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George Clooney's Flying Tips: Slip-on Shoes? Absolutely. Eye Masks? Never!

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He plays a frequent-flying hatchet man in Up in the Air, and spends much of his own time jetting between his Los Angeles home base and his Italian villa on Lake Como, so you can bet George Clooney knows a thing or two about air travel. “The trick is slip-on shoes,” the actor told PEOPLE at the L.A. premiere of the film on Monday night. “I am telling you, that’s the secret. The shoes you have to tie, they take forever.” There is one thing the star won’t be caught dead with on a plane. “I never wear those goofy masks on my eyes,” said Clooney, 48, who arrived at the premiere accompanied both by his girlfriend, Elisabetta Canalis, and his mother Nina. “I am too worried about the guy in the next seat taking a picture of me. That is one photo that you can’t live down.” Adds Clooney, “I’m lucky that I am able to sleep [on a plane] without it.” He will have plenty of opportunity to put those tips to the test. While he finished principal photography on the upcoming thriller The American in the central Italian city of Sulmona, he heads off to Sweden to shoot additional scenes for the film early next year. For more about Clooney, and how he and Canalis keep things hot despite conflicting work schedules, pick up PEOPLE magazine, on newsstands Friday. — Oliver Jones