5 Types of Traveler You See in Every Airport


EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday November 19, 2014

The most-traveled and sometimes dreaded season is upon us. As families and friends gather from near and far to celebrate the holidays together, patterns emerge as millions stream into airports across the country. Our favorite "pissed-off flight attendant" Sydney Pearl offers her take on five types of holiday travelers you will see in every airport, and some advice on how to avoid stresses that accompany traveling during the most wonderful time of the year.

The Excessive Shopper

You can't help yourself, you have to spend, spend and spend. You spend so much money that you end up with excessive shopping bags. You just realized something, how are you going to fit all of your gifts into your luggage when you travel? You refuse to check your bags because your gifts might get lost.

You do not want your gifts to get squished, so you will make sure that no one else places their belongings in the overhead bin with your bags. Or, maybe you will pack your allotted carry-on bags and then bring an additional oversized shopping bag to hold all of your gifts. Surely, your bag of gifts are not considered luggage and therefore do not count against the limited carry-on rules.

While it is your prerogative to buy gifts to your heart's content, the amount of bags allowed in the cabin are limited and you cannot stop another passenger for using the same overhead bin. Overhead bins are SHARED space. To help ease the hassle of traveling with so many bags and to ensure that your packages arrive safely, on time, and insured, use a shipping service such as USPS, FEDEX, or UPS.

These agencies will also provide you with tracking so that you know exactly when your parcels arrive. If you attempt to carry more than the allotted number of bags on an aircraft some bags will have to be checked - and there is no guarantee that they will be in the same condition when you retrieve your bags at baggage claim.

The Last-Minute Juggler

Your flight leaves in 3 hours and you have yet to pack your bags. You neglect to check the weather at your final destination so you overpack and include shorts along with a winter coat. You now run out of the house with a barely-zipped suitcase, your shirt is untucked and your hair is plastered to your face from sweating.

There is an accident on the highway and now you have less than 2 hours until your flight. You burn rubber into the parking garage with one hour to spare. As you sprint into the airport, you realize that you do not have your electronic or printed boarding pass. You print your boarding pass and it says "Please See Agent at the Gate". You finally make it through security and to your gate... but your flight was oversold and because you checked in late, they gave your seat away.

You are eligible to check in for your flight approximately 24 hours in advance. Your airline of choice will either email or text you when you are allowed to check in to retrieve your boarding pass. Always remember to check in 24 hours in advance to insure you have a designated seat. Once you have done this, start planning what you need to pack and check the weather at your final destination to insure that you pack the appropriate attire. Once you have overpacked properly (FYI... the flight attendant will notice that you have expanded your suitcase), plan your mode of transportation to the airport and consider the possibility of traffic. Being proactive will ensure that you have a relaxing and less stressful travel experience.

The Type-A Planner

A week or more in advance of your scheduled flight, you have narrowed down your plans, checked the weather for your vacation and also made a note to check the weather the day before your trip. You have already decided what parking garage you plan to use at your departure city and made arrangements for transportation at your final destination. You have taken it a step further and started making a list of what you are going to pack in advance so that you do not forget pertinent items.

You received your check-in notification and have checked in exactly 24 hours in advance. You have charged PED's for use during the flight, packed your headphones and even small treats for your flight crew in an accessible bag. The day of your trip, you leave with only 2 carryon items, your electronic boarding pass is ready for display at security and you breeze into the airport with an hour to spare.

Being prepared in anticipation of your scheduled trip allows for any last-minute situations that can, and do, sometimes spring up. Scheduling transportation is important because the affordable parking lots do fill up quickly around the holidays and can leave some passengers paying exorbitant fees to park at the airport. Most parking places allow you to make reservations in advance and, in cities where there is inclement weather, covered parking and even garages are often available.

The Flu Carrier
You woke up this morning feeling really nauseous. You feel as if you have the flu and a quick check of the thermometer confirms your high fever. You are scheduled to travel today and cannot miss your trip. Throughout the day, you constantly run to the bathroom as your illness is coming from both ends. You decide to lie to the flight crew and tell them you just ate something that did not agree with you.

During the holiday season there are any number of "bugs" that are airborne and can affect many people. The airline does encourage sick passengers to stay at home if possible but, if you absolutely have to fly, try to be as considerate as possible to your fellow passengers. If you have the flu or any other bug that can be contracted, please wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth and use a straw to consume liquids; removing your mask to consume a beverage or food defeats the purpose and you can spread germs.

Also please come prepared with antibacterial wipes for your hands and your area. If the flight is empty, ask the flight crew to place you in an area away from other passengers. Please keep in mind that the airlines reserve the right to deny a passenger from boarding if they feel that you are highly contagious. In the wake of Ebola, airlines are being more proactive in making sure that sick passengers are thoroughly checked before they are deemed fit to fly.

The Stressed-Out Parent
The morning of your flight, the kids will not cooperate. You forgot to set their clothes out the night before and it leaves you scrambling around the closet for the appropriate attire. You gave yourself barely enough time to make it out of the house and, as a result, the kids do not have time to eat. You finally make it to the airport and then realize that you left their Pokemon cards on the table. They are throwing a fit by the time you make it to the gate and now you desperately need a drink.... at 5:00 a.m.

The night before your flight, lay out the kids' clothes and mentally prepare to whip up a quick meal in the morning of maybe toast and fruit. Pack their activities in your carryon bag for easy access and please do not forget to pack their headphones. When kids see that mom and dad are calm, they will usually react in a similar manner and it will make your travel experience less chaotic.

Want to learn more about Sydney? Read her memoir, "Diary of a Pissed-Off Flight Attendant."