Airport Travel Hacks To Make Your Trip Easier

Are you ready for your next vacation? While air travel means jetting off to a new and perhaps exotic place where you can rest, relax, and adventure, it also means airports and all the other not-as-enjoyable aspects of travel. So to help you prepare for the time before, during, and after your flight, we’ve compiled this list of travel hacks to make your trip easier, cheaper, and more comfortable.

1. Pre-Booking: Incognito Mode

When you’re ready to start looking for flights, always use your browser’s incognito mode. When you do this, the airline websites aren’t able to track your searches using cookies, ultimately resulting in lower flight prices being shown to you. Yes, that means that the more frequently you look up a flight, the more the cost of the flight will go up because the airlines know you’re interested. It’s the law of supply and demand, people!

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2. Pre-Booking: Fly Direct

Whenever you’re able, fly direct. By flying directly to your final destination, you avoid the risks that come with a layover – missing your connecting flight or having it canceled, losing your luggage or having it end up at the wrong destination, and so on. It may cost a little bit more but, it’s always worth it and makes travel less stressful. If you aren’t able to fly direct, look for a flight that has a longer layover. This way if your first flight gets delayed you won’t have to run frantically through the airport trying to catch your next flight.

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3. Pre-Booking: Red-Eye Flight

If you’re someone who can sleep on a plane, consider flying red-eye for your next trip. You’ll be able to skip the crowds and lines because you’ll be taking off and landing during off-peak hours. Red-eye flights are often cheaper as well, making your trip more affordable overall. If you can’t handle a red-eye, try to take the earliest flight out, even if that means you’ll be getting up super early. Early morning flights are often less likely to get delayed or canceled, making your airport experience more enjoyable. They also tend to be slightly cheaper than flights leaving at more convenient times.

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4. Before You Fly: Switch to Solids

There is nothing worse than opening up your suitcase and realizing that one or more of your liquids has leaked or exploded. There are a couple of ways to try to prevent this from happening, but the best way is actually to avoid liquids all together! Before you travel, pick up a shampoo bar, conditioning bar, and bar of soap from a store like LUSH. They’re just so good that you might actually find yourself making the switch permanently! You can also get items like facial cleanser, facial oil, body lotion, and toothpaste as a solid. It simplifies travel without sacrificing the quality of your skin and hair care!

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5. Before You Fly: Layer Your Clothing

When you’re packing for your trip and choosing what you’ll wear for the flight, consider layering your clothing. The temperature often varies quite a bit as you travel to the airport, on the plane, and to your final destination. Rather than sweating it out or freezing when your seatmate blasts their air vent, you can simply remove or add layers as needed, making for a much more comfortable experience. Plus you can avoid paying for one of those overpriced thin blankets they offer you on the plane!

6. Before You Fly: Wear Bulky or Heavy Clothing and Footwear

If you’re only planning on taking a carry-on suitcase or you’re jam-packing your checked baggage, you’re going to need to pack smart! If space or weight is a concern, wear your bulky or heavier clothing items and footwear (like winter boots) through security. If you want, you can always change into more comfortable clothing before boarding your plane. Since airlines don’t count what you’re wearing towards your maximum weight allotment, this is a great way to squeeze in some extra weight without overloading your suitcase.

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7. Before You Fly: Wear Comfortable Clothing

While we understand that some people need to wear suits and ties on their flight, most of us don’t have to. It’s pretty obvious – wearing comfortable clothes will help keep you comfortable during your trip. This becomes even more important when you experience a flight delay or it’s an overnight flight! Ditch the suit or skirt and opt for comfy jeans or leggings and a cozy sweater layered over top of your fav t-shirt. No one is judging you!

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8. Before You Fly: Pack a Reusable Empty Water Bottle

The liquid limitations that you can bring on a plane are strict and that causes many people to think they have to buy water once they’re through security! To reduce plastic waste and keep yourself from spending money on water, bring an empty reusable water bottle through security and fill it up at one of the many water fountains throughout the airport. This will help keep you hydrated, which is incredibly important because the high altitudes (drier air) when flying dehydrates you. Fight the temptation to not drink water to avoid using the onboard toilets and drink up. You’ll feel better post-flight if you keep chugging back that water (especially if you’re planning on a glass or two of wine)!

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9. Before You Fly: Pack Dry Snacks From Home

Airports are notorious for overpriced and often bland-tasting foods and snacks. But did you know that you can bring dry snacks like trail mix, chocolate bars, or protein bites through security and onto the airplane? However, as always, be sure to check your specific airline and call ahead if you aren’t sure. Generally speaking, you don’t need to buy food in the airport if you plan ahead, which is great for your wallet and for those with dietary restrictions.

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10. Before You Fly: Pack Earplugs and a Sleep Mask

Earplugs and a sleep mask come in handy whether you’re planning on trying to take a little snooze in the airport or on the plane and can help block out the constant noise and fluorescent lighting. They’re also good to have on hand in case your flight gets delayed or you get stranded in the airport and need to catch some shut-eye. You may be able to buy them from an airport kiosk or from a flight attendant, but you’ll pay a pretty penny, so why not just bring them from home?

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11. Before You Fly: Know Where You’re Going

Before you fly, do a quick Google search of the airports you’re flying into to get a sense of what they’re like. This is important if you’ve got a layover that you could miss or that could be canceled, leaving you stranded in the airport longer than anticipated. It’s important to know if the terminal stays open overnight, and if your connecting flight departure gate is close by (or even in the same building!) as well as what kind of food and shops are available. This may seem like a lot, but it’s better to be prepared and have a backup plan in case you find yourself stranded.

