No Need for a Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, or any Height

Starbucks on a Plane

Image (c) Osmosis Online 2009

Seasoned road warriors may forget that jumping on a plane is, for the vast number of air travelers during the holiday season, a relative rarity.

Consider this a public service announcement for those less-than-frequent fliers: six tips to make your holiday trip a little easier . . . and help prevent your trip from slipping into the Twilight Zone.

1] Checking bags — in some cases any bag — costs money at the major air carriers. If you haven’t traveled for more than a year, this may come as a shock. The rules vary by air carrier; check out your own airline’s rules to be prepared.

The quick & dirty round-up (when traveling domestically): American Airlines charges $20 for your first and $30 for your second checked bag. United is the same, but a generous $5 off each if you check in at the Web site. Delta is $15/$25. Southwest is okay with two for free, but $50 after that. Positively genteel!

The practice of charging extra for checked bags has encouraged the irritating trend of people not wanting to check any bag ever. The fallout? It’s very hard to place your carry-on bags on a flight, even when traveling light.

2] Stand to the right, walk to the left. If you’re on an escalator or moving walkway, abide by this principal and you’ll get to and from your gate that much easier . . . and create minimal interference for those in a huge rush. (Note: our panel of advisors has advised that, if you take anything from this article, this item is paramount!

3] Security line preparedness is key. Yes, you’ll need to take your shoes off. Yes, you’ll need to take that laptop out of its case . . . and it will need to go into its own bin. All your metal should go in a bin too — including your belt. There may be a special container near the metal detector for keys and pocket change. Your coat will need to go through the scanner too — do not leave your boarding pass in it. Keep that on you at all times.

4] Airplane coffee sucks. Indeed, this would not be coming to you from the beverage enthusiasts of Osmosis Online if we weren’t concerned about your liquid intake. Even if you like Starbucks, and the airline claims to be serving it on the plane, you can’t rely on the attendants making it well. And we prefer to avoid the taste of Styrofoam. Find a coffee joint on the way to the airport, or even take your chances with overpriced, in-airport concessions. It’ll be better than the Dixie-cup-sized dreck.

5] You can’t pay cash for food on the plane. If partially-hydrogenated snackables and dried meat products are your thing, you’d best make sure your credit card is accessible. The major air carriers don’t accept cash for on-board “edibles”. And on a five-hour-plus flight you might just get a little hungry.

6] The Internet is your friend. Worried about your plane being late? The Internet is your friend. Concerned about health risks, like contracting swine flu en-route? The Internet is your friend. Need to delve into the finer details of packing liquids, travel considerations for various religions, acceptable luggage locks, or packing your guitar? All together now: The Internet is your friend.

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