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Travel Tips: All ground staff please leave the aircraft

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By Irfan Ahmad
May 16 2010

“My bags are packed. I am ready to go. … I am leaving on a jet plane….” The strains of the John Denver song are permanently etched in my mind. It takes me about 10 minutes to put together my stuff for a trip that could keep me on the road for ten days. I have several hundred thousand air miles under my belt and I do not recall a single month in the last ten years when I have been in one city for over 30 days. No. I am not George Clooney and this is not about the million air miles movie, “Up in the Air.”

My spare toiletry bag is permanently stored in my suitcase. I unzip my suitcase and throw in a daily change of underwear. The shirts that are hanging in my closet are selected – a couple of my favorite blue striped ones and some solid color ones. All are button down. All are 100% cotton. They stay wrinkle free if I keep them in the hanger with the clear plastic sleeves they came in from the laundry. I add a jacket if I know the weather will be cold where I am going. A polo shirt for casual wear and PJs for the night come in the end. A couple of trousers and a pair of jeans round up my travel wardrobe. An extra pair of shoes if there is a formal party I will be attending. No socks because I don’t wear them. They are stifling. No ties ‘coz they are stifling too. My bags are packed and I am ready to go.


Pix2What about carry on cabin luggage? Always use a pull along bag with wheels. Airports have a tendency to make you walk. A shoulder bag with a laptop inside gets heavier with every step you take. It also gains weight after a long, sleepless flight. If you have a laptop in a shoulder bag and place it in the overhead bin, you can be certain that one of your insensitive fellow passengers will place a heavy bag on top of it - leaving you to ruminate throughout your flight if your laptop will survive the trip. Even if you only want to use a shoulder bag, place it in a pull-along bag. It will be safer inside.


The drama of every flight begins when I settle into my aisle seat in the aircraft. Yes, I always insist on an aisle seat. Actually there is little insistence; I reserve an aisle seat for myself every time I book my flight.  If you catch my drift, I am not a front of the bus passenger who travels on an expense account.


The aisle seat has many advantages. You can go to the loo without climbing over others. You can stretch your legs in the aisle. You can access the overhead bins and take your laptop out during long flights and stow it back after you are done. You can make a quick exit and beat others to the front of the immigration queues.



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