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12. At The Airport: Download Your Airline App

You might feel like you’ve got enough apps on your phone already, but having the free airline app downloaded and your flight information entered is helpful to stay up to date with gate changes, delays, and heaven forbid cancellations. You generally get the updates before they make the announcement and you don’t have to worry about missing them – crucial if you tend to have headphones in at the airport. Some airlines have also started using their apps for in-flight entertainment, so if you want to watch a free movie while you’re up in the air, be sure to download it while you’re still on the ground and on Wifi.

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13. At The Airport: Airline Lounge

Did you know that most airlines have VIP lounges in every airport? Did you know that they’re absolutely wonderful to stay in? Some people get access to them because they are airline VIPs from flying so much (many business people have this status), but you can actually purchase a day pass for many of them! They offer comfortable seating, peace and quiet, free high-speed Wifi, and in many, snacks and buffet-style meals and alcoholic drinks are included! While you may not choose to pay for this if your layover is only an hour, these lounges are totally worth it if you’ve got a longer layover or you get stranded in the airport.

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14. At The Airport: Get a Seat Close To The Gate

More people are choosing to only bring a carry-on suitcase and a backpack or purse – a common luggage allowance. This can lead to overpacked overhead bins and requests for people to volunteer to check their hand luggage for free. If that’s okay with you, then go right ahead and sacrifice your bag, but many people pack a carry-on so that they don’t have to wait at the luggage carousel upon landing. If you want your carry-on to stay a carry-on, grab a seat close to the boarding desk and hop in line as soon as your zone is called. More frequently, the last group of people to board end up having to check their baggage, which adds hassle and time upon landing if you didn’t check another bag.

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15. At The Airport: Load Leftover Currency Onto a Gift Card

If you’ve got a small amount of foreign currency left at the end of your trip and there’s a store in the airport that you also have at home, load the change onto a gift card. This works especially well if there’s a Starbucks, David’s Tea, Booster Juice, or Tim Hortons – all shops commonly found in big airports. If you’ve got big bills leftover, take them back to your bank, but most currency exchanges and banks won’t accept small amounts of foreign currency back, so this is a great way to not waste leftover change!

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16. On Flight: Snacks and Drinks

Most airlines thankfully still offer complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and small snacks while you are aboard. When they come around and ask what you’d like, don’t hesitate to ask for the full can of whatever you’re ordering and one of each snack. Most of the time, the flight attendant doesn’t care and will happily hand it over, especially if you’re polite.

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17. On Flight: Moisturize

Flights tend to leave our skin dehydrated and more prone to breakouts. The longer the flight, the worse your skin will be upon landing. Since you can’t bring big bottles of cleanser or cream on the plane, use an empty contact lens container and put a little bit of cleanser and cream in each divet. Part of the way through your flight, head to the bathroom and wash and moisturize your face. Bringing a small airplane-sized facial mist onboard and spraying a little bit on every hour can also help keep skin moisturized and may help you feel more alert! Also, bring a face sheet mask to do once you get to your destination to rehydrate even more.

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18. On Flight: Peppermint Essential Oil

Another great item to bring on board is a small roll-on of peppermint essential oil (like this one from Saje!). You can roll it onto your temples and neck if you get a headache or have tension, roll some onto your hands and breathe the oil in to clear your sinuses, feel more alert, or help with nausea, and generally just to help with odors. It’s a great multi-purpose oil that’s perfect for some of the negative health effects of flights. Plus, you’ll smell great!

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19. When You Arrive: Break a Sweat

Most people are a little bit tired upon landing, even if there hasn’t been a time change. You might be tempted to take a nap, but that will most likely just mess up your sleep that night. Getting active and breaking a sweat can combat those sluggish feelings and help you wake up and enjoy the rest of your day at your destination. It can be as simple as a short yoga session in your room, some weight lifting at the hotel gym, or a quick jog or brisk walk outdoors, which doubles as a way to see what’s in the area!

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20. Before You Head Home: Online Grocery Shop

Does anybody else try to empty out their fridge before they go on a trip? You never want food to rot while you’re away, but this also means you come home to a very empty fridge. A couple of days before you get on your flight to come home, order some grocery staples online from whatever local grocery store offers the service and choose delivery for the day you’re arriving back home. That way there’s something to eat when you get home sleep-deprived and jet-lagged and you don’t need to worry about breakfast, lunch, or dinner the day after.

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8 Healthy Homemade Snacks for Your Next Flight

What’s more exciting than flying?! Alright, maybe flying isn’t exciting to everyone but it means you’re traveling…and we looooooove traveling! But what’s one of the first things to fall by the wayside whether you’re taking a vacation or just jetting off for a quick business trip? Usually your healthy diet. This diet typically starts at the airport because let’s face it, there aren’t many healthy options at most airports and if you wait until the onboard café to find some snacks your options are even more limited; not to mention expensive! It doesn’t have to be this way however, you can eat healthy, save money and keep your healthy lifestyle intact while flying…it just takes a little work. Here are 8 of our favorite ideas for healthy (and easy) airplane snacks:

Avocado Smash with Plantain Chips
Avocados are an awesome travel snack because they don’t require refrigeration, they provide healthy fats to your diet and they can be mashed up with just about anything. Bring along some crispy plantain chips and you have a great healthy snack for flying. It’s even gluten –free and paleo approved!

To make: Take 1 avocado, scoop into a bowl, add seasonings of choice: lime juice, salt, pepper, garlic, hot sauce, chives, lemon zest…options are endless. Then using a fork smash the avocado with the seasonings until desired consistency is achieved.

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
Skip the chips and instead make this easy, addictively crunchy snack for your next trip. Chickpeas are high in fibre and protein so unlike chips or popcorn, this spicy snack will also fill you up. Spice combinations are endless so you can experiment and find a flavor combination that you crave.

Spicy Chickpeas

To make: Drain a can of chickpeas, toss with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp ground cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne powder to taste. Spread on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a single layer for 30 minutes at 400° F, shaking tray half way through.

