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Top Ten Travel hints and Tips

Well, let me be honest right at the top here.  These are not travel hints Smile  These will not help you in any way.

This is me having a whine and a rant about a minority of people that I occasionally encounter when travelling.

Yes, this can probably be best described as me and my first world problems, but I need to expunge these so that next time I travel, I don’t lose my head, and stuff some poor unsuspecting innocent passenger“under the seat in front of me or in the overhead locker” Smile

So sit back, relax and enjoy Connor’s “Travel Tips” Smile  (possibly NSFW)

1) Boarding pass

The term “boarding pass” stems from the Latin derivation: “The pass you need to present in order to board the bloody plane!”

So you know what ? At some stage, there is going to be a person who wants to see your boarding pass.  Incredible eh ?  And do you know where this happens ?  In every freakin’ airport !  We don’t need to suffer while you present a bemused expression to the security person asking for boarding pass, whilst you say “Oh….do I need my boarding pass ?  Let me hunt for it in the bottom of my bag for 15 minutes”.  On a recent flight, I even saw someone launch into a debate with the ground staff about why they have to present their pass!  Seriously ?  Were you trying out for the school debating team ?  Just keep it in your pocket or in your hand, and you’re done.  Easy !

2) Security check

There’s also going to be some people who want to X-ray your stuff.  Do you know where this happens ?  In every freakin’ airport !  And that huge placard that just about hit you on the head as you entered the security checkpoint said something along the lines of:

  • Take out your laptop
  • Empty your pockets

or we can take that down to real simple terms…. Metal and electrical stuff – bad.  Human body – good. Pretty….simple….concept.

But that’s ok, you can just ignore all that, because nothing makes a security officer feel more complete, than watching that bag of yours go though the X-ray machine 4 times, each time with one less electronic device in it, combined with your silly grin and shrug of the shoulders…. And they’ll ever happier when you follow that up with you carrying your wallet, phone, pocket knife, kitchen utensils, meccano set, your complete IKEA Applaro outdoor furniture setting, and a Milwaukee ride-on lawn mower, all stuffed in your jeans pockets, so that body scanner sounds more like Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum fairy.

3) Boarding the plane

A few budget airlines have a policy where the seats are no allocated, you simply take what is available as you enter plane.

But the huge majority of airlines offer an incredible, amazingly sophisticated service for you as a passenger.

It’s called …. AN ALLOCATED SEAT.

You’re going to get one.  Incredible isn’t it ?!?!  Whether you like it or not… there is a seat on that plane that is waiting for you… JUST FOR YOU!  It doesn’t matter if you are the first person on the plane, or the last person on the plane, you are going to get that seat.  Because we’ve all seen the unholy hell of a nightmare that results when a passenger does not arrive for their seat after they’ve checked in.  Staff run around in a total panic like headless chickens yelling out “MR SMITH !!! URGENTLY PAGING MR SMITH!!!!”.  Every airline employee involved with that airline’s imminent departure is thoroughly invested in getting you to the your seat so the plane can leave, and they can see the back of you and go grab a coffee.

Do you know what this means ?  It means that when the boarding announcement is made, you do not have to charge the gate like the Orc army in the Lord of the Rings.  Do you know why airlines board the plane in a particular order ?  So they get can the damn plane into the air and on it’s way! That is sortta a prerequisite of travelling by plane to a destination – at some stage the plane has to get into the air for this to work ! You are not trying to storm a battlefront, or escape a stampede of bison, or get a limited edition of the AskTom commemorative sticker Smile.

So surprise surprise … if you wait for your boarding zone to be called, you will actually get to your destination faster.  And as a bonus, we can all get away faster.

4) Carry on

There is probably some unique set of circumstances out there, or some incredibly rare set of events put in motion, that means on this particular day, on this particular flight:

  • you are emigrating to another country never to return, AND
  • the aircraft is doing an emergency shipment of food to a stranded herd of Nepalese mountain goats, and hence the cargo hold is full of hay.

but unless both of those conditions are true, then sorry, you do not need to bring a metric tonne of belongings spread across 34 bags into the cabin.  If you don’t carry so much junk with you, you’re also less likely to needing riot gear to rush the door (see 3 above) worrying that you won’t be able to find storage space for those 34 bags you’re lugging.  And if you had listened to me in #1, you’d have your boarding pass in one hand, and only one hand left for carry-on luggage.  That’s ample!

5) Your seat

“Wow, I walked onto the plane, and every row number was just in a random order throughout the plane”

… said no passenger on any airline ever.

It’s pretty simple.  The numbers start low and get higher.  It’s a lot like …. hmm… what’s the term I’m looking for …. oh yeah, counting! Smile  Don’t get me wrong – we’ve all done the “walk mistake” or “sit mistake” where we end up 1 row adjacent to where we should have gone.  No problems with that – it’s easy to fix.  But how on earth did you get down to row 64 when your boarding pass said “Row 17”.  What happened in that long slow walk down the plane where you missed the numbers 18 through 63 ?  I reckon I know why you missed those numbers – you were looking for storage bins to put your 34 carryon bags, plus the IKEA Applaro outdoor furniture setting that’s in your back pocket (which would be uncomfortable to sit on for the flight) Smile

Now, if you’re going to take me to task on this one and tell me that things might be more complicated on an A380 because of it’s multi-deck system, then I’m still not budging.  See #3 above.  When the boarding call announcements are made, the ground staff will tell you which door to take to the plane.  But you might have missed that during your Ussain Bolt impersonation trying to be the first person on the plane Smile

(Caveat: If the standard decimal Hindu-Arabic number system is not native to your language…you get a leave pass for this one)

6) The loo (toilet, rest room)

There’s plenty of ridiculous research studies performed each year, so perhaps somewhere, in some remote corner of our planet, there is a study being conducted to see in how many ways in a confined space a male can pee and deliberately not hit the target.

