Five Things to Carry Onto the Plane

Will someone buy me the backyard Bigfoot Yeti sculpture from the Skymall? – @rainnwilson 

As airlines trim expenses at every turn, flights have become more of an endurance challenge than a fun experience. To help you exit the plane not much the worse for wear, I recommend that you include the following things in your hand baggage (as opposed to the roll-aboard you stash in the overhead bin).

Medications and “must have” toiletries – If medications are vital to your comfort and well-being, be sure to keep them with you at all times. Do not assume that just because they put a CDG tag on your suitcase at the curbside check-in that the bag will actually arrive at Charles De Gaulle airport when you do. The same applies to personal toiletries; replacing the one deodorant you really trust in a foreign country can be especially exasperating. Having a toothbrush in hand on an overnight flight can make all the difference in your arrival state of mind. Be sure to observe the TSA rules about container size (3 ounce maximum, all bottles in a 1 quart ziplock bag) so that you really can carry them on with you. If you have liquid medications in larger bottles and syringes, declare these to the inspectors for separate consideration.

Entertainment – If you rely on electronics to pass the time, be sure that they are fully charged before you leave home. These will need to be turned off during take-off and landing, but that might still leave lots of time to use them. On most long flights airlines will offer earphones for a nominal charge. If you are fussy (I mean, if you have high standards) about sound quality, bring your own earphones for a better experience. If you are from an earlier school of entertainment and prefer reading, bring your own material. You never have to turn off a book! Sky Mall and the airline magazine can only hold my attention for so long – even when I am studying the bi-lingual magazine to learn new phrases. Knitting needles can be carried on in the US but not in all countries. Don’t risk having to take your work off your favorite needles. Check the rules before flying.

Creature comforts – Cabin temperatures can be unpredictable so it is smart to bring an extra layer of clothing for warmth. Overnight international flights usually have a wealth of blankets and pillows available (more than you can deal with at the start it always seems) but they can be in short supply on shorter flights. If you get cold easily, dress accordingly. It’s nice to have your own pair of slipper socks for long flights, too.

Food and drink – Passengers flying in first or business class still receive complimentary multi-course meals reminiscent of the golden days of air travel.  Passengers flying in coach will probably be offered soda, coffee, tea and water for free on most flights and long flights might include a meal. But if you want to be sure of what and when you will eat, bring your own food. Vendors in the boarding areas will pack your food “to go.” You will not be able to bring beverages through security checkpoints, but can almost always buy drinks in the boarding area.

Credit card – If you do want to buy alcohol, food or Wi-Fi access during the flight, you will need to have a credit card handy. Many airlines are “cash free” now, but there are exceptions. Within the last two years, I heard “credit cards only” on the flight from Boston to the hub airport, then “cash only” on the same airline’s flight from the hub to downstate Illinois. It would be nice if they all read the same memos!

Boundaries divide. Travel unites.

28 March 2013

About Travel Unites

A travel agent since 1994, I want people to get together for greater understanding across boundaries.
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3 Responses to Five Things to Carry Onto the Plane

  1. Betsy Bouche says:

    Of course I was going to add knitting, but I see that you have that covered. In my case, I bring 2 knitting projects: one that requires a lot of focus & concentration, and another that is mindless and keeps my hands busy if I’m talking to my neighbor.

  2. I like this post, similar to my own : http://britgirlfirstandten.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/jetla/
    The sleeping mask really helps when you don’t want to talk to your neighbour! I also always take a puzzle book, with all the good intentions – always throw it away when I get back home, unused. We had a 12 hour flight from Mexico to Paris a few months ago, on an old plane with no TV, I find a puzzle book came in quite handy!

    • I went through a phase where I never flew without Sudoku puzzles in hand. I had a book with four puzzles on each side of a page. I would tear out a few pages and the corresponding answer page and fold them up for easy access. I also carried a particular set of tools – a pencil, pen and a good eraser — to fill them in. I consumed the entire book eventually! They can get boring but they are better than nothing! Thanks for writing.

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