On my first-ever standby weekend trip, I packed four different outfits in a giant pink duffel bag. It's no coincidence that's the weekend I end up stranded in not one, but TWO connecting cities, making a 90-minute flight a 10-hour travel day. I scoff at my former self.
(I really hope I'm not jinxing my next standby adventure.)
Here are a few things that I've learned over my many weekends and day trips that may make your next adventure a little easier.
If at all possible, use a backpack.
I think we all know I'm partial to backpacks as I've named this entire category "Girl with a Backpack," but it's with good reason.
For one thing, they're hands-free. This is huge when you're running around an airport or traversing a new city.
For another, you can shove them under the seat in front of you, so you don't need to worry about finding overhead bin space on full flights.
And lastly, they fit a deceptive amount of stuff—but will also force you to pare down your belongings and not bring unnecessary junk with you on your trip.
I've been using my L.L. Bean middle school backpack because it's #DurableAF, but once I get a little extra spending money I think I'm going to splurge for a Herschel.
Follow the CSA Rule of Three.
While this one may be a little controversial coming from someone who works at an airline, I've heard that the rule of thumb with Customer Service Agents at airports is, if one tells you they can't do something for you, to ask two more.
This is because (sometimes) they either (a) don't know how to do what you're asking them to do, (b) don't think they can or (c) could but don't feel like it. Whether this is switching a flight, rerouting you through a different city because of weather, or a number of other things, it's always good to follow up with two more if your first CSA claims ignorance or inability.
I feel compelled here to mention that you should always, ALWAYS be extremely polite to the CSA. They are not obligated to help you, so if you give them an attitude, they probably won't. The best way to guarantee you get the help you need is to be excessively kind and patient, even if you're panicking about your situation. Keep calm and ask another.
Remember the 10-Minute Rule.
This is the rule that states as long as you're at your gate 10 minutes before departure, you're in the clear (if you're a confirmed passenger).
I feel like before I started flying a lot I'd end up sitting at my gate for an hour and a half before departure because I wanted to "have plenty of time." I'd always WAY overestimate the amount of time I needed to get through security and get settled, which made travel far more tedious and time-consuming than it actually needed to be because I spent so much time just sitting in the gate area.
Moreover, if you show up an hour and a half early and your flight gets delayed, you're tacking on an excessive amount of time. I remember one instance in particular where I showed up to the gate in SFO at 1:30 p.m. for a 3:10 p.m. flight, and at 2:15 p.m. I got a notification that the flight was delayed—until 9 p.m.
I had to sit in that dang airport for almost eight hours. If I waited a little longer, I would've gotten that notification before I had left for the airport and had an entire extra day in SF. The same thing happened to me flying out of JFK in the spring.
I'm not telling you to push it to the last-minute and see how late you can possibly be, just be realistic about the amount of time it'll actually take and don't show up two hours early. (This is purely from a "get more out of your trip and make the most of your time" standpoint.)
I hope one or more of these comes in handy for you.
If there are other travel-specific topics you'd like to know more about, don't hesitate to reach out!
Travel hacks and must-sees from a broke frequent flyer.