Academics and the press alike have a near obsession with highlighting the economic divide in the United States. Things like quality of food, quality of healthcare, and even level of happiness, are all partially determined by a person's economic status. One more thing that is determined by how much money you have now and growing up is your familiarity with airports. If you grew up in an affluent family then you are much more likely to have been on a plane than someone who grew up poor. But it shouldn't be like this.
I don't have the power to fix the wage gap in the United States, but I do have the ability to enlighten some of our readers about the ins and outs of flying that they might not have learned growing up. This article will highlight the 10 things every flyer should do immediately when they board a plane, and 10 things to do as soon as the plane touches down.
Flying is more stressful than people realize, and hopefully this article relieves some of the stress for our first-time flyers. If you can think of any boarding or landing tips that you wish you had known first time that you flew, feel free to mention them in the comment section of this article.
20 When Boarding - Check Out What Your Plane Has to Offer
One misconception that I commonly hear from people who don't travel a lot is that all airplanes, and all airlines are the same. This is absolutely false and the savviest travelers know to take advantage of the benefits offered by various airlines.
These advantages could be anything; complimentary drinks, in-flight movies, or even something as simple as seats that recline back a little bit more. If you're going to take full advantage of these benefits, you're going to want to learn about them as early as possible.
19 As Soon As We Land - Stay in your Seats
This is one of my personal pet peeves and a form of social routine that just won't seem to go away. Immediately when a plane lands and the seatbelt light turns off, several passengers stand up and clog the aisle. I understand their rush to exit the plane, especially after a long flight, but the plane doors won't even open for another ten minutes. Instead, everyone just stands in the middle of the plane, uncomfortably close to each other.
Don't be one of these people. Just stay in your seat, at least until the line in the aisle starts to move.
18 When Boarding - Survey The Surroundings
Airlines are constantly trying to make it so that there is more baggage room in their planes. One way that they have accomplished this is by increasing the size of the overhead compartment above everyone's seat. This is a good idea, except that it ruins the line of sight for most passengers. Therefore, I think it is a good idea to scope out the plane itself immediately when you board. I am talking about things like the exits, that you would need in case of emergency, but also things like the bathrooms or where the flight attendants stand.
17 As Soon As We Land - Check Your Pockets
This next entry might be the most important piece of advice in this entire article. Check to make sure that you have your most important personal belongings before you begin exiting the plane. A lot of people wisely take advantage of the carry-on rule that some airlines have, so they bring a handful of smaller items on with them when they board. With so many things to worry about, people often forget their most important items like their wallet, keys, or passport.
Flight crews are apprehensive about letting people who have exited get back on the plane, so this could be a costly and time-consuming mistake
16 When Boarding - Put Your Carry On Away
A bit of advice I would give to any first-time flyer is that you don't want to be putting your bag away when there are already 20 people seated waiting for you as the last reason why you aren't taking off.
I've seen it before where someone sits in their seat and begins doing things and then decides to put their carry-on luggage in the overhead rack after everyone around them has already been seated. Not only is this the least efficient way to put away your baggage, it is also extremely rude to have to crawl over people when you could've put the bag away 10 minutes ago.
15 As Soon As We Land - Grab Your Luggage
Airlines have gotten a lot better since the heyday of their incompetence in the late 90s, but people do still lose their luggage on occasion. If you ask the airlines, the main reason why people don't receive their luggage on time is because they go and do other things before they go to the luggage rack. If you go to the bag area immediately after you get off the plane, there is less of a chance that someone else will grab your bag by mistake.
One of the first things you should do when your plane lands is try to retrieve your luggage.
14 When Boarding - Be Conscious of Other Passengers
This next entry should really go without saying but I am consistently surprised by how rude some passengers are on flights. I recently was on a flight where a man had laid down while other people were still boarding. Unsurprisingly, his aisle mates arrived and had to awkwardly ask him to move his head and legs from their seats. Don’t be this guy.
If you find yourself lucky enough to be next to an empty seat, feel free to commandeer it after takeoff. But I would definitely wait until you are sure that no one has been assigned to that seat.
13 As Soon As We Land - Clean Your Space
Flight attendants have a lot of duties within their job. They are cabin crew, personal assistants and even sometimes amateur therapists. One thing that they are definitely not, or at least shouldn't be is janitors. But this doesn't stop multiple people on every flight from leaving their garbage laying around.
It is important to be courteous and planes and the job a flight attendant is hard enough they're having to clean up all of your trash. It is a good practice to look around you for any items that you may have missed immediately when the plane lands.
12 When Boarding - Find *YOUR* Seat
I like to think that most of the time when this happens it is an honest mistake but I've seen way too many people get kicked out of the wrong seat for me to think that some people don't do it on purpose.
Airlines have realized that they can cash in on seat selection by having people pay for “better seats” in certain parts of the plane. If you're like me, you are aghast at these prices. Some people are taking it upon themselves to try and get a better seat by conquest.