An aircraft is not one of the places…. Ugh.

7) Your phone

I think I side with the majority here, in that I’m pretty confident that using mobile phone is not going to cause any problems to the plane.

But … unless I work as an electronics/avionics engineer for that airline I’m flying on, that is not my decision to make.  It’s not yours either.

So when the announcement to turn off or flight mode your phone is made – try this technique:  Stop using your damn phone.

Because even if there is only a 0.001% chance of your phone usage causing an issue on the plane, there is no way that you “Poking” or “Liking” your cousin’s new gluten-free sugar-free chocolate chip muffin recipe on Facebook even comes close to taking even that infinitesimal risk.  When they’re crawling through the wreckage of the plane to find your remains, that’s not so great a eulogy to have read out at your funeral: “Yes, John did bring the plane down with his phone by messing up its navigation, but at least he enjoyed cousin Susie’s Paleo muffins”

8) The seat belt sign

I’ve travelled a lot.  Like most people, I’m not a fan of turbulence, but there are some times when I am literally appealing to a higher power for sudden, unexpected, near catastrophic turbulence to hit the plane – even if we’re still on the ground!  It’s when we’re about to take off, or we’re about to land, because someone has decided it’s time to get out of their seat and and embark upon a voyage of exploration throughout the entire cabin.  You can see their mindset – “I paid for my ticket. Why should I have to abide by the instructions of the flight attendant?”. If they just could take their over-inflated sense of self-importance offline for a few minutes, they’d probably realise that that trip to the galley area to demand an apple juice, (because hey, apple juice is much more critical than the tasks that flight attendants are currently doing in preparation for take off) could probably wait for a few minutes until the seat belt sign is switched off.  Which it will be for 99% of the flight!

The other day, I was in a plane that was seriously 20 seconds from touching down, and some joker gets up and makes his way to the toilet.  They had been locked by the flight attendants because …. we’re busy landing the bloody plane!  But that’s lets face it, if a seat belt sign hasn’t deterred the passenger, then nothing as simple as a locked door is going to stop him either.  So he’s standing there trying to break down the door like a SWAT team doing a drug raid, whilst the poor flight attendant has to put her safety at risk to get this numpty to the sit the hell back down.

9) The baggage carousel

As well as SpaceX and cross-continental transport tunnels, Elon Musk has already invested billions of dollars into baggage carousels at airports. Baggage carousels are incredibly hi-tech pieces of equipment.  There is a series of highly sophisticated Bluetooth devices that scan every single passenger as they approach via the entrance hall – devices that measure each passenger’s exact distance from their shoes to the carousel down to the nearest millimetre.  These measurements are sent wirelessly to the luggage delivery staff who then proceed to deliver the suitcases in exactly the order of proximity of passengers to the carousel.  The closer you stand, the faster your bag will come out.

I don’t have any concrete evidence of Elon’s involvement in baggage carousels – but surely that must be the case, because what other reason could there be for people to jam themselves around the thing like sardines in a can, making it impossible for anyone to see or even pick up their bag. Oh, and here’s a great idea – grab that airport luggage trolley and jam it right up against the carousel as well.  Heaven knows, if you packed 34 items of carry-on, you probably have an aircraft carrier plus a 4-storey building jammed into your suitcase.  No way you’ll be able to lift that more than a couple of inches.

Pro tip:  Standing just 1 meter back from the carousel lets everyone easily see and grab their bags.  And there’s no Bluetooth either, or Elon Musk for that matter.  He’s got more important stuff to do than watch you make a fool of yourself around a baggage carousel. Smile

10 ) Your airline staff

This is perhaps the motivation for this entire post.  On a few flights recently, I’ve seen the flight attendants over stretched in their duties because they are spending so much time trying to get passengers to do what passengers are meant to be doing without explicit instruction.  Or even worse, people being just plain rude to them.  Man, that gets me wound up.  So wound up it makes me want to blog about it Smile

Whatever your profession, nothing is more insulting than someone coming up to you and basically announcing “Whatever task you are doing is not as important as you catering to my most trivial of needs right now”.  It’s disrespectful and demeaning.  At the end of my work day, I feel best when I look back at the day and think “I achieved a lot today”.  More and more nowadays, when I’m a plane sitting within eyeshot of a flight attendants, when the plane lands I don’t see a look of job satisfaction; I see “Thank heavens, these rude and ignorant people will be getting off this damn plane so I won’t have to deal with them again”.  That’s a really sad reflection on us as passengers.

So there’s my “travel tips” for you.  Happy flying Smile