Delta Flight 578 touched down at National Airport about 10 minutes late, and the guy in 2A was the last one off the plane.


It’s the end of my high (and more importantly- free) flying days. I’m figuring it’s been nearly a quarter million miles flown since 1990.  In that time, I’ve learned a lot of things:

  • You don’t need to show up at the gate till 10 minutes before the flight.
  • Never, ever, ever check luggage.  With a bit of planning, anyone can live out of a pull along for up to a week and look good.
  • Pleasant words and a sincere smile for flight attendants pay off in the most unexpected ways.  Payoff or not- be nice.  They deserve it.
  • It’s very easy to get very drunk very quickly at 32,000 feet.  If it’s not a trans-oceanic segment- count your drinks.  Test it by how you feel, and you’re probably going to end up ripped.
  • Virgin Airlines Upper Class is the ideal way to get across the Atlantic.  Skilled massages, 30 movies, and full sized couches make it more comfortable than hanging out at home.
  • Don’t joke with customs.  At all.
  • Small children may be cute.  They may be charming.  They should be at the other end of the plane.
  • Make good use of the aromatherapy mists available in the overnight kits they pass out.
  • Avoid Dallas-Fort Worth at all costs.  National has been a blessing.
  • You can’t carry handcuffs on international flights.  But the flight attendant will hold them for you, giving you a smile that makes even the shameless embarrased.
  • It’s better to take an inconvenient flight and get business class than sit in [r/c]oach.
  • Free and easy flights create a social network that has nothing to do with where you live.  While you’ve still got free and easy flights- no problem.  When you take that away, it’s not so great.
  • Little things like getting a gate assignment closest to the arrival/departure curb makes a huge difference.
  • You can fly Atlanta to Gatwick, get the Thameslink to St. Pauls, have breakfast and a bit of shopping in London, and catch the flight back in time to get to bed.  Early, even.

So, those are a few of the things I’ve learned.  Of course, I’ll have a few opportunities to develop these lessons later this year.
Interviews will necessitate a few domestic flights.  I’ve also got some travel ambitions, which I’m sure I can make on the summer off-season.  Of course, I’m convinced that mentioning that dooms them now.  One used to be Constantinople.  Think that counts?