I’m at the airport. My bags have started their trip down the conveyor, and I’ve removed my shoes, belt and watch to get through security, only to have to rush to get them back on without inconveniencing the people behind me. Simply making your way through the airport as a big guy can be a flat out hassle, let alone sitting through the flight itself. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way to help make your airport check-in and flight as hassle-free as possible.
1. Arrive early. There’s nothing worse than rushing through the airport with luggage in tow. Get there early and you can take your time. Plan ahead to account for traffic, the parking shuttle, or long walks to the gate. No one wants to be the sweaty guy running through the airport.
2. Wear as few layers as possible. This will keep you cooler and should make it much easier when going through security. The less layers you have on, the less you have to take off. If you’re bringing a blazer or jacket, opt to carry it through the airport rather than wearing it.
3. Limit the amount of metal items on your body. This means wear a watch and that’s it. If you choose to wear a belt, opt for a fabric version with a plastic pull through buckle. Getting your belt off and back on, in front of a security line of watching eyes isn’t necessarily the most comfortable thing to do.
4. Wear simple shoes. Since taking your shoes off when going through security is now a requirement, wear loafers or a slip on shoe. Speed up the process (and limit your bending) by slipping on a casual pair of leather loafers or stylish sneakers. This is a real time and energy saver.
5. Streamline your wallet. A slim credit card case or money clip (like I remember my Dad carrying on vacation) is all you need while traveling. ID, credit cards, and your boarding pass should be the only items in it. Keep the loose change in your piggy bank, you’ll need it when you get home from vacation. One tip is to take your watch, wallet, belt, and anything else you’ve taken off and place them in your carry on bag as it goes down the X-ray belt. This way you know all your items are safe, secure, and not in jeopardy of getting left behind. Then once you’re through the security check point, you then can put them back in their place at your leisure.
6. Ask for an aisle seat. There’s one question and one question only to ask the gate agent: “Is this a full flight?” If the answer is yes, ask to sit in the aisle seat. You’ll get that extra bit shoulder room and be you’ll be able to kick your leg out into the aisle (as long as the drink cart isn’t coming). Being the big guy in the middle seat isn’t comfortable for you or your seat mates.
If the flight isn’t fully booked, ask to have your seat changed to a row that isn’t full, or ask if there are any upgrades available. If you ask nicely, and there’s something available, they’ll usually oblige. The exit row is now considered an “upgrade” as there is significantly more leg room. Some airlines charge for these extra roomy seats during booking, but if you inquire at the gate, they’ll usually move you to those seats for free. Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you’ll get upgraded to business class if there’s room.
7. Have everything within reach. Lastly, make sure everything you’ll need during the trip is readily available. Squirming in a small space is frustrating and uncomfortable. If you need a seat belt extender (like a lot of us do) make sure to ask the flight attendant as your board the plane. This allows them to bring it to you as your getting settled rather than holding up the boarding process.
Bottom line, flying sucks – especially so if you’re a big dude. Following these steps won’t make the process entirely enjoyable, but it’ll sure cut down on the stress.
What are your tricks or tips when taking a flight? We want to know. Post them to our Facebook page or in the comments below.