Tips for a better flight

Fly Better

Author: Lauren Coleman

I detest flying. Gone are the days when I felt like the arrival at the airport signalled the start of the holiday. Now, it’s not until I’m sat on a balcony with a chilled glass of wine in one hand and a bottle of factor 30 in the other that I truly feel like the holiday can begin.
I’m not scared of planes or anything like that. I just find them really, really boring, and thanks to a few sinus issues I get a really uncomfortable sensation in my nose and ears. I know, woe is me.

Over the years I must have read umpteen articles about air travel with zillions of tips about how to look like a celeb when stepping off the plane. I have to be entirely honest, I’ve never been particularly successful with this (unless the celeb I’m trying to look like is Pete Doherty). Rather than arriving recharged and relaxed I usually look a bit frazzled.

I don’t have any foreign travel planned for the foreseeable future but I know that some of you have holiday plans. I have decided that for my next trip I’m going to commit to a few flight commandments to see if I can enjoy the experience a bit more. (Here I am again going on about pretend holidays. I think I’m going doolally). Here goes…

I will take a photo of my bag before it gets loaded into the hold

No, not to put on an instagram but just in case it goes missing. A friend of mine recently lost her luggage and it was very difficult to explain to the airline staff the distinguishing features of her very generic black cabin case.

I will drink more water

I’m sure we all know that flying is incredibly dehydrating so experts tell us to keep topped up on water and avoid the alcohol. There is one thing that does terrify me about flying and it’s those aeroplane toilets and I will do anything to avoid them. However this does seem to be the number one flight tip around and so there must be some truth in it. I will make sure that if alcohol does pass my lips I will follow it with two glasses of water.

I will take off my make-up

I have NEVER done this. This would make the small children cry even louder but perhaps I can commit to taking off my foundation to let my skin breathe. Reapplying makeup before landing is also a great way to pass the time too and I am quite looking forward to boarding with a smokey eye and departing with a glam beach look.

I will be more strategic with my seat allocation

Not only will I set my self a reminder in my phone so I can get first dibs at online check-in, I will be tactical with my selection.
If I’m flying with James I plan to reserve a window seat and an aisle seat leaving the middle seat empty. If its a quieter flight then surely no-one will choose to sit between us? This may not go to plan though and we could just end up sat next to an awkward passenger who thinks we need marriage guidance counselling. Has anyone tried this in an effort to get a full row to themselves?

I will try to get some shut-eye

I really struggle with sleeping on planes so I’m going to download a white noise app next time I travel to block out all the cabin noise. For some reason I always have a tendency to zone in on seats at the back or the front of the plane which is daft as this is usually where the toilets are located. Having a barrage of strangers hustling pass my seat doesn’t usually make for a peaceful nights sleep so as above, I will be mindful of this next time I check in.

I will enjoy some down-time

There are some fancy flights where you get wi-fi etc, but for the vast majority of people I’d assume there won’t be any internet connectivity. Rather than have palpitations about not being able to check my emails I am going to revel in the knowledge that this is truly “free time”. I don’t need to do the washing up, dash to Sainsbury’s etc I can be truly indulgent and watch, read and listen to all the things I haven’t been able to find time to do on the ground.

I will remember that I am in the air

Many a time a yoghurt has exploded all over my top or face as I have forgotten that at 40,000 feet the air pressure changes. I will remember to place a napkin over my food when I open it so on landing I am not covered in suspicious stains.

I will remember not to put things in the seat pockets

Apparently the seat pocket rarely gets cleaned so it’s not the best place to slot your personal possessions. Think of all the nappies, tissues etc that could have found their way in there… While I’m at it I’ll remember the hand sanitiser too.

I will get up to stretch my legs

Despite knowing the risks of deep vein thrombosis I often forget to leave my seat and do a quick lap of the plane. I’m also usually guilty of keeping my bag under the seat rather than overhead lockers leaving almost no room to stretch out. I will don those flight socks with pride and do inflight exercises at every opportunity.

I will break up the travelling into chunks

A few years ago we had a eight hour wait at Johannesburg airport. In preparation we downloaded loads of old TV series. We passed the time by splitting it into hourly chunks. An hour for lunch, an hour for watching a TV show on the iPad, then an hour of shopping before another episode. I can’t say the time flew by but we didn’t die of boredom.

So these are my flight commitments, what are yours? Have you got any top tips for travelling, particularly with little ones? Have you ever bagged yourself a free upgrade just by dressing to impress?
My husband James is about to embark on a bit of an epic long haul flight jetting off to New Zealand for work. I’m really hoping to get an invite next time so I would really appreciate it if you would be so kind as to share your tips for dealing with the inevitable jet lag.

