Top Ten Dumb Things to Do Before Getting on a Plane

See the Top Ten Dumb List

Don’t be a dumb passenger – or it’ll cost you.

Yes, the following moves could cost you serious money, or time – which can be even more expensive. So take a look.

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Be advised that most of what follows is solid advice, especially as it pertains to buying airfare – though some of the stuff on the list may strike you as commonsensical, no-brainer tips. Use what you need, discard the rest.

Top Ten Dumb Passenger Mistakes

I doubt you ever make these mistakes, but maybe someone you know does. Here’s your chance to set them straight.

1. Buy Airfare on the Weekend – Don’t do this. The airlines know you have weekends free for noodling around on the PC – which includes looking for airline tickets – so prices tend to be higher (not always, but usually).

Smart Tip: Shop Tuesday afternoons, when sales have been announced and other airlines match these deals.

2. Overindulge in Alcohol – Don’t be one of the “worst passengers ever” – in many instances, getting drunk (or drunker) on a plane leads to fights or worse (like the woman who tried to bite a flight attendant’s leg and later told police, “Sometimes I do crazy things.”).

Smart Tip: Stick to the free soft drinks and free packs of peanuts (well, on the few airlines that still offer free snacks).

3. Wear Dumb Footwear – A minor sin, but a time-consuming one. Those thigh-high, skin-tight Jimmy Choo boots may be dazzling, but getting them off at security won’t win you any popularity contests with the grumpy passengers in line behind you (and getting them back on won’t be fun either).

Smart Tip: Wear something you can slip on/off easily – and wear socks too (those airport floors are not exactly pristine).

4. Fly on Fridays and Sundays - These two days, Friday and Sunday, are usually the most expensive days to fly (because these are the days everyone wants to fly).

Smart Tip: Travel on the cheapest days to fly, usually Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

5. Forget to Charge Your Batteries - Maybe you’re not planning on working on your laptop, but are your phones charged – and did you remember your charger? Same holds true for any electronic gizmos needed to entertain the kids during long delays (remember, weather delays aren’t just for winter).

Smart Tip: Always pack some food, too. Cheaper than what you’ll pay on the plane.

6. Try to Bring Banned Items Through Security - we’re not talking explosives here, we are talking liquids above the 3.4 ounce limit. You don’t want that $100 bottle of wrinkle remover winding up in the trash, do you?

Smart Tip: Know what the TSA allows and doesn’t allow before you pack your carryon.

7. Arrive at the Airport Late – Maybe you’re not technically late, but flights can and do take off a few minutes ahead of schedule these days; carriers want to maintain a decent “on time” record so they don’t make the government’s “tardy” airline list. Most airline websites state you must be in the gate area at least 20 minutes before departure, and if you’re not there, you could lose your seat.

Smart Tip: If you’re in traffic and know you’re going to be delayed, call the airline – they may be able to work something out.

8. Pack Too Much – If your bag is over fifty pounds, you could pay an extra $100 in bag charges; why not avoid all the bag fees and travel with a carryon?

Smart Tip: Both JetBlue and Southwest give you checked-bags for free.

9. Travel with Non-Portable Pets – Many airlines don’t allow big dogs with short snouts as “checked baggage” during extreme weather; if you arrive at the airport without checking this ahead of time, and there’s no one to hand your pet off to, looks like both of you will miss your flight.

Smart Tip: Leave Bobo at home with a nice bone.

10. Behave like a Jerk – Problems will arise when traveling, but pulling rank (“Do you know who I am?”) may do nothing more than inspire airline employees to take revenge.

Smart Tip: Patience and a sense of humor are the ultimate airline survival tactics.

Photo from whitneybee on Flickr

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Published: September 17, 2010