It might be unusual to write an article about travelling by air in the middle of pandemic but, at some point, you will need air travel to discover our planet further than we ever imagined. As an international student and an aviation geek, I will share with you some tips on how you could survive a painful long-haul flight on your next holiday! (Probably after this whole COVID-19 over!)
Let me get this clear, the long-haul flight for me is a journey on an aircraft which takes more than 6 hours to reach from one point to another. Many of you might choose to fly in luxury by flying in business or even first class, I have no issue with those but good luck on prices and/or frequent flyer miles you have to spend! Now the rest of us will be stuck in economy towards the back of the plane and probably siting in your seat like a zombie. But don’t worry, I’m here to help you survive this pain! Sit back, fasten your seatbelts and relax – we’re about to take off on this pro trip!
I’m pretty sure that at some point anyone travelling by air will end up in a middle seat with little legroom, being interrupted by your window seat neighbour whilst you sleep, with a crying baby for the whole flight and so on. But, you could avoid those nightmares if some research was done beforehand. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we could easily look at which aircraft you are flying on during your trip and what kind of seats you will sit in.
Have a look on the airline websites or flight searchers like Skyscanner, Google Flights and Kayak to see which aircraft the airline will operate on your flight. Then have a look in SeatGuru to find the best seat for you, even in economy! This might change you from sitting towards the noisy back of an airplane to have an extra leg room for yourself. But be warned, many airlines charge fees when you are selecting seats with the lowest ticket prices. It is a good idea to check-in online beforehand as you could choose your seat for free! (This depends on airline policies and their online check-in process, so do some research!)
So, by now you have booked your flight and selected your seat – you’re now ready to go! Make sure you finish packing your bags before you leave for the airport and don’t forget your travel documents at home! Most travelers tend to arrive around 2 hours before their flight and have to wait in a long queue. You could avoid the long queue by arriving at the airport nice and early to finish the check-in and then wander around the terminal for some shopping, dining or even plane spotting!
I understand that it must be annoying to be held back at the airport security and you might be fed up with being held up by a security officer for carrying over 100ml of liquid. To make this process faster, make sure you have your passport and boarding pass ready for inspection and put all liquid in a designated bag beforehand. Also, it is a good idea to put all your valuables like mobile phones, wallet/purse, car keys etc. in your bag or jacket pocket so you won’t lose them! Security requires large devices like tablets, laptops or even portable chargers to be removed from your bag and presented separately. It is ideal for these items to be somewhere accessible in your luggage so that you can remove and replace them in a short amount of time.
Hopefully, you won’t be held up at airport security and make it through the duty free shops to your gate. You might consider buying some snacks or bottles of water to keep you away from dehydration and hunger aboard. Although there are large selections of light snacks and water bottles in airport shops, these are overpriced and you might end up spending a fortune on them. It is better to buy your favourite snacks before coming to the airport and get yourself an empty bottle of water to fill after passing the security. This will save you some cash and spend more in duty free! And don’t forget to keep an eye on your flight! You need to head straight to your gate when it is shown on the flight information board, so you won’t miss your flight!
Alright, you made it to your gate and boarded your flight! You are now unpacking your stuff at your seat and about to sit on your seat. I want to let you know that before unpack your stuff, try to avoid stopping on the aisle too long so other travelers behind you won’t get annoyed. Make sure you have all the stuff you need in your backpack, so you don’t need to constantly go back to your carry-on luggage that you put on your overhead compartments and interrupt your neighbours from their sleep!
By now, you should settle down on your seat and get ready for a long journey! You might realise that you have at least 6 hours to kill and not sure what to do apart from sitting at your seat like a zombie for the whole duration of your flight. The simplest answer is spending some time with the Inflight Entertainment (IFE) for some movies, tv shows or games. But you could get bored of what they offered you at some point. Why not download a Netflix series or your favourite song from Spotify offline and watch them during your flight?
You might also consider sleeping to avoid jet lag when you arrive, but it is probably difficult as an economy passenger. I recommend you bring a neck pillow and a blindfold to help you, also put your own headphones on to get a full sleep. And don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated!
You might feel itchy on your skin when you sit in your seat for a long time. It is a good idea to get yourself up and do some stretching (be careful not to knock someone over!) and walk along the aisle to get yourself healthy!
After a long journey, you have almost arrived at your destination! You might want to get refreshed before arriving at the airport. You might want to go to the lavatory to wash your face and relieve yourself. In my opinion, it is better to wait for the aircraft to land and refresh yourself in the terminal’s toilet as the lavatory prior to landing will be busy and you might not want to hold anyone waiting after you.
You might be excited to explore a new city after landing and refreshing in the toilet, but don’t forget that your journey isn’t over yet! You need to go through the passport control and baggage collection. So, get your passport and other documents (e.g. visa and boarding pass) ready and be prepared to answer questions asked by the passport officer for a quick process. There is no rush as your luggage might take some time to arrive at baggage reclaim, the passport control queue might be bad but hey, at least you don’t need to wait long for your bag to arrive!
You finally make it to your destination and ready for a journey beyond. You need to get yourself a transport method to go to the city centre. Unless you decide to rent a car, you will need to take public transport. It is important to check which part of your city where your hotel is located and which mode of transport is the most suitable for you. You might take a taxi if you have lots of luggage or travel as a group, but it’s better to travel by train or bus if your destination is far away!
I hope these will be useful for your next trip on a long-haul flight. In a meantime, stay safe and hopefully your next holiday will come soon!