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Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
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26 thoughts on “Fly Better

  1. I literally just cracked up at the photo in the middle of the office. Great now my colleagues think I’m insane. “what kind of a name is Stove?”

    1. “Are you an appliance? No, I’m a man and my name is Steve…” Has to be the best scene in the whole of the film Clare!

  2. My top seat-selection-tip (if you’re not taller than 5’6) is to get a window seat. Also get one of the memory foam neck pillows. Fold it in two and shove it in the gap between your seat and the wall; then pick your feet up, shuffle your bum forward, and ever-so-lightly rest your toes on the back of the arm rest belonging to the person in front. OK, so it’s not as comfy as a bed. But it’s pretty good. And you don’t annoy the person in front either because your toes don’t poke through to their area, and your knees aren’t bumping the back of their chair every five minutes when you wriggle around.

    I AM interested in this flight upgrade malarkey though, if anyone has any tips. It has NEVER happened to me. Next month I am flying to Australia (one way – eeeeek!) and given that it’s school holidays I am DESPERATE for an upgrade. Someone recently told me he unashamedly asks if one is available every time he flies, and it’s worked twice. I clearly need to be less British about this…

    1. Me too Stacey, on so many flights these days you don’t even see anyone to check in. I rocked up to my megamoon flight in my best threads only to be greeted by a Virgin ticket machine…..

  3. Oh no Lauren, I hate when people do the window/aisle seat thing, I think it’s so selfish! Having boarded a very full flight home from Spain, the only seat left was between two individuals who were clearly a couple but refused to take the middle seat even when I asked if they were together… Cue 2 hours of having things passed over me & conversations between the two which I really didn’t want to be privvy to. Don’t be those people!

    1. I promise I won’t Lynsey! That’s a bit odd that they didn’t scooch over to give you the aisle seat.

      1. Ok, I’ll let you off then! It was so strange & awkward and they both kept glaring at me for daring to sit down. Obviously I was far too British to say anything, but next time I think I would refuse (she says knowing fine well she wouldn’t…)

  4. My tip would be to use seat guru (www.seatguru.com) – you can put in your route and it will give your a review of the plane you will be flying on so you can see which seats are good or bad (by the toilet) etc. We used it for our flights to Indonesia and it was great, we found two seats just on their own for some random reason (all other rows were 3 or 4), so we had our own space which is really helpful. As soon as I get on a plane, I put my watch to the destination’s time which helps me get in the right zone, and know when I should be sleeping or not.
    I would love to ‘turn left’ on a plane so much. My ultimate dream! When I win the lottery….
    I got to fly business long-haul for work last year which was the best, I got too excited by everything and had to try and act professional but in reality wanted to photograph everything on the entire 16 hour flight! x

  5. We have been lucky enough to get a few free upgrades in the past. A few years back I had managed to amass enough airmiles to be a gold member on a frequent flyer programme which I thought meant I was assured a fancy seat at the front but..nada. Never happened once, the whole time I was gold. When I dropped to silver and we were both silver level, we got several upgrades. No idea why, we didn’t do anything different. I’m not sure if it helps but we never check in online (unless on no frills carriers where you have to) as someone once told me if you’ve already checked in, you’ve already allocated your seat and they know you are coming. If you don’t check in and they over sell (which all the big carriers do) you’re more likely to be bumped up. Not sure whether this holds any weight or not but worth a try!
    On the make up side I’ve started removing it all as soon as I’m on the plane with some cleansing wipes and slathering some heavy duty moisturiser on to stop my skin drying up. I’ve found it really helps. I obviously re apply before arriving, don’t want to scare the small children more than necessary.
    I also always take my eye mask on board with me, I always sleep much better with it on. The sensory deprivation thing does wonders for me. I always pick a seat nearer the front of the plane as I like to get my food first and then go to sleep usually and I like to get off first. Nothing worse than waiting for ages at the back to get off the plane.
    Another frequent flyer in our office has added that you should use anti bac wipes to clean your tray table as it’s one the top places that MRSA is found. I’m not one to be over the top about these things however, I know planes are on the ground for a very short time due to landing charges etc. so can’t imagine they get a very good clean!
    Loving the ‘take a picture’ idea Lauren, definitely doing that on my next trip.

    1. Ooooh Krysia, you are so good taking off your make-up. I’m definitely going to do it next time. Along with taking a whole load of anti-bac wipes.

