Handy tips for flying efficiently
The New York Times
OVER the last four years, I've honed the art of efficient air travel to a sparkling shine, thanks to frequently flying for work.
I could publish my accumulated wisdom in a small book and sell dozens of copies. But, no, I selflessly offer it to you here, for free.
CHECK IN WITH AIRLINE APP
If you have your airline's free app on your phone, you can check in ahead of time and save yourself the worry of getting to the airport way before the flight.
At that point, the app can display a bar code representing your boarding pass. No paper is needed. Just set your phone face down on the little TSA (Transportation Security Administration) scanner, and you're through.
Not all airlines have bar-code scanners, though, but the airline app will let you know if it does.
SAVE FLIGHT DETAILS TO PASSBOOK
If you have an iPhone, use the option called Save to Passbook. This button appears when you're viewing the bar code in airline apps.
Apple always seemed to suggest that the app's value is in keeping all of your boarding passes and e-tickets in one place.
But Passbook's real value is much simpler - it adds a banner representing your flight on your phone's lock screen.
That is so that every time you need to show your boarding pass, you don't have to unlock your phone, open an app and navigate to the bar code. Just wake the phone and swipe across the banner. Your bar code will be available, instantaneously.
USE FLIGHTTRACK PRO
This app is a miracle worker.
It knows every detail about your flight - time, gate, terminal, airspeed, time remaining and so on - even before the airport monitors and airline agents do.
GET A TSA-APPROVED LAPTOP BAG
You don't have to take your laptop out of its bag to pass security.
TSA-approved bags keep the laptop in a flat compartment of its own, easily visible to the scanners. So, you don't need to worry about leaving your laptop behind (it happens).
KEEP THE KINDLE OR TABLET
E-book readers, iPads and other tablets don't have to be taken out of your carry-on bag when passing security.
Don't waste your time, and everyone else's, by unpacking and repacking it.
KNOW WHAT TRIGGERS THE SCANNER
Most major airports now use millimetre-wave scanning booths - the ones in which you stand still with your arms in the air like you're being mugged.
Many travellers are unduly terrified of these things. They take off their watches, rings, necklaces, glasses, belts and anything with metal - and thereby hold up the whole line.
In fact, that's unnecessary. Jewellery and glasses don't trigger the alarm. Neither do watches, unless they're of the gigantic he-man metal-hunk style. Leave them on.
REPACK OVERHEAD COMPARTMENTS
Those overhead compartments fill up fast.
Here's the thing, though: You can almost always make room for one more bag by rearranging stuff that other people have already put in the compartment.
For example, you'll frequently see an overcoat lying inside, occupying enough space for a roll-on bag.
Or a shopping bag, briefcase or backpack laid horizontally, which could stand upright and take up a lot less space.
Target your spot in the compartment, ask people sitting under it politely if you can adjust their stuff, then do it.
PROTECT YOUR EARS
Airplane cabins are loud.
It can't be good for your hearing to sit there for hours without ear protection, especially if you fly a lot.
If you don't plan to listen to music, those cheap drugstore earplugs can cut down more than half of the sound of the cabin.
If earplugs are a little too goofy-looking for you, you can invest in noise-cancelling headphones.