Insider Tips for Less Stressed Air Travel

Last night I went to see Cheryl Wheeler perform at Hi Hat in Providence. If you don’t know her, you should; she is awesome, she has a beautiful voice and she is so funny!!! One of the last songs she performed was “On a Plane.” In her intro to the song, she talked about her frustrations with air travel, and discussed the recent story of the Express Jet “mishap” in Rochester, Minn. Everyone in the crowd laughed in agreement (myself included). Cheryl got me thinking about how people hate to fly because of all the problems they encounter along the way.

Even though my g-chat status has been “drama free zone” all week, I can’t resist at least a little drama. So, with the recent horror stories about air travel in mind, I’ve decided to give the people in our industry who frequently travel a few insider tips (the “inside” part being that I conveniently happen to be dating/cohabitating with a pilot who flies commercial jets). I am going to touch upon the top five complaints I hear about airports and flying, and how you can avoid or at least deal with the situation.

(Warning: I am not really that sympathetic to the traveler’s complaints.)

  1. PROBLEM: Lost baggage. SOLUTION: Pack a carry-on! I am a serious girly girl; I like my accessories and my shoes and my makeup and clothes (do I need to go on) and if I can go to Madrid for six days with a carry-on, you can make it on your long weekend without your closet in tow. Now if for some chance a carry-on is completely not practical (say, if you are taking a super long vacation, in which case lucky you; you shouldn’t be complaining about anything) or if you are traveling with kids, then of course you’ll need to check bags. Just be smart about it. Pack some things in your carry-on that can get you through a day if for some unfortunate reason your bags get delayed. I have always received lost baggage within a day.
  2. PROBLEM: Flight delayed. SOLUTION: Suck it up!!! The airline industry doesn’t delay flights because it wants to have the 30 to 200 passengers who were supposed to be at XYZ at such-and-such a time complaining and irate at the ticket counter. Flights are delayed because of maintenance issues, weather delays, maxed out flight crews and a variety of other reasons. The reason for your flight delay is real and, trust me, it is in your best interest. So just chill out, bring or buy a book, and sit back and relax. Complaining won’t help the situation.
  3. PROBLEM: The plane was so small. SOLUTION: See my solution for #2. As my partner in crime would say, “Well, I am sorry there isn’t a 747 scheduled to go from your Podunk town to the hub.” People want more frequent flights with more options to travel. As a result, they are going to be traveling on smaller planes. You can’t expect jumbo jets to be just waiting in your little town to carry 30 passengers back and forth four times a day. It’s all a numbers game. You just need to figure out what is more important to you: Being able to drive 20 minutes to your local airport OR having a nice big plane take you to your destination. Unless you live in a big city, you aren’t gonna get both.
  4. PROBLEM: We had to taxi for a while before takeoff/we had to circle before landing. SOLUTION: Keep reading that book. I know you’re excited to exit that plane and start your business trip or vacation, but if every plane just decided it was ready to take off or land whenever it felt like it, well, you’d probably be dead, because planes would be crashing into each other all the time.
  5. PROBLEM: Horrible food. SOLUTION: Bring your own. Your ticket price doesn’t include a five-star meal from Morton’s. You’re paying for the fuel and for the pitiful salaries of the pilots and the flight attendants…definitely not for your food. If you want yummy food, pay for first class or take an international flight.

People FREAK out over EVERYTHING these days!! Stop complaining and take a few deep breaths, go do yoga or put yourself in a time out. It will all be OK. If your bag gets lost, just remember they didn’t do it on purpose (unless you were one of those obnoxious people being super-rude before you even gave away your bags, in which case you risked some bad karma). They made a mistake and you will most likely see your belongings again soon. If your flight is delayed, there is a reason and be glad they have been so thorough and are correcting it. If you want more leg space and a bigger plane, fly out of a bigger city.

I just ask that before you unload on the pilot, the flight attendant, the person at the ticket counter: This is their job. They live your most frustrating travel day FOUR DAYS A WEEK, EVERY WEEK. They hear your complaints and they get it, but there’s nothing they can do and, if there was, they’d do it. And furthermore, consider your fellow passengers. The person sitting next to you or the people around you might not think the things that have you in such a tizzy are the end of the world. In fact, your ranting and raving might be the most annoying aspect of their traveling experiences!

I could go on and on with this, but I think I’ll finish by encouraging you to check out this bit that Louis CK did on the Conan O’Brien show. Maybe it’ll give you a laugh and help you realize that your travel experience isn’t as bad as you might think. And then you can join me in the drama free zone.

Posted by: Becca

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