Whether you’re afraid of flying or you just have a slight aversion to sitting in a stiff cramped seat for hours (maybe even 24), next to strangers, breathing recycled pressurized air, and contorting your body in more ways than are listed in the Kama Sutra just to get comfortable, this article might be of use to you. Here are 5 practical ways you can use to make my flying experiences as enjoyable as possible.
1. Fly First Class
OK, I’ve never flown first class, but I have flown what’s called economy plus and it puts economy to shame. There’s more room, free alcohol, an air of luxury – it’s just fantastic. If you can afford a first class ticket anywhere – buy it. Buy it now. If you’re like most of us, it’s just not in your budget. So first get your ticket using a ticket aggregator to book your flight.
Then, if you’re going to fly coach or business, there’s still a chance you might get bumped up to first. Here’s how: dress to impress, as gate agents will often profile flyers by their appearance; and be nice, because your personality will be taken into account; also, be ready to shell out a few more bucks at check-in, because if first class happens to be partially vacant, you’ll have a much easier shot at persuading the gate agent to let you upgrade for a nominal fee.
2. Stuck in the Media with You
If your flight is long and you’re one of those reluctant sleepers, now’s the time for shameless media munching. Bring your laptop, tablet, MP3 player, even, dare I say, a book or two (batteries not included). Sometimes the movies on flights can be lackluster or underwhelming, or expensive, so you’re better off bringing your own. If you’re more of a streamer, what you can do is load some choice shows at home before you board the plane, that way you can watch them all queued up in the air. Also, make sure that if you’re not paying for WiFi on the plane that you turn it off on your computer to conserve battery power.
3. Know Thy Neighbors
It’s a long flight, and you’ve got two options: you can either talk to your elbow-and-knee neighbors or you can ignore them as though they were mannequins on their way to a posing convention. There’s no right or wrong here, it’s all a matter of preference. But, if you do decide to socialize, “Where are you headed?” and “Where are you from?” are both acceptable, natural, and open-ended talking points to start with.
Especially if you’re traveling alone, this is a great way to potentially meet a travel companion. You can exchange information at the end of the flight and maybe even meet up at your destination. However, if you realize after speaking with this person for five minutes that you two aren’t a good fit together and that maybe you shouldn’t have opened your mouth in the first place, just tell them you’d like to get some sleep and shut your eyes. If you can’t really sleep, open your eyes after 5 minutes and immediately open your book. They’ll get the hint.
4. Bring on the Beverages
I’m talking about all kinds of beverages here. Alcohol, in moderation, can help loosen you up so you’re not as tense blazing through the atmosphere at staggering speeds. Drinks aren’t cheap, but with the money you saved using a coupon code to book your flight you could probably spare a couple bucks. This social lubricant might also help you talk to, and have more interesting conversations with, the strangers around you. Now, don’t drink too much because a hangover on a flight is just salt in a wound.
Also, if booze isn’t your thing, try a relaxing homeopathic drink called chamomile tea. Chamomile tea is known to help the body de-stress, and you can bring your own tea bags onto the flight and just order hot tea.
5. Meditation Aviation
If you get anxious while flying and don’t use any medication, try some mind-body stillness. Close your eyes, and start focusing on your breathing. If you need some quiet, plug into your iPod and listen to some guided meditation tracks. Or if the constant humming of a 747 is your lullabye, keep tuned in. Hopefully soon you’ll drift into a pleasant state of hyper-awareness and calmness, and the anxiety will melt away. Keep at it, as the more you do it, the better at it you become. And if it fails, the worst that could happen is you fall asleep. Nighty night.