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

How to Ensure Your Next Flight Doesn't Suck

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

How to Ensure Your Next Flight Doesn't Suck

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

How to Ensure Your Next Flight Doesn't Suck

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

How to Ensure Your Next Flight Doesn't Suck

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


Comments

    It should probably also be pointed out that Noise cancelling headphones do nothing for crying babies, only the engine noise. That said, the best combination I've found is to pop in some ear plugs, and then turn up the volume on the headphones. Of course, it does make it a little awkward when people, like the flight attendants, talk to you.

    Here's my top tips for good flying:

    1) emmigrate away from the USA - air travel there is nothing short of an horrific experience. Most other countries barring the UK have reasonably sane airports

    2) Ugrade to business if at all possible - parents are usually poor because children are costly little parasites. Because of this there are usually no kids in business.

    3) Take everything you need in a single piece of hand luggage that you can fit in the overhead locker. I travel long haul constantly and can manage it easily. The big benefit being that when the plane lands I collect my lugguage from the overhead locker and depart, there's no waiting for luggage thatr may be lost on a baggage carousel.

    4) Avoid United they are an airbourne version of colditz and actually make third world airlines look good. In fact just avoid US airlines whenever possible. The best long haul airline I've eer flown was Air New Zealand - great food, cutting edge tech and a cabin crew that doesnt hate their jobs.

    The next flight I take definitely will not suck, cause I will be flying the plane, and probably upside down at some point, lol.

    Last edited 08/08/13 11:24 am

    Re babies & general noise - www.simplynoise.com does an incredibly good job of blocking out ambient sound, even when it's quite loud.

    I believe they have an app for both android and iphone.

    I work FIFO so i am flying on a weekly basis, some tips i can recommend to make things quicker

    1) spend 2 minutes checking in using the airlines app (if they have it, i fly qantas) BEFORE you even hop in a car/taxi to the airport, saves you time and money (tiger air charges $40 for airport checkin i think)

    2) In regards to security, my routine is to put my phone/wallet/sunglasses/belt/beanie straight into my bag before i get to the airport, take my laptop out and don't bother packing deodorant, buy that at you're destination, with that planning i can literally dump my bag and laptop through the scanner, walk through, pick them up with both hands and walk past the people dressing themselves again and freaking out because they are clogging up the scanner

    Finally, i dont bother with suitcases unless im going somewhere for more than a week, i grabbed a good military backpack from ebay with lots of pockets but small enough to fit in overhead storage,

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