How To Ensure Your Next Flight Doesn’t Suck

How To Ensure Your Next Flight Doesn’t Suck

Thanks to heightened security, delays, cramped seats and stingy baffage limits, few of us actually like to fly. While you can’t overcome every problem, a few key tips and strategies can make your flight a lot better.

Photo by Mumut (Shutterstock), keyplacement (Shutterstock), John Trainor, Dan Paluska, Thomas Galvez, James Emery, and Benny Mazur

Like many people nowadays, I hate to fly. I enjoy a well-packed bag and a good vacation, but I’ll avoid the airport any chance I have. Nonetheless, I confront the frequent frustration of air travel because I have no other practical alternative. When forced into a situation you don’t like, you have to make the best of it, so I decided to find ways to improve upon the most common complaints. In this post, we’ll go over how you can prepare yourself for the inconveniences of flying so a trip to the airport won’t completely suck.

Avoid Baggage Disasters

Misplaced or damaged luggage is an unfortunate fact of life when you fly. It isn’t the norm, but if it happens to you, knowing you are the exception to the rule doesn’t help much.

One obvious strategy is to avoid checking bags at all if you can help it. If you take your stuff onto the plane, you can keep an eye on it and potentially avoid paying ridiculous baggage fees.

There are two problems with this approach. Firstly, you’re not the only person with this idea, so you’ll be competing for space in the overhead bins. Secondly, depending on your airline, limits may be rigorously enforced. Tiger weighs all hand luggage, and you’ll pay dearly if you exceed the limits. On Qantas and Virgin, you can avoid inspection by checking in online, but a clearly oversized bag is still likely to attract attention.

What that means is that minimising what you pack remains the wisest strategy. If you plan ahead you’ll find you probably need less than you think. I regularly fit two weeks worth of luggage under the seat in front of me. Although not an easy process, I manage to do it with the packing cubes that limit what I can take, bags that have a flexible shape (such as sports duffel bags), and a little forethought. You rarely need more than a few pairs of pants, twice as many shirts, socks, underwear, and the necessary toiletries. You can wear an entire set of clothing on the plane, so you don’t have to make room for much if you plan versatile outfits in advance and have access to a washing machine and dryer for longer trips.

Fly Through Security

Airport security is a nuisance you can’t really avoid. The best you can do is be kind to your fellow passengers by emptying your pockets and removing your laptop from your bag while you’re in the queue, rather than waiting in a daze until you reach the actual machine. Australian domestic flights don’t impose limits on liquids, but those matter if you fly internationally; that bottle of water is a no-no.

Manage Delays

Flying doesn’t completely suck when everything goes according to plan, but when you encounter a delay, your patience can wear thin. While never fun, you can prepare yourself easily so you don’t get bored, hungry, or overly frustrated.

I always pack with a delay in mind and make sure my primary carry-on bag (the backpack) has plenty of fully-charged entertainment options. Bring books, magazines, a tablet, portable gaming console, or whatever you like to do to pass the time, Activities beat doing absolutely nothing for hours at your gate.

You should always also bring a snack at least, and something more substantial if your airline isn’t providing food (which means everyone other than Qantas domestically). On-board catering is even more overpriced than airport food courts.

Improve Your In-Flight Comfort

Just because you manage to get on a plane and into the sky doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy yourself. Crying babies and uncomfortable seats often accompany you on your travels, but you don’t need to suffer through them.

While you can’t stop a baby from crying — and few parents can, either — you can stop yourself from hearing said child with a good pair of inexpensive earplugs. If you prefer you can pick up some noise-cancelling headphones, which can cost a lot, or make your own noise-isolating earbuds for less than a dollar. Either way, if you plan to block out the noise it won’t really matter if it exists in the first place. If not, you can always ask politely and you might get somewhere.

A good seat makes a big difference, too, but economy class only has so many good options. Use a site like Seat Guru to get seat advice in advance of your departure so you can figure out your best choice.

Whatever seat you end up with, make sure you get the most out of it. When working on your laptop, angle it for better ergonomics and keep it off your laptop. This will prevent you from hunching during the flight. Additionally, you can use your laptop sleeve as a pillow. If you wore a hoodie or soft jacket, you can fit it inside the laptop sleeve, zip it up, and rest your head against it.

For the most part, a good and comfortable flight comes down to what the boy scouts have known for ages: always be prepared. Hopefully this post helps you know what you need to get ready before you fly so you don’t have a miserable experience

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