PB Power Balls
These tasty little peanut butter power balls are about as easy to make as it gets; they’re full of energy boosting oats and protein rich peanut butter to keep you satisfied through those long flights. They’ve also got a little kick of chocolate for those sweet cravings and best of all –no baking required!

To make: Combine 1 c. oats, 2/3 c. shredded coconut, ½. c peanut butter, ½. c mini choc chips, 1/3 c. honey, 1 tbsp. chia seeds and 1 tsp vanilla in a bowl and mix until combined. Roll into 1 ½ inch balls and refrigerate until firm.

Hummus and Veggie Wrap
Hummus is such a versatile spread and provides way better nutrition than any mayonnaise based dips and spreads with its high fibre and protein thanks to chickpeas and tahini. It’s a perfect option for flying because it can stand some time out of refrigeration and won’t make your sammies soggy. Pack a couple of these easy hummus veggie wraps for a healthy snack on the go.

hummus wrap

To make: Take your favorite store bought hummus and spread a couple tablespoons onto a wrap (or a leaf of lettuce if you want to go all out on health factor) and add your favorite fresh veggies like grated carrot, tomato, cucumber, peppers, sprouts, radish, avocado, or anything else you like, roll it up, wrap in plastic and keep in the fridge until it’s travel time.

Sesame Edamame
Our favorite Japanese appetizer can also be a great (and satisfying) travel snack on the go. Edamame beans are cheap, easy to cook, rich in carbs, protein and fibre…and best of all they travel well thanks to their natural ‘packaging’.

Edamame

To make: steam some frozen (or fresh if you can find) edamame pods in their shells until tender, drain off excess water, then toss with 1 tsp sesame oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds. Just pack in a container for your flight and bring a little baggie for those shells.

Chocolate Crunch Bars
Candy bars and other sugar-filled, chocolaty treats are all too easy to come by at airports and on-board but they do nothing good for you. These chocolate crunch bars require a little work but are a great alternative with far less sugar, protein rich almonds, fibre filled dates and enough chocolate to satisfy any sweet craving!

To make: Bottom layer- Combine 8 medjool dates, 2 tbsp. shredded coconut,  ½ c slivered almonds, 2 tbsp. cocoa powder and pulse in food processor until well mixed and sticky. Press into small square dish. Top layer- Melt ¼ c. coconut oil and ¼ c. chocolate chips until smooth and combined.  Add 1 tbsp. maple syrup and 2 tbsp. cocoa powder, stir and pour over the date/nut base. Refrigerate until firm and then cut into squares and wrap in plastic for travel.

DIY Dried Fruit
Fresh fruit is great but doesn’t always travel so well. By the time you make it through airport security your banana is usually battered and beaten at best. The answer? Dried fruit! It’s easy to make your own dried fruit at home and it’s free of preservatives and added sugars (unlike some of the store bought stuff). It travels extremely well, fills you up with fibre and satisfies a sudden sweet craving.

Dried fruit

To make: Select your favorite fruits that are ripe but not overripe (apples, banana, mango, peaches, pears and apricots all work well) remove seeds/cores and slice to about ¼ inch thickness. Place on non-stick baking sheets and place in 170°F oven to dry for anywhere between 4-8 hrs. Drying time all depends on thickness and moisture content of fruit. Once dried, pack in bags or add to granola for a healthy travel breakfast!

Quinoa Nut Clusters
It’s no secret that quinoa packs a healthy nutritional punch and it’s a welcome addition to any diet with its abundance of vitamins, minerals and protein. Combine it with nuts and cocoa in this easy to make snack and you have a winning combination that not only travels well, but is sure to make your neighbors jealous while they pick from sad airplane snacks.

To make: Mix ¼ c. melted coconut oil, ¼ c. maple syrup or honey, 2 tbsp. cocoa powder and 2 tsp coconut flakes in a bowl until combined, add in 1 ½ c. puffed quinoa and ½ c. chopped toasted nuts of your choice (almonds, peanuts, cashews all work well, or for nut-free add toasted pumpkin seeds) and combine. Spoon into muffin liners and refrigerate until set.

FlyJoy Bars

Ok, this last one isn’t in the homemade category but lets say you get scheduled for a last minute business flight and you have no time to do your usual healthy snack prep… don’t worry because FlyJoy has you covered! These delicious, nutritious bars make it easy to enjoy a healthy snack on the go, since they’re filled with wholesome ingredients like quinoa, oats, flaxseeds, chia seeds, dried fruits and nuts. Just pop a few of these bars into your carry-on and you won’t have to worry about temptations like airport fast-food and unhealthy in-flight snack options.  Plus they come in seven fun flavors like Peanut Butter & Jelly and Cashew Cookie Dough. To get your hands on some, head to flyjoy.com.

FLYJOY

The 10 Best Airport Hacks

Nobody likes airports. They’re often big, confusing and full of weary travelers and cranky staff. Delays, cancelations and outrage about overweight fees and extra charges can add to tension and generally make the airport an unpleasant place to be. Customs and security can be a stressful experience, especially when we have to go through metal detectors and have our baggage subjected to X-rays and the scrutiny of officers who are looking for threats. We understand why it’s done, but sometimes, it’s just a big pain. There are plenty of ways to make the airport, including security and customs, much less stressful. There are ways around some of the restrictions, as well as some of the extra charges that come with having too much luggage or overweight bags. We’ve gathered up some of the best tips from the travelers here at EscapeHere and others in order to bring you the 10 best airport hacks! Next time you’re traveling through a big hub, give some of these tricks a whirl and make your trip all the more pleasant.

10. Follow Signage

This may seem like a no-brainer to most people, but for some reason, people often become completely flummoxed the second they enter an airport terminal. Even though airports often have easy-to-follow signage, some people still find themselves pondering where they need to go or what to do. One thing not to do is follow the crowd; the crowd sometimes has no idea what they’re doing.

