Flying is one of those things that most of us love. It means we’re setting off around the world, probably on holiday or perhaps on a business trip. We’re going somewhere new and hopefully warm where we can just forget about the tedium of home and work for a while and relax. The holiday part itself is pretty great, I’m sure you’ll all agree, but flying can be a major pain. Here are 7 tips to help make your flight much more bearable; particularly if you’re going long haul.
1. Arrive at the airport early
Firstly, the whole “you should get to the airport 3 hours before your flight” thing is sort of a lie. At least from what I’ve seen. It seems to me that you can’t actually check in until 3 hours before you fly, so being at the airport before that is a bit pointless. Online check ins are great. You save time and usually don’t have to queue as much. I don’t use them very often and here’s why. If you speak to someone at the desk you can ask about free upgrades. Free upgrades are good. You get a better, more comfortable seat for your flight. Who wouldn’t love that? Besides, what else are you going to do? Wait in a queue at check in or sit around bored? It’s the same either way.
2. Find your gate
As soon as you get through customs, head towards the gate you were told at check in. Sure, it might change, but it’ll usually be the same or close. That way you can find yourself a nice seat in a nearby cafe, grab some of the notoriously expensive airport grub and a coffee, and chill for a while. When you get called to board, you won’t have to rush around trying to find a gate, and you certainly won’t be so far off that you’ll hold the flight up; other people will do the same and head to the gate so you’ll all be late together! But you probably won’t be, and it will be far less stressful when you’re just waiting to walk onto the plane instead of actually locating it.
3. Pick a good seat when you’re booking
Depending on what model aircraft you’re flying on will dictate whether you exit from the front, or the front and rear. I personally try to get seats at the rear, because once you’re sat down you won’t have people constantly walking past you. You’ll likely be the first on (which doesn’t matter, because you can’t leave until everyone is on anyway), and you can sort yourself in plenty of time. Alternatively, grab a seat closer to the front, or at least the front of your class. That way you’ll get to be the first off, and the first through customs! Which isn’t a big deal now that almost everyone has an electronic chip in their passport and can just walk through the scanners… Either way, sitting in the middle of the plane is more stressful, you have people behind you trying to rush out while you can’t move anywhere. Also, if you can’t stand heights and looking out of the window, book an aisle seat. Some people love to gawp outside and it’d be kind of cruel to deny them that when you’re feeling sick at the thought.
4. Make use of what you’re given
A lot of airlines, particularly those flying long haul, will provide you with blankets and pillows of some sort. If you’re departing in the daytime you probably won’t need them as the sun will heat the cabin and you’ll be quite warm. At night is another story though, it does get quite chilly. Make sure you can get to your jacket or another layer if you’ve got it with you, and then wrap up in the blanket. 9/10 the cabin will be dimmed and the shutters pulled down, but when day breaks you might want to put those funky eyeshields on your face so the light doesn’t wake you up. You know what they say, when in Rome…
These things are a godsend. Someone brought their screaming children on your flight? Put your earplugs in. You’ve brought screaming children on the flight? Put your earplugs in. Noise is one of the most irritating things on a flight when you’re stuck in a cabin with a bunch of other people. It’s all fair being sympathetic to the struggles of travelling with kids, but lets not pretend we’d be happier if they were silent throughout the journey. Don’t forget to take them.
6. Adapt to your destination
No one wants to arrive on holiday to find that they’re completely knackered and need to head straight to bed. If you’re landing at say, 7 am, try to sleep through your flight so that you wake up when it would be morning in local time. Alternatively, if you’re going to be landing at 10 pm, try to stay awake so that once you land you can head to bed and start your holiday fresh, rested up and ready to get stuck into some adventuring. It’s not always easy, particularly if you’ve got lay overs along the way, but a few minutes of planning when you want to get some shut eye will make the whole experience much better.
7. Entertain yourself
Long haul flights are great because they usually have a built in entertainment system where you can listen to music, watch television and movies or play games. Shorter flights have much less, so taking a good book, or a handheld device can help to tide you over until your holiday REALLY begins. Keeping children entertained is equally as challenging, so if they aren’t due a nap try to make sure you have something to help keep them occupied. Sometimes there will be children’s in-flight entertainment in the form of colouring books and whatever else, but I’ve found they quite like staring out of the window and asking what everything is. Go ahead, make it up as much as you like!
There is no number 8
I said 7, not 8. I’m putting this here because it’s a helpful tip for flying and might make travelling with kids a bit easier. Almost anyone that has ever flown will tell you that your ears pop when you fly. That’s altitude and air pressure for you. They also tell you to suck a sweet or whatever, and the number of people who forget and panic is unreal. If you want to normalise your hearing, you can do it in a few ways that don’t include sweets.
Swallowing works. You don’t need sweets to swallow, just pretend you’ve got a dry mouth. I’ve never tested this but I’d also assume the same effect for a baby with a bottle (or nipple, however you do it), and since it’s alien to them and they don’t understand, their ears popping will likely cause them to cry.
Holding your nose and blowing also works. Literally all you have to do is push your nostrils closed with your hands, close your mouth and blow through your nose. That will once again equalise your poor little head and you’ll be back to normal.
Problem solved! Enjoy your flights 🙂