Americans have been learning a lot about the perils of flying economy this week, after numerous travel horror stories in the press. (Maybe that's why first and business class sales are surging again.) Based on what we've learned this week, here are 5 tips for stress-free flying in America:

Lose some weight

Heavyweight filmmaker Kevin Smith was asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight this week because his bulk "posed a safety risk." The best way to avoid a similarly embarrassing ejection is to shed a few pounds - unless you, like Smith, have 1.6 million Twitter followers to help create a PR firestorm for the airline.

Leave the leg braces at home

Hey, kids! Are you "developmentally delayed?" Do you wear unsightly leg braces? Well, next time you fly through Philadelphia Airport you'd better put them in the hold, or face being humiliated at the security gate by overzealous TSA staff.

If you're thirsty, suffer in silence

Learn from the tale of a New Yorker ejected from a Spirit Airways plane for repeatedly asking for a glass of water for his pregnant wife. Even if you're in your third trimester and stranded in a hot cabin for two hours, don't forget that it is "against corporate policy" to be served drinks before take-off.

Don't do the attendant's job for them
Mitt Romney was just trying to be a good citizen. Unfortunately, the passenger he asked to put their seat upright just happened to be a bad one. The Massachusetts governor almost took a fist to the face for his trouble on his flight back from Vancouver. Next time you fly, keep schtum and let the attendant handle the consequences.

Have a shower
This one we can relate to. If you have an odor problem, do us all a favour - take a shower before you board an airplane. Otherwise, you might end up like one foul-smelling American, who found himself "deplaned" from an Air Canada flight after fellow passengers complained about his funk.