Lofty ambitions

Tips for polite and painless air travel during the holiday season

By Sophie Isbister, Life & Style Editor

You can tell it’s almost time for a vacation because you’ve had a collective eight hours of sleep in the last three days, and you may have reached a point of diminishing returns with the calculus studying. If you’re like me, your break from school will involve blissfully catching up on Scandal and Downton Abbey, but if you’re some other, luckier person, maybe you’re about to go on a fantastic vacation to a hot, steamy, all-inclusive paradise. If that’s the case, before you toss a bikini in a suitcase and head off to YVR, read the following tips carefully to make sure everyone’s trip goes smoothly during this busy travel time.

The most important thing to remember when navigating chaotic terminals and crowded cabins is that you are not the only person who is rushed/stressed/laden with baggage (both physical and emotional). Repeat it like a mantra in your head whenever you find yourself in a situation amongst others: whether it’s in line for a pre-flight Starbucks or mid-flight when your Air Canada-issued headphones crap out during The Great Gatsby, remind yourself that you aren’t the only person in this hunk of steel hurtling through the sky.

When it comes to flight attendants, a smile and a “Thank you” will go a long way. Top pet peeves from real flight attendants include rude passengers, those who try to wear headphones during the safety video or beverage service, people who stick their elbows or feet (ew!) in the aisle, those who hide their garbage in inappropriate places (like seat back pockets), and, worst of all, people who snap their fingers to get the flight attendant’s attention. Also, when it comes to smartphones, don’t be an Alec Baldwin about it. Just turn it off. Candy Crush will still be there when you land. Basically, if you wouldn’t do it in the living room of your boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents’ house, don’t do it to a flight attendant who is just doing their job during the holidays.

In most cases, airlines are only required to staff one flight attendant per 50 passengers, which is an important fact to note if you’re the type of person who gets upset when your second coffee doesn’t come fast enough. When boarding the plane, help things go smoothly by organizing yourself ahead of time. Place items you want to keep with you—like your tablet, iPod, or lucky rabbit’s foot—in an easily accessible front pocket of your carry-on luggage. This way you can locate your seat, quickly grab your essentials, and stow your bag in one fluid motion. This helps keep things moving in the cabin and makes life easier for everyone, especially your overworked flight attendants.

Air travel can be stressful, but one way to make it less so is with alcohol! Did you know that you can buy mini booze bottles at the liquor store and pack them in your carry-on? If it’s below 100 ml, bring it with you the same way you would any other liquid or gel. Just be discreet when you pour it into your soda mid-flight.

And finally, if you’re going somewhere tropical, pack a swimsuit and a change of clothes in your carry-on along with your other essentials. In the off chance the airline loses your luggage, at least you’ll have a hot outfit to drown your sorrows in at the swim-up bar.