28 May 2012

Knitting at the airport

I really dislike flying commercially. I've been flying at least 10 times a year for the last seven years while attending boarding school and then college out-of-state. So I have definitely seen the painful decline of air travel in the US first hand.

Due to the extent that flying stresses me out, I'm not sure how I could do it without knitting to help relax me.  I always knit socks at the airport, it is tradition.  It is also a great type of project because I'm less likely to elbow the person sitting next to me.  Today I brought this pretty project along:

My connecting flight today was at Chicago O'Hare Airport (KORD), one of the cleaner and less stressful of the larger airports.  It has some really fun little things to see while waiting for an inevitably delayed United flight (every time), such as the light tunnel and a hydroponics garden:

On this particular trip I found something that made me really happy, a cafe called Argo Tea.  To me, being able to find properly brewed tea and yummy, healthy salads at an airport is pretty much the best thing ever.  I'll certainly visit them again the next time I fly. 

Things I've learned as a frequent flyer (in the US): 

- Be very nice to the TSA, especially while taking needles in your carry on (contrary to common belief, they are allowed during domestic travel and I've never had them taken away) or when traveling with children.  This is also one of the few situations where standing up for yourself is not a good idea, they will punish you.

- Never ever fly US Airways. Ever.  Among other things, they refuse to gate check your carry-on if the overhead containers fill up, and will likely lose your luggage if they check it later.  Also avoid United if possible, they will cancel your flight up to 30 minutes before boarding due to "mechanical problems" which is usually just their way of saying the flight was not full enough, also they are always late.

- Southwest is my favorite airline by far, even if the seating situation is a little crazy.  Delta is generally acceptable except for in weather situations. 

- Bring your own goodies, the snacks there are never worth the premium and you will have exactly what you want for your trip.  In case of a delayed connecting flight sprint I always bring nuts to help keep up my energy.

-  If possible pick out a carry-on bag that looks like a purse, not a roller-bag.  If you get stuck on a smaller plane or if overhead space runs out, you will be less likely to be forced to check it even if it is the same size as a roller-bag. 

- Frequent flyer point systems are rarely ever worth the effort, I don't even bother anymore because most of them reset every year now. 

- International concourses usually have the best food and minimum noise (KATL --> Concourse E). 

- If a flight is cancelled or rescheduled for the next day due to mechanical failure, the airlines are usually contractually obligated to pay for a hotel room. This is not true for weather cancelations.

- If you find yourself in a terrible situation caused by an airline company and need help, call the people at Flyer's Rights.  They are a non-profit with a 24 hour help line and will help you.

Have any good tips for surviving commercial flights?

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and for those of you traveling tomorrow, good luck!


  1. I hate flying too, I always take the train if I can! Your knitting looks absolutely beautiful, I love those colors.

  2. WOW, I experienced quite a bit of that when I went to Scotland. They cancelled our United Airlines flight and put us on the next latest one which made us miss our trip to Scotland in Newark. NEVER get stuck in Newark airport. And the United Airlines people are JERKS who would NOT pay for our motel until we forced them to. Hard to believe that's been my only airline experience. Cute socks btw :)

  3. Eek this makes me want to avoid flying by all means. I've only flown once before but that was a while ago. Those socks are lovely and definitely a good idea for stress relief!

  4. Well, I did not know that about knitting needles. This year I was going to try to take my crochet hook with me...
    I LOVED O'Hare airport, like you I was delayed with United and I just enjoyed the light tunnel and the overall brightness and modern feel.
    Great tips on flying btw and gorgeous socks

  5. That is a lot of flying! It's great that they allow knitting needles on domestic flights. Here in the UK, knitting needles are still considered weapons, I guess - I think you can carry them on if flying out of the UK sometimes, but not flying in, or domestically. I like to knit on trains, though. :)

  6. I love flying but I hate all the fuss that goes with it, so on the rare ocassions I go that far, I take the train :) The light tunnel and the garden are really cool though! The socks are gorgeous, I love the colours!

  7. I'm another that dislikes flying, and I also use knitting to use up nervous energy.

    Knitting needles were banned on flights into/out of/within Australia for quite a few years. Even though they're off the list banned items, they can still be taken at security or by flight attendants. So, I take a self-addressed prepaid envelope with me just in case. If security don't want my needles to go through, I can at least send the whole project home.

  8. ohh I love those socks! great travel tips!

  9. Great flying tips! And those socks are luscious.

  10. boarding school? that sounds interesting.
    I fly for a couple of trips a year and have had fairly good luck (knocking on wood). I rather enjoy it because I'm going somewhere fun or am on the way home and it always brings back fond memories of vacations with my family....but I've not had an overnight delay that I can recall, so I guess I'll just keep knocking on wood...for the rest of the day.

  11. Thanks for the tips! You certainly can do some beautiful knitting even with all the stress of traveling! I hope you had a good trip!

  12. I've also knit socks at O'Hare! :) And I agree: as far as airports go, it's one of the nicer ones. I loved reading your travel tips, and look forward to seeing how your gorgeous new socks progress!

  13. Crochet with RaymondMay 30, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    I love to knit socks when travelling! they are the best project because they are so small. When I flew for the first time in AGES last year, I had to ring the airline specifically to make sure I could use my hiyahiya needles on the plane, otherwise I would have taken bamboo needles! :OD

  14. Loving the socks!
    I am not a fan of flying - probably because mine are most often 12 hour legs - yip legssss - it's a long way to NZ from the UK... and because I'm usually alone with 4 kids - at least I was last two times .... thank goodness it's not that often!

  15. I can't tell you how much I hate to fly. I did it a lot in the 90's but wouldn't get on a plane (or set foot in an airport). I don't need the stress:(
    Your sock looks great! I love the colors.

  16. On a recent Air Canada flight I had a new annoying experience (I think it was new, anyway. I can't recall it happening before). After the safety briefing video finished, there were 2 or 3 advertisements with the sound played over the overhead PA system so that you couldn't avoid them. I understand why there are ads if you choose to watch a movie. That's like "Here are the people who paid for this entertainment." But I thought I paid for the flight! Why does someone get to advertise to me? I was really angry about it. I didn't even have my knitting with me to calm down because I was connecting to Australia and had heard mixed reports about whether you could bring needles through. Anyway, thanks for the tips. I would add: if they let you choose seats, don't pick the ones in front of the emergency exit aisle since those often don't recline as far. Also your socks look so pretty!

  17. Great tips. I fly weekly and always take my own food. There is nothing more irritating than someone who complains that there is no food and they are -insert health problem here- and need to eat. I, however, don't like flying on Southwest. I don't like hopping all over the country to get to my final destination. I'll pay the extra $ to avoid a 5 hour flight and a change of planes for a flight that should only be an hour and a half. But I always have my knitting in my suitcase!


I would love to hear from you!