Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hoping for the Best, Preparing for the Worst: Smart Packing for Airline Travel

By Mike Grasso

We've all heard the dreaded stories of planes stuck on the runway for hours at a time, passengers suffering in the cabin lacking some of the basic essentials such as food and water and the pilot refusing to allow people to de-plane. Thankfully, these are rare cases. But there are steps you can take in advance should you find yourself in a similar situation. Many of these suggestions are common sense, and put the bulk of health & safety responsibility back onto you - the passenger. If we have learned anything from these extreme situations, it's that nobody can best take care of you better than YOU.

Bottled Water: You can purchase a bottle post-security, or simply bring an empty bottle through security and refill it at a water fountain before boarding your flight.

Snacks: Energy bars, a cup of trail mix or nuts, or even a sandwich are all great munchies to have handy.

Vitamins/Supplements/Meds: Ensure you have taken your proper dosing before catching your flight, and bring extra in your carry-on bag.

Sanitizing wipes: Bring disposable wipes and wipe down the arm rests, head sets, tray tables, and anywhere else your skin makes contact with the plane. Remember, just because it doesn't appear dirty - doesn't mean bacteria aren't present.

Toiletries: Keep a small toiletry bag with your carry on. Anyone who has ever had their luggage lost by the airline has learned to keep essentials such as a toothbrush and deodorant nearby. The TSA 3-1-1 rule currently allows you to carry personal-care products in 3-ounce containers which are to be placed in a 1-quart resalable bag, 1 bag per person.

Seating and Stretching: The middle seat is bad enough, but if you find yourself stuck for hours on a runway, the middle seat will feel like misery. So, get your seat assignment far in advance, to avoid the middle. Regardless where you sit, be sure to stand, stretch and walk around from time to time.

Entertainment: OK so you've packed everything to ensure "survival", now pack a couple items to ensure you actually have a bit of enjoyment, in an otherwise unbearable situation. Magazines, books, portable gaming devices (think, for the kids), or a deck of cards (nearby passengers would probably love to join in too!) are all fine choices. Ensure portable electronic devices, such as mini DVD players and laptops, are charged-up in advance, to allow for maximum enjoyment.