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Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career

The Ready For Takeoff podcast will help you transform your aviation passion into an aviation career. Every week we bring you instruction and interviews with top aviators in their field who reveal their flight path to an exciting career in the skies.
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Feb 16, 2018

Sooner or later, you're going to be flying as a passenger on an airliner. There are numerous steps you can take to ensure your safety as a passenger.

Preparation for an airline flight starts before you leave home. One basic step is to make sure the identification on your luggage tags does not provide information to anyone with nefarious intent. Your luggage tag should only have your first initial, last name and telephone number or email address. Using an initial rather than a name should be standard operating procedure for female travelers when making hotel reservations also.

The reason to omit your address on the luggage to to prevent anyone who sees, finds or steals your luggage from knowing where you live. If your luggage is stolen and the thief finds out where you live, he will have possibly unrestricted access to your home while you are traveling. For the same reason, it is a really bad idea to tell the world, via social media, about your travels while you are away. Just last week, Patriot team member Rob Gronkowski's house was burglarized while he was out of town participating in the Superbowl. So save your social media photos for after you return.

Before you leave for your flight, stop by your local everything's-a-dollar store and get a pack of antibacterial wipes (I know you can also buy these for a few more dollars at your local grocery store, but most of our listeners are pilots, i.e., cheap!). Take those with you, and wipe down everything at your airline seat. Everything: tray table (you wouldn't believe how often passengers use tray tables to change diapers!), safety information card, arm rests, seat belt buckle and air vents. A 2015 study by TravelMath found more bacteria on the aforementioned items than on the airplane toilets!

I also recommend you abstain from using the airplane potable water supply. That includes coffee and tea service, since the water for coffee and tea comes from the airplane's potable water. Even though it's heated for coffee and tea, dirty water is still dirty water. I recommend that you brink your own water bottle with you to the airport. Obviously, you cannot bring liquids through the security checkpoint, but you can bring an empty bottle, and then fill it from a water fountain at the airport. The best source of water is from a bottle-filling station rather than a drinking fountain.

As you enter the airplane, pay attention to the location of the emergency exits and the number of rows between your seat and the closest exit. During an evacuation in a dark, smoke-filled cabin, you may have a difficult time finding an emergency exit unless you know exactly where the exit is located relative to your seat.

If you have a choice of seats, I recommend a window seat. It's a no-brainer you don't want a middle seat, but an aisle seat has certain hazards you should know about. It a passenger - any passenger - is walking down the aisle when the airplane encounters turbulence, there's a possibility that passenger could fall onto you. Also, items in the overhead storage compartment can fall onto you if the compartment door is open during a period of turbulence.

Really pay attention to the safety information briefing the flight attendants provide. Take out the safety information card and study it. You may discover new things you didn't previously know. Even if you're on an airplane that seems the same as previous models, you may find some differences. For example, the A-320 has two overwing exits while the A-321 has four. And the overwing exits on a B737-300 are totally different from the overwing exits on a B737-800.

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