Travelling by airplane - sounds simle doesn't it? Well you will surprised about how many people that absolutely forget/neglect/ignore common behaviour when surrounded by other people while travelling. So here goes:
Most airlines allow you to check-in online . where you have the option to select your preferred seat (window, isle or just next to a travel companion) - print your boarding pass and with some airlines pay for your bags to be checked-in at the airport. Some companies allows to to check in one for free (discount airlines often charge you for this) and most compenies charges for the second bag - in some cases there is a discount if you pay online for the bags to be checked-in.
Self-check-in counters at the airport:
If you have no acces to do it online - a large number of airlines have self-check-in counters at the airport. Some airlines will enable you to print out the bag tags/identification at this point and you yourself are to attach it properly to the bag. DON'T FORGET TO TAKE THE MINI TAG!!! This is your proof of checked-in bags and you will need it if your bag gets lost.
These counters are available in multiple languages and will take you step by step through the whole process. A lot of elderly people are afraid of these modern gizmos - offer to get them a helping hand, it will actually also shorten your waiting time to access the counter.
This I experienced at a German airport: the couple about to check-in via a self-check-in counter were desperate: "It's only in German - and I can't find an American flag on the touch screen" - I couldn't help it: I laughed with tears just running down my cheeks. The husband gave me an angry look and yelled at me "Maybe you are German, but I can't read your stupid launguage!!" - "Listen Mr. I am not German either - but I do understand their language - and I am perfectly able to recognize the following flags: the Tricolore, the Union Jack and several others. May I suggest that you select the Union Jack?!" Now his wife was laughing too and touched the Union Jack - he was starring in disbelief at the screen which suddenly approached him in ... well English.
Check if you are to print out the tags yourself at a self-check-in counter before approching the counter - signs will tell you if it is possible. One carry-on bag means "ONE CARRY-ON BAG"- don't hide it for the person at the counter, because you might get into trouble later on.
Do have your passport or id-card ready - if you have your boarding card already, this is to be shown as well. Frequent flyer card - show this to make sure that your frequent flyer number is correctly noted. Other people are waiting in line behind you, and you should have had the time to finde those items already when reaching the counter.
This is actually going to happen at all security check-in's: take out the laptop from your bag. Put your purse/wallet, mobile phone, keys, coins etc into your bag along with your belt, if your are using one. Coat, jacket etc... goes of and into the scanner - and in most cases liquid items: only in small amounts and in a small sea-through plastic bag.... No filled coca cola or water bottles beyond this point!!!
At this point some security check-points may deny you access to the waiting area, if you are carrying more than one carry-on - you will have to check the additional bag(s)/item(s) in before being allowed beyond this point.
Here's a hint: in a lot of stores (Wallgrens, Boots, DuaneReade, Matas...and the list goes on) you are able to buy a see-through toilet bags in the approved size - and they often sell miniature bottles of your favourite shampoo, tooth paste etc. - how often will you actually spend more of the liquid stuff than what can be in the mini.size bottles/containers.....
I used to carry my MS medicine when travelling (now I luckily don't have to any longer - that another story). I always made sure, that I had the medication guide in the languages spoken at the visited places incl. transit countries - the medicine company's website actually often offer this on their webpages. Also - make sure that you have the proper papers from your doctor when travelling with special types of medicine.
If stop-overs at airports - you may have to pass through additional security check-in points - check if you are allowed to bring duty free items just purchased with more than the allowed amount beyond this point. If not, they will be confiscated and you WILL NOT get a refund.
Boarding the plane:
"We are now boarding flightxxxx" - as soon as some people hear those words, it like Jack-in-the-Box trying to escape from his box. Everybody want to get to their seat immediately... and what if there's no room for their carry-on items when reaching their assigned seat, and...and...and....'
STOP! You have already been assigned to a seat, if you are already at the gate, the plane wil not leave without you, if people don't carry to much carry on, it will fit into the overhead compartment and a lot of the flight attendents will try to help you to find the space, if everybody is not carrying too much.
I am one of those just waiting for the rushing people to board the plane - just reading my book, knowing that I already have a seat assigned. Some people sigh when I reach my seat - how is her bag going to fit into the overhead compartment, and will I have to move mine a little? Their eyes is about to pop out when the realise that my bag easily fit under the seat infront of me - actually the bag I use everyday when at work...everywhere... And you know what: my netbook, my not-so-small camera, a toilet bag, book(s), extra underwear, and extra t-shirt, wallet etc. it all fits into my bag.... just like a puzzle....
Exception to this, is where the plane is boarded according to seating sections. Or if it is "floating boarding": this is where the boarding actually start at the time where the departure gate is announced - people use a varied amount of time to reach the gate, and therefore the bording is completely smoth - no waiting line what-so-ever.
If you are allowed on bag - IT IS ONE BAG!! OK you may have purchased something at the airport, but that is usually not the big-size items. When they start boarding the plane, they can reject additional carry-on. And the overhead compartment do have limited space.
If your carry-on does not fit into the racks showing the allowed size for carry-on at check-in - it actually will often not be able to fit into the overhead compartment or underneath the seat in front of you (read: IN FRONT OF YOU - I have seen people just placing it on empty seats behind them - well somebody was assigned those seats)
Pack your carry-on, so you are able to place it in the overhead compartment yourself - the passenger right next to you might be elderly, a chilld etc. and therefore onable to help you... and you will just block the entry for other people boarding the plane.
Well if you paid for economy class and are seated in economy class - your will get the service accordingly. Don't act if you own the place or as if everything should be all about you-you-you. Don't forget to smile little, when the flight attendents is serving you water, food, snacks etc. - it might just pay out......
The following companies renders a service, that is above the usual economy class standard, even though it is "only" economy, and you can feel that the people are less tense when travelling: Swiss, Thai Airways, Virgin Atlantic and JetBlue.
Frequent Flyer Programmes:
I can recommend this !! DO IT!! A vast number of airlines are in aliances enabling you to earn points/miles on their airlines - also usually includes co-operation with hotels, car rental companies etc. When enough points/miles are earned, you can spend them on new flights, hotel stays, some occasions to pay for the extra bag and much more - check the programme for more info. And one of the best things: the membership is free of charge, so what do you have to loose?
Some of them enable you to pre-register your preferred seating, special meals if any, etc
Yes, I am a frequent traveller. I have a large amount of accrued number of frequent flyer miles/points, that can vouch for that. And how do I spend the waiting time at the airports/on the airplanes? I read a lot of good books - possibly the most books I read is while travelling... at the airports, there is usually some kind of bookstore, where I can check out the latest/newest books - and then there is usually also a coffee shop or counter where you can indulge in a good cup of.... well something - depends on what you are in the mood for.
And to spot the frequent traveller: just look out for the relaxed person reading a book while waiting in a long line, on the plane etc.
Phew - long blog post today and "only" covered the stages about gettin on the plane....the rest... - but then again: just sharing some thoughts :o)
Todays picture is one of my favourite stamps when creating cards - designed by Penny Black (I love her stamps - and have a large number of them)