Holiday Air Travel Tips 2012

This year we’re going to do the holiday air travel tips different, for one good reason: leisure fliers never do what airline industry insiders recommend. Don’t know why; maybe travelers already know everything, maybe they don’t care—maybe they just don’t like to be told what to do.

Regardless, since air travelers so often seem to do the exact opposite of whatever the airline industry recommends, here’s our new approach:

–Don’t prepare ahead of time. Nada—no collecting your travel info (flight numbers, departure times) in one handy place. Rather, have a bunch of papers with boarding passes, itineraries, receipts and even hand-scrawled notes, cram them into your bag somewhere and pull them out, act confused and look for someone (and there are PLENTY of airport staffers ready help you!) to untangle the mess for you. Much easier than having your act together and your travel information at your fingertips!


–Bring your dog, and let the dog out of its kennel in the airport public areas! Everyone loves your dog, no one is allergic to your dog, and other dogs won’t react adversely to your taking “just a little break” out of the required carrier, on or off the plane, right? And do ignore whatever “business” it does on the floor because “It’s no big deal” and the airport has “people to handle that,” of course. So no one else in the airport could possibly worry about health hazards.

–Don’t pack sensibly. In fact, just bring everything that fits into your suitcase—never mind sorting out liquids or cosmetics; those will be sorted for you by the TSA. That’s what the screening is for, and the passengers in line behind you aren’t in a rush to get on their flights anyway.

–Do not put your name inside your luggage! If you do, once the flimsy luggage tag is torn off, the airline will know who owns the suitcase, rather than sending it on a Disney-worthy odyssey to the Land of Lost Toys. You want that, don’t you?


–Rely on the airlines for your basic caloric needs. Food has been plentiful on the airlines since about 1965, remember? So why shouldn’t you expect in the course of your 6 hours of travel that the airline will cater a meal for you? Don’t bring non-perishable snack for yourself and please, don’t bring water aboard the plane. Some nutty people actually have reusable water containers that they fill up after security, then bring them on board to ensure their own hydration. Crazy, right?

redneck–Dress like a bum or a heroin addict. That makes it seem natural to all the service personnel that you’ll encounter that you have high expectations, even with questionable taste and hygiene, and so they’ll be ready to work closely and cheerfully with you. Please wear your headphones, have your music jacked up so that when the Flight Attendants ask you if you’d like a beverage, you can say, “What?” for the thousandth time in their very long day.

–Once you board the aircraft, hog all of the overhead bin space near your seat. Realize when the flight attendants announce on the P.A., “Overhead bins are shared space—please place one small hand-carried article under the seat in front of you,” they don’t mean “you” as in you. Rather, it’s the “Smokey the Bear” type “you:” like only “you” can prevent forest fires,” which doesn’t mean you personally, right? That’s everyone but you—and they know it. Act like you don’t even hear the P.A. as other passengers struggle to get their items stowed.

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–Once your flight reaches your destination and parks at the gate, as soon as the seatbelt sign is turned off, do not remain comfortably seated. Rather, immediately jump up and either stand uncomfortably hunched over because of the overhead bin, or crowd into the aisle even though the door isn’t even open and you’re not going anywhere anyway until all of the passengers in front of you have gathered their belongings and moved up the aisle. Why wait? Cram yourself into the aisle.

There, now you have the latest “do’s” and “don’ts” and it’s up to you to sort out one from the other. Hope this new way of passing the information registers in a useful way but regardless, when human nature takes over and the “me first” priority rules the day, at least you’ll have a tall tale about your awful trip to regale your friends with. Bon voyage!

Special Note: as of today, JetHead has had 300,915 visitors.

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16 Responses to “Holiday Air Travel Tips 2012”

  1. I was laughing until I got to the end paragraph and realised I always stand the second the aircraft has stopped. I’m in a rush to get off and into some fresh air. I tap the back of the chair impatiently waiting for the door to open watching the trolly dolly’s face for signs of movement. I usually only have carry-on so I rush for the exit and that first breathe of fresh pollution, but at least it’s gorund level polution. And at least it means I’m almost home, and in the arms of my hunny! Great story though:)

    • Love the trolley dolly reference!

