Going on holiday or a business trip can be exciting, but air travel comes with a long list of stresses that can ruin your trip before it has even properly started. Follow these tips and you will arrive at your destination relaxed and happy.
Choose a seat away from babies
While it’s impossible to guarantee you won’t have to sit next to a baby, you can lower the chances dramatically by choosing seats far away from the partitions in the cabin known as the bulkheads. These are the only places on a plane where parents can safely secure a baby’s bassinet, so most parents of young children will be assigned these seats.
Worse bulkhead seats often have armrests that can’t be tipped up making getting rest that much harder.
Pack a change of clothes in a carry-on
Always pack a change of clothes in your carry on. In the event that your luggage is lost or delayed due to an error, you will at least be sorted for the next day and can venture out into the world to buy the other things you need before the airline can get your luggage back to you.
Sit in the middle of the plane
If you suffer from motion sickness, sitting in the middle of the plane will help ease the discomfort. Planes tip back and forth at the wings so the most stable spot is in the centre of the plane.
Avoid busy flying days
Generally, the busier flying days are Monday mornings and Friday afternoons when business travellers head to and from their trips, but if you really want to experience airports at their most chaotic, book a flight between Christmas and New year’s eve when international flights are 23% busier. More passengers means less space on the plane, longer queues through security, and more delays.
Short flights rarely offer drinks or meals, and if they do, they tend to be added extras for which you can expect to pay an exorbitant price. Packing your own snacks and water will save you money and ensure you arrive at your destination well rested and fed. It’s also a great way to ensure children don’t get restless and unhappy on board. Just remember to buy your liquids at the airport as security will often take away larger bottles.
Don’t go to the flight desk
If your flight is cancelled, don’t join all the other passengers from your flight at the airline’s flight desk to organise a new ticket. Rather pick up the phone and call their call centre. You will most likely get hold of someone there faster than the queue moves, be able to sit down while doing it and will also have the bonus of dealing with someone who isn’t experiencing the most stressful day of their year.
Keep your seatbelt visible
If you do take a nap, buckle your seat belt over your blanket. Doing this will ensure that attendants don’t need to wake you up for any reason. Don’t be afraid to tell your cabin crew when you are sleeping and that you don’t need to be woken for meals, product sales, or warm towels.
Pack a pen and hand-sanitizer in your carry on
If you are flying internationally, you are going to have to fill in the immigration form before landing. Having a pen on hand makes this a much simpler process. Likewise, planes are full of surfaces that everyone touches, like armrests, tray tables, overhead bin handles and in-flight magazines. The last thing you want to do is get sick for your holiday so being able to squirt a little hand sanitizer on your hands before meals could save a huge amount of discomfort.
Invest in noise-cancelling headphones
If you are on a flight and hope to get some sleep, your own private set of noise-cancelling headphones will keep the banging from the galley and the crying of a nearby baby out and allow you to get as much rest as possible. If you don’t want to pay that much money, then a simple set of earplugs will only set you back about R5.
Download entertainment to your phone
Whether it’s music, a few podcasts or even a book, having something on your phone will always come in handy, particularly on long layovers. It’s not unheard of for people to get a seat on a packed plane where the inflight entertainment is not working and on that day having a movie downloaded to your laptop will feel like the best decision ever.
Get to the airport early
Aim to get to the airport well ahead of time. The world is full of things waiting to delay you like traffic, accidents, power failures, and check-in desk queues. There is a lot to be said for getting to the airport well ahead of schedule and enjoying a cold drink before you get on your plane completely stress-free.