Hi I'm Mark Orwoll of Travel + Leisure magazine for howdini. If it seems to you that flying has become an ordeal lately, you're not alone. But, here are a few tips you can follow to make your travel experience a whole lot more comfortable.
First, did you know that you can check in the night before online? Just go to the airline's website, they'll give you instructions on how to do it. It'll save you from waiting in line here at the airport. Then when you arrive at the airport, you can use curbside baggage check in. Most airlines have it, but if they don't, they'll often have a designated area to check your bags for those who already checked in online. If you can't check in online, you can take advantage of the kiosks that allow you to check yourself in at the airport. It's simple. All you do is put in a credit card for identification purposes only and it will print out your boarding pass. Don't worry, you won't get charged a second time for your airfare.
Now I always recommend getting to the airport early. It relieves a lot of the anxiety associated with travel. Of course getting to the airport early also means you have a lot more time to spend. What are you going to do? Not to worry. More and more airports across the country are adding restaurants, more things to do, more shops, a lot of ways to spend your time while you're waiting. Most airports have high-tech gizmo shops like Brookstone. And most of those will let you spend a little time in the massage chair.
If you're traveling with children, you might want to stop by one of the many science stores that are popping up in airports across the country. It's a great place to find something to keep them occupied on the plane.
Now music and movies on planes are great, but let's face it, the headphones that they usually hand out are not so good. So think about bringing your own headphones from home, especially those noise-canceling headphones. But if you do, make sure you bring adapter plugs because every adapter plug is different from one plane to the next.
When it comes time to get something to eat before your flight, check out the airport restaurants. They're getting better. In fact, famed restauranteur Todd English has his own airport right here at La Guardia airport. But if you're planning to eat something on the plane, remember that airline meals have never been that great and they're not any better nowadays that you have to pay for them. So consider buying something to take onto the plane with you.
Now you can take food through the security zone, but you can't beverages. So wait until you get to the other side before you buy your drinks.
So plan ahead, get here early, and enjoy your flight.