Living on a large island almost inevitably means a holiday begins with a long and tiring plane journey, but there are ways to minimise discomfort. Report: Amanda Willimott.
Relatively inexpensive flights to Asia and Europe have resulted in more of us travelling further and more often. While it’s true that the longer the flight, and the longer your legs, the more uncomfortable you are likely to be, especially in economy class, there are ways to improve the flying experience. Always consider the four Cs of flying.
Seats. Where you sit on the plane can make a big difference. Check out the bible of aeroplane seating plans, Seat Guru and find a map of your plane. This will help you discover the best seats, the ones to avoid and, importantly, where the kitchen, toilets and bassinet brackets are located.
Clothing. Minimise discomfort by wearing loose-fitting, comfortable clothes. (However, this doesn’t mean your best pyjamas or onesies. After all, you want your cabin mates to be comfortable, too.) Dress in layers – tops, cardigans, jackets or shirts that can be added or removed during the flights, depending on the temperature. It can, and often does, get cold during a long-haul flight and you will be grateful for those extra layers.
Stopping several times may save money on tickets and some consider this type of ‘milk run’ to be a great adventure. However, stopovers are not to everyone’s liking. Consider whether the money you spend in an airport and the time wasted on layovers is worth the extra savings. When booking a flight, look at departure time, stopovers and arrival time. Some people like to hit the ground running when they arrive at a new destination; others, such as myself, prefer to tuck their bleary eyes and weary limbs into bed right away. If you’re booking your own flights, you can sort your results by departure time, arrival time or duration.
Even budget-conscious travellers can afford to be choosy. Most airlines have a frequent flyer program – some are even free to join – and that hundred or so dollars that you save by booking a flight with a competitor could cost you in frequent flyer miles. Try to get the best deal with your preferred airlines by following them on social media, subscribing to their email newsletters and setting up alerts on their websites.
Pack light, pack smart and only bring what you need on the plane and leave the rest in your suitcase. Most airlines strictly enforce size and weight limitations on carry-on luggage, so check your allowances. And think of the convenience of a cabin bag that fits under the seat in front of you rather than having to put it in a locker often not near your seat.
Unless you’re on a budget airline, there’s no need to pack your bag full of snacks. Outside of meal service times, there are often snack foods available – just ask a member of the cabin crew.
If you’re flying international, you can’t bring a full water bottle through the security checkpoint. But you can bring an empty bottle and fill it on the other side, or ask the cabin crew to fill it on-board.
Bring a change of underwear. It takes up little space and if you really need it, you’ll be thankful.
Tired, sore eyes are a natural by-product of flying. Eyedrops can make a big difference.