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Old 06 August 2014, 11:37 PM
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Lachrymose Lachrymose is offline
 
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Airplane Need advice on flying

So, for the first time since 1998, I will be flying on a plane.

I'm going to Oklahoma City from Baltimore in November.

I could use any advice you have to give me to do with anything in regards to the flying experience as I'm sure a lot has changed.

I haven't booked any flights yet, so even that process is fair game.

One slight twist is I have a tendency to have panic attacks, which is a new development since the last time I've flown. It's been under control without any medication for a while though. I'm sure I'll be fine, but is there anything out there that would keep me calm without basically putting me out that's OTC?

One other question on my mind is how annoying is it to fly on, say, Southwest, where there is no assigned seating versus an airline that does assign seats?

As far as the advice goes, consider nothing too obvious.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 07 August 2014, 12:00 AM
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Cervus Cervus is online now
 
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Is there something specific about flying that makes you anxious? It's hard to give advice without knowing exactly what you're concerned about.
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  #3  
Old 07 August 2014, 12:04 AM
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WildaBeast WildaBeast is online now
 
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For booking, I typically use kayak.com to get an idea of what prices and schedules are like, and then book directly through the airline's web site. I've found that booking directly through the airline makes things go much more smoothly if something changes. Kayak searches the airlines' sites anyway in addition to other sites.

I know lots of people like Southwest for their "free" checked bags and no change fees, but it's been a decade since I've flown with them so I can't really comment on what they're like. I generally travel light enough when flying domestically that I don't need to check a bag anyway, so I don't really care about baggage fees. Southwest is the dominant airline in Baltimore I believe, so you will likely find they have the most convenient options for you.

One thing I always try to do is be prepared when I get to the security checkpoint. I empty my pockets and stick everything in my carryon before I even get in line (If you have to go through the body scanner machine your pockets have to be completely empty). I have my shoes untied and ready to slip off before I reach the end of the line. I have by baggie of liquids out. So when I get to the checkpoint all I have to do is throw my bag on the belt, put my shoes and liquids in a bin, and go through.

You probably already know this, but don't expect a meal unless you're in first class (which is moot if you end up on Southwest; they don't have first class). You might want to have some snacks just in case there's a delay or something.
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  #4  
Old 07 August 2014, 12:10 AM
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Lachrymose Lachrymose is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cervus View Post
Is there something specific about flying that makes you anxious? It's hard to give advice without knowing exactly what you're concerned about.
Ehh..it's not the flying itself. It's mostly just a fear of not being able to easily escape a situation with a little of claustrophobia and fear of the fear itself (to FDR it up ) thrown in for good measure . To be honest, though, the anxiety is the least of my concerns.

Every now and again it rears its ugly head in things like work meetings and the like. But now, I have that mostly under control.

It's just the overall process I'm interested in getting advice on. Basically just a "what should I expect" and "what can I do to make it easier for both myself and everyone else" kind of thing and anything else you (g) would want to add.

Hopefully that's not too broad. :/

Last edited by Lachrymose; 07 August 2014 at 12:15 AM.
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  #5  
Old 07 August 2014, 12:26 AM
lavender blue lavender blue is offline
 
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if you're prone to panic attacks, I suggest you get to the airport early. That way, if a stressful situation comes up (long security lines, gate changes, etc.) you know you have the time to deal with it and not worry you'll be late.

OKC also tends to fly a lot of smaller planes, and sometimes the overhead compartments are too small to put the larger carry-on bags. They will let you valet check them (they'll collect them right before you get on the plane, and you get them back right as you get off, no trip to baggage claim), but you might want to make sure you are carrying a smaller bag that you can use to carry valuables or things you may want to use on the plane.

I second WildaBeast's advice about preparing for the security check before you even get in the line. I generally carry more carry-on stuff than he appears to, so I can't hold everything in my hands, but I pack my bag so that the things I need to take out (liquids baggie, laptop) are easy to get to.