Case in point: On a flight into Geneva, I witnessed a number of passengers with U.S. passports heading into a line up clearly marked for EU passport-holders. Some of these passengers waited just as long as I did in the correct line-up, only to be turned away when they got up to the window. A similar thing happened to passengers arriving in New Jersey from Europe; EU citizens attempted to go through the lanes designated for U.S. and Canadian citizens. Some of those people were just “followers” and ended up in line because they followed the person ahead of them, rather than reading the signs themselves. Read the signs and avoid standing in line for double the time!

airport signs

9. Dress Sensibly

This probably seems like another no-thinking-required point, but you’d be amazed by how many people still arrive at the airport dressed in a completely impractical get-up. While some people insist style should always trump comfort, I say you’re going to be stuck in a flying tin can for the next few hours, so you might as well be comfortable. I’m not saying you should show up to the airport in your pyjamas, but you also don’t need to break out the waist trainer and the 5-inch heels, ladies.

Not only is some attire uncomfortable, some of it is actually impractical for traveling through an airport. You know you need to go through a metal detector, so why would you wear chains or additional metal jewelry that you don’t normally wear? U.S. customs makes you remove your shoes (and EU airports definitely prefer it), so why would you wear the most uncomfortable pair of shoes you own, knowing you’re going to put them on, then take them off and not be able to get your now-swollen feet back in them? A cute pair of flats or nice dress shoes will suffice.

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8. Use the Priority Lane

Okay, this might run contrary to the “read the signs” point, but sometimes, it’s okay to break the rules. Most airlines reserve 1 or 2 check-in lanes for their first-class customers. These priority lanes are available to passengers who paid extra in order to ensure them better and faster service. However, since there are fewer customers flying first-class or business-class than there are economy passengers, the attendants on these lanes often aren’t nearly as busy. Sometimes, if there’s no one in their queue, they’ll even wave you over.

First-class passengers also have a tendency to show up very early (so they can hang out in the lounge – free food and drinks!) or as close to the flight as they can, in part because they know they have priority check-in which means these lanes are often empty for long stretches. Since there are also fewer passengers to check-in, and many of them are experienced travelers, there are fewer cases where the line gets held up by, say, an overweight bag or a confused customer. While it won’t happen every time, if you see the priority lane is free, hop it!

CaseyMartin / Shutterstock.com
CaseyMartin / Shutterstock.com

7. Wear Your Extra Luggage

Extra luggage is perhaps one of the banes of any traveler’s existence. With airlines charging more and more for checked baggage, often including the first bag, more people are attempting to get around these fees by using a carry-on and a personal item. Of course, carry-ons have size and weight limits, so this isn’t a perfect workaround. I’ve even seen flights where there was too much luggage in the cabin, so the crew actually had to force people to check some of their baggage (for free, of course) in order to free up space.

Let’s say you’re coming back from vacation and you’ve picked up a few extra things. You only brought a carry-on and you loathe to pick up (and check!) another bag. You just don’t want to deal with the carousel routine at the other end. But your carry-on is overweight. What to do? The easy answer is wear some of your luggage. Layer your clothes, put on some jewelry, or pick your running shoes over your flip-flops, because the sandals take up less space in your luggage. After all, they don’t weigh you! (Yet.)

joey friends
Photo by: YouTube/Comedy Central

6. Use a Shopping Bag

We’ve all been there: you picked up too many things while you were on vacation and now you face a difficult dilemma. You must either face overweight fees for your luggage or check a bag (or perhaps a second bag). Either way, you’re going to have to pony up some extra money for your extra stuff, right?

Wrong! There is a solution here, and that’s to get an airport shopping bag. Chuck all your extra stuff into the shopping bag and, voila, it looks like you made some purchases at the gift shop before getting on your flight. Most airlines don’t require you to check these items, nor do they weigh them. Most will even gather them right up and put them on the cabin. Grab a bag, fill ‘er up, and avoid the fees. If you’re really stuck, however, you can usually check a second bag at a discounted rate over the first. And, if the cabin is really crowded or there’s too much luggage, you might luck out and have the airline offer to check your luggage for free.

duty free bag

5. Rub Elbows to Get into the Lounge

First-class and business travelers get perks at the airport, not just on the flight, and one of those on-the-ground perks is access to the priority lounge. First-class flyers can hang out in the lounge, which is generally furnished with more comfortable seats and also offers complimentary food and drink. Some lounges also offer showers.

Another perk? They’re also usually allowed to bring a friend or a guest with them into the lounge. If you’re dying for a comfortable seat or some free grub, hang out near the lounge and see if one of the lounge-goers would be willing to admit you as their guest. Some might not want to and others might already have traveling companions, but you might find someone who is willing to sign you into the lounge. If you’re having difficulty, but still dying to get in, don’t be afraid to spin your story—interesting conversation, adventures, or even a little bit of “woe is me” can go a long, long way.

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com
Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

4. BYOB

Flying can be extremely traumatic for some people. Some take a couple of pills in order to deal with anxiety, while others use everything from deep breathing techniques to meditation to help relax on the flight. Others resort to alcohol, often taking advantage of the drinks served on the flight. While most of these people don’t get plastered, a drink or two might dull the edge of their fear and make the flight slightly more enjoyable (or at least tolerable).

The big problem, of course, is that airline drinks don’t come cheap. If you’re flying economy, chances are you’re on a budget anyway, so if you need a drink (or more), you may not have the funds to fork out for it. What to do? Well, remember that you can bring up to 100 mL of liquid onto the plane. That means that, yes, you can bring the little bottles of alcohol into the cabin with you. Grab a soda or some juice from the beverage cart when it comes by and make yourself a cocktail!

liquor bottles

3. Freeze Liquids

We all know that there are restrictions on how much liquid a person can carry with them into the cabin of the plane. While some restrictions have been loosening up in the past couple of years, most airports still play by the 100 mL rule, which means you can only have 50 mL of any given liquid in your carry-on.

