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1. Give yourself enough time at the airport
There really is no such thing as arriving too early to the airport. Overall, traveling breeds a lot of anxiety for most people! The crowds, rushing, and constant announcements can be overwhelming. Therefore, give yourself the time to doing all the things at the airport. You’ll need to get your tickets, check your bag(s), and make it through the TSA line. Also, sometimes your boarding area can a bit of a walk. So, leave yourself enough time to stroll on over.
I suggest getting to the airport an hour and a half before boarding. Holiday time? Maybe two hours would be better. It is cray cray at the airport those days! And…seriously… don’t be the jerk that is asking to cut the line. Everyone needs to get somewhere. You are not special. It is not their fault that you are late. Get it together beforehand. It is better to have some extra snooze time while waiting for your flight than to be that “Snap-worthy” person running around freaking out like a loon.
2. Leave paths for people to walk
When Bobby and I were traveling to Florida in February, so many schools on Long Island were out. So, the crowds at the airport were at an all-time level of annoyance due to family vacas. Crowds don’t have to be a stressful experience … if people actually follow some line etiquette rules. I am not kidding when I say that there were no clear paths to walk anywhere. I could not even tell where lines began and ended for bag check or the TSA checkpoint. Everyone was just spread out everywhere with absolutely no order.
The first place you will have to go in the airport is the area where you print your ticket. To skip this step, download the app for your plane (if available). Many allow you to download your boarding pass so it can be scanned, like Jet Blue’s. Therefore, you skip the line to print your ticket. For the rest of the process before boarding, keep your bags close to your body. Don’t camp out and take up space on lines in the airport. It is really inconsiderate and someone could trip and sprain their ankle. Fantastic way to begin a trip.
3. Have your ticket & ID ready
On our honeymoon, Bobby and I travelled in business class. So, we were able to skip all of the long lines. This allowed us to get through security quickly and it is much less stressful. But, unfortunately we don’t have money to do that all the time! Therefore, we make sure we are prepared once we get to the TSA check point. Something I have noticed the past few years is that people act like they have never been to an airport before. They get up to the TSA agent and have to rummage through their bag for a minute to get out their documents. Come on people. Wake up and be considerate! You are most likely spending 10-45 minutes on line. I think that is enough time to get your act together.
So, before your approach the agent, have your ID and ticket (printed or digital) ready to go. If you are using a flight app, have your ticket loaded and on the screen. No one wants to wait for your slow phone to buffer your ticket to life. If you are traveling with multiple people, it might be a good idea to have your tickets together. I personally love to use these mesh bags to organize my documents and other items in my purse for easy access at the airport and on the plane.
4. Dress for security
Just like IDs and tickets holding up the line, the same goes for the way you dress at the airport. Yes, it is nice to look cute for flying. I mean, not really my thing. I am more of a tomgirl jeans and white tee kind of girl. But, nonetheless. No matter what you choose to wear, you HAVE to put thought into the pieces you choose. Anything that is made of metal cannot go through the metal detector. So, beware. Every time I fly I see at least one donut that walks through two to three times because they “forget” to remove something.
Be careful of piercings, jewelry and watches, belts, and even some hair clips that can set off the detector (see the full list). You can look cute and include these in your ensemble. But, make sure you put them in your bag or carryon beforehand. Also, don’t forget about loose change and your phone in your back pocket. They should all be in a separate bin going through security. Honestly, I’d just opt to not having any of these items on at all. It isn’t a fashion show. I like to travel in comfort. For me? That does not include much jewelry or accessories. Side note: if you are a frequent flier, you can apply for TSA Pre-check. It allows you to move through in about five minutes instead of waiting on a line.
5. Wear easy-to-remove shoes
I feel like people conveniently “forget” that they need to take their shoes off at most check-in points in airports. The TSA Agents have to ensure that you are not hiding anything illegal in your shoes. It is really all about safety. Unless you are a child, this is a given. Make sure that you wear shoes that you can easily slip on and off. Something like these would be perfect. If you have shoes that require tying, they can be a pain to get on and off with a line of people behind you.
You might even think you are kind if you let people behind you cut in front of you to go through the scanner. But, that isn’t the case. You most likely have your bag, laptop, and jewelry in bins going through the bag scanner. Therefore, when it comes to retrieving items on the other side, the person(s) you let through have to wait for you to get your items first. Buzzkill. Just do everyone a favor and wear easy-to-remove shoes. Save us all the time. Also, if you do apply for TSA pre-check… do you don’t have to take your shoes off at all! So worth it.
