Some tips for those who are about to go on an airplane flight for the first time ever

God I miss flying back in the day when it used to actually be enjoyable. Pre 9/11, your comprehensive list would have only been the following:

  1. Show up at airport
  2. Drink scotch until flight departs
  3. Get on plane.

If you have a direct flight and you don’t have any pressing engagements immediately after you land, it’s probably OK to go ahead and check that rollaboard. You save yourself the pain in the ass of having to haul it around, you save everybody else a little bit of space in the bins, and the baggage handlers are very, very unlikely to lose it.

Those bumps and clunks you hear are more than likely the landing gear retracting or deploying, or the flaps moving around. Same goes for the buzzing/whirring/humming sounds.

When the plane hits the gate and comes to a stop and the seat-belt lights go off, don’t immediately jump up and start dicking with your carry on bags. This is annoying first of all, because everyone else is trying to do it at the same time and it’s a huge clusterfuck. Second, you look like a weekend flyer / rube from the sticks.

Also… don’t try and roll your carry-on bags through the aisle(s). They’re usually only barely wide enough for a carry-on, and if you diverge any from a straight course, you’ll hit an arm-rest and have to stop, screw with the bag to get it straight, and then proceed… only to do it again 5-10 rows ahead. Just pick the damn thing up and carry it- if it’s too heavy, check the damned thing or pack lighter.

If you sit near a wing and notice it’s flexing in the breeze, it’s supposed to do that.

I flew Detroit to/from Japan several weeks ago (Delta Airlines). When you’re loading a 747 with enough people to fill a small stadium, crowd control matters a lot. Wife and I were Zone 1 for boarding (outbound and return flights) . In Detroit, after they called Zone 1 to line up, it was just about impossible for us to find the end of the line because all the fuckers in zones 2/3 were bunching up in the area, hoping to be the first to jump in line once their zone was called to line up. So you’d stand there, wondering if the guy in front of you is actually going to advance with the line, or if he’s a zone 2/3 putz who’s not going to advance anywhere until your zone has finished boarding. Or maybe he IS a zone 1 guy, but he’s standing behind some other zone 2/3 putz, and neither one of you knows it.

Japan (Nagoya) did it much better for our return flight. They actually had gate employees holding up giant placards that said “ZONE 1”, “ZONE 2,” etc. and you simply lined up behind them. Complete clarity, no confusion, orderly lines and a nice calm, relaxing boarding process.

A lot of people bitch about Southwest Airlines’ “cattle call” boarding process, but I like the clarity of it; everyone has an exact number - not a zone - and so there’s absolute no confusion about who’s next in line to board. Wish they all did it that way.

tl:dr version: flying during the holidays sucks big time. People are assholes. News at 11.

Disagree with this bit. I’d rather be behind the family than the business guys - they have complicated shoes, belts, wallets, jackets, and pockets full of stuff to deal with, then they have to get out their laptops. It’s a complicated operation. Granted, lots of them are pretty practiced, but still, it takes a while.

except that if you aren’t one of the first 15 on board you will have no room for your carry on luggage or will have to put it at the back of the plane so that when it is time to debark you have to wait for the entire rest of the place to leave to get to it and you miss your connecting flight. the last time this happened to me they were giving away my seat when I got to the gate even though they have it on their manifest that I was on a connecting flight that had just arrived. the gate agent did not want to give me my seat because she had been paging me and Ihadn’t answered. I think she saw the steam building up becasue she trailed off what she was saying and told me to go ahead and board. :frowning:

Now I try to get in the foremost seat i can and check my liuggage unless it is a direct flight.

The trick is to put your carryon luggage somewhere ahead of where you’re planning to sit. That way, when it’s time to get off the plane, you don’t have to contend with the people near you- you just hop up, go up to where your bags are (probably mostly empty unless you’re sitting at the front), grab them and go.

Despite its rather misleading name a metal detector detects metal.
Ladies and Guidos this is not the time to dress up like Mr. T. We will hate you for that.
Also ladies don’t wear clothes with studs all over them. The studs are metal. We hate your fashion choices.
Go through little Johnnies pockets before you get to the metal detector, it will find the 14 little metal cars in his pockets. We hate your kid.
If your kid does trip the metal detector for OG’s sake don’t take his word that he only has 1 little metal car in his pocket, frisk him. Trust me he has more than 1.
Pro tip: if you have a carry on put your watch, wallet, coins and all other metal in it while in line.
If you forget to do this or it isn’t convenient put all of those items in your shoes. You won’t leave anything behind that way. Makes it easier to collect also.
Don’t forget to take off your Bluetooth.

This is an asshole move. Don’t do this.

I may add this to my sig.

Ohh . . . That explains a lot. I usually keep my knife, brass knuckles, and spare ammunition on me when going through it and always wondered what the big deal was.