Do you want a step-by-step of my travel routine? I didn't want to throw all that detail at you unsolicited, but I can if you want.
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  #6  
Old 07 August 2014, 12:36 AM
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WildaBeast WildaBeast is online now
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lavender blue View Post
OKC also tends to fly a lot of smaller planes, and sometimes the overhead compartments are too small to put the larger carry-on bags. They will let you valet check them (they'll collect them right before you get on the plane, and you get them back right as you get off, no trip to baggage claim), but you might want to make sure you are carrying a smaller bag that you can use to carry valuables or things you may want to use on the plane.
If you do go with Southwest that won't be a problem, though. They only fly Boeing 737s.

It might be less stressful to take a nonstop flight so you don't have to worry about connecting, assuming it's not too expensive. I just checked and Southwest does fly nonstop between BWI and OKC.
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  #7  
Old 07 August 2014, 12:47 AM
lavender blue lavender blue is offline
 
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I don't tend to take Southwest out from OKC much; their schedules never suit me, they never have non-stops to where I want to go, and they're not that much cheaper to counter those negatives. But I do tend to go west from OKC, not east when I travel.
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  #8  
Old 07 August 2014, 01:24 AM
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WildaBeast WildaBeast is online now
 
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Yeah, I just suggested Southwest because like I said I think a nonstop might be less stressful, and I'm sure Southwest is the only airline that flies that route as Baltimore is sort of a "hub" for them.
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  #9  
Old 07 August 2014, 01:31 AM
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erwins erwins is offline
 
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I fly Southwest fairly often. The open seating thing doesn't bother me. If you check in 24 hours before your flight, you'll get a fairly high line-up spot, and you can choose a seat as you like. If you check in very late, or get to the gate very late, worst case is that you'll spend your flight in a middle seat. If that worries you, I think you can now pay them for an early automatic check-in so you'll be at the front of the line.

I agree with the advice about being prepared at security, and leaving for the airport early so any issues can be smoothed out without missing your flight.

If you need something to calm you a bit, what about a glass of wine or other adult beverage of your choice? You'll be there extra early, and there's usually a restaurant and/or bar inside the security area where you can pass a little of your extra time.
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  #10  
Old 07 August 2014, 01:39 AM
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Esprise Me Esprise Me is offline
 
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General advice on airport security:

-Review the list of prohibited items. Most are pretty obvious, but make sure you're not carrying a Zippo or a pocket knife, which many people carry at all times without thinking about it.

-After waiting in a long line, you'll show your ticket and your ID to a security guard, who will mark your ticket and send you on to the scanners. At this point, it's OK (and a good idea) to put your ticket and ID back in your wallet.

-Liquid restriction on carryon items: If you are carrying liquids or gels in your carryon luggage, each individual item has to be in a container that holds 3.4 oz or less (so your half-empty 4 oz tube of face cream doesn't qualify), and they all together have to fit in a quart-sized ziplock. This ziplock, in turn, should be packed in an outside pocket of your suitcase so you can remove it easily to send it through the scanner separately.
If you're checking a bag, put all your liquid toiletries in there, but buy a small (under 3.4 oz) tube of toothpaste, and put that, a toothbrush, a small packet of wet wipes, and a solid-stick deodorant in your carryon, in case your luggage gets lost or delayed. You'll have to put the toothpaste (along with any other liquids or gels you're carrying, though wet wipes and solid stick deodorant don't count) through in a separate bag, but that's less hassle than having to do it for all your toiletries.
If you're not checking a bag, you can buy a kit with refillable 3.4oz bottles that all fit neatly in a quart-sized ziplock. I highly recommend this approach.

-Laptops, phones, and other electronics also have to be taken out of your bag and scanned separately, although if you have one of those nifty butterfly laptop carriers, you can usually use that. (But some TSA agents make you take your laptop out anyway, so be prepared for that.)

-Shoes must be removed and sent through the scanner. I recommend slip-on shoes to make this easier. You can keep your socks on, which might be worth doing if you're a germaphobe. I usually don't wear socks and have never picked up anything nasty walking barefoot through security, though.