Whatever the case, it is important to find the right seat before the plane becomes too full. I can almost guarantee that if you're in the wrong seat, the person it actually belongs to will come to take you out, and you don't want to do the walk of shame back to your regularly assigned seat.
11 As Soon As We Land - Check the Weather
It has happened to me where I get on a plane wearing a certain outfit and then arrive in a different region or country where the clothing that I have chosen is completely inappropriate for the weather. Therefore, I think it is always a good practice to check on the weather when your plane lands. Worst case scenario, you can always take your luggage into the bathroom at the airport and change into a more appropriate outfit.
You don't want to find yourself in a country close to the equator wearing jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt.
10 When Boarding - Order a Drink
One of the most complicated rules that airlines have is the one that governs alcohol service on flights. Due to federal restrictions, there is only a limited space of time where passengers can be served. Therefore, if you're trying to wet your whistle before you arrive at your destination, you will probably be out of luck. That is, unless you carefully plan when you get your drinks.
Flight attendants can’t actually serve you until the plane has reached a certain altitude, but there's nothing that says that you can't order your drink immediately when you board the plane.
9 As Soon As We Land - Find Your Connecting Flight
It isn't always the case that you will have a connecting flight but if you do, one of the most important things for you to do when you land is to check the status of that flight.
Most of the time there will not be any issues, but I've had it happen where I needed to catch a connecting flight in 15 minutes, when the terminal for that flight was on the other side of the airport. I have also had it happen where my connecting flight was delayed, so I had much more time than I originally thought.
It is important to check the status of your connecting flight as soon as you can.
8 When Boarding - Check For Personal Belongings
When you are traveling, it is important that you keep track of your things at all times. It is so easy to lose things and then you are forced to go the rest of your trip without your wallet or luggage. One moment when it is especially important that you have your things is when you board an airplane. Once that door closes, there is little chance that they will let you off of the plane. You do not want to be taking off when you finally realize that you left your things in the airport terminal.
7 As Soon As We Land - Activate Your Phone
Just like it is important to put your phone on airplane mode immediately when you board the plane, I would argue that it is equally as important to take your phone off airplane mode immediately when you land. Depending on the length of your flight, a lot of things could've happened while you were out of signal range. This is true in regard to your personal life, as well as the world at large.
If you are flying you're probably traveling to a strange place away from your friends and family. Is important to stay connected during this time, and your phone is one of the best tools to do so.
6 When Boarding - Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode
There is some debate whether this rule even has a purpose, and I'm still conflicted after reading several articles on both sides of the argument, but I still think that it is a good idea to turn your phone off or on airplane mode during the flight. I know that a lot of people do not do this, and their planes rarely fall out of the sky.
But is it really worth risking your safety, and the safety of others, merely so your phone can be on when you don't have any service anyways?
5 As Soon As We Land - Try to Get Your Luggage ASAP
In another entry I spoke about how much I detest the people who immediately stand when their plane lands. Because of that, this next entry comes with a little bit of a warning. I do think that it saves time and a little bit of hassle to grab your luggage while they are preparing the plane doors to open. With that being said, however, if you have to be one of those jerks who stand in the aisle to get your luggage, then maybe it isn't worth it.
But if you are in an aisle seat, and you can easily reach up and grab your luggage right above you, then I think it's a good idea that will save some time.
4 When Boarding - Meet the Neighbors
This isn't the case on every flight but I would say that at least 75% of the time, you end up having to have some form of chitchat with the person next to you. If you're like me, and have a lot of work to do during the flight, it's best to get this out-of-the-way early. If you engage the person next to you in the small pleasantries early in the flight, you will be free to do your own thing for the remainder of the ride.
Of course, the strategy comes with the risk that the person next to you will take the opening to tell you about their life for the remainder of the flight.
3 As Soon As We Land - Call Your Ride
Since 9/11, airports have become a mess. There are so many security checkpoints and security issues that the ease with which people can get in and out of airports has become significantly more difficult. This is especially true when someone is trying to pick you up from the airport. Outside of the baggage claim area, there is usually a space where cars can pull up and pick up their passengers. But all of this relies on synchronized timing, something that might not be possible if you are orchestrating a ride at the last minute.
2 When Boarding - Keep Your Stuff Packed Away
One mistake that first-time flyers often make is that they get all of their things ready for a long flight immediately when they board. The problem with this strategy is that all of your things must be put away and the table in front of you must be put in the upright position before the plane can take off.
During takeoff is one of the times when the plane is most likely to experience turbulence, and airlines don't want your things flying around and possibly hitting other passengers. It is generally a good rule to keep one of your items out and the rest of them away until the seatbelt light is turned off.
1 As Soon As We Land - Enjoy the Airport
This one isn't something that you absolutely have to do. It is more of a suggestion that you take advantage of something that is routinely ignored by travelers. Most people who fly a lot are annoyed by airports but I absolutely love them. They are essentially giant malls with a more diverse client base. When a plane lands, people rush out of the airport as quickly as possible.
I think that they should take more time to smell the roses, and by roses, I mean the subs at Charlie's Cheesesteaks.