  6. I’m not long back from our epic-moon to the States – drove down the West Coast 🙂 and have to admit that the jet lag really took me by surprise, more so on the way home than there! I’ve read that your supposed to get as much sleep as you normally would in a 24 hour period, so it *shouldn’t* matter when you catch those zzzz. HOWEVER, I slept nearly the whole of both flights there, felt fine, slept half the time on the way back and felt terrible…for days!!! Go figure!
    One tip I know works, cause I used it, is it apply some Vaseline around the inside of your nostrils, not like all the way up or anything, just around the outsides. I also get the horrible nasal feelings/issues and this really helped! I had to reapply throughout the flights, but it definitely made sleeping easier and another plus is that its meant to stop the dreaded during/post flight cold/flu/virus as it ‘catches’ the bugs before they get in to you system.
    For the New Zealand/Australia time difference conundrum you need to start switching your sleeping patterns BEFORE you get there. A friend of the family, who is from NZ, starts changing his routine at least 2 weeks before he departs.

    1. The vaseline tip is as eye opener Annie! I’m going to try that one next time.
      Thanks also for the tip on switching the sleeping patterns. It’s definitely worth a try.

  7. Having done the long haul to New Zealand, I cant say it was the most enjoyable experience but there are definitely things I would do differently if we were to do it again.
    Getting comfortable on such a long flight is always tricky and I don’t think I was suitably prepared. Ideally I would have had a very small bag that had easily reachable necessities in it, whilst your cabin bag is overhead eg for your toothbrush and toothpaste, deflated pillow, mints, socks for sleeping (it was freezing!) and ear plugs and eye mask. That way you are not constantly up and down looking for things whilst crawling over people. I had needed items quickly but found I couldnt get to them as the passengers next to me were fast asleep!
    Breaking up the flight with films, eating, reading really did work as you said. Even though I found it really hard to sleep I forced myself to have my eyes closed once the cabin lights were darkened just to rest. Trying to stay wide awake really does make you feel worse on the other side.
    Not sure if James would be up for a few drops of Bach rescue remedy in a bottle of water but I really wish I’d had mine to relax myself before hitting the hay. With regards to jet lag my husband suffered less by making sure he immediately switched to NZ time and he stayed up until it was time to sleep. How he did this I have no idea but he says his jet lag was far less severe then when he had been to Australia and gone straight to bed. Once there though New Zealand is flipping amazing!!!!!

    1. Such a good point about all the other passengers being asleep Han, there’s nothing worse than being crawled over by some unprepared flyer who’s lost their earplugs!

    1. Thanks Anna, do you think they’ll help my nose too? (as they’re all linked). The pain right at the top of my nose is the worst 🙁

  8. Oooh, my legs looked like massive Christmas hams after our flight to Tokyo! Definitely get/wear flight socks. My downfall was not getting up and moving about enough I think. Also agree on the plane being freezing! By the end of our flight home I had pinched Al’s blanket on top of my own as I was so cold, don’t know how people can jet off in vest tops of sundresses!

    I would like to know tips for an upgrade too, I know people who have been given them but I am yet to be one of the lucky ones!

    1. Massive Christmas Ham! Ha ha great analogy! Bet it was worth is Kitty. I really, really want to go to Japan x

      1. I imagine so- I beleine they work by releasing the pressure more gradually. I usually get pain all over my face like its going to explode, but these have stopped that altogether. Worth a whirl!

  9. I always try and break the time up on the plane – magazine time, eating time, music time, film time, book time, games time, napping time ….. I’ve done a few stints to Australia on my own so some of the above may get repeated!!

    I only ever take my make up off on long long haul flights but that might have been when I’m nearly there and it’s only to put some make up back on …. doh!

    Even if I’m only flying down to London or similar short flight I always manage to look like II’ve been travelling for a day – as you say looking like Pete Doherty! haha

    Booking an aisle and a window seat on the assumption that the middle seat is a bit risky. Even if people check in online they might just go with what the airline has allocated them. I checked in online for a flight to London recently and our seats were literally right up the back even though there was loads of room further up the plane! I don’t really get how airlines allocate seats. Many a time I’m on a plane and there are rows and rows of seats with only 1 person at the window yet I’m stuck in a full row. Tsk

  10. Lynn you sound like a very accomplished flyer. I’m glad I’m not the only one who resembles Pete Doherty when they step off a plane 😉 x

  11. I think they allocate seats based on balance or something? When we got emergency diverted and loads of passengers bailed and didn’t turn up for flight to final destination (all of a 14 minute flight) last year we all had our seats moved and they said it was because there were so few of us on there we had to balance the hold luggage!

  12. I love these tips! I never drink enough water on a flight but then a G&T is so much more tempting when you’re jetting off on holiday! I’m actually going on a long flight for work soon so I am definitely going to take on board some of these tips… must get more shut eye (especially on the night flight back), must drink more water, try to stretch my legs (if I can tear myself away from from the movies), definitely want to avoid food stains (haha) and I am NEVER going near the seat pockets again!! Happy holidays!!

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