If you’re like me, flying is great except for the legroom!! I have been to Europe, the Americas and all over the US and each time, I sit either bulkhead or an exit seat (I’m not 6 feet tall) and usually get put on the plane first.
I arrive early and smile.
Ok, so it’s not QUITE that simple. Many travelers are grouchy, tired, anxious, frustrated, stressed or running late. I show up at least when the airport recommends (which means three hours international). I politely ask the person in charge of the line at checkin where the line starts (this means he knows who you are), then thank him with a big smile and eye contact.
Once I stand in line, I read or listen to only one ear into an ipod. You want to make sure you hear someone if they speak to you, yet seem carefree and occupied.
As the line moves, many new windows will open up to accomodate the busy line. Especially if you are traveling alone, just make sure you are standing slightly to one side, so you can be seen.
I have been given priority checkin every time I have had to wait in long lines due to this. As the line moves forward, I will lightly chat with the security person and make jokes. When a new window opens, they will usually come over and ask, “Traveling alone?” so that everyone can hear it…since there are few, there will be no one who says, “Hey, why can’t I go?”
Smile and thank them again with long eye contact.
Once checked and through security, go straight to your gate. Make sure you make eye contact with and smile at every security person and airport worker at your gate. Say something simple to the desk attendant, like “I was told you were the person to see to get a bulkhead seat!” Once they begin to say something, comment that you love to fly, but the claustrophia of sitting with the seats right in front of you always makes you crazy. If they say there aren’t any available, say, “Oh! The person at checkin said I had to come here to get it.” Look slightly confused.
Most times, miraculously, a seat opens up. They will ask if you are able bodied, always say YES!! It’s a safety precaution.
You’re not done!!
On your way back to get food, drinks, a book, whatever…smile at the security guards again. Make small talk as you walk by if you can.
When you come back from whatever you were doing, stay where people can see you and sit comfortably, looking entertained (read, write, listen to an ipod again in just one ear). Stand just before they are going to call your flight and be out of the way but near the security guard.
Most times, they will usher you to a waiting area for VIPs, which gets you on first. Since you’re bulkhead, you won’t have to stand to let people over, either. You get to get on without a hassle, sit without a hassle, have your bag above your head so exiting isn’t a hassle and all the while you made poor airport emloyees days a little better!!
It’s a win-win situation!