It’s been a while since I took my first long-haul flight. At that time, I was really newbie on this topic and my understanding was that 10 hours in the air should not be that bad. Yes, I was pretty much wrong and the result was that I was always leaving the plane tired and angry. A few years later I decided to collect all of the good to know hints like how to pick best seats in airplane or what to take on board and share with you.
Best time for flights
This is the definitively crucial thing. First, you need to take into account the direction you travel – is it east or west? I always use following rules for the long flight:
- if it’s east – fly in the evening or night and sleep in the plane,
- if it’s west – take the morning flight and do not sleep on the plane. This is mainly to fight (or appease) your jet lag. It will for sure come, but will be much lighter if you will also follow “the sleeping” rule.
Next, if you have connecting flights try to organize it like this:
- Outbound – pick the flights like it is written above – stick to the “directions” rule.
- Return – coming back home can be pretty complicated in some parts of the world. If you know such things like typhoons, tropical storms or blizzards, then you know what I’m talking about. That’s why it’s pretty wise to arrive at your connecting flight airport as early as possible. In case of any delays or flights cancellation, you will be able to react – rebook or take another transportation means. I still remember my statistics from the past – it happened that from five trips to China out of nine I returned home one or two days later due to “special” causes like weather, politics (aviation control in China) or machine breakdown. Since I follow the rule of early arrivals to the connecting airports it’s much better now.
Loyalty programs help
I always register for airlines loyalty programs. If you travel a lot, in a short time you can gain privileged status for the air carrier and this will result in some benefits like better service, special offers, access to lounges or priority treatment in case of rebooking. Especially access to the lounge in some cases can be life-saving. Imagine that your flight was canceled and you are rebooked for the next one in 13 hours. In this case, you just sit in the lounge and wait in a cozy and comfortable armchair waiting. Even if, you did not reach enough points in the loyalty programme it’s worth to go there in such situations – you can purchase the entrance and usually, it’s always a better alternative to sitting on the airport bench.
How to pick the best seats in airplane
My next advice would be – always select your seat by yourself. Don’t let airline to do it instead of you. In most of the cases, if you book your flight early enough, you can pick the seat using the airline website. Before you will go there, first check the aircraft you will fly with. Probably you will ask me how to check it? The simplest way is to check your flight itinerary – you will find there your flight number. Then go to seatguru.com and look for the seat plan of your airplane by entering your flight number:
check “View map” to see the detailed plan of aircraft:
this is pretty good information about your flight. You can check which seats are good (for example with larger leg room) and which are bad (close to toilet 🙂 ), where are bathrooms or if there are any power ports or wifi access. My recommendation is to select the seat in the first rows – you will have much more leg room. The disadvantage is that the storage pockets and compartment is limited for these seats.
Window or aisle seat?
The next step is to decide between window seat or aisle seat. Intentionally I did not mention the middle seat – I don’t know a single person who would take this seat by his own will. Let’s quickly go for some pros and cons in both cases:
- Window seat pros:
- nice views (if the weather is good). You can take some perfect Instagram pictures like this one:
- more storage space
- you can lean against the wall and sleep
- Window seat cons:
- usually, it’s much colder in window seat because the temperature outside plane is about -65 degrees (use the blanket)
- it’s difficult to get out to the toilet, access to your carry-on luggage or to walk – you always need to ask your neighbor to let you go. It’s not a problem if he is awake, if not… Yeas, it can be sometimes frustrating. For me, it’s the major reason why I always pick an aisle seat. In the last resort I could decide to pick window seat in the first row – then it’s manageable to go out without waking up your neighbor.
- Aisle seat pros:
- you don’t need to ask anybody to let you go. You just stand up and do whatever you like – for me it’s the biggest advantage and that’s why I’m saying that aisle seats are my best seats in airplane
- easy access to the compartment and your carry-on luggage
- Aisle seat cons:
- you have to pass your neighbors each time they want to leave
- people walk through aisle all the time (sometimes you are hit)
Front or rear?
The last thing you should think about before you will decide which are the best seats in airplane to pick is in which part of a plane you are going to seat.
- The Front of the plane:
- You will be server first with all meals and drinks
- You will exit plane as first but here is my remark: it is important if you have connecting flight and you are already in delay but be sure that you will be unloaded at the gate’s sleeve and not to the bus because in this case you really do not need to hurry up – bus will leave only after unloading of all passengers.