6. The TSA agent is ALWAYS right
This one is so important. Too many times I seen people give lip to the TSA Agents at the airport. To me, that is equivalent to a student talking back to an administrator. It doesn’t work. You won’t win. There is a hierarchy order and a reason for everything. Their jobs are serious because they are trying to detect anyone that could potentially cause any harm at the airport or during a flight.
I suggest that you always default to being kind. Most times, TSA agents will remain serious. Most don’t even crack a smile and usually use a head nod to communicate. Or, they simply say, “Move to this line.” Respect their position. Don’t get mad at them for not being friendly back. I have to say, though… when I got back from my honeymoon I met the friendliest TSA agents at JFK airport. So sweet and considerate. We arrived late at night and they said for us to have a good night and to have a safe ride home. So, you might come across some that aren’t robotic!
7. Don’t hog seats at the airport
Since you never know how fast you will check in, sometimes you are left with a lot of extra time at the airport. For me? I am currently writing this in the airport and my plane is delayed for two hours. Bummer. It is late at night and what I really want to do is sleep. But, it isn’t considerate to take up space laying down on a few chairs. Most people don’t do this. But, many people build a barrier around them. They’ll sit and put their bags on the seats next to them.
It isn’t a big deal if you are waiting during a desolate time in the airport. But, when it is busy, put your bag on your lap or right near you on the floor. Everyone deserves to have an opportunity to sit down while waiting for their flight. Also, be mindful of empty seats. If you see that a couple is trying to sit together, it is nice to move if you have a free seat next to you. This would allow the couple to not have to sit in different areas while waiting for their flight. Of course, do this if another is available for you nearby. You also deserve to sit. Just a nice thing to do.
8. Line up when your group is called
I always giggle watching people jam the boarding area a half hour before boarding even begins. What is the point? So many people have an obsession to get on the plane first. But, there are boarding groups for a reason at every airport. If you line up early you might get ahead of maybe 10-15 people in your boarding group. Really?… is it worth all of that? When you get on early you just end up sitting and watching everyone else board anyway. Not so entertaining. I’d rather be the last person getting on, “accidentally” smacking people in the face with my bag than to be the one getting knocked into. Just my perspective.
Also, if there are not separate lanes for each boarding area, you could potentially be holding up the boarding process. For example, you are in boarding group 3 and you line up in the single boarding area. The problem is, now groups 1 and 2 have to try to squeeze past you and the 20 other weirdos camping out at the gate. Further holding off your group from even getting called. Moral of the story is, folks… be patient. Wait your turn. They will not leave without you if you are in the waiting area. Go grab a coffee and relax yourself.
9. Don’t be the smelly person no one wants to sit near
Well, hopefully you are kind enough to shower before you arrive at the airport. Obviously, be on your best hygienic behavior. I suggest bringing your deodorant in your carry on or purse. Especially if you are waiting for a while or if you are running through the airport trying to catch a flight. You are human. You might sweat a little more than you’d like. Just be prepared. You can purchase these body wipes from Amazon. They’re especially awesome if you are traveling for a long period of time without access to a shower.
You should also be mindful of what you eat before you arrive at the airport. Even 24 hours before. There are plenty of potent foods that come out through your pores the next day. For example, if you eat fresh garlic you will most likely have a dull odor coming from you the next day. Also, skip the heavy perfume. Choose a light, airy body spray. Don’t go all “high school student” and drown yourself in it. A nice spray and walk through action is fine. Don’t get roped into the duty free perfume store either where you try on various perfumes. No one wants to sit next to that for hours on a plane!
10. Bring an appropriate sized carry-on purse
Airlines charge insane prices for checked luggage. It is actually quite disgusting that they are allowed to do so. So, I definitely understand people taking advantage of what they can take on the plane without paying. You are usually allowed to carry on one small piece of luggage and a purse/personal item. But, you have to also think of your comfort and the comfort of those around you. This bag and this bag are my go-to carryon purses because I can fit so much into them and the quality is so amazing! I can jam pack them and they still look brand new.
If your personal item is a purse, pay attention to how big it is since it usually ends up under your feet. You don’t want to overstuff your bag. Think about it. How much leg room do you even get? I am 5’ 10” and I feel like the airlines are playing a trick on me when they expect me to be comfortable. There is not much room. Don’t be that person that needs to spread their legs and feet to make sure their bag fits below them. You will end up taking up other passengers’ room with your knees. That just isn’t cool. Be courteous and stay in your lane when you are sitting.
11. Don’t overindulge in alcohol
12. Be mindful of the food you purchase
Especially if you have a flight for more than a few hours, you will want some grub at the airport before you board. Understandable. But, you have to be considerate of what you eat. Like I mentioned in #9, if you eat certain foods you will smell of them up to a day later because they will seep through your pores. Also, if you eat certain foods that leave a sharp odor on your breath, it could bother those around you. Especially if you talk here and there during your flight. Might be a good idea to brush your teeth or, at least, keep some sort of mints on you.
