Airline Travel! Obviously for people who don't like either airplanes or travel. Think about the phrase air travel, it conjures up images of a peaceful, relaxing trip to an exotic locale. Perhaps a little glamorous: well-dressed people sipping complimentary drinks while a friendly flight attendant tosses a fresh Caesar salad in the generous aisle; well-behaved children quietly playing with non-electronic, silent toys that keep them so entertained they don't even think of kicking the seats in front of them. You get the idea . . . and you also know this hasn't been the reality for decades!
As the holidays approach, I'm happy that our families are within easy driving distance. Only the bravest and cheeriest people can arrive at their destinations in a festive mood after being wanded, patted down, charged $5 for a bottle of water to replace the unopened one discarded in the security line, held in a grungy waiting area at a gate with seats for less than half the passengers, stuffed into a plane with no food service and bacterial tap water, given a "pillow" that has been drooled on by passengers from the previous 25 flights, and shuffled off to baggage claim where your luggage is the very last to come around the carousel and it's ripped (which doesn't even upset you because you're just so happy it made it at all!). Even Marlene Dietrich couldn't look cool after that!
This might be giving you the wrong idea - I love to travel and I love to fly. I know the air industry is struggling and can't offer even the pre-9/11 level of service, but do things have to be as dreary as they are currently? I think not! And, to avoid breaking one of the cardinal rules of business communications, this will not be just one long complaint - I'm also offering some solutions! Well, perhaps solutions is a bit pretentious, one little non-travel blog can't affect the industry - so what's the plan? You know that saying, "you can't change the behavior of others, only the way you react to them"? Let's apply that here - what little things can we do to make our flights less gloomy?
When I was a 40-week a year traveler, my favorite trick was to arrive at the airport early (that, and to work for companies that flew business class!). This optimizes your chances for: upgrades; switching to the best seats on the plane if you can't upgrade (use Seat Guru to help beforehand); having your luggage arrive with you; and not losing items at security. Always have the airline's phone number handy so you can call them directly if your flight is delayed or cancelled - many times I've gotten myself on a new flight this way while standing in the re-ticketing line. Oh, and avoid any connections on American Airlines through Chicago/O'Hare!
What else can you do? Bring a little fun with you - start with fun luggage tags and a lock that's TSA approved (these were purchased at a local shop that's sadly out of business, but google 'fun luggage tags' to find similar ones).
And, if you're a worried about the cleanliness of the seats, try these Plane Sheets (isn't that a clever name?):
I haven't tried the Plane Sheets, but Tori Spelling is apparently a fan - so let that be your guide! I'd love to hear your tricks for surviving air travel - or perhaps you know other great items every traveller needs . . .
You're free to move about the blogosphere!