Thursday, March 14, 2013

How to make your flight less miserable | Compass - Yahoo! Travel

How to make your flight less miserable | Compass - Yahoo! Travel:

An article in Yahoo, by Drew Limsky.  My comments and responses are in BOLD

How to make your flight less miserable

By  | Compass – Tue, Mar 12, 2013 2:34 PM EDT
(Photo: Digital Vision / Thinkstock)
Air travel has become so uncomfortable that preserving your sanity means perfecting your flying ritual. Be prepared and methodical, and once you deplane you’ll barely remember the trip even happened.
Quick change
Refrain from being one of those annoying people at the check-in counter having some protracted negotiation with the agent, or one of those couples or families who expect five passengers to change their seats to accommodate you. If you’re traveling with a group, or think that your itinerary or seating might be the least bit complex, handle it over the phone before you ever get to the terminal. Once at the airport, use the check-in kiosks (sometimes they even work). Frequent fliers know to approach the counter only to ask for something specific and quickly achieved, like a seat in an empty row, a seat in the emergency row, or to check on upgrade status.  There are now so many options, including websites and mobile apps that you can use to change your seat and check in.  Use a phone call as a last resort, especially if there are irregular operations going on due to weather disruptions.  You don't even need paper anymore to board.  Airlines don't even require you to register to be a frequent flier to use the website.  Just use the "record locator number" to find your booking.  It is usually a series of numbers and letters....The Captain
Loyalty matters
Attaining a frequent-flier level in which you’re routinely upgraded is the holy grail of flying. For me, it’s not about the food; it’s only marginally about the free liquor; it’s all about the seat and the sleep. Even paying for a pricier ticket on your preferred airline to maintain your elite status is worth it, because each upgrade to Business is worth several thousand dollars and priceless peace of mind.  Flying in the front is the best.  No doubt about that.  We always take very good care of our frequent fliers.  They deserve it.  Flying is a for-profit business, not a social equality program....C
Carry on my wayward son
(Photo: Creatas / Thinkstock)Nothing signals an inexperienced traveler more than checked baggage. Avoid it at all costs; it’s expensive in both time and money. Observing this rule for a long weekend trip is easy. Paradoxically, using a carry-on for a month-long trip is also a no-brainer, because then I know it’s incumbent on me to find a cheap laundromat or agreeable housekeeper in my final destination. It’s those trips in between those two durations that are a challenge. Still, you should resist the urge to check luggage. Shop around for the biggest bag that will legally fit in the overhead compartment and supplement it with the most expandable shoulder bag that you can find.  Yes, reasonable and conscientious.  You will have to actually "lift" it to the overhead bin.  So unless you lift weights regularly, keep it light.  Moreover, on many regional jets, you will have to gate check your bag (at no cost) and retrieve it on the jet bridge at your destination.......C

Smart security
The key to getting through the security line quickly is to mentally rehearse your ritual beforehand. Be sure that you can easily slide your computer out of your bag, that you can slip out of your shoes in seconds (laces are the enemy), and that your toiletries don’t exceed 3.4 ounces each. (In my experience, most airports have relaxed the toiletries-in-the-clear-bag rule, so I’d risk dispensing with it.) Belts, mobile devices, and other metals go into your bag or coat before you ever get out of the taxi.  Amen to that.  I still see some pretty silly stuff at security.  Fortunately, crew members get head of line privileges and are able to skip it entirely using a pre-screening program at some major airports.  But, don't get me started on the TSA.....C
See no evil
Sensory deprivation, Part 1: unless you have work that absolutely can’t wait or you spy someone on the plane you’d like to get to know, the best way to experience flying is not to. Make over-the-counter sleep aids and/or controlled substances your friends, and use a sleep mask or a baseball cap pulled down low to get to your dark place and alert talkative neighbors and solicitous flight attendants that you’d like some privacy. Your choice of flight plays into this, too: the first flight of the morning, after you've gotten barely three hours of sleep, will almost guarantee coma, and red-eyes are fine opportunities to avoid consciousness.  Nothing says "leave me alone and don't talk to me," like a sleep mask over your eyes and ear buds.  When I "dead head" (fly in the back en-route to an airport where I will eventually work a flight), I want to catch up on my sleep.  I really don't want people asking me (as I sit there in my pilot uniform), if I am a pilot, or "aren't you supposed to be in the front?" and other inane questions....C
(Photo: Digital Vision / Thinkstock)

Hear no evil
Sensory deprivation, Part 2: You should never get on a plane without earplugs. Untested fliers tend to project as if they’re onstage. There are all kinds of things you just don’t want to hear on board, beyond the ubiquitous crying babies: couples arguing, strangers flirting, flight attendants gossiping, and business people relentlessly talking about revenue goals and optimization.  Earplugs, then noise canceling headset when electronic devices are allowed to be turned on. (see my blog on electronic devices) are essential.  I once sat on a plane where a drunk sang (very poorly) the entire Beatles repertoire.....C
Rockin’ and rollin’
A lot of people get nervous during turbulence even if they don’t show it. First off, take the announcements about “chop” with a grain of salt. Often, by the time the pilot or flight attendant finishes describing how bumpy this patch is, the bumpy patch is done. Second, when you feel some bumps, stare at your water bottle in the seatback pocket; notice that the water is barely moving. This reality check will give you some perspective. Another self-soothing strategy: Consider how much bumpier a ride on Metro North or the subway is than the choppy flight you’re on—and remember that those modes of transport don’t even require seat belts. Third, if you feel that your anxiety level will become intolerable, see above note about controlled substances.  See my blog on Turbulence....C
Hydration, hydration, hydration
There are a lot of things you don’t need for the flight, but water is essential. Flying is notoriously dehydrating (bring chapstick). I’ve found very few airports in the world that don’t sell bottles of water beyond the security checkpoint, so buy it even if it’s overpriced (it always will be). Don’t be at the mercy of the flight attendant rolling down the aisle with “free” beverages (something that costs you anxiety is not free). And what if you run out of water just as it gets choppy and you need to swallow a controlled substance, now? Yes, hydrate, hydrate....C
Fliers’ digest
In my opinion, the food is never so good on the plane—even in First Class—that it’s worth missing out on sleep. It’s just plain uncomfortable to have a full belly in a tight seat, and if you’re a nervous flier, that speedy infusion of calories will make your heart race even faster. On the other hand, it’s wise to bring some trail mix or other snacks in case you get into one of those rare time-consuming scenarios—delayed on the tarmac or circling in the air. Either way, choose a seat that’s close (but not too close) to the plane’s restroom. Yes, but don't bring extremely pungent food on board.  Remember, be conscientious, you are traveling in a pressurized tube with lots of other people....C
Temperature control
It doesn’t matter if you’re flying to and from the hottest places on Earth; once you’re at 35,000 feet, it’s cold. So don’t make the common mistake of under-dressing because you’re on vacation. Always layer. Always wear socks. I’ve found a hoodie indispensible for warmth, comfort, and versatility—you can use it as a blanket over your legs. Bringing a blanket for the plane is a waste of space and makes you look like a tool. (A hooded sweatshirt just makes you look like an overage skateboarder, or a Californian, which is better than looking like a tool.) A travel item that has multiple uses is worth its weight in gold; your hoodie does double duty.  I have never understood why folks wear flip flops, tank tops and pajamas.  Your feet will get cold, your body will get cold.  The temperature is never perfect.  Moreover, if in the extremely unlikely scenario of an emergency evacuation, you will most likely be barefoot as you egress. (See my blog on What not to Wear on an Airplane).  Dress as if you were going for a walk outside.....C

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