The airports are jammed and so are the planes. People are crammed into every seat. They’re irritable and anxious, and so are airline staff. You need to take precautions and follow safe procedures of a sort that you would never have considered in earlier days.
Here are my ten commandments for air travel in today’s America:
(1) Leave early for the airport, earlier than you have ever left before. Lines for the T.S.A. are occasionally so long that you will miss your flight unless you allot considerable time for clearing security.
(2) Don’t dawdle on your dash to the gate. Planes have been known to close their doors as early as 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure time, and passengers who have stopped to shop along the way have been blocked from boarding their flight.
(3) Bring sandwiches (made at home) for sustenance. Don’t find yourself dependant on the puny, tasteless snacks offered by the airlines for outrageous rates.
(4) Leave more than an hour for changing planes en route. If you are on a one-stop flight that requires you dash from one area or terminal to another, you will almost certainly miss the onward flight on occasion, if you rely on the airlines’ skimpy suggested connection times.
(5) Anticipate the possibility that your luggage won’t make a connecting international flight—and equip yourself with emergency products in your carry-on bag. The occasional failure of a suitcase to make a connecting international flight (it’s retrieved a day later) is such a possible occurrence that you should take it into account in amassing emergency items in your carry-on bag.
(6) When making a trip by air in the immediate days after suffering a cold (or during a cold), bring Afrin for clearing your nostrils and EarPlanes for adjusting the pressure in your ears on landing (you’ll be glad you did). These items are available in any drugstore.
(7) With change or cancellation fees running as high as $300 on the airlines, take out cheap insurance to cover the chance that you may have to change or cancel an air reservation.
(8) For trips of less than a week’s duration, consider limiting yourself to one small carry-on bag (containing just one change of clothing) or a light knapsack. He or she who travels light is a happy human being.
(9) Remember you can pack liquids in checked luggage only, and barely in your carry-ons; any liquids of quantity will be confiscated by the T.S.A. otherwise.
(10) Patronize the cheap airlines: JetBlue, Spirit, Frontier, Virgin America (for domestic flights) and Norwegian Air, WOW Airlines, VivaColombia, and Volaris (internationally); they will occasionally force the “biggies” to lower their rates.