A Conversation for What to do When You Get to the Airport

A few boring hints

Post 1

Simon Trew

1. All right, so you want a good seat. For me this means an aisle seat as far forward as I can get -- and I get my way pretty much because I'm a frequent flyer even though I am down the back with the proles. But how to know what are the good seats? The simple answer is look up a seating plan on the airline's website -- most airlines have them. You may think that seat 25F is a long way down the back but often there is a gap in the numbers between the business class rows and the tourist class so it might actually be near the front. _Always_ ask for the seat you want. Even if the exact seat is taken, you'll get a much better seat than if you left it to chance. (I was once the first person to check-in and got allocated the rear row on a 747). I like seats near the front because there is less engine noise and you're quicker off.

For best results, if you book on the Internet you can usually. If not, phone the airline before you fly to reserve your seat.

2. If you are traveling to the US from outside, _run_ to the immigration desk. Everyone else will be smugly thinking you a pillock since you have to wait for baggage. However, baggage is normally out in 20 minutes but processing a 747-full of people at immigration can take 2 hours. Especially if another 747-full of suspicious-looking foreigners arrived 5 minutes before your flight. My best time at Houston IAH: 17 minutes from touchdown to carpark. Worst time: 4.5 hours.

2.5. The right-hand aisle of a wide-bodied aircraft always empties quicker than the left-hand aisle. Really.

3. Smoker's hint: At Hartsfield airport, Atlanta, the only bar that allows you to smoke is in the international terminal. (There are other smoking areas in each terminal.) New York smoker's hint: You can't smoke at Newark or JFK airports, but you can at La Guardia. You can smoke in all the airports in Pennsyvania, and at Las Vegas it is almost compulsory.

4. Put your name and address inside your baggage. Don't lock your luggage. That way when the machine rips the tag off they can still trace your bag.

5. If traveling to the US, make sure you know where you're staying. You'll need to put it on your immigration form.

6. It's usually cheaper (MUCH cheaper) to book a self-drive car in advance rather than when you get to the airport.

Smoking in airports

Post 2

Simon Trew

Actually I would like to compile a list of airports you can smoke in (and where e.g. are there reserved areas, can you smoke in the bars). If you are a smoker these might also help if you have a choice of connections taking a non-direct flight.

To start the ball rolling:

London Gatwick -- Departure: in bars/restaurants, smoking areas before and after passport control but NOT at the gates, except for the little satellite (gates 31-38). No smoking on arrival until after baggage claim despite signs to the contrary. BUT no matter where you land in the south terminal you can always go up to the little satellite before you go through immigration, if you are really gasping.

London Stansted -- Better. You can smoke at all the gates and in the baggage reclaim, as well as in the bars/restaurants.

New York -- none at JFK or EWR. You can smoke in the bar at La Guardia.

Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia) -- in bars/restaurants.

Detroit -- none. And it's cold in winter outside. Very.

Houston -- none at either IAH or HOU (Hobby). Hobby is smaller and so easier to nip out if you're connecting, but you're very unlikely to be connecting at Hobby.

Las Vegas -- everywhere.

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