Mistakes Travelers Make On Short Flights

Even quick plane journeys have their pitfalls. Travel experts share their advice for avoiding them.
Choose your plane seat wisely, even on a short flight.
Thomas Barwick via Getty Images
Choose your plane seat wisely, even on a short flight.

Travelers understandably spend more time preparing for long-haul air travel than they do for one- or two-hour flights. But that doesn’t mean they’ve got it all figured out when it comes to those shorter plane voyages.

With that in mind, HuffPost asked travel experts to share the common mistakes travelers make on short flights, as well as their advice for avoiding these errors. From forgetting crucial supplies to being unprepared for an often-smaller aircraft, here are some issues to keep in mind.

Showing Up With A Low Battery

“Certain smaller aircraft that operate shorter flights also might not have all the charging options ― USB ports, power plugs ― that you might expect on larger, longer-haul planes, so be sure your devices are charged ahead of boarding to make sure you don’t run out of juice mid-flight,” said Eric Rosen, director of travel content at The Points Guy.

In addition to charging your devices before the flight, consider traveling with a portable power bank as backup.

Getting Too Comfortable

“One common mistake I see travelers make on short flights is getting too comfortable ― taking off shoes, sleeping too deeply,” said Gabby Beckford, founder of the travel site Packs Light.

She emphasized that what’s expected on a long overnight flight might be a disservice on a short-haul journey.

“It’s a short flight!” Beckford said. “You’ll just end up scrambling when it’s time to deplane.”

Forgetting To Bring Sustenance

“These days, it’s not uncommon to be stuck on the tarmac longer than expected or to experience a cancellation or delay,” noted Jessica van Dop DeJesus, founder and editor at The Dining Traveler. “Make sure to pack snacks and water.”

Short flights don’t always offer full beverage or snack service, especially if there’s a lot of turbulence, so don’t depend on that cart for sustenance.

“I cannot count the number of times I’ve said ‘It’s a short trip, I’ll eat later,’” said travel blogger Sean Lau. “Unfortunately, in-flight food often tastes bad and costs an arm and a leg, and there’s no guarantee of service on shorter routes. My advice is to take the time to eat before your flight or bring your own snacks. Better yet, sign up for services like Priority Pass and take advantage of the food and drinks in airport lounges before departure!”

Turbulence can mean no beverage service on a shorter flight, so consider bringing your own drink on board.
izusek via Getty Images
Turbulence can mean no beverage service on a shorter flight, so consider bringing your own drink on board.

Picking The Wrong Seat

“Always consider your seat,” said Adam Duckworth, president and founder of Travelmation. “Even though it’s a short flight, you will still face many of the same things you do on a long flight. For example, people will still need to get up. If that bothers you, book the window seat. If you prefer to have extra room, then book those higher-class tickets. Two hours in main cabin is very different from two hours in business.”

Short flights are often just the first step of a multileg air travel journey, so plan accordingly when you have to make a connection.

“Like any flight, I always recommend sitting near the front of the plane, especially if you have a layover,” Duckworth said.

Ignoring Entertainment Time Constraints

A short flight might not be the best time to dive into that new superhero epic you’ve been wanting to watch.

“Consider your in-flight entertainment,” Duckworth said. “If it’s a short flight, you may not finish the movie or TV show you’re watching, so keep that in mind.”

Going To The Airport Unprepared

“One common mistake is not preparing properly for the airport experience ― not giving yourself enough time, not having your documents and IDs ready, not organizing your liquids properly,” said travel blogger Esther Susag. “This adds unnecessary stress.”

Even though short flights feel like less of a big deal, they’re still part of the typical airport and airplane experience.

“My tips are to get to the airport early, have everything ready to go through security smoothly, bring an empty water bottle to fill after clearing security, download entertainment like movies/shows/podcasts, and dress in layers for varying cabin temperatures,” Susag added. “Also, I always double-check my carry-on and personal items for loose liquids that could get me flagged.”


Be mindful of how much you pack for the trip, especially if you don’t want to gate-check your bag or cram extra stuff under the seat in front of you.

“Short flights often mean smaller planes,” Beckford said. “Packing too much is often inconvenient and can make your experience more uncomfortable with the limited leg room and cabin size.”

Assuming You Don’t Need Buffer Time

Don’t forget to build some buffer time into your day if you have a connection or other time-sensitive factors.

“Given the amount of air traffic we’re seeing these days, folks with short flights might assume they’ll be on and off the plane in a matter of hours,” Rosen said. “But travelers should anticipate unexpected delays, including slow aircraft turnarounds and tarmac waits due to traffic congestion. Any of those could add on hours to an otherwise short itinerary, so pad your schedule.”

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