Earlier this week I prepared for an airline flight out of Moline, Ill. Over the years I’ve been on quite a few flights, but all within the United States. I’ve flown to visit my grandparents mostly, on trips to Michigan and Florida.

Flight policies certainly have changed a lot since I was a kid. I remember on one flight, before take-off, the pilots let me sit with them in the cockpit. They showed me different controls and what they did.

Now you never see the cockpit or pilots as they’re safely sequestered away.

Also, I don’t know if it’s just that I’ve gotten old and don’t notice, but it doesn’t seem like airlines give out the wing pins any more. I used to have several golden wing pins when I was a kid.

Another thing that has very noticeably changed, for obvious reasons, is security. Specifically, family members and friends who aren’t flying can no longer walk through security checkpoints. Sadly, that means no one is there to greet you at the gate when you arrive.

So, times have changed, and flying has gotten more complicated. Each time I prepare for a flight, I mentally go over my list of things to do, and not do. I’ve learned a lot from personal experience, and from other people’s experiences.

I thought I would pass along some handy tips for those of you who may be flying in the near future, or haven’t flown in a while.

First, never forget your driver’s license or identification. It’s pretty important if you want to make it through security and to your flight.

Sadly, I did this once in Moline. It was a matter of thinking my license was in one place when it was in another, and I didn’t realize it until I got to security.

Fortunately, the good security officers helped me get through by verifying my identity with homeland security. However, I had to give them my former address after they told me that Clinton didn’t exist.

Never wait until the last minute to go through security. If you do, be prepared to sprint to your gate, which can be difficult with an over-filled carry-on.

Don’t get traces of gunpowder on your shoes or baggage before going to the airport, that won’t go over well.

Never put a key or other metal object in your pocket and forget about it. You will set off the metal detector every time you walk through it.

Don’t put cap guns in your carry-on. Chances are, security officials won’t find it funny.

Other items you can’t bring through security include the following: meat cleavers, sabers, cattle prods, brass knuckles, nunchakus and throwing stars. Sorry, but those are all safety hazards.

If germs freak you out, make sure to wear socks. Otherwise, when it comes time to take off your shoes, you’ll get to share foot filth with everyone else who has passed through security.

Turn your cell phone off prior to take-off. Not only is this an airline-mandated policy, but you don’t get any bars at 10,000 feet. If you are trying to use your cell phone at take-off, the flight attendant will ask you to “power down.”

If fastening a seatbelt is a foreign concept to you, don’t worry. The flight attendant will give a live demonstration of how to buckle up before take-off.

If flying makes you hungry, bring along a snack as “pretzels or peanuts?” is a thing of the past. However, don’t attempt to bring a drink through security, unless it’s in a three-ounce bottle and sealed in a Ziploc bag.

Finally, if you have trouble with heights, motion sickness, or a weak bladder, purchase an aisle seat for fast access to the lavatory.

Elise Loyola is a staff writer for the Clinton Herald. She has been here since November 2008 and she can be reached at eliseloyola@clintonherald.com.

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