Approximately 13 years ago, I boarded my first flight. Excitement was rising in me like little bubbles in a soda bottle. Just the mere sight of the ‘aeroplane’ made me go all ooh-la-la! Once inside, I busied myself with the little screen in front of me and stared in fascination at the well adorned flight attendants who will be catering to all my needs for the next few hours.
Alas, I no longer have the same level of excitement I did 13 years ago. Today, I’d think twice if someone were to ask me to fly for more than six hours in a metal tube breathing in stale air. Nevertheless, travelling has become so much a part of my life, there’s simply no escaping these once-upon-a-time magical carriers.
Unlike some lucky flyers who needn’t flinch before booking their first and business class tickets, my pay check doesn’t allow me to do so. I usually resort to flying with budget airlines (yes, cramped seats, crying children and no in-flight entertainment) for most of my trips. So here’s the important question – What to do if you are stuck in a situation similar to mine?
Well for the frequent economy flyer, here’s your key to surviving those long hours and still feeling good about it.
1. Get good rest before you fly
Four hours before the flight, most of us are rushing with last minute packing and the sudden and mysterious influx of important phone calls. It’s not so bad if you are headed to a nearby destination, but if you have unending hours of sitting in a chair ahead of you, we highly recommend you get some rest.
Start by finishing all your packing the day before and getting a good night’s sleep. Also nourish your body with wholesome meals a few days before you take off. It not may seem like a big deal, but flying for hours on high altitudes with changes in pressures and temperatures (remember turbulence) do have an impact on your body. So charge up well!
2. Dress Right!
We know you look fabulous in those skinny jeans, leather jacket and knee-high boots. But think about how comfortable you’ll be spending hours sitting in a cramped space? Oh no!
Be sure to don an outfit in which you’ll still be a happy camper even a few hours post-flight. So perhaps it’s best to base your sartorial decisions on whether or not what you’re about to wear will possibly lead to itching and perspiration in your unmentionables. The best choice you can make is to wear loose layers that you can adjust according to temperature and to pack a jacket in your hand luggage. It is also a great idea to have a pair of slip-on socks or slippers handy, in case you do end up wearing bulky shoes.
3. Pick your seats wisely
Having the right seat will lessen the ordeal. Most seasoned travellers will suggest booking aisle seats. These give you easy access to the bathroom or to the cabin aisle whenever you need a little stretch. Alternatively, if you don’t wish to be disturbed by your co-passengers with requests to pass the food tray or to give way when they need to attend to nature’s call, you could pick the window seat.
The key is to pick the seat that you are most comfortable in. For this, we highly recommend getting online to book your seat as soon as the check-in service begins. For once, it’s okay to emulate Sheldon and say “Hey, that’s my spot!”
4. Please stay hydrated
A common folly most people make while flying is not drinking enough water out of sheer laziness to use the bathroom multiple times. The air in airplane cabins can get very dry and you are bound to feel dehydrated and uneasy. Regardless of the trouble of relieving yourself in minuscule toilets, ensure you drink lots of water when flying long distances.
Airplanes do have a habit of pampering you well with free booze and unlimited caffeine. However if you are flying across the Atlantic cutting down on alcohol, tea and coffee will in fact make you feel better and more upbeat.
Zafigo Tip: Bring a small tube of moisturiser (anything 100ml and below) for your skin and lips.
5. Pack in all your sleeping gear
Now is the time to show off those fancy neck pillows, eye masks, coloured ear plugs and noise cancellation head phones! Sleeping on an airplane is an arduous task but a few hours of sleep becomes a necessity when flying an equivalent of half an entire day.
As opposed to first class passengers with full recliner seats, in the economy section you will be unable to lie flat. So adjust your seat to the inclination that works best for you or else you might wake up with a painful backache, stiff joints or worse.
6. Keep moving about
Passengers on long-haul flights are often at a risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (formation of blood clots in the vein) due to slowed blood circulation. Keep yourself active in the flight by walking up and down the aisle at regular intervals and by doing some light exercises at your seat.
Since the economy seats do not give enough leg room for some customary stretching, another good way to feel fit after nine hours of sitting down is to squeeze in a couple of extra minutes at the gym each day before you fly. Not only will this help make you feel less bloated, but you will be able to sleep better as your body will get a couple of interrupted hours for rest and recovery.
7. Splurge on an exclusive in-flight meal
You are looking at hours of boredom with little to no activity. It’s okay to reward yourself and what better way to do so than by treating yourself to a fine meal!
Since many airlines are now undergoing a cost cutting phase, airline meals are no longer as fancy as they used to be. To avoid eating a sad-looking spaghetti with a single meatball, pre-book a fine steak dish. Some airlines like Malaysia Airlines offer options to pre-book low calorie or low fat meals which will give you a break from boring flight food and provide a healthier alternative.
8. Prepare yourself for some Me–tertainment!
When was the last time you had nine hours all to yourself? No phone calls, no emails and no nagging bosses!
Use these hours to catch up on yourself. Bring along a book you’ve been meaning to read, or download a couple of movies on your phone/tablet/laptop ready to be viewed at the click of a button. Surprisingly, this is also the best time to finish up on some pending work without any interruption. (But don’t work. Travelling is a valid excuse for any incomplete assignments.)
9. Upgrade, Upgrade, Upgrade
If you have been stocking up on your frequent flyer miles points, this is the best time to show ‘em what you got. Use your rewards to get a seat upgrade to first or business class and you will have nothing to complain about when you disembark at your destination.
In situations where you do not have the miles points, map out your path with some superwoman powers of persuasion. Check-in early and flash ‘em your best smile. If that doesn’t work, maybe puppy dog eyes will. Do whatever you can to get a free seat upgrade and those hours will literally fly!