When I was sitting in the last hour of 2014 evaluating what happened during the year, one thing stroke my attention… I have taken 62 FLIGHTS in 2014!! And compared to 37 flights in 2013… I won’t be counting the miles and hours I spent up in the air instead, I’ll share with you 5 tips that you might find useful next time you’re taking a trip.
1. Be Meticulous when you pack your bags
Whether it was a long flight or a short one, if you were traveling Light or not, packing is important… SOME try to STUFF things in their bags as if they were escaping the apocalypse only to live in a deserted island for the rest of their life J … Irrespective which type of PACKER / STUFFER are you, my advice to you is to be in a state READY to open your bag and add, check or remove anything in a matter of less than 2 Minutes!
For any reason you might be in a long line, and you would be asked about to open your bag… to see / validate something in it… and no one likes to be in this situation, exposing their personal items to the public… So make sure you can do so in 1 minute… and save yourself and others some inconvenience…
One time as I was walking the door of my flat, I discovered that the key to the apartment is in the pocket of my suit stored very carefully in my bag… Yes it happens!
2. Your Passport is your most important asset… Understand it
It does help that you go through your passport and memories important items on it, you WILL be asked in EVERY flight you take to fill a small form that will include your Passport #, its Date of Issuance, Place of Issuance and expiry date. Most of the time, you will need to fill that form before you land, or before you pass through passport control, so it can save you some time and less effort to get your passport from your bag stored in the overhead location or do so while standing in a line or so.
One other thing here, and this may only happen if you’re traveling in the countries of the Middle East and Africa but it’s worth mentioning… Some Local authorities, might HAND-write down some information on your passport, like a number or a code… That you might not pay attention to at the time, nevertheless, they would LOOK for this (again Hand-Written) code while admitting you in… So if you have changed passports or something. This might take you even more time and sometimes some inconvenience.
Also, your passport holds your travel History, and at points, you would be asked (whether in an application or in-person) about a specific date of entry to a country… in My case, once I was standing before the passport control in Morocco and the gentleman was sure that I didn’t leave the country the last time I went in, since it does not show on the system… so I had to look up the “Stamp”… otherwise it would’ve been an additional valuable time to finish the process… So MAKE SURE you pay attention when the gentleman perform his procedure on your passport.
3. Be at the airport at LEAST 2 hours before your flight time
I have a good friend, who really Push the envelope on this one, he would literally take his time in going to the airport, and we always fight over why I do the opposite J …
There are numerous cases that I passed through personally that made me confident that the rule of 2-3 hours before your flight time is there for a REASON!!
Let’s say you forgot something VERY important and you only discovered that when you were in the airport? Let’s say there were a LOT of people checking in, you can’t say that “you have a flight to catch” cause you know, everyone else is in the same shoe as you!
Sometimes, airlines could be OVERBOOKED, so you might arrive and NOT find a place for you on the plane (it does happen). And sometimes, just sometimes, a sequence of unfortunate events could happen to you… and make you lose time and more time and more time… like the time I was flying to Oman from Kuwait through Dubai, and I had 2 boarding passes, and the gentlemen in the passport control stamped my boarding pass going from Dubai to Oman and not from Kuwait to Dubai… and Guess what? They couldn’t let me BOARD, until I had to go BACK to the passport control and fix that… Imagine doing that all in like 30 minutes before the plane takes off.
4. Be at the gate exactly at the Boarding time
Also some folks would push the envelope on this one too, so they spend some time cruising around the airport here and there, and wait till the last minute to board the flight…
Sometimes, your boarding gate DOESN’T LEAD YOU DIRECTLY to your plane, but instead to a shuttle that would transport you to your plane; and your plane could REALLY be far from where you THINK it is parked… I was flying Emirates the other day, and while I boarded in Dubai, the gate lead to a shuttle and the bus took us on a 25 minutes trip to SHARJAH (that’s another Emirate BTW) so we could board on the plane… So seriously, you wouldn’t want this type of stress of almost-missing your flight because of that nice perfume you saw in the Duty Free.
5. Be careful when booking connection flights
When a direct flight is not available or is more expensive, a connecting flight is a decent and sometimes rather an excellent choice; just make sure to pay attention of the time difference between your arrival time from your initial flight and the boarding time of your connecting flight.
Let me put it to you in a different way, 45 minutes might SEEM reasonable to you giving you enough time to change planes etc… IT’S NOT… you may need to add an additional Hour to make it reasonable… So 1h 45 minutes IS a good time… as so many things might happen on the way… If you ever took a connection flight from CAIRO per example, (depending on which terminal you would land) the local procedures caused me to MISS my connecting flight 2 times in 1 week!!! And if you ever took a connection flight from Paris, and saw the LONG LINE … REALLY LONG line on inspection… and that wouldn’t help when your initial flight gets delayed (it happen with even the best airlines in the world… almost frequently for numerous reasons)
On a lighter side, the opposite happen, so always confirm the timings with your travel agent before you accept the flight, I once spent 9 hours in Italy and once I spent 11 Hours in Germany… because I thought that I will arrive at 9 AM and will board at 10:15 AM… and it turned out that I will board at 10:15 PM.
6. BONUS: Enjoy the Experience!
Flying is not a stressful activity, unless you make it this way, if you plan everything in advance, follow instructions and deal with un-expected things as they happen, you shouldn’t face enough issues. It’s still the safest mean to travel. And an Excited experience as well, so look around, enjoy the variety of people, languages, sounds and colors all around you, make sure you have a headphones on and play your favorite tunes and you would end up inside a movie or a nice story…
Have a safe flight and Enjoy your week!
Samer Chidiac is a Sr. Strategist, Author & an International Innovation Expert.
The Monday Tip Weekly blog is part of the “Influencing the Life of Others” project