Flight Plan - Insider hacks to travel like a pro
With more people expected to fly this summer, plan for crowded airports, long security lines, and frayed nerves. It stands to reason that we need to get smarter about travel, and thanks to Caribbean Airlines' Captain Christopher Kelly, and cabin attendants Michelle Smith and Onika McGann, we have the best insider advice.
Timing is every thing
The most significant mistake passengers make today is not accounting for time. Even with online check-in, you still have to do the bag drop and go through security. If you don't give yourself enough lead time to do all that (plus, sometimes return the rental car), you'll end up boarding your flight unnecessarily frazzled. Captain Kelly advises, "Arriving three hours before your flight is exactly what you should do. Get in as early as you can to beat the airport security lines, then you can just relax at the gate or explore the duty-free shopping and dining available in the airport."
Stay ahead of the pack
We've seen it too often - a passenger at the check-in counter frantically reorganising overweight luggage. "A luggage scale is as essential as your passport," says Michelle Smith. "But even before you zip up that suitcase, there are some easy rules for packing. "First, Smith advises rolling garments, instead of folding. "Rolling lessens wrinkling and uses much less space," she says. "You should also pack the heaviest items at the base of your suitcase, and finish off with lighter items. "Put additional luggage tag on the inside of your bag, just in case the tags on the outside are damaged or lost," she adds. To make carry-on luggage ready for screening at security checkpoints, keep cosmetics together in a transparent, lockable plastic bag, placed on top. "Delays happen when the security agents are trying to figure out what's in your bag."
Look good, feel even better
"What's my travel secret? Hydration, of course!" says Onika McGann. "Use a night moisturiser during and after flying, and drink lots of water," she says. When it comes to deciding what to wear, McGann suggests comfortable neutrals in sleek cuts that will make your security pat-down a breeze. You should also pack a sweater or pashmina, as aircraft and airports tend to have thermostats set on low. For your feet, she suggests slip-ons, with socks or stockings, so you are not going through screening with bare feet. Once on the ground, McGann recommends eating fresh fruits and vegetables to keep your energy levels up during your trip. "Sure, we all want to have designer doughnuts and the newest flavour iced coffee and all the crazy junk food we don't have at home, but why pay the price of being sluggish days after bingeing?
You Have to Be Kidding
"One of the best parts of my job is seeing the excitement the children have when going to Orlando during the summer. They are just bursting with joy," says McGann. But that joy can quickly turn to anxiety and kiddie-stress, so she suggests packing an activity bag for each child to include art supplies, books or a tablet (with earphones, of course) and snacks. "The one thing I wouldn't pack is sugar. Try to avoid sugary snacks and drinks, because inevitably you'll have a meltdown thanks to a sugar rush." Prevent air pressure discomfort by having children drink a bit of water before and after take off. "Swallowing helps to counteract the effects of the changes in cabin pressure that," says Williams.
The best way to enjoy a destination is to do it like a local. "You'll always want to have the authentic experience when you travel, so while guidebooks and websites can steer you in the right direction, you also want to be up to date, and the only way is to ask a local," says Captain Kelly. "Get a view of the real soul of the place from the people who live there. Ask the staff at your hotel what they most love to do and their favourite places to eat, and, of course, read the local paper for news on happenings," he says.