-You probably know this, but you'll be walking through at least a metal detector, and possibly one of those high-tech Rapiscan machines. Either way, you need to not have any metal on your person, including belt buckles, jewelry, loose change, etc. I recommend wearing clothes that don't require a belt, pants without rivets or snaps, and no jewelry if possible. I never take out my belly button ring, and sometimes it sets off the metal detector, depending on how sensitive they've set it. It's not a big deal if that happens, it just delays you slightly while they go over you with a hand scanner. If you're sent to the Rapiscan machine, look at the diagram of the man with his hands behind his head, and do what he's doing.

-For all these things you need to take out of your suitcase and pockets, I recommend a big plastic bag to put everything in while you're standing in line, which you can empty into the bins they provide. As long as those things fit back into your pockets and suitcases, it won't count as an extra carryon bag. It'll also help you avoid losing those things as you scramble to get them back after they go through the X-ray machine. You'll probably need to use at least 2-3 bins for your shoes, liquids, and other stuff; they don't like you stacking things or cramming them in too tightly.

-You'll also have to remove your jacket if you're wearing one and send it through the X-ray.

-Once you get through security, you can buy a bottle of water (or any other liquid) and take it on the plane. You can also buy food or souvenirs and carry it separately without it counting against your carryon limit.

-My favorite OTC anti-anxiety drug is alcohol. I try to arrive at the airport early enough to have a drink after I go through security and before I board. It's not for everyone, but it makes me feel a hell of a lot better.

-Lastly, because you said nothing was too obvious, don't make any jokes that a completely humorless android might interpret as a threat. Don't argue with the TSA when (not if) they say something stupid, but do say something if the line is taking so long that you risk missing your flight. They can bump you to the front.
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  #11  
Old 07 August 2014, 01:54 AM
lavender blue lavender blue is offline
 
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Lately, TSA agents have taken to poking my hair when I wear it up, even if I use an all-plastic clip.

But Lachrymose is a man, and so is less likely (but not impossible) to have that happen.
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  #12  
Old 07 August 2014, 02:01 AM
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erwins erwins is offline
 
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They won't always bump you to the front though. My worst TSA experience led to me, SO, and our two 10-month-old babies missing our flight. A mistake on our part led to all of our extra time being gone before we got in line for security, and then that took forever. They were doing some program where people who paid for some service got to cut ahead in line. We asked about going to the front, but pretty much everyone around us were also going to miss their flights and we just had to stay in line. Then we had another delay because they decided to swab our stroller, and it came up positive for...whatever. Then we had to wait for a female agent to pat SO down (that was the solution to the positive swab).

Now, as I was typing this I thought, maybe don't tell your horror story about missing your flight to the anxious person. But you know, as frustrating and inconvenient as it all was, it worked out fine. We got where we were going, no worse for wear, just a bit later than we expected. I'm an anxious person too, and I always thought missing my flight was unthinkably bad. But it wasn't. I think it's good for me to know that.
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  #13  
Old 07 August 2014, 03:27 AM
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Cervus Cervus is online now
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lavender blue View Post
Lately, TSA agents have taken to poking my hair when I wear it up, even if I use an all-plastic clip.
Really? I haven't flown in over a year, and last time I went through security, I got tired of having them flip my braid or ponytail up to see if I was hiding anything in it. I thought about wearing my hair up the next time in order to avoid that. Am I still going to get prodded? I wish they'd leave my damn hair alone, but no, some stupid long-haired girl had to try smuggling something in her hair once and now all the rest of us have to pay for it. It's bad when I actually look forward to going through security in foreign airports, because at least they respect my body.
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  #14  
Old 07 August 2014, 05:20 AM
Onyx_TKD Onyx_TKD is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Esprise Me View Post
-Once you get through security, you can buy a bottle of water (or any other liquid) and take it on the plane. You can also buy food or souvenirs and carry it separately without it counting against your carryon limit.
...
-Lastly, because you said nothing was too obvious, don't make any jokes that a completely humorless android might interpret as a threat. Don't argue with the TSA when (not if) they say something stupid, but do say something if the line is taking so long that you risk missing your flight. They can bump you to the front.
If you'd prefer, you can also carry an empty water bottle through security and fill it at a drinking fountain once you're inside. That's what I usually do.

