OK, so it's pretty obvious that I just took a journey by aircraft at the end of the year. Here are my observations from that trip.
Even if you can't carry a knife or gun on a plane, you CAN carry a large stick in the form of a cane. Unfortunately I do need a cane at times so along it went. A nice hickory stick for "support".
I read several pages of what you can and can't take and what I got from that was you can take a non"threatening" flashlight. So, in my bag went a very bright led flashlight that didn't look like a weapon. It has an aluminum body and could put a real dent in someones cranium if needed. The next thing I packed were two BIC pens. You know, the old school ones with the clear body and the pointy plastic cap. Then I took a magazine that could if needed, be rolled up very tightly. I also wore a heavy belt with a big, heavy buckle on the end of it. That covered self defense in a place that expects you to be defenseless.
Next is comfort. Or should I say lack there of. Yeah, I'm a big ol' boy. Not obese but tall, broad and and overweight. The seats in the commoners section are not meant for folks like me. All the way out there I was seated next to a fellow that while not as big as me, was of a pretty good size. We spent a few hours contorting ourselves into uncomfortable shapes that would allow us to not intrude on each others limited space. If I fly again we will spring for the first class seats and this is not debatable. On the way back home I actually sat with my tiny little wife. We could raise the center arm rest and have plenty of room.
If you are bigger than 5' 10" and over 175 pounds consider the extra expense of first class seats. Then take something to pass the time with. A book, magazine or electronic diversion makes the time more tolerable. Then do some research about what you can and can't take on your flight.