- The rear of the plane:
- If you did not order any special meal, probably you will be forced to pick the meal which is still in stock. Don’t even look into the menu – you know Murphy’s law – there is a high probability that the fish which you targeted in the menu will be gone two seat rows in front of you…
- But because it’s like that, the crew is always nicer for passengers in the rear of the plane and you can count on some extra snacks or drinks if you like
- And there is one thing more. There were studies saying that sitting in the rear of the plane probability of surviving the plane crash is higher in the rear of the plane – it’s around 69%, in the middle it’s 56% and the lowest is at the front of the plane ~ 49%. That’s advantage 🙂
ok, I think that with the above information, you should be able to pick the best seats in airplane. Now, come back to your airline website and select your favorite one and remember: do not rely on luck, plan before – this is the effective way for business tripping :-). This is a lean way for the business trip.
What to wear?
The answer is simple: wear loose clothes. If just after leaving the plane you go straight to the company, then take your “flight” clothing into your carry-on or use airport locker rooms to change clothes after luggage pickup. I prefer to have it in my carry-on because your checked baggage can be mishandled and you will be forced to visit the company in sweatpants :-). Of course, each person has his own definition of loose clothes, but there are a few best practices which are applicable for I think all of us:
- always have with you a hoodie. It will save your ass if you will be seated under air condition vent – trust me 🙂
- wear compression socks – these will secure your legs from cramping and swelling
- use your slippers – take off your shoes just after takeoff and wear your slippers – it’s much more comfortable and you don’t need to wear your shoes to go to the toilet. If your slippers are disposable then leave them in a plane if no, secure them in a plastic bag before you will pack them back to your carry-on luggage – it will be heavily polluted with bacteria – keep it in mind.
Meals and drinks
On each long-haul flight, you will be served with two hot meals – first just after takeoff and the second on about two hours before landing. In the majority of airlines, you are able to order a special meal instead of a standard one. Usually, there is a wide variety of special meals, so you can find vegetarian meals, diabetics meals, kosher meals, light and fit meals and so on. Why is it always better to order a special meal?
- You will be served as the first in the row 🙂 From my experience I know that special meals are prepared before the standard ones.
- Usually, special meals are better for your stomach. Take care what you eat and drink during the flight (and just before) – any stomach problems during 10-hour flight could be challenging…
One more thing – remember to hydrate yourself. During the flight, you lose a lot of water from your body due to dry, air-conditioned air in the plane. The humidity is in the interval of 10 – 20 % – it’s like in the desert. Researchers show that during 10-hour flight you lose from 1,6 to 2 liter of water – it’s about 4% of water in your body. If you will skip drinking enough water, soon you will feel fatigue and your head will start to ache.
Remember this – replacing the water with alcohol is not a good idea. Too much alcohol will cause hangover and hangover is nothing else then just dying from dehydration…
Your carry-on luggage
The best way to pack your carry-on is to divide it into two bags. I do it like this:
- The first is a small suitcase or bag which is stored in the compartment and I don’t need to touch it until landing. Continuously reaching for your big bag annoys many people and it’s better to avoid it 🙂
- The second one is a small backpack where I store the most important stuff which I need to have in the reach of my hand. This makes you pretty mobile and limits your necessity to move.
you can read more details about my ideas for effective business trip packaging in this post: How to pack for a business trip and don’t forget anything. So what to put in the backpack? Keep these thinks always with you:
- Wallet and documents
- Portable electronics like smartphone, Kindle, tablet
- Travel pillow – I use the Cabeau Evolution Travel Pillow – it shrinks to 1/2 of it’s size which is good for my backpack.
- Your medicines
- Chargers and wires
- Headphones with noise canceling. I use Bose QuietComfort 25 – it enables me to break away from the surroundings
- Toothbrush with toothpaste
Last things to remember
Take care of your body. You should not spend all 10 hours in one position. This can cause cramping and swelling. Get up from time to time and walk. If you will hydrate yourself enough then at least you will walk to the toilet 🙂
And of course keep in mind the truth which each frequent traveler knows: Always be nice to plane crew and stewardess. Without this, even if you will pick best seats in airplane, you can suffer a lot.
That’s all for now. Please comment and share if you liked it.
Featured image source: pixabay.com