Tips for Flying Comfortably
A 10,000 Foot View of Ways to Fly More Comfortably
This page covers a number of topics on more comfortable flying. Here is an overview:
- Pre-flight drinks and meals
- What to bring with you on the plane
- Seat Selection
- Boarding tips
What to Eat and Drink Before a Flight (And What Not to)
So you have a big flight tomorrow and you are wondering about the dos and don'ts of what to put into your body. The most important tip I follow is to stay very hydrated by drinking plenty of water the 24 hours before a long haul flight. This will probably cause you to make many a trip to the restroom, but you will thank yourself tomorrow on the big metal bird. Flying has the unfortunately consequence of dehydrating flyers. This can lead to fatigue, headaches, and jet lag. Plenty of water can mitigate these symptoms.
On the other hand, alcoholic beverages have the reverse effect of further dehydrating you. Ideally, you should not drink the day before you fly. The last thing you want to do is to have a miserable, hung over flight. Also, steer clear of drugs. See the following clip for what can happen when you board the plane stoned.
As for food the 24 hours prior to flight, do not consume foods that will upset your stomach. Only you know what agrees with you and what does not. For me, spicy foods and cheese can cause issues. Unless you want to hang out in the lavatory, eat food which agrees with you!
Comfort Items to Carry-On a Flight
A clear see-through zip lock bag with any medications along with chap stick, moisturizer, Advil, Pepto Bismol or Immodium, and a sleep aid such as Benadryl will go a long way to making the flight more comfortable. Also, be sure to bring some water to drink since some airlines are stingy with drinks. Long haul flights will have pillows and blankets, but if you prefer a neck pillow, I would recommend an inflatable one unless you want to lug around a pillow. My non-inflatable pillow was jettisoned in the Heathrow restroom trash on my last trip since I got sick of carrying it.
An Exit Row Example
Best Seats for Long Haul Flights
The easy answer is: business or first class. However, for the vast majority of flyers (myself included) this is normally not an option. Obviously, middle seats are awful so avoid them unless you have a flying companion. It then becomes a question of aisle or window seat? If you are either tall or husky, the aisle will provide you with both more leg room and some more width. The next factor in seat selection is extra legroom or economy plus seating. Different airlines name it different things, but basically you can pay a bit more for bulk head or exit row seats. On a long haul flight, this can be well worth the price. If you have status with a particular airline, these seats might be free.
For more information on specific airlines, check out Seat Guru. This site can be a bible of airline seat selection.
Airline Boarding Tips
With most US airlines today, boarding can be a chaotic process. Even though the airline assigns group numbers or zones, the fact that not all airlines board from the back of the plane forwards, makes the process crazy. The checked bag charges cause overhead bins to fill quickly since people carry-on tons of massive bags so they can avoid the checked bag fees. Here are a few tips:
- Carry-on small bags, which can be put under the seat in front of you
- When boarding is about to begin, get a good place near the front
- Have in your hand anything you will need during the flight, so you can just stow your carry-on and be seated.
- Move out of the aisle ASAP