Flying High: FAQs for Air Travelers

drawing of an airplane and a long armed passenger picking a flower from the ground. Source:

So you’re planning to take an airplane trip. Good for you! Every year, millions of people “take to the skies” for business or pleasure, and statistically only a small percentage of them are killed.

Nevertheless, if this is your first flight, or you haven’t flown in a while, or you’re simply one of the many stupid people found in airports, you’re probably unsure about what to expect. So let’s review the basics:

Q: I have an infant or small child. Are there any special preparations I should make for flying?
A: Definitely. Before you leave home, gather together whatever toys, books, or games you will need to keep your child occupied. Then remain home, occupying your child, until he or she is a minimum of 16 years old.
Q: When should I leave for the airport?
A: You should already be at the airport.
Q: Should I check my luggage?
A: That depends on several factors, the main one being: Do you ever want to see your luggage again?
Q: What are the “do’s” and “don’ts” of airport security screening?
A: We’ll start with a “do”: Relax! Airport security is handled by the Transportation Security Administration, which is an agency of the federal government (Motto: “A Gigantic Bureaucracy Working for You”). Some TSA procedures may seem ridiculous, but remember this: There are real terrorists out there, and it’s the TSA’s job to make sure that these terrorists do not get on an airplane until they have fully complied with TSA procedures.

Make sure your carry-on luggage does not contain any prohibited items, including liquids, gels, gases, or solids. If you plan to wear underwear, wear it on the outside of your other garments so that it is clearly visible to the TSA agents. The heart of the screening procedure is when you go into the “scanner,” which sounds scary, although, in fact, it’s nothing more than a giant microwave oven that bombards your body with atomic radiation.

But there’s no need to worry: The scanner is completely safe for humans as long as (a) you do not remain in there longer than the recommended eight-tenths of a second and (b) TSA agents have remembered to change the power setting from POPCORN back to HUMANS after their break. The scanner serves a vital security function: It “sees” through your clothing and captures an image of your naked body, which is transmitted to a room where specially trained TSA agents decide whether to post it on Facebook. If you would prefer not to have this happen, simply ask to have an agent grope your genitals manually. It’s your right!

The main “don’t” of airport security is: Don’t make inappropriate jokes. TSA agents are responsible for your safety, so they must take every possible threat seriously; if you engage in inappropriate humor, they have no choice but to shoot you.

Q: How do I know which seat on the airplane is mine?
A: It will be the one directly in front of the screaming infant.
Q: When the flight attendant announces for the third time that all cell phones must be turned off immediately or the plane cannot leave the gate, does that mean I should turn my cell phone off?
A: That announcement does not apply to you.
Q: I’m a little nervous about flying. Is this normal?
A: Absolutely! Believe it or not, even many airline crew members admit that flying gives them the “jitters.”
Q: How do they handle it?
A: They smoke crack.
Q: What if something goes wrong with the airplane while it’s flying?
A: There’s nothing to worry about! The pilot will simply land the plane on the Hudson River, where it will float until rescue boats arrive.
Q: What if we’re not flying over the Hudson River?
A: Then you will die. Basically, you should restrict your air travel to flights between New York and Albany.
Q: But I don’t want to go to Albany.
A: Good, because that flight has been canceled.

If You Go: Hudson River Valley

In “Gorgeous!” (September/October 2013), Edward Readicker-Henderson toured the Hudson River Valley in search of historic locales related to the Hudson River School of painters. We asked local experts for the skinny on the hottest hotels and B&Bs should you decide to make the same pilgrimage to the homesteads of Frederick Church and Thomas Cole. Click on the interactive map below for location, contact information, and links (click the name of the establishment), or see our listing at the bottom of the page. Make sure to book early, especially in the fall when the autumn colors bring tourism season to its peak.

View Hudson River School: If You Go in a full screen map

What to See:

Olana Historic Site
Home of Hudson River School painter Frederick Church, this 250-acre estate has stunning views of the Hudson River, historic Persian-inspired architecture, and beautiful gardens.

Thomas Cole House – Cedar Grove
Home to Church’s mentor, Thomas Cole, the house offers views of the Castkill Mountains, guided tours of Cole’s home and studio, gardens for strolling, and guided hikes to the spots where Cole would paint his masterpieces.

Hudson River Museum
View a handful of paintings from the Hudson River School of painters on display at this museum of 19th and 20th century American art. If you’re tired of paintings, check out the planetarium or take a walk along the riverfront.

For more to see and do in the Hudson River Valley, click here.

Where to Stay:

The Rhinecliff Hotel (Near Olana)
4 Grinnell Street
Rhinecliff, NY 12574

This nine-room boutique country hotel is nestled into the bank along the Hudson River. Just two miles from the historic town of Rhinebeck, boutiques, antiquing, and country fairs provide simple, no-frills entertainment for a leisurely day.

Mount Merino Manor (Neighbors Olana)
4317 State Route 23
Hudson, NY 12534

Built in the 1870s by a friend of Frederic Church, this B&B has seven rooms, many with sweeping views of the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains. Numerous windows allow for ample natural night, great for viewing the fall foliage.

Mohonk Mountain House
1000 Mountain Rest Road

New Paltz, NY 12561


Built in 1869, this stunning Victorian castle resort is often named one of the top places to stay by Fodor and Condé Nast magazine. (It also regularly tops the list of best resort spas in the country!) Owned and operated by the Smiley family since its inception, the resort can accommodate up to 600 guests on its sweeping 260 acres.

The Croff House
5 Willard Place
Hudson, NY 12534

Winner of the 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, this five-guestroom B&B is located on a quiet cul-de-sac street in historic Hudson, New York. Boutique hotel-style amenities like high quality bed and bath linens and a freshly prepared, gourmet breakfast, meet classic B&B attention to experience with nightly turndown service and quaint porches and gardens for respite.

The Garrison
Route 9
Garrison, NY 10524

On a mountain overlooking West Point and the Hudson, this four-room inn sits on 300 acres and boasts 360 degree views of the Hudson River and surrounding mountainous landscape. The Garrison is Readicker-Henderson’s choice for best river views, and it’s just around Storm King Mountain and Anthony’s Nose–a favorite spot of the Hudson River painters. Did we mention the 18-hole golf course and critically-acclaimed restaurant (Valley) lauded by the likes of Bon Appetit, Town & Country, Esquire, and The New York Times?

The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls
2 East Main Street
Beacon, NY 12508

For contemporary elegance, don’t miss this 14-room boutique hotel in Beacon, NY, a town Readicker-Henderson calls the hottest art center in the country (the renowned Dia Museum of Modern Art is there). Ideally located near shops, galleries, and restaurants, the hotel also has two penthouse suites with views of Fishkill Creek and Beacon Falls from the attached private roof decks.