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Airline Passenger Tips for Calm, Courteous and Safe Travel

Juan Santamaria Airport

Be alert to potential disturbances -- At the ticket counter or in the aircraft, watch out for passengers who appear to be making unreasonable demands, use loud or abusive language, or demonstrate inappropriate behaviour. Remember, however, that other passengers may already be stressed -- it doesn't mean that every anxious person is a threat.

If you're sitting next to an abusive passenger -- Since you're confined in an aircraft, it's not about "fight or flight." If you feel threatened, do not ring your call button to complain. Stay calm, quietly gather your small valuables, walk over to the flight attendant and explain the situation. If the flight is full, you will not be allowed to move, so do not ask the attendant to switch you with another passenger.

Alcohol, coffee and soft drinks -- Cabin air is pressurized, re-circulated and very dry, and you cannot easily exercise. At 30,000 feet, your body processes alcohol and caffeine, including many soft drinks, differently from on the ground. Remember that alcohol, caffeine and soft drinks dehydrate, so consider ordering water or juice as an alternative or as a side beverage.

Airline crew are well trained to handle on-board disturbances -- These skilled professionals are responsible for the safety and comfort of passengers, and they have ample experience in handling disruptive passengers. At a recent airline training seminar, one international flight attendant reported that more than a third of all the attendants had experienced some form of aggressive passenger behavior, ranging from head-butting a first officer to throwing objects at the crew to riding the beverage cart. For this reason, airline personnel carry police-style handcuffs and will not hesitate to use them if they perceive that other passengers are threatened.

How to Reduce Your Own Travel Anxiety:

Take public transportation or have someone drop you off at the airport -- To reduce stress and arrive on time, AAA strongly advises air travelers to take public transportation or have someone drop you off at the airport.

Arrive Early at the Airport -- For domestic flights during holiday travel, AAA recommends you arrive at least two hours before flight time, (three hours for international). If you must drive, allow plenty of time to find a parking spot, as the lot may be full and you would need extra time to find an open lot.

Carry-on Luggage -- Try to bring only one carry-on luggage item, but no more than two (check with the airline for policy). Do not overload your carry-on luggage; it could injure or irritate other passengers as you go down the aisle.

Never leave your luggage unattended -- it's not just a smart idea, it's the law. Put your heaviest item under the seat, not in the overhead, due to shifting of contents in flight.  Please see Guidelines below.

At the Gate -- Have your ticket and photo identification immediately available. It saves waiting time for everybody, and reduces stress. Never make weapons jokes at the security checkpoint; you could be subject to immediate arrest.

Traveling with Children -- Bring aboard books, games, drawing materials, music (with headphones) or toys to keep them occupied. Don't bring multi-piece toy items that can fall onto other passengers or under the seat.

Travel Comfort Strategies -- Consider bringing neck pillows, eye shades or ear plugs to make your flight more comfortable.

U.S. Airlines Carry-on Guidelines

U.S. Airline Max Carry-on Bag Size (inches) Counted as Carry-On Exceptions
American 23x13x9 Briefcases, Laptops Canes, some walkers and medical devices
Continental 45 linear inches  N/A Car Seats, laptops, collapsible wheelchairs, prosthetic devices
Delta 24x16x10 Laptops, child seats, briefcases Strollers, some wheelchairs, canes, diaper bags
Northwest 22x14x9 Laptops, child seats, briefcases Briefcases, some strollers, prosthetic devices
Southwest 24x16x10 Laptops, prosthetic devices, briefcases, backpacks Purses, Cameras
TWA 24x16x8 Purses, briefcases, laptops, strollers, backpacks Coats, Umbrellas, prosthetic devices
US Airways 21x16x8 under seat
24x16x10 over head
Briefcases, Laptops Umbrellas, Strollers, small camera cases, infant bags, prosthetic devices
United 45 Linear inches Anything > 25 linear inches N/A
Alaskan 24x17x10 Briefcases, Laptops Backpacks, purses
America West 54 linear inches – garment bags; 45 for other bags Briefcases, Laptops Backpacks, purses



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