Dopers: Share your airport/flying experiences!

I’ve never flown before. But I’ll probably be flying down to Philadelphia over the March break, along with my family.

Dopers: Scare me out of it with your flight experiences.

Fron where?

Don’t lock your luggage - but make sure it has name tags.
Don’t wear shoes with metal in them.
Don’t bring anything which will slow you down in Security - knives, etc.
Eat before you go - there’s no such thing as food on most domestic flights anymore.
Drink lots of water on the flight - the air on the plane is very dry.
Keep your photo ID handy - you’ll need it 2-3 times between the ticket counter and the gate.

This is just a start.

Fron where?


Fron Toronto.

DO lock your luggage - the worst they will do is break the lock. Bring extra locks with you. $2-$3 bucks per lock is better than letting it go through lock free.

The rest of the advice is true. I have found name tags can get lost, make sure to put your personal info on the insides of your luggage. A 1-2 hour flight is not much different than a 1-2 hour bus ride. Don’t ever check anything valuable or important - carry it on. That includes cameras and medical stuff.

Well, I got really thoroughly searched at Pearson because I was wearing jeans. jeans have little metal rivets, so I set off the metal detector. :rolleyes:

And the airline lost our plane when we were trying to get back from Texas. Well, not lost. Forgot about, perhaps. And then didn’t apologise.

Travel light, so you don’t need to check anything.

This is excellent advice. My wife’s checked luggage got lost (in the US) when we were on our way to Australia. She had packed her birth control pills in her checked bags, not her carryon.

It was our honeymoon.

Most of my flying experiences are…

  1. Get there hellaciously early in case I have any problems getting through security, checking in, finding the gate, etc.

  2. Use the self check-in kiosk, sail through security, and find my gate, which’ll be like A1, right inside security.

  3. Spend the next two hours reading or watching the planes.

I don’t think I have any horrific airport related stories, but I will remind you that Philly is in Pennsylvania

Wait, I just remembered this akward moment. I was flying down to AZ with my HS band a couple years ago and the guy sitting next to me fell asleep and his head lolled over onto my shoulder. Just goes to show you my luck, I suppose…couldn’t have been some beautiful young woman…

Worst flying experience was leaving Chicago’s O’Hare on a return flight to Phila. After boarding, we were treated to about 20 minutes of “repairs” which sounded like a couple of guys beating the piss out of something with large implements. Once things were either repaired, tenderized, or rendered dead, we were cleared to taxi, but by now a storm front had entered the area. Listening to other flights communicating with ground control, it didn’t sound promising. One flight after another elected to leave the taxiway and return to the terminal. Fully expecting to spend the night in Chicago, I was surprised to hear the Captain come on the cabin PA and anounce that the takeoff is going to be bumpy, but "we’re going to go for it." :eek:

Scuse me, I don’t recall a vote being taken!? Convinced that I was now slated to become a statistic in a National Transportation Safety Board report, my seatbelt and sphincter were both tightened. The pilot must have been the spawn of a letter carrier-not rain, nor hail, nor lightning, nor wind shear, shall prevent me from getting this plane in the air.

Suffice to say that I’ve had intercourse involving less motion than the takeoff and climb phases of that flight. To his credit, once we broke through the weather, things were smooth. Cabin attendants broke out the little bottles, and I think I saw two Sisters downing doubles of Scotch, neat. :cool:

Second was the time I was leaving O’Hare for Cedar Rapids, IA on a little commuter flight-twin prop, maybe 30 passenger max. In the midst of climb, the engines began spitting and misfiring, and I glanced at the guy across the aisle. We both watched the pilot and first officer (no cabin door) checking things until the first officer smacks the pilot on the shoulder and points to the overhead console, flips two switches, and all is good thereafter.

Once in Cedar Rapids, I see my aisle partner and learn he’s in town for the same company that I worked for and we chat about the flight. Turns out he was in the Air Force, and the switches they forgot to flip were the fuel pumps. :eek:

danceswithcats’s post reminded me of my favorite (read: only) puddle-jumper story.

I was flying from Harrisburg Int’l to Dulles in a little 20-seater (approx) on my way to visit my dad in Germany. This was the first time I had ever set foot on a plane that was going to be leaving the ground, so I was a little nervous. I got on it with about 5-6 other guys who seemed to be together. They were all wearing business suits and chatting before the fight took off. Shortly after we were in the air I over-heard one of the guys say “I was on this one plane with this big red circle going around one section of cabin. It went right by my seat, so I asked the Captain what it was and he said it was the prop line and that if one of the props flew off, that is where it would puncture the cabin.”

Better to fly out of the smallest airport you can afford. The airport I have most often flown out of has required little lead time for security check 'cos it is so small.

Take at least one big bottle of water w/ you; drink judiciously if you have shy-bladder issues–I have the worst time pissing in airplanes. Yeah it’s private, but everybody knows you’re there & for how long. Bring snacks, too.

Bring a book. A good book.

Be very friendly; when “randomly” searched say things like, “Better safe than sorry,” in a pleasant voice. That’s gotta be a pretty shitty job with all the assholes who pass through airports, so do what you can to spread some good-will.

Schedule long layovers. You land for a connection, you want to piss, stretch, relax, and get a bite, but then you’re racing for the next plane because the one you were on was late. Fuck that! Arrive a few hours later and minimize the stress with the knowledge that when your flight lands late you won’t be frantically scrambling for the next flight hungry, stressed, and antsy. Besides, the people watching is fun.

