Sunday, April 29, 2012

Travel Tips: Connecting Flight in Europe, In Flight Food and Entertainment

During my last stopover on the way home from Israel, it was pretty obvious (and from talking to fellow travelers and people at the airlines) that security checks have increased dramatically for flights to the U.S.  I wish I had been prepared for the change, as by the end of my third screening, I felt like the dudes in those Snicker's Bar Commercials. (My angry celebrity persona would be Larry David.)

Speaking of Snicker's, I will also give you my take on airplane and airport food and entertainment.

If you don't feel like reading this, there is one important takeaway that inspired this blog: when you have an overseas stop, give yourself at least two hours to make your next flight. Currently, Orbitz (which I use, I'm not sure about the others) is providing flights in the database that only have an hour stop over. You will almost certainly not make your flight and unless it's a super small airport, your luggage won't either. Don't buy the one hour transfer ticket, unless you are totally flexible and wouldn't mind being stuck in your connecting city and don't need any luggage.

The Transfer

1. Don't expect to be dropped of at the gate.

I'm not sure if this was because of security or for another reason (traffic, personnel) we had to get off the plane and take buses to the terminal. This is only relevant because it's a little uncomfortable to be in a bus with no clue as to where it's going and  it adds to your travel time.

2. Even though you have never left a secured area, you will go through security again.

On my way last trip, I went through security again, was patted down (I hate that so much. It drives me crazy.), my feet and shoes and fingers were tasted for traces of bomb residue. My husband just had his bags checked again and went through the medal detector. My five feet of pure terrorist was clearly a threat to international security. (No, I'm just a short girl who travels a lot.)

3. More security at the gate

Then, last but not least, you will be questioned at the gate about your intentions for traveling to the U.S.  Then you may be questioned again by another desk agent if you raised any red flags - which I did.

Normally, I wouldn't write something about 1 travel experience, but I spoke to the airline and the last people questioning me, and they say that my experience is now standard procedure for all flights to the U.S from Europe.


Again, back to the Snickers Bar commercials. I have a hard time when I'm hungry. I get lightheaded, nauseous, have headaches and become irritable. Airline food is, with few exceptions, terrible. I've tried eating the regular food and ordering special meals. The food is just bad for the souls in coach.  What is helpful is to prep for the trip as if you won't be fed at all. I recommend dried fruit and energy bars if you are health conscious and cookies and sweets if you are not. Some people eat trail mix, but eating a lot of sodium when you are flying isn't a great idea.

What about the stopover, you ask? Well, the problem is that the food at European airports is ridiculously overpriced and not very good. Also, if you can pay in U.S. dollars, you get change in the local currency. This might be okay, if every country was on the Euro, but many of them still use their native coins. (Anyone need a few Lira? Zloties?)


Don't expect every airline to have small t.v.s in the back of the seats or even several visible ones. You can look online to see your plane's entertainment options, and you should before you travel for 13 hours creaking your neck to watch Forrest Gump three times on the single screen in the front of your plane's section. Don't expect the airport you are connecting will have free WiFi. Even if it supposedly does, you may be sharing the small network with thousands of other people, and hence, you will not be sharing at all.


I know I'm very lucky to get to travel, and please don't perceive this post as whining. I just wish that I had someone post this blog before my most recent and other prior trips, and I wouldn't have been so cranky on the flight (instantly forgotten after watching the new Muppets Movie).

If you have any advice for travelers in this genre, please comment below! If you have any questions, if I can, I'm happy to answer them. (Unless you are asking about cheap tickets. I have no advice except to use Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Etc.)


Travel Articles said...

Choosing the connecting flight is important as it may damage our complete travel plan. Thanks for this very interesting and useful post.

mccoystac said...

It is good thing to look online to see our plane's for entertainment. I think we don't expect after read your experience in Europe flight. However you are lucky to get to travel.