While Esprise Me is right that you should be careful about jokes, etc., when going through security, don't stress out too much either. People talk a lot about the nasty, power-tripping TSA agents, but most of the ones I've encountered have been perfectly polite and professional (*knock on wood* ), albeit often rushed trying to herd people through efficiently. Do your best to follow the process, and you'll probably have no problem: organize your stuff in advance for efficient screening (e.g., having your liquids in the right sizes and in the right size bag), be polite, pay attention, and follow instructions. IME, many TSA agents, especially the ones checking boarding passes, are quite friendly and pleasant and seem to enjoy interacting with passengers.
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  #15  
Old 07 August 2014, 11:40 AM
UrbanLegends101 UrbanLegends101 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
Yeah, I just suggested Southwest because like I said I think a nonstop might be less stressful, and I'm sure Southwest is the only airline that flies that route as Baltimore is sort of a "hub" for them.
Things may have changed, but about two years ago, we did a round trip from OKC to BWI and return, on AA, non-stop, well, we did stop at BWI for a few days in the DC area.
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Old 07 August 2014, 02:36 PM
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UEL UEL is offline
 
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Other snopesters have covered departure quite well. I have my habits there, but my game changer comes at arrival.
  • Take a photo of your suitcase with your phone before departure. That way, if it is lost, you have a very good description of the bag.
  • Many people mark their suitcase with a colourful ribbon or strap. This makes identification much easier. I did not for the longest time.** I have colourful suitcases now instead of ribbons.
  • Clip the zippers of your suitcase together with a clip that an inspector can readily unclip, then reclip. Don't lock them. If an inspector needs to see inside a locked suitcase, a nice inspector will cut the lock. A not so nice one will cut the zipper tag. Do clip the zippers, as that will prevent them from partially opening and potentially spilling your stuff when being moved from belt to cart to plane to cart to belt.
  • Upon arrival, don't necessarily rush to the baggage carousel. A lot of people rush like it is a Rally. The baggage takes time to get there, so there is plenty of time to go to the washroom, get a coffee, make a phone call, anything that will make you comfortable. Then get to the rack and still wait for 3 minutes what others have been waiting for 15 minutes for.
  • On the plane, to make yourself comfortable, bring your own entertainment. If you like a certain author, read a book by that author. If you like a movie and have it on your tablet, iPod or phone, watch that film. If you are long over due on your pleasant letter writing, do that. Things you enjoy make flights go by relatively quickly. I don't necessarily like a lot of the film selections on my flights, so I put a few on my tablet and watch them instead.
  • Know how you are going to travel away from the airport before you arrive. Look up online where you need to get the rental (if you rent) or where the taxi stand is, or bus. OKC is not that big of an airport (flown there many times) so you don't have to look up too much beforehand, but it helps when you have a plan.

As for what happens when you land, it is simple.
  • Plane lands and taxis to the gate. You don't have to worry about that, the pilot does all the driving.
  • The flight attendant will come on and alert you to remain in your seats until the seatbelt sign is off and you can now use your cell phone.
  • Once at the gate, the flight attendant will alert people with mobility issues to remain in their seat until the rest of the passengers depart. People get up, frolic getting their bags and wait in the aisle.
  • When the door opens, slowly from the front the plane starts emptying. If you aren't connecting, there is no major rush. After gathering your bag and leaving when comfortable (I often wait until the plane is almost empty) you deplane and head to arrivals. On the way, you can often get a coffee or go to the washroom.
  • Follow the crowd and signs for baggage. Once there, you await at the right carousel, grab your bag when it comes and make your way for the exit. Once you leave the carousel area, the airline has no more responsibility to you.
  • If your bag is missing, ask any member of the airline staff where to go to inquire about missing baggage (rare nowadays, but sometimes due to weight issues, some baggage is not loaded and will arrive on a later, lighter flight).
  • As you leave the baggage area, head to the transport area and get the cab, bus, rental or friend ride to your next destination.