Bring headache meds, stomach-ache meds, diahreah (sp?) meds, tissues, benadryl, and, if you can get 'em, anxiety meds. Eye drops, too.

Wear comfortable clothes. I always wear jeans, so do my sisters who have travelled a lot, and we have never been hassled because of it.

Get a bulk-head seat or an emergency exit seat. More leg room.

I’ve heard that the kosher meals are better, but I’ve never remembered to try them.

Well in advance, google for and read up on “the availability heuristic” and practice a bit to confirm it. When you understand the faulty reasoning that humans use, it makes it a lot easier to relax when you’re watching the wings bounce up and down a little too much for your instinctive self. You might want to search GD for “bernoulli” and/or “coanda”, 'cos knowing how the whole endeavor works is also very good for calming your nerves.

Oh, finally, read Penn & Teller’s book on travelling. Try the clown-nose thing. Report back on whether it worked.

If you’re going to be flying on a small plane while its snowing early in the morning, it is unwise to be hungover from the night before.

  • from The Book of Things That Should Be Obvious That JerH Learned The Hard Way

Save yourself a headache and tie a ribbon around your suitcase handle. Once those suitcases start pouring out of the terminal you soon realize that everyone else in the world also has a black suitcase that looks exactly like yours.

Or just get a bright red duffel bag…'ts what I have and I’ve never missed it once. Can usually see it from the plane, lol.

And I strongly agree with what js_africanus said about being nice to the airport security. On my trip back from AZ I set off the metal detector with my sunglasses, I think it was. I didn’t take them out because they didn’t set off the detector at any of the other airports… Anyway, I got pulled from line, wanded, and they X-rayed my shoes. The guy who did it was friendly and answered my question about the wand…

Because when you look out the window on takeoff and realize that the propeller is spinning the wrong way because the motor quit, you realize that dying with a hangover would suck.

Although living, and being in the hospital after an airplane crash and still having a hangover, that would probably suck worse. Because they wouldn’t give you any good drugs for awhile.

Thankfully, the other motor still worked and we landed.


-Flying back from Barcelona, a steward comes back to the cabin. “Is anyone continuing to Montreal?” A few hands go up. “Okay, well, when we land in Amsterdam, just make a run for it and you ought to make it. If your luggage doesn’t get through it’ll be there tomorrow morning.”


I don’t ever want to hear a flight attendant say that something “ought” to happen ever again.

Well, there was this one flight where we had some 57mm come up on our track about five miles behind us, and then there was this other flight where 23mm was going off about 5,000 feet below us, and then there was this other flight where we almost had a midair with a B-1, and then there was this other flight whe…

What? Oh, you meant COMMERCIAL flying? OK. Sorry about that. :stuck_out_tongue:

Suffice it to say, it’s MUCH safer than flying military, especially in a war zone.

Weather permitting, wear slip-on shoes or sandals. If it’s a long flight, it’s very nice to take your shoes off and relax.

Slip-ons are good, as economy-class passenger who has tried lacing up their shoes in their seat–arms stretched and nose pressed to the seat in front of you–can testify.

These days, some airports like to make the crowd take their shoes off and trudge like bums through metal detectors, so slip-ons are extra useful.

Oooo! Oooo! I have the bestest story to tell!

I’m 15 years old, right? Flew to India by myself, stayed for almost 2 months in the summer with friends/family. It’s time to come back. It wasn’t my first time flying alone, either.

My Uncle (dad’s friend) takes me to the airport. In India, non-flyers are not supposed to come inside, so he dropped me off, and waited until the time of the flight, and then left.

Flight was supposed to leave at 6:00 am. There was some problem, and we didn’t take off until 9:00 AM. (By the way, I’m already an emotional wreck because I don’t want to go home.) I loved seeing my extended family. Anyway, I finally fall asleep.

I wake up around 12:00 PM to a strange feeling. I ask the stewardess what’s going on, and she says they’re turning the plane around and going to Delhi! Something’s wrong with the engine! Oh no!

So we fly back to Delhi. It’s now around 3:00 PM. The plane people (by the way, this was PanAm, around 1990) say they have to get a new plane from Karachi, Pakistan, and it will take probably two days. Two days! What, they only have one plane? So all the other passengers go off to hotels, etc. Remember, I’m only 15. I’m all alone in this big empty airport and there is *no one * here but the blue-collar cart pushers. I’m scared and lost and alone.

I have no rupee coins, and I see some teller lady sitting behind a desk. I speak Hindi quite fluently, thankfully. I go over and ask her for a rupee coin to call home. She says she can’t do that, but I must have looked so pathetic that she gave me one.

So I put the rupee in, and the phone breaks down! Now I am just miserable. I sit down, and finally start crying. I can’t help it. The rupee lady looks uncomfortable, and finally calls me over and tells me to use her phone. I call Uncle, crying the whole time, saying I’ve been stranded at Indira Gandhi Airport. He comes and gets me, buys me pastries, makes me feel better. And for the next two days he sleeps on the couch, calling the airport every two hours to see if the plane came from Karachi, Pakistan yet.

I did finally get on the next plane and go home. I still remember every moment, though. The moral is: Always carry local change!

So what do you guys think of my story?