On our way to Boston, we got to the airport early – we flew out of LAX and drove ourselves so multiple hours of sitting and eating far outweighed the chances of running into issues of traffic and security, even if we could have slept longer.
Between 5 of us, we had 4 suitcases and 5 carry-ons which shouldn’t have been an issue, however, there were a few issues that were truly unexpected:
1. Three of us were seated in exit rows.
Exit rows have no under seat storage so everything you bring into the cabin must go above you in overhead storage. Despite this deficit, you are not granted an earlier boarding or reserved bag space – though we were seriously considering recommending it! If you find yourself in this predicament when booking, prepare for it, especially in the busier season (as I’ll discuss next!).
People who board first, especially with multiple carry-ons, take up a lot of room and (at least on our way to Boston), people were closing overhead bins before they were full but, since this is not traveler etiquette, we never thought to check! Luckily, we did get everything stored but remember in your process to always keep a watchful eye out for space (as you’ll see).
2. Think of the season and pack light!
With more and more airlines charging for checked luggage, more and more people are opting out of checking bags and carrying on whatever limit, including pushing it to extremes. This leads to more and more issues of finding cabin space especially near your seat – we noticed some passengers have started to put luggage ahead of where they sit in order to jump ahead on departure.
So, how do you combat this? Well, one: bring carry-ons you can store under your seat (when you have said space) and avoid fighting for the overhead space. And, two: if you must bring overhead luggage, don’t be surprised (or cross!) if you have to check part of your haul at the gate, especially if you are in a later boarding section.
3. Follow all directions at security before being asked personally.
It was absolutely unbelievable to me how many people I had to fight not to yell this at – it honestly felt like no one in the airport had ever traveled before. We had people who didn’t remove shoes, belts, hats, liquids from bags as well as large electronics. This is especially hazardous when more and more people are bringing more and more cases through security in lieu of checking items.
The issue with getting flagged at security is that they must unpack your entire suitcase/bag. I watched the whole contents of people’s luggage – panties to toothpaste and laptops to paperwork – get pulled apart and examined. Now I wouldn’t mind so much if this just slowed down the person getting pulled out and checked, however, as your improperly packed bag must be scanned multiple times and, if too many people are being pulled, there is no where for these bags to be pulled, causing security to slow or stop.
Security is not hard: follow instructions, do your part, and we’ll all get out in time to do what we need to do!
4. Beware dense objects (and odd objects).
This was something really unexpected: some objects that you wouldn’t think as a problem in your carry-on, might be a bigger issue than most! If you really pack your bag and have dense objects in them – my sister’s box of business cards in this case – these denser pockets can appear as solid unidentifiable objects in a scan which will get you pulled from the security line. The truth is, most of the time you won’t know what will set a scan like this off, however, density and metal coatings – I had a metal CD case once that caused some issues – play a large part in making these determinations.
On a stranger point of odd objects and the randomness of scans, my mother’s bag got flagged – we thought it was her metal water canister at first – because of an oddly packed bag of peanut M&Ms!
5. And (as always) be kind!
I have seen a lot of incidences in all my flights (and I’ve had many both international and domestic), but this trip between LA and Boston was worse than I can ever remember. Between the woman who scowled and scolded the women loading us over having to check in one of her overhead bags, the girls who got a little lost and had to re-enter security between transfers (which I’ll talk about more next week, though edited for language), and the many complaints about wait times (be it loading, getting luggage, or getting through security or customs), there are so many areas where people’s tempers fly, but getting angry and lashing out never helped anyone.
Practice your yoga breathing, meditate, count to 10, whatever, but if you take it out on anyone who is there to help you (even if you doubting their actual helpfulness), you won’t get the help and the world will come back to bite you on the butt. You will not be the first ungrateful person they work with and you will not be their last, but being kind takes as much energy as being angry and you may brighten the day of someone else enough that you get exactly the help you are looking for.
So, for more ‘did she just say that out loud!?’ stories from LAX and why you should really be nicer to people, tune in next time, but until then:
This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.