Flying’s not fun, even if you’ve got a pre-boarding buzz going. Having a plan (and the right gear) can make all the difference. We asked experts for their best airport hacks, tips and tricks:
HOW TO PACK YOUR SNACKS
According to Torey Armul, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the best snacks to pack for a long flight have both protein and fiber. Because they’re digested slowly, these munchies provide longer-lasting energy and satisfy hunger more than chips, candy bars and other simple carbs.
Try these combos:
almonds + an orange
granola bar + a banana
PB&J on whole wheat bread
trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
turkey jerky + an apple
wheat crackers + peanut butter
HOW TO GET ON A STANDBY FLIGHT
Think early: “The first flight of the day is the flight to try to fly standby on, because some people just don’t like waking up that early and will miss their flights,” says American Airlines spokesperson Ross Feinstein.
HOW TO FLY ON A PRIVATE JET FOR CHEAP
Even if you’re not a member of jetsuite.com’s private jet service, check out the SuiteDeals page for next-day flights starting at $536 one way for the entire jet (a four-seat Phenom 100 or a six-seat Citation CJ3). If you round up three friends for an impromptu trip from, say, Santa Barbara, California, to Las Vegas, that’s just $134 per person.
HOW TO UPGRADE YOUR COCKTAIL
“Pack little packets of black pepper and hot sauce or those micro, single-serve Tabasco bottles in your carry-on. Most of the drink selections on planes suck, but you can have a fairly serviceable Bloody Mary if you remember to bring those items—you can usually grab them from the condiments counter at airport eateries. Without them, you’re stuck with the airline’s poor excuse for a Bloody Mary, which is just vodka and tomato juice.” – Jeff Cioletti, DRAFT contributor and author of “The Drinkable Globe.”
HOW TO FLY WITH YOUR DOG
There are surprisingly few regulations for bringing service animals on planes; there is no official test to pass or form to present to security or gate agents. That means, in the most unsavory cases, pet owners buy a vest online for their untrained pet, simply to avoid paying the airline’s pet fee. If you have special needs, you don’t need to purchase a service animal; veteran dog trainer Juan Aguilar (jonnybegooddogtraining.com) says with the right methods, most dogs of any breed can be trained to pass the Canine Good Citizen test and actually earn their vests.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR BEER (AND AVOID FEES)
If you load your checked suitcase full of bottles for the trip home, don’t exceed the 50-pound limit that will trigger an overweight bag fee (usually $75-$100 on top of the $25-$35 checked-bag fee). Rule of thumb: Twelve full 750-mL bottles weigh about 42 pounds, so select your souvenirs wisely.
HOW TO DECODE PORTABLE CHARGERS
These lifesavers aren’t all created equal. Here are the two tech terms to know:
1. mAh: Technically, it stands for milli-amp hours, which is the unit of electrical charge that’s used to measure your phone’s battery capacity. An iPhone 6 has a 1,810 mAh battery; the Galaxy S5 2,800 mAh. So, a 2,000-mAh charger would only juice your iPhone once.
2. Amps: This is how quickly the battery will recharge your phone. 2.0 is much faster than 1.0.
Our portable charger pick: AmazonBasics Portable Power Bank
There are multiple versions of this slim, lightweight charger; we like 10,000 mAh ($24.99) for charging multiple devices and recharging our iPhone at least five times before we have to plug it back in.
HOW TO FIND IN-FLIGHT CRAFT BEER
Delta Air Lines’ systemwide beer selection is fairly standard, but on select regional flights, you’ll find brews from Ballast Point Brewing Co., Blue Point Brewing, Brooklyn Brewery, Lagunitas Brewing Co., Stone Brewing Co., SweetWater Brewing Co. and Newburyport Brewing Co. Alaska Airlines’ beer selection showcases two Alaskan Brewing Co. beers (Amber Ale and Icy Bay IPA) on all flights, and the airline plans to add Ninkasi Dawn of the Red India Red Ale, Redhook ESB and Widmer Brothers Steel Bridge Porter on select regional flights soon.