As a mother, who did not take her first flight until she was 26 years old, traveling by commercial jet was extremely overwhelming at first. It was the first domestic flight for the both of us. Parking, the people, security and an energetic three year old made me feel like sitting down and having a tantrum! Other parents can relate. Even those that are not parents remember the feelings they experienced when they took their first flight. Maybe if someone had given me some air travel advice, then I would not have been as frustrated.
Pick the right day and time to depart for the flight. Business consultants are always at the airport early on Mondays and Tuesdays. Choose a time around lunch to depart, if departing any time during the week. This way, waking up extremely early in the morning does not become an issue. It is cheaper to fly out during the week on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Sundays and Mondays are generally the most expensive days to fly. If the flight has a connecting flight, allow at least one to two hours between flights, in case of delays. Try finding deals on travel websites that compare different companies offering airline tickets from all of the airlines. You could find cheap tickets on one of the websites. Cheap airfare is an added bonus to any trip.
Before you go to the airport, many airways allow you to print boarding passes and pick your seats of choice up to 24 hours before the flight. If you have your boarding passes before you arrive at the airport, it eliminates the need to go through the line to print your boarding passes. In addition, they allow you to check in luggage before arriving, if needed.
If you drive to the airport, give yourself at least 30 minutes for parking. Not only do you need to find a parking spot, but you also have to unload the luggage, kids, etc. Then, you have to make your way into the airport. Sometimes, you may have to walk 10 to 15 minutes just to get into the airport.
If you already have the boarding passes printed, the next step is to go through security. The idea is to make it through security as quickly as possible. Keep ids and boarding passes ready. Liquids need to be in a container no larger than 3.4 oz. Some security lines make you throw away or check in anything larger. Throwing away a favorite bottle of perfume or a brand new bottle of face wash might make you a little irritated. Just play it safe and keep carry-on liquids under 3.4 oz.
Keep all electronics in an easily accessible area. They want laptops, DVD players, cameras and anything else that falls in the electronics category pulled out of the carry-on luggage. Put the laptops in their own tub. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that come off easily. The shoes go in a tub too. Work with those traveling with you. There are plenty of opportunities for theft while going through security. If you are traveling alone, keep an eye on your belongings as they go down the belt during examination. Most importantly, check with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for updated information on items allowed on an airplane.
Snacks such as crackers, fruit snacks (gummi bears, Scooby snacks, etc), granola bars and other small snacks are easy to stash in a small bag or backpack. They are convenient for the flight and a lot cheaper too! Gum and hard candy help relieve the pressure on children's ears as the plane increases or decreases in altitude. Some airlines do not give drinks out to the passengers. Drinks on the plane are pricey as well. After passing through security, pick up a drink or two for the flight.
Entertainments, such as DVD players, iPods, crayons, coloring books, videogames, etc, are good for trips on the plane. Make sure to bring headphones, as most flight attendants will inform you that you must turn the sound off if you do not have them. If you have children traveling with you, these are great ways to occupy their time. Bring a small blanket or cardigan due to unpredictable temperatures on the plane.
Unless you are sitting in first class, sitting near the back of the plane provides convenience when traveling with children. The airlines board passengers with children first. Being first on the plane has benefits. Airlines allow each person that has their own seat a carry-on bag and a small personal bag. This gives the parents time to get the luggage stored, children seated and settled. After the flight, wait for others to unload. You will not be in a rush to beat everyone off the plane. In addition, the closer you sit toward the back of the plane, the shorter the trip to the lavatories.
Whether you travel with children, other adults or alone, being well prepared assures for a smooth flight. Of course, unexpected delays occur occasionally. Remain patient and remind yourself that it will be over soon.