However—and this might seem like a weird exception—the TSA in the U.S. has no guidelines about frozen liquids. So if you want to bring a 500 mL bottle of water with you on the flight, just freeze it first. Of course, you have to ensure that it’s frozen at home, so if you happen to grab a bottle of water while you’re at the airport, you’re going to need to ditch that or drink it before you go through security. And if you’re traveling on a hot summer day, your water might unfreeze faster than you anticipate, so don’t be surprised if you’re asked to remove it and dispose of it anyway.

frozen water

2. Bring an Empty Water Bottle

We all know that we can’t bring more than 100 mL of liquid through security, so that 500 mL water bottle you brought from home is going to have to be emptied in a sink or tossed in the trash. Trust me; I watched a nun get frisked and be led off to additional security checks just because she refused to give up her bottle of water. Surely none of us want that; it’s too much hassle.

But why pay for overpriced water bottles on the other side of the security checkpoint, especially for non-reusable plastics bottles? If you know you won’t be able to wait until the flight attendants bring around the beverage cart after take-off, but you want to save money, bring an empty container from home. Once you’re through security, you can fill the bottle up at a water fountain or, if worse comes to worse, in a bathroom sink. Sometimes, you can even ask staff at airport restaurants to fill the bottle up for you; many are happy to oblige.

Water fountains

1. Fly Red-Eye

Need to fly, but dread the hustle and bustle of busy airport terminals? Do yourself a favor and book a red-eye flight. The later your flight departs, the more likely the terminal is to be quiet, as there’s both fewer flights and many of the airport amenities will have closed for the day, which means there will be fewer people queuing up for food or thronging around overpriced gift shops. Security and flight check-in desks will also be less crowded. While you can’t be guaranteed a quiet flight, flying through the night also allows you to (try and) sleep on the plane, instead of spending your waking hours stuck in a flying metal box.

A red-eye also gets you into the arrivals terminal early, which means the airport is often just as quiet, as few flights are arriving, staff is at a minimum, and most services and amenities are just opening up. You can be in and out almost in a flash.

Jeff Schultes / Shutterstock.com
Jeff Schultes / Shutterstock.com

The Strangest Reasons for Flight Delays

After a recent incident where a British Airways flight traveling from London to Dubai had to return to Heathrow Airport shortly after take-off because of a ‘foul smell’ from one of the toilets, we decided to take a closer look and find out what other bizarre occurrences have resulted in planes being delayed, re-routed or otherwise detoured from their planned travel routes. The findings are ‘out there’ to say the least and include everything from animals on board to food incidents to irrational behavior from the crew.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these most peculiar airline incidents from recent years:

Not My Size

Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

An Australian couple who was traveling first class onboard a Qantas flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne caused a 30-minute delay of the flight after they refused to fly unless the airline provided them pajamas in the right size. The Daily Mail reported that after they were not provided with the requested extra-large pj’s, they demanded to leave the plane and were walked back to the terminal to wait for the next flight.

Crew Gone Crazy

Stephen Swintek / Getty Images

In March of 2012 CNN reported that a flight attendant for American Airlines caused major drama at Dallas Airport after some irrational behavior onboard a plane headed for Chicago. The flight attendant first got confused about where she was, asking passengers if they were in Houston, she then came on the PA system advising of a mechanical issue with the plane, which was followed up by another flight attendant assuring everyone that nothing was wrong. Things got much worse after she came back on the PA ranting about how she was no longer responsible for their safety and that the plane was going to crash. The hysteric crew member had to be restrained by 5 people and the plane had to return to its gate so she could be removed, resulting in a delay of about an hour.

Piggly Wiggly

Digitaler Lumpensammler / Getty Images

In November of 2014, the NY Post reported that a Connecticut flight was delayed after passengers became angry about an ‘emotional support animal’ brought on board by one woman. The woman had brought a 70 lb potbelly pig with her on the plane and passengers reported that the animal was pacing up and down the aisle and even ‘stinking up the plane’. The woman and her four-legged friend were asked to leave the plane as a result of the complaints from other passengers.

You’re Nuts

Flavia Morlachetti / Getty Images

In December of 2014, 250 passengers aboard a Korean Air flight at New York’s JFK Airport were delayed about 30 minutes after the company’s own senior VP caused a major disturbance. Reportedly, the VP who was sitting in first class was served some macadamia nuts in a bag. Seems harmless right? Well, the correct procedure for the service in first-class instructs these nuts should have been served in a bowl, not the bag. The irate woman began screaming at this mistake and demanded that the plane turn around and the flight attendant be removed before they could take off. The VP initially got her way as the flight attendant was removed from the flight after returning to the gate, but once this story made news the VP was forced to resign and was criminally charged with obstructing aviation safety law.

Got Any Spare Change?

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An Air France flight asked passengers for whatever cash they could give after their flight headed for Beirut was re-directed to Damascus due to civil unrest in the Lebanese capital city. Reuters reported the incident which occurred in August of 2012, involved the plane being forced to land in Damascus and after refueling the plane, Syrian authorities refused credit card payment for the fuel. At first passengers aboard the flight were asked to gather their cash in order to pay for the re-fueling causing a delay, however in the end alternate payment arrangements were made. Air France has since stopped flights to Syria due to increased fighting in the country and a breakdown of relations.

