Having spent over 900 hours inside an airplane, stepping into an airport lobby still sparks so much joy. In the past I have been compared to a kid playing with a new toy while boarding an aircraft — pressing all the buttons, searching to see if there’s in-seat power outlets and perusing through the seatback menu to see what I can expect in-flight.
Working in the commercial team of a domestic airline one of the perks, as one would expect, was air travel. In the past six years, my travels have been filled with work trips, quick leisure getaways and if we want to get down with airline jargon, VFR (visiting friends and relatives).
On my last transatlantic red-eye flight, my seatmate asked me upon landing, “How did you sleep throughout the whole entire flight?” I jokingly answered, “I’m a pro at traveling.” The truth is that after so many trips you learn that preparing for your flight is just as important as planning what you’ll do when you land at your destination.
Want to travel like a pro? Follow these tips:
Enroll in an expedited clearance program
Have you ever waited in a TSA line so long that you thought you were waiting for a theme park ride? Save time at security by enrolling in one of the expedited clearance programs such as Global Entry or Clear. Application for these programs takes time so make sure to plan ahead — note that interview slots fill up months in advance.
Check-in prior to arriving at the airport
Some of us have been that person rushing to the ticket counter wishing the flight is still at the gate. Save time at the airport and travel with no-frills by checking-in for your flight at home. Most airlines offer the ability to check-in online or via their mobile app. Some even offer the option to receive flight notifications the day of travel that will help you plan in advance for possible itinerary changes.
Say hello to your flight attendants
Make sure to greet your flight attendants as you’re boarding; it’s the nice thing to do. Treat them with respect as they’re there for your safety and not just to find space for your oversized carry-on bag or offer you snacks. And if you’re nice enough, they might just officiate an impromptu wedding at 35k feet.
Disinfectant wipes = Your travel BFF
It’s no secret that flying will expose you to germs, that’s why my favorite travel companion is my pouch of disinfectant wipes. Before checking out the seatback menu, the first thing I do is clean the tray table, armrest, TV controls/ screen, and even the notch for the AC vent.
Pack a reusable water bottle
Want your own water bottle for the flight but don’t want to splurge on airport prices? Pack a reusable water bottle. This sustainable tip will help you save 💰 Having your own water bottle adds convenience throughout your journey beyond the airplane ride. And since a lot of airports have water stations nowadays it will be easy for you to fill up before taking off. Your body will also thank you for the added hydration.
Check where your inbound aircraft is
Running late to the airport? Take some pressure off by seeing where your inbound aircraft is (the plane designated for your flight). You can use web services like FlightAware to track your plane’s location and status. Maybe the inbound aircraft was put on hold right before landing and now you have 15 extra minutes to grab coffee or use the restroom.
Land looking fresh with extra hydration
Taking red-eye flights have become more popular as a way to maximize time at a destination. A great way to land refreshed after a red-eye or long flight is to add hydration to your skin. There is a lot of information about skin care regimens while traveling so do your homework and find out which one compliments your skin type. My go-to is a facial hydrating sheet mask.
Two words: essential oils
Let’s talk about the funny smell in the cabin. Airplanes are public spaces, with teeny tiny personal boundaries and often we don’t get to choose our neighbors. The winning team from the softball tournament might be seated around you or maybe 9C was really craving a tuna fish sandwich. The point is that there might be some factors that even the airline can’t control so in smelly situations my solution is to reach for my favorite essential oil, eucalyptus. A dab on my nose for the smell and a dab on my temples to relax.
Fade away distractions
Invest in a really good set of noise-canceling headphones to help fade away any environmental noise. If binge-watching movies is not your thing and just want to catch up on Zzz’s download an ambient noise app like Rain Rain.
With these tips, flying will be a breeze and if you practice enough, you might finally sleep on a red-eye.