Traveling Soon? Don't Make These Rookie Mistakes on the Plane

Photo: @tuulavintage

Air travel is uncomfortable. It usually starts with an annoyingly early morning, a mad rush to the airport, and a clumsy attempt at lifting luggage that feels as though it's carrying the latest archaeological findings of ancient Greece—down stairs, into the cab's trunk, and one last time on the scale—all the while praying it won't hit the limit of the dreaded overweight fee. It continues with a series of long lines and interrogations, through which you're asked to take out your passport, take off your shoes, empty your cosmetic case, remove your jewelry, separate your electronics, and hope you don't contract anything while you tiptoe through the security gate because you again forgot to wear shoes with socks. When you finally make it to the other side, you are greeted by a grumpy crowd of fellow travelers, dry and tasteless food, and coffee that tastes like dirty water.

The flight isn't much better. Dehydrated, cramped, and hungry, you have to navigate a sea of overly chatty neighbors, complainers, chronic coughers, and seat kickers while simultaneously attempting to watch a bad movie on a glare-filled screen with the definition of a 1998 Nokia and having to fiddle with your earbuds for an hour to get half-decent sound because the airline hardware still isn't Apple compatible.

Yes, we are rarely seen at our best during a flight. So how do you keep composure under less-than-pleasant circumstances? How do you become the gracious, smooth traveler who breezes through the airport with no luggage, no problem, and no neck pillow bumping every fellow passenger on the way to your seat? We turned to our editors to find out exactly what makes a great traveler—and what doesn't. Can you take your shoes off on a flight? Should you ask for help lifting your luggage to the overhead bins? How do you silence Chatty Cathy on the next seat? Find out how to be your best self on the plane—even when you're feeling your worst.