Rowdy Reptiles

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In December of 2012, there were snakes on a plane. Literally. An EgyptAir flight headed from Cairo to Kuwait had to make an emergency landing in the resort town of Al Ghardaqa after a passenger was bitten by a venomous Egyptian Cobra that he had smuggled on board in his carry-on luggage. CNN reported that after biting the man in the hand, the snake got loose and began slithering under the seats. This isn’t the only reptile related issue, however; San Juan airport in Puerto Rico has had regular delays or re-routing of planes due to giant iguanas on the runway. Any run-ins with the big beasts could cause serious damage or injury as they’re reported to grow up to 6 feet

The World’s Most Dangerous Airlines

AirlineRatings.com has released a list of the world’s most dangerous airlines to fly, basing them on a rating scale out of seven stars. The airlines below all have a rating of two stars or below and are rated on factors such as is the airline certified by the International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), are they blacklisted from the European Union, have they been fatality-free for 10 years, are they FAA approved and do they meet all 8 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety parameters. To explain; the IOSA certification is an evaluation system designed to assess the management and control system of an airline whereas the ICAO measures the standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency, and regularity. Most of these airlines do not offer in-flight products, have terrible on-time performance, and have been grounded or investigated at least once in their lifetime. Between bomb threats, hijackings, overshot runways, and crashes; these twelve airlines have a history of being unsafe. Discover the world’s most dangerous airlines according to AirlineRatings.com.

13. Yeti Airlines

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Yeti Airlines is the parent company to Tara Air (mentioned later); an airline that was rewarded only one-star by AirlineRatings.com. Yeti Airlines comes in with two stars, however, being rewarded for being fatality-free and FAA endorsed. Based in Kathmandu, Nepal this airline was established in 1998 and together with Tara Air forms the largest domestic flight operator in Nepal. Yeti Airlines serves ten domestic destinations with seven aircraft in operation.

In the past decade, Yeti Airlines has had a handful of incidents resulting in the deaths of over thirty passengers and crew as well as destroying a couple of aircraft. They do boast the highest on-time performance of any airline in Nepal though and offer beverages and snacks on flights. Yeti Airlines also offers an hour-long express Everest mountain flight that remains popular with visitors. Like all Nepalese airlines, they are banned from flying into the European Union airspace and have not completed any components of the IOSA.

12. Sriwijaya Air

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This Indonesia airline comes in with a two-star rating as the country’s third-largest airline. Sriwijaya Air is a privately owned airline that started its operations in 2003 and services cities within Indonesia and 3 international destinations. This airline is classified as a medium service airline and does offer snacks and beverages throughout the flights. They had hoped to be a full-service airline by 2013 but that has not yet happened as of 2015.

In regards to safety, Sriwijaya Air is lacking in a lot of departments. With no international safety recognition, blacklisted from flying into European air space, and not being FAA approved it was only the lack of fatalities that earned them any stars. Not without incident though, this airline has had a number of runway incidents that have resulted in injury and aircraft damage.  Sriwijaya Air has a large fleet of aircraft, totaling 39 with an average lifespan of 24 years old, and has been in negotiations to replace a large number of the aging aircraft. Perhaps with newer aircraft and added destinations this airline will consider participating in safety certifications that will bump their star rating up in the coming years.

11. Air Bagan

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One of the only two-star rated airlines on this list that is allowed to fly into European airspace is Air Bagan. Established in 2004 Air Bagan operates domestically in Myanmar with over 20 destinations. International flights were a go-ahead in 2007 but since have been canceled due to safety concerns. Only one international destination remains on their flight schedule. Another fact about this airline is that U.S citizens are prohibited from dealing with this airline due to U.S sanctions against the Myanmar government.

With two accidents and a handful of fatalities, Air Bagan looks to be slightly safer than most others on this list especially considering they are well on their way to completing the necessary requirements for the ICAO audit. Air Bagan also offers good in-flight products with meals and beverages offered on all their flights no matter what the flight length and distance. Passengers seem to like this airline so we expect to see them rise in ratings as they obtain further safety accreditation.

10. Susi Air

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The airlines of Indonesia seem to be heading up the race for two-star ratings from AirlineRatings.com. The combination of extreme terrain, smaller panes, weather, non-cooperation from local tribes, and communication difficulties with air traffic control are all factors that contribute to the safety of these airlines. Susi Air operates commercial and charter flights throughout the islands of Indonesia and has been around since 2004. They are one of the only airlines in Indonesia that hires most of their pilots from Western Countries; most often hiring young pilots wanting to clock up their flying hours.

Besides being banned from flying into the European Union, Susi Air has another type of ban on them. After a rough decade of crashes and casualties, United States Embassy personnel are now prohibited from flying on this airline. Due to the nature of the planes, don’t expect any flight crew other than the pilots. With an open cockpit and access to all of the pilot’s controls passengers who are rowdy also pose a serious safety threat to these flights. Although Susi Air is said to be one of the better Indonesian Airlines, expect them to stay at about 2 stars in the safety rating from AirlineRatings.com.

9. Merpati Airlines

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Merpati Airlines was established in 1962 by the Indonesian government as a second-state airline. Currently, it is a major domestic airline with service to over 25 destinations in Indonesia, as well as flying to East Timor and Malaysia. The history of this airline has been a financial mess and as of January 2015, the airline is not operating any flights. The fate of the airline is up in the air as the Indonesian government has promised to invest the money they need to start flying again.

As for their safety record, in the past decade, they have had over 50 casualties over six serious incidents and are banned from flying in any European airspace due to safety concerns. Merpati boasts a training center and pilot school which makes their safety record even more surprising. In the past, this airline has expressed interest in obtaining their IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) from International Air Transport Association but with unpaid fuel bills, unhappy employees, and frozen operations we would be shocked if they are still an airline by the time this study comes out again next year.

8. Daallo Airlines

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This two-star safety-rated airline has some of the worst passenger reviews in regards to safety, cleanliness, and service. Daallo Airlines is a Somali-owned airline with its headquarters in Dubai and its main operating hub at Djibouti–Ambouli International Airport. Destinations include the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Facts and information are hard to come by about this airline and perhaps this is what makes it even more unsafe.