And you have a lot of people pulling for you here. Have a great flight!

**Once, someone walked off with my suitcase that was identical to theirs. I had a black suitcase (and there were many black suitcases on that plane) identical to theirs with my name on the tag. Another passenger probably had mine. Luckily, we were flying into Canada from an international flight. I did not expect my suitcase to make it to Fredericton until the airline found it. But, as I was waiting at the carousel in Freddy, there came the renegade suitcase before my other one. I then went to the Air Canada counter to let them know that I had my missing suitcase and the only thing they could determine was that someone claimed mine as theirs, cleared it through customs, placed it on the next belt for a connection, and the system read it as mine and pushed it to Freddy. I wasn't complaining. But the person expecting that suitcase in some other city probably was!

Last edited by UEL; 07 August 2014 at 03:04 PM. Reason: Corrected pronouns
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  #17  
Old 07 August 2014, 03:00 PM
lavender blue lavender blue is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cervus View Post
Really? I haven't flown in over a year, and last time I went through security, I got tired of having them flip my braid or ponytail up to see if I was hiding anything in it. I thought about wearing my hair up the next time in order to avoid that. Am I still going to get prodded?
My statement was totally unscientific, in part because half the time I fly I have short hair (like a sheep, I get shorn once a year). It doesn't happen every time I fly with my hair up, it just seems more frequent than it used to. I've never had someone flip a braid or a ponytail, but my hair really isn't super long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post
OKC is not that big of an airport (flown there many times) so you don't have to look up too much beforehand, but it helps when you have a plan.
Here's a tip for the trip back: OKC has 2 security screening areas. The west one is closest to most of the ticket counters, so most travelers end up there. The east one is generally a lot less crowded, but not always open. OKC is small and the screening areas are not far apart, so if the east one is closed it's a 1 minute walk to the west area.

Quote:
When the door opens, slowly from the front the plane starts emptying. If you aren't connecting, there is no major rush. ... On the way, you can often get a coffee or go to the washroom.
Because OKC is so small, you're better off going to the bathroom and getting food behind security than after you get your bags. The bathrooms are larger, the food selection has more variety, and you don't have to wrangle your checked luggage while you do so. Having said that, the food places generally close around 6-7pm (the downside of a small airport).
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Old 07 August 2014, 04:34 PM
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Alarm Alarm is offline
 
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My personal advice is
"Avoid clothes with lots of metal fasteners"
"Wear good, thick socks (even if only ankle socks) that are comfy wear, but not slippery, in case you have to run bare feet from terminal to terminal"

Last edited by Alarm; 07 August 2014 at 04:41 PM.
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  #19  
Old 07 August 2014, 04:53 PM
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WildaBeast WildaBeast is online now
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanLegends101 View Post
Things may have changed, but about two years ago, we did a round trip from OKC to BWI and return, on AA, non-stop, well, we did stop at BWI for a few days in the DC area.
Really? That seems strange since neither airport is a hub for them or anyone else but Southwest, and that would be kind of an oddball point to point route.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post
Clip the zippers of your suitcase together with a clip that an inspector can readily unclip, then reclip. Don't lock them.
You can buy special TSA approved locks that they can open without cutting.
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  #20  
Old 07 August 2014, 05:31 PM
lavender blue lavender blue is offline
 
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But those TSA locks can only be used if the luggage inspection is in the US (and maybe Canada?). I had to remove my locks when I flew back from Germany, because they don't have the appropriate keys.

UEL, what sort of fasteners do you use that can unclip/reclip? For a while I used to use zip ties, but you can't refasten those.
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