Airport Tips for Thanksgiving Travel

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In this edition: Advice for nonfrequent fliers.

Q: Since the holiday travel season is about to commence, I've started making a list of "Tips for People Who Don't Fly a Lot from Someone Who Does." I'll list my top five … care to add to it?

1) Don't be that lady breaking down in tears because the TSA is forcing her to throw out a huge bottle of her favorite expensive perfume. There's pretty much no excuse for being completely clueless about the carry-on rules. You can find everything you need to know online. Or just ask someone, anyone, who's flown recently. They can give you the basics about liquids and laptops and taking your shoes off, etc.

2) Don't crowd around the door to the jetway at the gate. I hate this. People who need special assistance board first, then frequent fliers, then everybody else. If you don't need special assistance and rarely fly, odds are you're in the "everybody else" group. Please stand back.

3) Anything you put in the overhead bin is going to get tossed around and/or smushed. Unless it can survive a 25-pound suitcase being placed on top of it, don't put it there. Once I saw someone try to block other passengers from putting suitcases in the overhead bin because she had placed a small box up there containing expensive china tea cups. Not cool.

4) If you're in a window or middle seat, minimize the number of times you have to ask other passengers in your row to stand up and let you out. Go to the bathroom right before boarding. Make sure your iPod and your motion-sickness medications and anything you might possibly need during the flight are in a bag under the seat in front of you instead of in the overhead bin.

5) If I have headphones on, I don't want to talk. Nothing against you; I just don't feel like it. Please respect that.

A: Someone got up on the snarky side of the bed, I see! But I agree with everything you said. I'll add five more tips of my own. Readers — what are the top five things you wish you could tell nonfrequent fliers? Chime in below in the comments.

6) Do not recline your seat without warning the person behind you, so they can move their laptop or cup of hot coffee off their tray table. If you just recline suddenly without checking, snap goes the laptop; splash goes the coffee.

7) If it smells bad (stinky Ugg boots, a sandwich with extra onions, etc.), don't bring it on the plane.

8) Parents: No matter how tired or frustrated or brain-addled you are, there is no excuse for not keeping an eye on your kids. I don't blame kids for getting antsy and squirming. They can't help it — they're kids. I do, however, blame parents who don't tell their kids, "Stop kicking that gentleman's seat" or "Stop singing 'Jingle bells, Batman smells,'" or "Stop picking your nose and smearing it on the tray table." If you're flying with a child, you're on duty for the duration of the flight. Quit playing Angry Birds and make sure your kid's not bothering anybody.

9) And the flip side of this: Cut some slack to anyone traveling with children. It's hard enough to carry a baby and all baby-related paraphernalia onto a plane -- parents don't need you greeting them with a scowl and then calling your spouse to complain, loudly, that you know you'll never sleep on the flight because there's a baby in your row. Until someone invents a teleportation device, there are going to be small kids on commercial flights, especially around the holidays. Deal with it.

10) If you're sick, don't fly. I know this one's tough -- nobody wants to put off a trip home for the holidays, and it's not as if the airlines make it easy to change flights because you're sick. But if you know you have something contagious, it's pretty selfish to get on a plane and share your germs with dozens of other people. Take one for the team and postpone your flight.

Lesley Carlin has been writing about travel and etiquette professionally for more than 10 years. As one of the Etiquette Grrls, she is the co-author of "Things You Need to Be Told" and "More Things You Need to Be Told" (Berkley). Have a travel etiquette question of your own? E-mail Lesley at