All flight operations were grounded in 2010 for Daallo Airlines but resumed later in the year; with no reason given as to why. As for the safety record, although this airline hasn’t suffered any casualties there have been a couple of serious incidents. An unsuccessful hijack attempt took place in 2009 and in 2010 a man tried to board a flight with enough explosives to blow up the plane. Now banned from the European Union with no recognized safety certificate; you may want to add Daallo Airlines to your list of airlines to avoid flying.

7. Ariana Afghan Airways

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The largest airline of Afghanistan comes in with a safety rating of two stars according to AirlineRatings.com. Established in 1955 this airline has been blacklisted from the European Union since 2006 due to safety concerns. During the Taliban era, the airline was completely grounded and has to rebuild itself after the overthrow. The UN lifted the sanctions that were preventing the airline from flying internationally although the EU blacklist continues to this day.

Due to its age and history, the safety record of Arian Afghan Airways is not a pretty one. As of 2014 they had written off 19 aircraft and counted a total of 154 casualties. Although most of these incidents occurred in the late 1990s; there are enough of them to justify a low safety rating. No internationally recognized safety audit certificate also bumps this airline down to two stars. Currently operating to three domestic sites and seven international destinations it seems this airline isn’t proactive in trying to earn further safety accreditation.

6. Bluewing Airlines

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Bluewing Airlines, a regional carrier based out of Zorg en Hoop Airport in Paramaribo, Suriname has operated since 2002. This small airline generally transports passengers to destinations in the interior of Suriname, Guyana, Brazil, Venezuela, and the Caribbean. The airline has spent time on and off the blacklist for the European Union and currently in 2015 remains banned from flying into the EU.

Bluewing has had its share of problems from aircraft safety issues to crashes. In the early 2000’s the four Antonov 28s that were part of their fleet came under fire for not meeting specific safety regulations including the absence of Ground Proximity Warning Systems (GPWS) on board. In the past decade, there have been a number of crashes with both crew and passenger deaths. With a poor safety record, a blacklist from the EU, and often poor landing conditions it is not likely that this airline will be awarded more than two stars in the near future.

5. Tara Air

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Tara Air, a subsidiary of Yeti Air (previously mentioned) is a newly formed airline being established in 2009 and uses the Yeti Air fleet. With its main hub at the Tribhuvan International Airport, this airline operates short take-off and landing services, focusing on remote and mountainous airports and landing strips. This small fleet of 8 aircraft earned its one star from being FAA approved.

The safety record of Tara Air, to put it gently, is not good. In the years 2010 and 2011 there were three incidents that resulted in 22 deaths of passengers and crew. Small aircrafts combined with the extremely mountainous terrain make flying this airline a risk. Tara Air is also banned from flying into the EU and has no internationally recognized safety certificate although rumor has it that this airline is working towards obtaining possible IOSA recognition in the future. We will keep an eye on this airline over the coming years to see if they can move upon the star rating.

4. Lion Air

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Indonesia’s largest privately run airline started operations in the year 2000 and perhaps has the worst safety record on this list, along with a slew of other issues it has faced since being established. In the fourth most populous country, the demand for medium-haul jets has been on the rise and Lion Air has stepped forward with significant orders of Boeings and Airbus. Lion Air flies passengers to over 80 destinations and has jointly established two additional airlines in Malaysia and Thailand.

The safety record for Lion Air can rightfully be called atrocious with over eight serious incidents and a number of fatalities in the last decade. From overshot runway landings to water crashes it’s surprising that this airline hasn’t had more casualties. Just recently in 2012, Lion Air came under scrutiny for pilots and crew being in possession of methamphetamine (aka crystal meth). As expected they are banned from flying into the European Union and as of January 2015, the ministry of transportation had frozen fifty-three of their routes. It’s no shock that Lion Air is only given one-star from AirlineRatings.com and expects them to stay at that rating for some time unless drastic changes are made.

3. Nepal Airlines

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The only airline in the one-star category to even get an in-flight product rating is Nepal Airlines, formally known as Royal Nepal Airlines. It was Nepal’s first airline in 1958 with a handful of domestic flights. It has now grown to fly to over 39 destinations including seven international ones. None of these destinations include anywhere in the European Union as all Nepalese airlines are blacklisted; including Nepal Airlines.

The safety record for this airline isn’t pretty. Since the 1960’s there have been numerous incidents and accidents resulting in the deaths of passengers and crew members. The most recent accident occurred in 2014 when a plane went missing on-route to Jaumla and crashed; resulting in the deaths of 18 people. Nepal Airlines has not participated in any of the internationally recognized safety audits and continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous airlines according to AirlineRatings.com. This airline has recently purchased a few new aircrafts including an Airbus A320 and will be using that to fly to Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

2. SCAT Airlines

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The low-cost carrier SCAT Airlines was established in 1997 and operates out of its main hub Shymkent Airport with service to all major cities of Kazakhstan and neighboring countries. Rewarded a ranking of one star by AirlineRatings.com this airline is deemed one of the most dangerous airlines in the world according to this study. The airline is in fact FAA approved and that is what earned them the one star. SCAT is banned from entering European airspace though an audit by the ICAO deemed them non-compliant in keys areas of regulatory oversight.

SCAT has been accident and incident-free for the most part since operations commenced but just recently in 2013 suffered a loss. An aircraft carrying 21 people crashed while flying from Kokshetau to Almaty and all on board perished. A few other minor incidents have occurred with this airline and it continues to operate without an internationally recognized safety audit certificate. The good news about SCAT is they are genuinely trying to improve and working towards professional accreditation.

