Here are more travel tips and suggestions from me and my readers:
*Are there any non-stop flights anymore? A while back I flew non-stop to Charlotte from Tampa. That doesn’t really count, since most U.S. Air flights from the Southeast head-up to Charlotte first. Anyway, the flight was running late and two of the flight attendants were surprised to learn that I didn’t have a connecting flight! So were several of my fellow passengers. “You’re just flying-up to Charlotte?” They asked, taken aback! I know that I can’t use my frequent flyer miles (called dividend miles now) on any U.S. Air non-stop.
*Allow at least one hour between flights. Few things are more stressful than nervously waiting for your plane’s door to open and pushing your way through tightly packed isles as you rush to make your connecting flight!
*Avoid Atlanta and O’Hare in Chicago if at all possible–especially O’Hare. Always have the airlines phone number saved in your phone or on a note pad. If you look like you are going to miss your connecting flight, call the number right away to reschedule. Don’t simply stand in a long line waiting for help from service representatives that don’t want to be there! Planes are so full these days you might miss any opportunity to get another seat–on another flight–that day.
*I have a U.S. Airways Mastercard. I understand those pushy credit card sales people can be a pain! But if you fly one of the airlines more often than others, there can be advantages. For example, I am able to show my card and board on Zone 2 with U.S. Airways, a big deal since I like to avoid checking a bag whenever possible. And I know that Delta allows you to check one or more bags free when you have one of their American Express cards.
* Fear the clots! Sitting down without moving for extended periods of time increases your risk of developing blood clots in your legs. This risk is much higher among multiple myeloma patients undergoing treatment. Get up and stretch your legs several times during the flight. Flex and extend each foot ten times or so every fifteen minutes. And it is never a good idea to forget to take your daily warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin, but doing so the day before you fly could be especially serious.
* Always carry your prescription bottles with you, even if you use one of those handy, multicolored pill boxes with the small trap doors. I shouldn’t need to remind you how expensive and important your Thalomid, Revlimid or pain meds are–not to mention the cost to replace them if they are confiscated by an overzealous Homeland Security guard. (It is permitted to take larger bottles of liquid on board as long as you have a doctor’s prescription.)
* I sat next to a passenger on a flight last year who was busy blowing-up her neck pillow. Great idea! Deflate it after the flight, fold it up and keep it in your purse or carry-on.
*Pack a few healthy snacks in the bag you plan to stow under the seat in front of you. Don’t place them in your carry-on or you won’t be able to reach them during the flight. I always bring along a supply of raw nuts and a low carb bar or two. Lately I have added my favorite low calorie snack, sugar free Vines (Twizzlers) to the list. I’m a small guy and coach seats are still too small and close together for me! I can only imagine how hard it is to sit comfortably for a larger person. Keeping this in mind, as a courtesy to others, don’t carry a fast food order onto the plane. Does anyone really think it’s polite to eat their Cajun chicken salad and/or smelly burger–with extra onions and fries–while sitting next to someone who is trying to work (ME!), read or sleep?
*Sometimes I wish I had packed more, different types of food. Last year one of my flights was delayed and there weren’t any restaurants open by the time I arrived–even at the airport. Shouldn’t there be a rule against that? How can all of the restaurants close at the airport while flights are still arriving? I’ve been lucky so far this year. Although one out of every four or five flights have encountered some sort of delay, only one–on a flight back from the IMF’s Support Group Leader’s Summit in Dallas–lasted more than an hour or so.
* Last but most importantly, try and avoid stress. I know, I know–air travel by definition is stressful! But waiting until the last minute to get to the airport doesn’t help. Nor does booking your connecting flights too close together, as I mentioned before.
Long ago, flying made us feel special. But it just isn’t fun anymore. Full planes, packed with sleep deprived, sloppily dressed passengers all trying to save a dime. There isn’t anything we can do about that. But a bit of forethought and planning can help make the flight safer and more tolerable.
Feel good and keep smiling, even if you are stuck in the middle seat–on a cross-country flight–between a football player and a sumo wrestler! Pat