Flying isn’t always comfortable or fun, but it can be tolerated and even enjoyed if you do a little homework and prepare yourself appropriately. Here are some tips on how to do just that.
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1. Don’t carry on too much gear
Although it is tempting to carry on tons of stuff to make sure you can survive flight, that can actually end up being counterproductive. Having so much gear can squeeze your personal space, and being cramped is no way to spend hours in the air. Edit your gear list to the necessities, and give yourself as much room as the airline allows. (Photo: Getty Images)
You buckled down when you got on board, promptly opening spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations. But you’re starting to go cross-eyed, and there’s still more than half of the journey left. What to do?
Give yourself a break. Pull out some noise-canceling headphones and put on a favorite movie — preferably one you’ve seen enough times that you can doze and still recognize what’s going on when you come back to it. It’s an easy way to chew up a couple of hours. (Photo: Associated Press)
3. Know your plane
As you’re booking your flight, take a minute to compare the types of aircraft available. (That doesn’t necessarily mean changing airlines — some airlines will have different types of planes on the same route depending on the time of day).
Finding a newer plane with better personal space and upgraded in-flight entertainment can be worth its weight in gold. Keep an eye on RouteHappy.com to see what the flights with the best amenities are. (Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
4. Keep an eye on your pillow and blanket
On long-haul trips, especially in economy, the in-flight pillow and blanket can reach values just this side of a first-class upgrade. That second pillow can be the difference between the engine rumbling in your skull as you lean against the wall and … slightly less rumbling.
Let’s be honest — any airline pillow is never going to match the comfort of your own bed, but that doesn’t stop pillow pirates from trying to swipe these little luxuries. Keep an eye on it, or carry on your own, easily identifiable neck pillow and blanket. (Photo: Associated Press)
5. Choose wisely
Choosing the right seat can be an exercise, but there are some ways to get the right place. Use SeatGuru.com to figure out what seats on what flights might give you that extra couple of inches that are the difference between cramped and comfortable. Tip: Exit rows have extra leg-room and are relatively close to the front of the plane. However, they can be chilly. (Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
6. Check in early
One of the ways to get the seats you like is to check in early. Many airlines open up premium seats for selection 24 hours in advance — so hovering over your keyboard at 23:59 can pay off. Plus, anything you can do to make the transition from your car to the plane a smoother process will help. (Photo: Associated Press)
7. Don’t be shy
If by some miracle you get a row to yourself, spread out and enjoy. It’s not rude to be comfortable. Keep your buckled belt visible so attendants won’t bother you in case of turbulence, stretch out and snooze. Do make sure you don’t let your head loll into the aisle, though – a drink-cart wake-up call can be painful.
8. Layer up
Layers are key to comfortable airline travel. Temperatures can wander from chilly exit rows to being stuck on a tarmac in a sardine can, so breathable layers that can easily be added or removed are crucial to comfort. Use part of your precious carry-on space for an extra layer, if need be. It’s also a good idea to keep spare socks and underwear in your carry-on. (Photo: Getty Images)
9. Wear shoes
You’ve seen them — those people who stretch out, slip their shoes off and relax. A few minutes after the captain turns off the seat-belt sign, they pad their way back to the rest room – in their stocking feet. Yuck. In general, don’t do anything to push your immune system when it is being exposed to so many potential issues. So, wear shoes, and keep your feet dry. (Photo: Associated Press)
10. Eat healthy
Trying to find a decent meal in an airport can be a challenge, to say the least. Finding it on an airplane outside of the big-bucks seats can be nigh impossible. Airline food is notoriously loaded with salt, and packaged with dry cabin air and booze can quickly lead to dehydration. Grab the best option you can in the airport — I like a good wrap sandwich — and carry it on board, with the biggest bottle of water you can find. (Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Bonus tip: Block germs
Airports and airplanes are dirty, dirty places. Mix that with the dry cabin air, and you could be a sitting duck for all kinds of illnesses. Rub a little antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin inside your nose to help kill germs you might inhale. (Photo: Getty Images)