A couple of decades ago, air travel was a luxury and passengers enjoyed a first class service, with comfortable and spacious seating and of course, delicious food. Unless you travel in first or business class, today you’ll see yourself locked in a cabin with minimal space, while trying your best to get comfortable as you endure a long flight.
If you are about to get on a long plane ride, follow these tips in order to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
Traveling might seem glamorous, but being comfortable is way better than being fashionable. Wear clothes that are not too tight, because during a long trip you can feel bloated. If you are a woman I would not recommend wearing a skirt or dress, since you won’t know what position you’ll have to adopt in order to sleep.
Use layers. Maybe the day is warm, but on an aircraft the air conditioning is always high; wear a blazer for cover as the blanket, if there even is one, might be very thin.
As for the shoes, you should consider two things: they should be easy to put on and take off, as they may ask you to take them off when going through security, and they must not be tight, because if you take them off during the flight, you will have to place them back on your swollen feet.
Choose your seat well
Many airlines let you choose your seat while checking in or buying your ticket. If your flight is not very long, -less than 5 hours- and you want to rest, I recommend you going to the bathroom just before boarding, not drinking many liquids and choosing the window seat. Nobody will bother you so you’ll be able to sleep.
If you have a long flight, you will definitely have to stand up, either to go to the lavatory or stretch your legs. If you want the benefit of leaving your seat without disturbing anyone, and letting no one wake you up, choose a corridor seat in the middle column.
Almost all planes that make transcontinental flights have three types of columns: left, middle, right. The middle one has no window, but it has its benefits.
It is true that the emergency row seat has more legroom, but it is not easy to get. In addition, it cannot be reclined.
On a long trip, most airlines will offer several meals. If you have special dietary requirements, let them know in advance, either by phone or through the website of the airline. Those who need special meals get served first, but be warned: unless you ask for the children’s menu, it might not be the best.
In economy class, you get two choices: chicken, beef or some kind of pasta. Never choose the pasta, since when it is reheated it does not usually taste well. Something similar applies to breakfasts: never order the omelette, since reheated eggs are unpalatable and there is always a risk of contamination in foods containing egg.
When choosing what to drink, it is important to stay hydrated. Instead of choosing beers and soft drinks, water will be better and it will help you recover faster when descending. A coffee for breakfast is recommended, but don’t expect the best quality.
My recommendation is to take something with you; a snack that you like, because you don’t know when you’ll be hungry, it can be cereal bars. This is especially important in flights of 3 to 6 hours in length, when they can not offer you much to eat.
Sleeping on a plane is quite an art. You must overcome the discomfort, noise and light: Before traveling, buy an inflatable neck pillow (they are cheap and simple to store), a good mask to avoid light, and earplugs. In many airlines you get these last two items, along with a light blanket (which will be insufficient, so take a jacket or sweatshirt) and a small pillow. I recommend using it for the middle part of your back, which is unsupported in the aircraft seat.
Stand up and walk every few hours, you’ll avoid potential problems and stretch your body. You will need it.
If you need to go to the bathroom, do it after eating, but before the trays are withdrawn. People usually go en masse once this happens, so use that moment.
Charge your electronic devices and carry in them enough entertainment for the flight: books on your tablet, movies and games, and the same goes for your smartphone. In most aircraft you’ll find USB ports for charging your gadgets.
If the plane has individual screens, it is a good idea to watch a movie before going to sleep.
Shortly before landing, people will again go en masse to the bathroom. Since you’re smarter, do it an hour and a half before landing. You can cool off with wet towels. Do not use the water from the plane’s lavatory.
Put on some deodorant, comb your hair a bit and if you want to brush your teeth, ask for a glass of water from the stewardess. Remember: never use water from the sink.
You have arrived at your destination, healthy, safe and, above all, rested, and not crazy after spending hours locked in an aircraft. You’ll thank me when you return from your next trip.