      • of course i meant breath:) not breathe. Even trolly dollies call themselves trolly dollies. Well the gay ones do, but that’s almost all of the boys;)

    • Elaine Poe Says:

      I will quite frequently get up when the bell goes off. Yes, it’s still a few minutes until I can move forward, but after a long flight, it feels good to stand instead of sit. I’m not trying to beat anybody out of a position, and if it’s just been a short flight, I might just sit until it’s time. But halfway across country, I bet you I’m standing as soon as I possibly can.

  2. Love it and thanks for the advice will be flying into New Orleans for the holidays.

  3. Thanks, Captain Chris. The non-readers should read this post, all of them! Hell no! I do not travel during holiday periods and you’ve just explain why I don’t – or why I would dislike it so much. I’ve been around and I can cope with 98% loads, at least when 80% of the PAX know how to fly. Holiday periods? Hell No; I’m not going, even if it is a Boeing. In fairness, when flying during normal operations, and even with 95% loads, intercity or international flight is often a pleasant experience, especially when I buy a “J” or “F” cabin seat. During holiday periods, even the bucks-up fares do not give any relief and I just don’t do it. Within the new year’s first half, I won’t have to fly at all and yes, I am looking forward to it. While the physical flying remains fun, I have even less tolerance for the unwashed, uninformed and unprepared flyer than you do. I look forward to being grounded in all circumstances that are not of my own choosing. A wonderful post Chris, but you are preaching to the choir. I wish this post would go ‘viral.’ Are you senior enough to stay at home on most holidays – or do you enjoy the thrill? Regards,

    • I bid off for all holidays–a benefit of 27+ years of seniority, but during those years I did my share of missed/postponed holidays. And that means I usually fly right after the holiday, in the midst of the wave of “back home” travel. Which is fine. I go with the “teach a person to fish model” when it comes to the blissfully unaware: if I look up a flight for someone, I solve their problem that moment, but if I take them to the departure board and show them how to find their flight number and destination on the board with the current info, I’ve shown them how to solve the mystery from now on. Of course, the smart thing to do would be to ignore the boards and have the current airline schedule app installed and working on a phone or tablet, but that would not be a realistic expectation given the circumstances.

  4. roberthenryfischat Says:

    Reblogged this on robert's space and commented:
    the truth about the faithless and the sharks.

  5. Especially like the comment about the knuckleheads who leap out of their seat as soon as the aircraft stops. On one flight I was on, the ground crew operating the bridge hit the side of the aircraft (OUCH!) so hard a few people lost their footing and crashed into each other. Comfortably seated, I quite enjoyed their folly! 🙂 They don’t call me Crankybyeatch for nothing!

    • Good point–if you look close, you’ll see snagged hair wedged into cracks and seams in the overhead paneling, a lot of which is front the unwise who leap up as soon as the seatbelt sign goes off. What’s the rush? Can’t go anywhere until everyone in front of your seat deplanes anyway. I’m pretty sure the difference between the first and last off is about 5-7 minutes. Big deal.

  6. Lego Spaceman Says:


  7. Twenty_Rothmans Says:

    Upon arrival, congratulate the head purser on his great landing.

    In Germany, the moment the aircraft is at a standstill (doesn’t matter where), unbuckle, rise up.

    Creep your neighbour out by reading ‘Air Disaster’ by Macarthur Job during the flight (guilty as charged – I have them all)

    If you are travelling Business class or otherwise get access to the FastTrack security queue, ensure that you show your sang froid by not ditching your iPad, belt, Rolex, coins and so on until you are told to. It’s all about you.

    When you’ve all boarded and your captain tells you you’ll all have to wait for 60 minutes, remember he’s doing this to stop everyone deboarding, getting hopelessly drunk and lost. Including himself. Make hateful faces at the hosties – they have contrived this delay just for you.

    Remember that smoking is not permitted on this flight. Sneezing is, though. Go for it.

  8. As someone who commuted DEN-AUS weekly for 2+ years, I can confirm this post is non-fiction and humorous. The “all about me” world now has majority status in this country. Thanks Capt.

  9. It is a good thing that i read this one travelling in air is something that we really need to be serious and those tips are really awesome.In Finland travel tips are common on some traveler which lead them to a safe ride and travel in different kind of places.

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