but space your layovers well. Don’t leave less than an hour between a landing time and a new departure time and try to stay on the same airline. If you miss a flight because your first flight has arrived late, you may be shuffled between airlines as they try to get you to your final destination.
- Choosing your seat: If you are lucky enough to choose an airline which lets you choose your seat prior to your trip, plan accordingly. Seats at the front have you boarding last but exiting the plane first. Aisle seats have the disadvantage of knocked elbows and people climbing over you to use the restroom, but they have a bit more room. Avoid middle seats. Window seats are coveted for the view, but they’re also great if you want to rest your head against the wall, but you do have to climb over people to get to the restroom.
- Dress comfortably and prepared: There is nothing more irritating than the person in front of you at the security gate who wore a belt and a watch, shoes that need untying, a jacket that needs taking off, and pants with pockets filled with loose change, cell phones, and other odds and ends. Instead, you want speed and efficiency. Bring a light jacket for the plane but keep it in your carry-on until you pass through the gates, or tie it around your waist. Slip off shoes are recommended. Typically I wear something light but that fully covers my arms and legs: well-fitting jeans and a comfy t-shirt.
- Suitcases with wheels over duffle bags: If you not checking luggage, this is a must. If you are checking luggage, I’d still recommend the wheels. Wheels are just plain convenient.