Keeping Your Cool While Flying the Unfriendly Skies

 

There has been a deterioration of the air travel experience due to many factors and as a result, flying is getting more stressful everyday.  Passengers are short on patience and airline staff are tired of being the outlet to passenger’s frustrations.  When these two forces collide we get heated confrontations.  We are living in the golden age of air rage.

From the moment you leave for the airport to the moment to arrive at you arrive at your destination, air travel has become difficult, time consuming, stressful, and unfriendly.  Passengers must arrive well before their flight is scheduled to leave, stand in long lines, and try to survive security without feeling violated.  Then you squeeze into an overcrowded tight space with hundreds of complete strangers who are as stressed, tired, and jet-lagged as you are and you have a recipe for conflict.   

Airlines have done plenty in recent years to make customers feel unwelcome.  In an effort to trim costs in a competitive market and increase profits, airlines have cut services and added fees. These fees are being levied on everything from checked bags to changing your flight.  In addition, creating a comfortable customer service experience is no longer the priority for many airlines.  The emphasis is creating consumer loyalty through low prices with customer service taking a back seat.  Spirit Airlines even admitted as much.  

Passengers bare some of the responsibility as well.   It is common to see a passenger arguing with airline employees or other passengers, disobey orders, and genuinely show a lack of respect for the people entrusted to keep them safe during their journey.  These disagreements often become violent.

You may not be able to stop all situations that get thrown your way, but there are some things you can do to limit stress that can lead to becoming another angry passenger.  It is still possible to create a stress free travel experience.

  • Get To the Airport Early 

The fear of missing a flight is a massive stress inducer.  Airport’s do you no favors with the amount of time it takes to get you from the curb to the gate.  Help yourself out and get to the airport with more than enough time to spare.  The recommendation is that you allow 2 hours for domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights.  Like starting your day with a hearty breakfast sets you up for a successful day, getting to the airport early sets you up for a stress free trip.

  • Be Prepared
According to a recent study, fear of the unknown is more stressful than knowing something bad is about to happen.  Do some research and know what to do and where to go.  Most airports will have a website with airport maps.  Use them to map out where you to go and how you will spend your time once you clear security.
It is also important to prepare for something not to go according to plan.  Have copies of all your travel documents.  Be able to show them in case the airline makes a mistake.  Double check your boarding pass or any document given to you to ensure accuracy.  Know in advance what documents you will need on an international flight.  Know the regulations so you can calmly and confidently stand up for yourself if something does occur.  A calm and confident individual is more likely to win their case than a stressed out one.
  • Be Kind To Everyone
Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect.  Ask instead of demand.  Smile instead of frown.  Bring a box of treats for the flight attendants and see how they treat you.  Behavior is contagious.  Airline employees are often grumpy because they are constantly dealing with grumpy passengers.  Be kind to others and the favor will often be returned.
  • Get Global Entry/TSAPreCheck
One of the most frustrating parts of air travel is getting through security.  It’s not a pleasant experience to stand in long lines only to get poked and prodded by a stranger who is trained to not trust a word you say.  Global Entry or TSA PreCheck is a way to bypass some of this.  After undergoing a background check and paying a fee of between $85 and $100, you can become a trusted traveler and enter a special queue that enables you to skip most of the line.  You also do not have to remove your shoes, belt, laptop and liquids from your bag among other things.  Certain credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve will even reimburse your application fee.  It’s astonishing how much easier the screening process is with PreCheck.
  • Stay Occupied
Read, listen to podcasts, watch something on a mobile device, or get some work done.  Sitting around being unproductive can get you caught up in the chaos around you.  Get in a comfort zone.
  • Lounging It
If possible, spending time waiting for your flight in a lounge is much more relaxing than the regular overcrowded waiting area.  Many premium credit cards will include lounge access such as the priority pass.  You can also use airline branded credit cards to attain status that includes lounge access.
  • Stay Focused On The Goal
The goal is the destination.  You want to have as pleasant a flight as possible, but ultimately you want to get where you are going.  Creating a situation like this individual is inviting trouble.  There will be times when the airline or circumstances will create headaches for you.  Stay calm and stay focused on getting to your destination.


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