Or put another way, by the time you get to the bins, you should not have anything in your pockets to take out. You should have taken all of the items out and put them in your carry-on or in your jacket pockets (your jacket will be taken off and put in a bin). It is a supreme waste of time and effort to grab a bin and then start fishing through your pants pocket for loose pennies and gum wrappers. Do that earlier! Then when you are through the security scan you can just pick up your carry-on or jacket and be on your way. You don’t have to scoop up all that loose change and gum wrappers while the bins are being shoved out of the scanner. Easy-peasy!

When boarding the plane - place your bag (please only the roll-aboard) in the space above your seat, place your smaller carry-on under the seat in front of you, and sit down. It doesn’t take much longer than it did to read those words.

However, some people seem to need to get up at least 38 times and scrabble around in the bag that they placed in the overhead bin. WHY??? If it’s something you need, then why not put it in the bag you are placing under the seat in front of you? Then it’s right there! Easy-peasy!
And number one on my list - take your assigned seat, please. Lately I’ve seen a trend of individuals just out-of-the-blue deciding they would rather have THAT seat, even though their boarding pass clearly says another seat. Then they figure when the actual owner of that seat shows up they’ll just cheerfully trade! Weeee! Naturally, the person who has out-of-the-blue moved themself will get up to use the restroom just as the person who actually owns the seat shows up, so that it’s a fuster-cluck with flight attendants, boarding agents, and nearby seatmates all trying to sort it out while happy pants is lounging in the john. WTF?

Well believe it or not all of those things I mentioned I have personally witnessed at various airports.
I can only conclude that a fair percentage of the people at the airport are unaware that a metal detector detects metal. Or maybe they think it only detects metal they don’t own. Or maybe it only detects guns, shit I don’t know.
I even went so far to say those exact words to the mother of two rug rats that must have had 20 little metal cars between them. After the sprogs third trip into the metal detector I lost it with mommy dearest. (Who had so many chains and shit on she clanked)

If you are landing late because the airport is backed up, and this makes you worry that you will miss your connection, don’t climb all over everybody to get out quickly. Your connecting flight will also be delayed by about the same amount of time.

In this vein, yes, specialized duct-tape (P12L - speed tape) is a thing you don’t have to worry about seeing on the aircraft’s fuselage or the belt loop of the techie servicing your plane. They’re used to cover very small holes or cracks until the craft can be scheduled for service, it’s not really anything like duct-tape and and there’s strict FAA regulations restricting whether it’s appropriate to use it, apparently.

Boarded a plane to Lithuania a bit early a few years ago, saw a tech with his shoulders stuck up into the wing being handed a roll of what looked like bog-standard duct-tape. Time for a scotch! One of the questions that led me to the Dope, back in the day. (Because holy hell, they’re using duct tape to fix the damn plane?!)
Worried about losing your suitcase? Tag it and snap a picture of it on your smartphone before you leave your house. That way you’ll have something to give the airport functionary who’s supposed to distinguish between your kinda-black, kinda-blue Samsonite from the other 120 that got lost that day. Also, maybe find some way to make it a bit more recognizable. I’ve had my luggage lost maybe half a dozen times over the last decade. (I travel a lot, with a lot of weird connections.) Since I started doing this, getting it back at least has been a breeze. Here’s an example.

Does this ever actually work? In all the flights I’ve taken, any dispute over seating quickly brought a flight attendant who would look at boarding passes and politely tell the offender to get his ass back to 24B or whatever he was supposed to be in. The only time it didn’t work was on a United flight that had accidentally double-booked 10 people into 5 seats so there were actually 5 pairs of people with identical boarding passes. That was a nice mess.

I will also add a few of my own tips:

  1. If you have a huge-ass piece of rolling luggage that you can’t handle, please for the love of all that is holy do NOT take the escalators in the terminals. Your laziness in refusing to locate the elevator will not be an acceptable apology for when you inevitably lose your grip on your giant top-heavy wheeled duffel bag and drop it down the escalator onto the people behind you.

  2. We are all stuck together in a tin can for the next however many hours. Bringing food is fine. Bringing something that reeks and will stink up the whole cabin is not.

  3. This one will probably start an argument over who has “rights” over the window shade and if the window seat person should get to do whatever they want by sitting there, but you know what? Yes, you can see outside the plane if you raise the shade. You will see the same wing, the same clouds, the same sun, and the same indistinguishable brown/green blur on the ground that’s been there for the last 2 hours. Meanwhile, the sudden blast of direct sunlight from your little sightseeing adventure is blinding the entire row like an icepick to the eyeballs, making it difficult to sleep, read, or see anything on the iPad screen. At least be aware of this.

Edit: Maybe I’m just oversensitive on #3, I don’t know. I hate bright light in an otherwise darkened plane cabin. It hurts.

I don’t take the plane often, and this thread is actually a pretty useful collection of the do’s and don’ts of air travel. Thanks to all who have contributed so far.