You sit down in your seat. Someone brings you a drink. Perhaps you snooze a little. And when you get out of your chair, you’re no longer on the east coast, you’re on the west coast. That’s the miracle of air travel… but so many people hate flying.
Putting aside the fear of heights and the fear of enclosed spaces for a moment, people hate flying for many other reasons: The people, the luggage, the discomfort, the lining up. It can drive you nuts. So here are some top tips for staying sane and perhaps even enjoying your next flight.
1. Arrive early at the airport
This one sounds silly but nothing sets the entire experience off like rushing through the airport, hoping the security line-up isn’t too long, and barely making it to your flight. It sucks. Rethink your schedule and arrive early. Browse through the stores. Get yourself a coffee. Use the time in the waiting area to catch up on emails.
2. Do something special
Some people dress up in nicer clothes for flights. Other people have a specific restaurant they like to eat at before flying. Even shopping at the duty free store before boarding an international flight is something special.
3. Buy a magazine
This sounds funny but a magazine is a perfect thing to read on the plane. With a book, you sometimes hate being interrupted. Or if it’s a book you don’t like, you’re stuck with it. But a magazine is full of small articles that you can pick up and put down when you want. And you can recycle it at the end of your flight.
4. Don't get in line as soon as they call for boarding
When the agent calls for pre-boarding, everyone gets out of their seat and lines up, and then watches as pre-boarding people need help getting onto the plane, and when you do finally get to board, you run the gauntlet of people jamming their luggage into the overhead bins. Waiting in line is horrible. You won’t get a better seat and the plane isn’t taking off without you, so why bother standing in a line? Wait for other people to fight their way through the line. Stay seated, enjoy your coffee, answer more emails, and when the line tapers off, then saunter up to the desk to board the plane.
5. Stay hydrated
Coffee and alcohol and soft drinks are popular drinks before and during a flight but if you want to actually feel good on your flight, stick to something that hydrates you and isn’t sugary. Water or club soda are the best choices. Drink more than you think you should because the dry air on airplanes can really dehydrate you quickly.
6. Wear noise-cancelling headphones
Wear noise cancelling headphones... even if you don’t want to watch TV. Nothing is more annoying than a child crying on a plane or the loud guy two seats back who is hitting on the flight attendant. Noise cancelling headphones block out the noise.
7. Don't work
It’s weird that people try to work on planes. Those ridiculously tiny tables, especially when they also hold drinks, are no place for laptops or pads of paper. Think of your flight as a mini vacation where no one can get in touch with you, instead of an extension of your desk. This “mini vacation” mindset will make airplane flights feel even more welcome (you might even want to fly more often!)
8. Bring mouthwash
On longer flights, you can start to feel funky. The combination of sitting down for so long and eating airplane food can take its toll. Head to the washroom, splash some water on your face and use mouthwash. This little ritual will not only keep your mouth clean but it will make you feel considerably better.
9. When the plane taxis to the arrivals gate, stay seated
Just like waiting in line at the departures desk, everyone leaps out of their seat when the plane lands but they don’t go anywhere. They end up waiting for a while as the deboarding bridge or stairs connect to the plane, and as the people sitting at the front of the plane get off. Why spend the time crouched over in your seat, looking around angrily at all of the other people? Stay seated. Finish your magazine. Check your email. Look out the window. Standing up won’t get you out of the plane any faster and it will only make you more annoyed.
10. Go for a brisk walk
When your plane lands, walk briskly to the luggage carousel or exit. Briskly. Get the blood pumping. (On international flights, wait until you get to your destination and then go for a jog). A bit of exercise here will reinvigorate you and work out any lingering stiffness from the plane.
11. Mark your bag
Every piece of luggage looks exactly identical now. Black with rollers. How do you find yours? Put something on the outside to make it stand out. A combination of two colors of ribbon on the handle or a patch sewn onto the cloth will make it easy to spot.
Now get flying!
Flying is the fastest, easiest way we have to travel great distances. But it’s not always fun. It can be a burden, especially when we fall into bad habits or forget to take care of ourselves. Use these tips above to stay and to enjoy yourself.
In closing, remember what comedian Louis C.K. had to say about travel, and use that to change your mindset next time you board a plane...