Make your flight (and mine) easier this holiday season

The holidays are coming, and people will be flying. If you’re one of them, instead of feeling angry and entitled in every line in which you late, make a concerted effort to improve your surroundings. No, I’m not talking about picking up garbage or holding the door for some old lady who will punish you with tales of her grandchildren’s accomplishments. Take small steps to become more efficient. You-and everyone around you-will spend less time in line, and you might just be almost happy with your trip.

Rule #1

If you see someone who looks like he travels regularly, do what he does. If he takes his license out of his wallet before reaching the security line, you should too. Did he just remove his laptop from his bag? Guess what … you’ll probably want to take yours from your bag. You can’t go wrong by copying someone who’s obviously smarter than you are.

Rule #2
Don’t prepare for the security stop when you’ve already bellied up to the X-ray machine. While you’re in line, do the following:

1. Pull your laptop out of your bag (if you have one)
2. Take your ID (license or passport) out of your pocket, bag, etc.; hold it with your boarding pass
3. Empty your pockets into your carry-on; do the same with your watch, cell phone and any heavy jewelry
4. Remove your shoes, and carry them on top of your laptop
5. Repeat #4 with your coat and hatNow, you have a stack of personal belongings on top of your laptop. Carry them like you did your books back in grade school. You can drop the laptop into one bin for the X-ray machine, pick up the clothing and drop them in the next bin. It’s fast. It’s easy. It doesn’t leave you screwing around while people are waiting.

Rule #3
Unless you’re moving, don’t pack like you’re moving. If you can’t carry it, don’t bring it. This is just common sense. Bringing gifts to family members you see rarely? Mail the packages. Hell, with the cost of extra baggage right now, it’s probably cheaper to engage UPS for this anyway.

Rule #4
Eating at the food court instead of home? This makes sense. After all, the long lines force us all to go to the airport earlier … just in case. There are more of us than usual, and we’re all friggin’ hungry. So, why the hell does someone who’s in line for an hour wait, ponder and stutter when placing an order? Next time you’re jammed up at Wendy’s, use those 30 minutes in line to think about what you want. By the time someone asks if you want fries with your burger, you should already know the answer.

Rule #5
Forget every rule of good parenting. Sometimes, you need to let your kid cry to learn a lesson. Here’s the problem: we don’t need to learn that lesson, too. Do what it takes to keep your kid under control. If that means coloring books, candy or … dare I say it … active parenting, do it. Do what it takes. Your round trip involves two days of your kid’s childhood. Whatever you do for the sake of expediency will not make a lasting impression.

Rule #6
Know when to quit. We all love to scream at airline employees, and we know they are lying to us. When they say that weather caused the problem on a sunny day, when they say that there are no more exit row seats, when they say the flight is overbooked … we just know it’s bullshit. So, we fight. Sometimes, it works. Appeasement in the form of flight vouchers, hotel stays and free meals sometimes flow. But, at a certain point, you need to know when to stop. If you’re on a full flight of people with super-triple-platinum status (and you’re not), don’t expect to get a damned thing. Accept that you will lose.

Fighting the good fight is okay, but at a certain point, you lose the crowd’s sympathy. Be aware that people who look like serial killers don’t often get what they want (or need).

You’re more likely to have a safe and happy holiday season if you follow my advice. So, I wish you all the best in the coming weeks, and I encourage you not to be a moron once you pass through those automatic sliding doors. It happens to all of us, but maybe if we all make that genuine attempt not to make airport life worse, we’ll all have a better time.