1. Kam Air

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Coming in with just one star Kam Air is amongst only 4 others that topped the list for the most dangerous airlines in the world. This Afghanistan-based airline is based out of Kabul and has been in operation since 2003. Kam Air was the first-ever privately-owned passenger airline in Afghanistan and operates domestic passenger services and regional international services. Kam Air did try to schedule flights into Europe but as of 2010, the European Union (EU) banned all afghan carriers from flying into the EU due to safety concerns.

Kam Air has had its share of incidents in the past 12 years which include a crash that resulted in the deaths of 96 passengers and 8 crew members. Other incidents include a bomb threat that resulted in the plane being diverted and a tail strike incident that was not taken seriously by the airline; thus resulting in the ban from the EU. Along with not completing the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) audit Kam Airlines is also not allowed into American airspace. This airline is clearly failing at becoming a safer airline and will most likely remain on the bottom of this list for a long time.

How to be Productive on an Airplane

Many of us live fast paced lives where just about every minute is planned and calculated in order to maximize productivity and get as much accomplished in our daily schedules as possible. We all know there are many ways to ‘kill time’ on an airplane (like consuming a few beverages from the cart, sitting back and watching 3 movies in a row) but what about using this essentially free time to your own benefit. It can really be a chance to do some of those things you always have on your list for self-betterment but never really seem to get to. Here are a few suggestions of ways you can actually boost your brain, all from the comfort of the plane:

Listen to a Lecture:

If you’re traveling on Virgin America in the near future you might be surprised to find something new available on the in-flight entertainment system: full A/V lectures! That’s right, a lecture company called The Great Courses’ has teamed up with Virgin to offer some awesome, IQ raising lectures and it’s all for free! Some of the interesting lectures available include High Stakes Decision Making and Ancient Egypt with many more in such categories as history, health, science, literature or whatever else your eager little mind can think of.

If you’re not flying Virgin (because hey, there are plenty of other airlines out there), you can still achieve the same cranium expanding results; it will just take a little more work. You can download your own lectures or Ted Talks or if all else fails find some interesting podcasts to download ahead of time. They won’t have the added sparkle of the in-flight system but you’ll be expanding your knowledge none the less.

Read:

Reading on an airplane isn’t exactly a new idea. In fact many, many people choose to spend their in-air time this way but the truth is that most of this reading is contemporary crud. Reading about vampires and steamy sexcapades hardly qualifies as knowledge enhancing material so instead, use the opportunity to be literate.

Bring along a classic book you’ve always wanted to read but never found the time. Catcher in the Rye and Wuthering Heights may be hard to get through at home but on an airplane where there are no distractions and nothing but time, you can easily absorb some classic literature. Alternatively, read up on something that interests you but you don’t know much about. Want to become well-versed in American History? There are books for that. Want to learn how to start an indoor hydroponic garden to grow your own vegetables year-round? There are books for that too.

Learn a New Language:

It’s hard to count the number of times I’ve heard people say “oh I really want to learn to speak…” –insert any non-English language here, but how often do we actually go ahead and work at this? Learning a new language such as French, Spanish, or Mandarin usually involves signing up for classes and committing to losing another one of our precious weekday evenings for at least a few months.

While you likely won’t step off the plane upon your arrival speaking fluent Spanish, it’s very possible to learn some basics that can be used to get your point across or help navigate a foreign city. It also might serve as a starting point for actually signing up for those weeknight classes and becoming fluent down the road. You may feel a little silly about practicing words out loud next to your neighbour but planes have enough distraction noise and they’re probably sleeping or watching a movie anyway.

Airplane Meditation

Meditate:

Slowing down and becoming ‘zen’ might at first sound like the opposite of productive but when you dig deeper and look at the benefits of meditation on the body and specifically the brain, you’ll see why this lands in our list. One of the number one reasons people do not practice regular meditation is time. Well, on a long haul flight you’re going to find yourself with a lot of that so try a meditation or 2. If you’re new to the practice, consider downloading an assisted meditation recording to your phone/music device to help guide you on the path to enlightenment.

Since meditation is usually done in an upright position, there’s no better place than right in your seat. What are the productive benefits of this practice? Well studies have shown meditation can actually increase grey matter in the brain as well as increasing happiness, quality of life and memory and decrease blood pressure.

Work/Plan:

We’ve all seen those people on airplanes who have their computers out and look to be deep at work and wondered “are they really that busy?” and while the answer may be no, you don’t have to be swamped to warrant some in-flight work time. You may not be able to get your inbox in order if wifi isn’t available but there are plenty of other ways to work offline. One suggestion is to download whatever you need ahead of time, if it’s reading this is easy. You can also draft emails and save them to send until you’re back online.

The possibilities are endless if you think about it ahead of time. You don’t have to be a business person in order to do this either. Busy parents can take this time to plan their family’s schedules for the coming weeks (or months), create meal plans, or work on family finances/budgets. All the little things that frequently get pushed to the back burner in a busy life.

Crocheting

Be Crafty:

Who has time to do crafts in today’s busy modern world? The answer: people who make time for them. If you’re like us, you’ve seen someone working on a knitting project while in a waiting room and as you look up from your Facebook app you think “hey, I should be doing that!”, and with hours flight time ahead of you, you can.

If you’re already into knitting, crocheting or the growing trend of felting, this is easy to do. Just pick a project, gather your materials in your carry on and you’re all set. By the time you land you might have a brand new hat. If you don’t know how to do any crafty things already, bring a long a book and learn to do it while you sail over the Atlantic. There are beginner books out there for every crafty hobby you can think of and you’ll have plenty of time to make mistakes and then learn from them, over and over again. Make sure you check airline safety regulations as things like scissors can be prohibited in carry-on luggage but most crafts can be modified to meet these rules.

So the next time you’re planning a big trip (or even a short one) that requires some time in the air, consider one of the above activates and capitalize on the chance to be productive and expand your ever growing mind.