Airline travel is an unavoidable reality of holiday life. For children, there’s something magical about pressing one’s face against the definitely-not-sanitary plane windows to watch takeoff, daydreaming of the pile of sugar that Grandma and Grandpa will let them eat while you’re not looking.
For adults, that magic is gone. All that remains is the dull, soul-sucking ache of delayed flights, overpriced snack boxes, and the comfort of knowing that you paid $20-$45 to check a bag that might not even make it to your final destination. Add packed flights and unpredictable weather and you have a recipe for unplanned layovers and fraying tempers. Your best hope for emerging from the airport with holiday spirit intact? Preparation.
• Smile. No one wants to be in an airport on peak travel days. A small act of airport kindness can get you further than frustrated complaining while making the day just a teensy bit more pleasant for everyone else.
• Pack a few travel-sized toiletries in your carry-on, regardless of whether or not you have a full kit in your checked baggage. Nothing beats a toothbrush and a face wash after a long flight or an airport terminal sleep over. (No brush? Nosh on an apple. It’s almost as good and a healthy snack.)
• Travel like a celebrity. No, we don’t mean by private jet. If you ever see paparazzi pics of actors and actresses when they’re at the airport, you’ll notice a big difference between them and the hoi polloi. They look really, really comfortable. And clothing comfort makes a big difference when you’re cramped in a middle seat. Choose an outfit with no-wrinkle, temperature regulating, BO-free Merino wool. (We suggest these Ibex items for men and women on the go.)
• Pack a scarf. This one piece of rectangular fabric does quadruple duty. One minute it’s a pillow, the next it’s a warming layer on the sky bridge, and the next it covers up the embarrassing stain from spilling your wine on your shirt. It’s even an ad-hoc slingshot if things get really rowdy.
• Avoid over-eating. Just because you can live on potato chips and Cinnabon doesn’t mean you should. Better yet, avoid that overpriced airport food altogether and bring your own snacks from home, especially if you have tight connections. Do you know what’s better than a soggy sandwich from the grab-and-go fridge? Literally anything.
• Avoid alcohol and caffeine (or not). Sure, it’s not a great idea to be sloppy… and caffeine is dehydrating… but nothing says vacation like a Bloody Mary before your 8am flight to your mother-in-law’s house!
• Resist the temptation to shop. Definitely indulge in free samples and play with every available gadget at the Sharper Image. Keep your credit cards in your pocket and save any Duty Free purchases for the return trip. Remember, you could be toting that stuff, along with your other carry-ons, for an untold number of future hours. Keep it light.
• Pack your gadgets (and power cords). You know what’s worse than a crying baby behind you on a direct flight from LAX to BOS? A crying baby behind you when your phone/tablet/laptop is dead and you left your headphones on the kitchen table.
• Our last piece of advice is perhaps the most important. Choose your airport friends wisely. You have NO idea how long you may be stuck with them.
It’s tough out there in the world of air travel. This holiday travel season, we hope all of your flights are on time departures and, if you are in the middle seat, that you get both arm rests. You deserve it.
With love and 30” of leg room,