How To: Fly the American Airways

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Posted 13 Aug 2009 in Soulville

How is a technology crazed kid to fly these days!? Take this out, put this on here, move this over here, that should be over here in this bag…..the rules of air travel go on and on and on. I fly semi-frequently and have come up with a TSA and HarriMac friendly way of flying. No more being driven crazy even in Hartsfield-Jackson!! I’ll touch on general tips and some tech tips here.

Tips for Flying with Technology

If you own a laptop, chances are you get really tired of having to pull it out and then run through the metal detector so some creep doesn’t grab your stuff on the other side (for the record, nothing against TSA but I really don’t feel TSA makes me safer or more comfortable flying). You’re in luck. There are several TSA approved bags and sleeves that allow you to leave the computer in when sending it through the x-ray machine and then it’s a quick pickup on the other side. No one is the wiser and it definitely saves a few minutes. Some of the offerings – from Mobile Edge, FlyThru, Timbuk2, Targus, etc – don’t scream LAPTOP!! and several of the offerings are pretty cool looking bags. [If you’re new to reading Soulville, HarriMac LOVES backpacks and luggage; it‘s also next week‘s topic!].

whatsinmy-Timbuk2-bag on 2 Aug 2009
Creative Commons License photo credit: koalazymonkey

Gel-inserts in your shoes may have been a technological advancement in the foot realm, but they are a no-no on planes (except in checked luggage). Instead of getting to the gate and having to go barefoot, try some different insoles that do not contain gel or go to an orthopedist or podiatrist to get insoles specific for you. There is no one size fits all in this category. Chances are, if you were down to gel only inserts, you might be wearing the wrong shoes to begin with and on top of that need professional assistance anyway.

Before you turn your phone off on the plane, if it is a smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, etc), turn it on the airport mode. Some airlines don’t even like you using this mode, but it just turns off the phone part of your phone and allows you to use the other neat stuff you’ve paid for. In case they don’t allow it, remember a backup like a regular iPod or a Sony PSP (come on, you were really gonna do work on the plane?? In that case, just pull out your laptop).

Headphones on a plane are always my must have. I could be sitting next to a screaming baby and a good pair of headphones would make me forget (well almost). The headphones don’t have to be noise-canceling, but you definitely need over the ear phones that have a bit of cushioning. Earbuds don’t cut it. My current pair is a pair of Sennheiser HD 202. The reviews on Amazon said they were great on planes and I would say they are in the middle. If I concentrated I could hear only my music (without it on full blast), but even without concentrating, the noise of the plane was diminished a great deal. I previously had some really nice Altec-Lansing noise canceling that seriously erased all the noise. I am saving up for the noise canceling Bose headphones or the noise-canceling Sennheiser’s.

Test the headphones before buying if possible.The closest you’re going to get to a plane is a busy electronics store like Best Buy. If they stink then, they’ll probably stink on a plane. Some headphones actually do need a break-in period to become comfortable and sound their best. Find out what retailers or other consumers say before purchasing. Look around for deals online, not just on the major retailers. I picked up my then 150 dollar Altec-Lansing headphones for $40 including shipping. The deal is there!

Creative Commons License photo credit: nosha

General Flying

Don’t wait til you get all the way to the conveyor belt to take off your shoes and get your laptop out. The faster you can get all your stuff in bins, the faster you get through the line.

Don’t forget the 3-1-1 rules!!!! Do NOT be that guy chugging a 100 year old bottle of wine at the security belt because he didn’t pay attention.

Some souvenirs from museums and such cannot be carried on planes via TSA rules. Ask the museum if you plan on carrying it on to find out – they should know and might agree to ship it to you free of charge.

Try not to have anything checked if you don’t have to. The prices are steep for a service you probably don’t need (at that cost anyway) – going for a week? Carry it on and pack half what you were planning on. Use a washer and dryer and double up the outfits. If you really do need it and are traveling with others, see if you can combine the luggage to save the extra fees.

With the great times of sitting on the tarmac, try to plan your connecting flights out a bit more. You don’t have to take a connector within 15 minutes of the other plane landing. If need be, call the airline. If you’re going to have to wait a day because of their incompetence, it’d be nice to know in advance. I’m not an advocate of having to be asthmatic sprinting through airports (been there, done that) so that extra cushion time might just save your breath.

Christian, notre pilote
Creative Commons License photo credit: doevos

What tips do you guys have for flying with technology?

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