Air Travel Made Easier

What to know so that your flight is as calm and friendly as the skies you’re flying.

Photo by Michele Gastl

Pack Right

Make sure that every piece of clothing can be worn with everything else. “You should pick some base colors,” says Paul Eisenberg, editorial director for Fodor’s Travel Publications. “Men can do this just as easily as women. With men it tends to be black or brown. And for women, beige is a color I hear recommended quite a bit. The key is to look at your wardrobe and pick the color that makes sense.”

Most travelers can make do with two sets of shoes. “If you’re going to be doing nightlife stuff, try to get away with a pair of smart but comfortable black rubber-soled shoes,” Eisenberg says. “You can use them for sightseeing as well as for dinner.” And since the airlines don’t count the clothes on your back as part of your carry-on allotment, it makes sense to wear your bulkiest items en route. Instead of taking a big winter coat, Eisenberg says, “I like packing fleece layers. If you’re flying, you can wear one on your back and keep one in your bag―and one doubles as a pillow.”

Prep for Security

Save time at security checkpoints by avoiding outfits with big metal belts that will set off the machines or lace-up boots that will take forever to untie and remove. The Transportation Security Administration ( recommends wearing thin-soled slip-on shoes (such as flip-flops) that you can get on and off easily and that won’t need additional screening. “Don’t dress for the airport,” says travel expert Peter Greenberg. “Undress for the airport. Get a couple of Ziploc plastic bags and put anything metal―car keys, loose change, PDA, cell phone, money clip, pens, jewelry―into the bags and keep them in your carry-on. After you’ve taken off your shoes and removed your jacket, you can breeze right through the metal detector and not hold up anyone else on line. Then dress after you’ve cleared security.”

When flying from an airport you’ve never used before, leave extra time in case of unexpected obstacles. Getting your boarding pass online or using an automated check-in kiosk will save time as well. If all else fails, “it certainly doesn’t hurt to let security know you’re late for your flight,” says travel analyst Jared Blank of Online Travel Review ( You may be allowed to move to the front of the line.