More importantly, you need to beware of what you bring on the flight. Many people these days are allergic to peanuts. Some are even allergic to the odor and their throat can close up. So, skip those the next time you prepare for boarding. Also, sharp smells like bananas, fish, and eggs can be annoying for other passengers. Remember, you are sardined with hundreds of others on a plane with the same air circulating (ew.). That banana smell can linger for a while. Some smells can actually make people feel nauseous. Even if it is just a food they don’t enjoy eating. Try to opt for something odorless, like a granola bar or pretzels, if you can.
13. Help others with their carryon items
It is easy to get wrapped up in worrying about yourself and those you travel with when you are flying. But, it is always nice to look at for those around you. Some people might be traveling alone. There could be a single mom with kids trying to hold it all together. Truth is, you have to count your blessings if you have no problems lifting a (most times heavy) carryon over your head to shove in a bin. Not everyone can experience that luxury. Especially if you have an injury or if you are older.
With that said, offer a helping hand. If you see that mom struggling to try to keep her kids together while holding her own bag and three other Frozen-themed backpacks, offer her some help. Go out of your way to make things a bit easier for someone else. It could really make their day. And, as always, it sends positive vibrations in the universe from you. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I strongly believe in the law of attraction. It never costs you much to help someone else out.
14. Be courteous when in your seat
It is not just enough to make sure your feet and knees stay in your area. There are a few other things you should consider when it comes to your seat on the plane. The armrests can be a strange situation. There are usually only four for three people. The way I see it is, one person gets the view next to the window. They can take nice pictures and check out the views as they are flying. The person in the aisle has easy access to the bathroom without having to have anxiety about making people stand up to exit the row. So, I think the person in the middle should have dibs to the middle two arm rests.
Also, be sure to recline slowly when the announcement is made that you can do so. Don’t be that jerk who clicks the button and slams their seat backwards. Someone could be leaning down behind you grabbing something from their bag and…smack. Also, when you do need to stand up to stretch or use the restroom, don’t be a seat grabber. So many people take hold of the seat in front of them. They use it as leverage to stand up. It is rude to do that to whoever is sitting in that seat. Just take your time and get up slowly.
15. Be orderly when leaving the plane
This one kills me. When the plane lands, most people rush to unbuckle their seatbelt before the pilot even makes an announcement. Have patience. Remember… everything is about safety and there is a reason for everything. More importantly, when the signal is given people forget how to be human and how to have order. Most people stand and reach for their belongings in the overhead compartment immediately. This happens even if someone is in row 40 and they have about 8-10 minutes until the plane clears to their section.
All that does is make the plane feel even more crowded. Ok, so now the back half of the plane has luggage out and people are standing in their seats with their heads awkwardly tilted to not his the ceiling. For what? Sit down and wait your turn. The front row goes first. Then the second. The third… and so on. When the rows in front of you are up, let them grab their bags if they haven’t. Don’t be the person who tries to squeak by. Rude. Wait your turn. Take a lesson from a kindergarten classroom.
17. Elect ONE person to stand by the bag carousel
Another area that can become chaotic is the bag area. Typically, I try to travel with just a carryon to avoid this fiasco. But, not always the case if you are going away for more than five days. For people traveling with one or more people, pick a designated bag retriever. There does not need to be five of you, or even two, crowding around waiting for bags to drop. Really, until the bags even begin to come down the shoot, spread out. Relive some anxiety and maybe walk around a bit and get some circulation. You were just sitting on a plane for a while, anyway.
When the bags drop and you see yours…relax. Wait for it to come around. You don’t need to run over to the other side and squeeze in-between people. Everyone wants their bags. There is a reason they go on a belt and move in a giant oval. They will become available to you. A little side note, too… stop buying black and blue suitcases. Everyone and their mother has those. Buy something that looks unique like these so you can spot it and don’t need to constantly bend over to check for your name. Or, if you have a common bag, tie a bright colored or patterned ribbon like these to it. It’ll make the process a little smoother.
18. Have patience at the airport & on your flight
Overall, the most important piece of airport etiquette you can follow is to have patience.
Traveling is stressful for almost everyone. People are worried about their flights. Delays happen on the regular. People working there are trying to deal with dozens of unhappy customers daily. Remember, you are not the only one in the airport and on the aircraft. Truth is, remember you can only control yourself. Your actions. Your thoughts. You can choose to feed in to travel anxiety. Or, you can follow the rules above and be one more person trying to make it all a bit better.
Related: 7 Ways to Deal with Stress & Anxiety
What are your tips when it comes to air travel?