Pack a Bag of Inflight Essentials

For any flight I take I have my backpack but then I also have a smaller bag within it that I remove and keep at my seat. This has all my inflight survival items:

  • iPad
  • Noise canceling headphones
  • Snacks
  • Lip balm
  • Paper reading material for take-off / landing
  • Eye shades
  • Ear plugs


Turbulence ranks high on the fear list for many fliers – it feels unsettling and as if the plane is out of control.  To some, it feels like the wings are going to be ripped off.

The fact is airplanes are made with turbulence in mind and they have great strength and flexibility.

Many fliers feel as if the plane is changing hundreds or thousands of feet.  In most cases the airplanes altitude is only changing a few feet (1-20).  During the most sever turbulence you are to encounter that may go upwards of 50 feet.

There are exceptions to this and there have been cases where the plan had dropped significantly, but these are very, very rare occurrences.

The most important thing is to have your seat belt fastened.  If you are on an aisle, keep watch of the bins – they may pop open.  If they do, don’t get up!  But stand guard to block yourself from any falling items.

How long is the flight?

While the flight may only be four hours, it could wind up being twice as long or more. Maintenance delays, weather, missed connections all come into play. Keep this in mind when packing your carry-on bag. A food bar and some water will be very welcomed after long delays.

When I travel internationally, it’s not uncommon for the trip to be 24 hours or more door to door. Now factor in delays and you have one very long day. For international travel always, always, always carry on a some basic necessaries (toothbrush, deodorant, medicine) and expensive valuables.

Out of sight and out of mind can be dangerous aboard an aircraft

Most people will toss there carry-on bags in the overhead compartment above their seat. Not me. I use the one opposite my seat. This allows me to keep an eye on it when someone is fussing around up there.

I have seen too many times someone else toss gear up there and push mine out of the way. When the flight attendant goes to close the bins, yours is the troublemaker and you are stuck trying to fix things.

Also keep in mind thieves also fly and may tr to access your belongings.

Buddy I need a drink

Flying dehydrates the body. At the altitudes aircraft fly there is very little moisture in the air. The air we breathe in the cabin comes from the engines – as the engines draws in air its spun as it passes various stages of compression. Cabin air is tapped from inner diameter air from the engines – the rational is as the air spins, dirt and grime is tossed to the outside leaving inner diameter air as pure. This also means lack of moisture.

When flying on international trips, I always try to carry aboard bottle water.

Don’t drink the water!

This is certainly true in many foreign countries, but is also true aboard an aircraft. There have been numerous news reports about bacteria and other nasties in aircraft tap water.

How can this be? Today’s aircraft crisscross the globe so many times it would make your head spin. The on-board potable water is filled from local water sources. So your flight from New York may have come from Mexico City filled with their lovely water.

Most airlines carry bottle water and this is safe. The problem is on long international flights the bottle water runs out or the bottles are stuffed in the flight attendants bag so they have water at the hotel. I have seen more times than I can count a flight attendant refill a water bottle with aircraft tap water and place it on their cart.

If you see a flight attendant walking through the aisles giving water from a decanter, you can be 99% sure that is aircraft water and to be avoided.

Best defense: Carry your own bottle water. It’s a cheap investment in your personal health and well being.

How to Legally Smuggle Water Aboard

The rules of carryon items keep changing, but one thing as remained constant, no beverages past security check points.  In North America once you clear the TSA, you can buy water and carry aboard the flight.

When at an international airport, it becomes more difficult.  At some international boarding’s you will encounter a secondary set of screening where beverages are once again banned.  If this is the case, checkout the duty free stores.  Many times they also sell bottle water.  Just as if you were buying alcohol they will seal into a bag and give to you or have it join you at the gate.

Restroom Closed For Business

Use the bathroom before you board the flight. During delays on the tarmac you may not be allowed to use the restroom. Also if you encounter turbulence after takeoff going to the restroom could be dangerous.

If in doubt, go before you board.

Flying Under 2

Current airline and FAA rules allow children under 2 to fly for free and be held by parents during the flight.  For parents this is a wonderful cost savings.  Beyond saving some cash, it’s a really bad, bad idea.

First, on a packed international flight this quickly becomes very uncomfortable for the parent and adjacent seat mates.

More importantly, children should be a in a car seat approved for flying.  In North America it’s a crime to have a child in a car without a car seat.  Yet people don’t think twice about bringing a baby onto a 550 MPH airplane.

On airplanes things go from normal to very abnormal in a split second.  If a normal landing turns into a crash, the chance of a parent being able to hold on to the child is very small.  We have all heard stories of unexpected rough turbulence where passengers are tossed around.  For a child not in a seat with a belt, they are a projectile.

I understand that this is a tough one for parents as the cost of airline tickets are so high.  But the investment is so small to protect the children we love.

Keep your shoes on!

On international flights, I see so many people who take their shoes off once they are seated. Yes, this is more comfortable but also creates a very large hazard.

The fact is 95% of aircraft accidents happen on the ground, during takeoff and landing.

If an emergency arises and you need to get off the airplane, you want your shoes on so you can possibly walk over broken glass, molten metal, and other dangers.

Think survival

I remove my shoes once we reach 10,000 feet. This is when the announcement is made that it’s safe to use portable electronics.

Getting help when things go bad

There are times when you will miss a connection, weather will cause delays or flight cancelations or the airplane will cancel a connecting flight for a variety of reasons.  This is no time to get upset – you need to take action.

To get you back on your way, use the following in this order:

  • Elite phone line (if you are a member)
  • Lounge / club desk (if you are a member)
  • Travel agent (if you booked a trip with a conventional travel agent)
  • Gate agent of problem flight – don’t go to a random gate seeking help with rebooking as they will not give it to you.  Not that they don’t want to be helpful, they can’t.  They don’t have access to the files they need.
  • Airline customer no service counters.  Yup, this is the line of last resort.  During weather delays these lines can be hours long of waiting.

I use a combination of the above to rectify things, normally I am on the phone as quick as possible.  If the gate agent line is short, I will wait in that line while talking with the elite line.  If the gate line is long, I head to the lounge while talking with the elite line.

Remember if the delays are caused by weather, the airlines will not have any reasonability to compensate you.  They will get you to your destination, but it may be a day or two late and they owe you nothing.  Yup, just read the airlines Contract of Carriage.