11 vital steps for making your next flight better

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Let’s face it — the best part of any flight is when it’s finally over.

11 vital steps for making your next flight better

From screaming kids to turbulence to nonexistent legroom, taking to the air these days has become more of a nuisance than a luxury. It doesn’t have to be all bad, though. We chatted with some industry experts, former pilots and people who fly a lot to get their best tips for having a comfortable flight.

So go ahead and recline those seats and grab those peanuts — you’re in for the flight of your life.

1. Get up and move

The importance of moving around on a long flight cannot be understated. Previous research has shown that taking five flights within a three month period increases your chances of forming a blood clot by a factor of three (when compared to only taking one or two flights in three months), and people on flights over 12 hours are 70 times more likely to produce a blood clot than flights lasting less than four hours.

“It is extremely important to get up and move around often throughout the flight,” said Tim Griffin, a pilot and the founder and CEO of FlyHome, LLC, a course that assists clients in flying comfortably and without fear. “Stagnant hypoxia is an oxygen deficiency that can occur when sitting for long periods of time, where the blood essentially will start to pool, and that is not good. You need to get that blood from your lower into your upper extremities.”

If standing up and moving around isn’t possible because of turbulence or for whatever other reason, even flexing your toes back and then pointing them forward can help increase circulation.

2. Avoid plane cold (both the physical and viral kind)

Believe it or not, cabin air is completely refreshed an average 20 times per hour, as compared with just 12 times per hour in a normal office building. Having said that, fresh air does nothing to help those of us who are sitting next to someone who’s sick or are freezing because we were ill prepared for cooler plane temps.

“I always bring a big scarf or wrap with me on every flight," “I always bring a big scarf or wrap with me on every flight," said Katie Stanton, an employee with travel planning service Exploring.is, "mostly because I am always too cold on planes. I use it as a blanket or bunch it up for a pillow, and I usually end up wearing it throughout my trip.”

An easily reachable bottle of hand sanitizer doesn’t hurt when it comes to staving off germs, either.

3. Skip the caffeine

Andy Abramson has travelled more than 200 days per year for the past 10 years for business, so he knows a little bit about having a comfortable flight. His biggest tip is to avoid coffee and other caffeine-based drinks before a flight, especially if you have a night flight or are crossing time zones.

“It will only keep you awake and more irritable,” “It will only keep you awake and more irritable,” he said.

In fact, while the effects of caffeine are felt most strongly for about an hour after ingesting it, some effects may last between four and six hours total, including jitteriness, skittishness, restlessness, excitability and anxiousness, to name a few.

4. Pick the right seat to avoid air sickness

When it comes to turbulence, all seats are not created equal.

“Experts suggest that opting for seats situated over the plane’s wings and nearest to the aircraft’s center of gravity may minimize the effects of turbulence,” said Catherine McGloin, the UK travel editor with global travel search engine Skyscanner.net.

SEE ALSO: Airbus manages to cram another seat in every row of economy

On the flip side, during unsettled conditions the bumpiest ride is likely to be had by passengers seated closest to the tail of the plane. Sites like SeatGuru can help you determine where the best place is to sit on your particular flight.

5. Do your research to score better legroom

Another Skyscanner survey found that spacious seating came out as the top choice for improving flight happiness — 60% of respondents put it at the top of their list.

“The average economy seat is 31-32 inches,” said McGloin.

SeatGuru’s new "Guru Factor" comfort rating system can really help you determine which flights will offer you the best room for your buck, and the website will show you details on any seat on any flight you've got coming up.

6. Drink up

Hydration is everything, according to Stanton.

“Always request juice or water from the flight attendants, and if you can, bring your own,” she said. “I like to bring one or two bottles of coconut water with me and drink it in between meals, especially on long flights.”

The Department of Health estimates that people should be drinking around 1.2 liters (or about eight 5-ounce glasses) of fluid per day. This shouldn’t stop just because you’re in the air. Many of the benefits of keeping hydrated are even more important in the dry environment of an airplane.

7. Sit with a view

One Skyscanner survey found that almost a quarter of respondents said that getting a great view from an airplane is one of the top factors influencing their on-board happiness.

SEE ALSO: A pilot lets us in on the view we're missing from the middle seat

“Catching an amazing view as your aircraft comes in to land can catapult an average flight experience to an incredible one,” said McGloin.

8. Prepare for better sleep

While a good pair of noise-canceling headphones may help drown out screaming kids, they will do nothing when it comes to blocking ambient light. That’s where a great sleeping mask comes in.

“Invest in a slightly pricier one that sits away from your eyes and has eye cavities built into the mask,” said McGloin. “This will mean that rather than pushing on your eyelids, your eyes will be unobstructed during the rapid eye movement stage of sleep, so you will sleep more deeply.”

9. Sidestep jetlag

Peter Lombard is a business owner who’s on the road 200 days a year and has logged nearly 250,000 miles in the air. His best tip for avoiding jetlag when switching time zones on a flight is to plan your activities accordingly.

“Think like you’re already in your destination time zone," “Think like you’re already in your destination time zone," he said, "and eat, drink and sleep according to the new time."

“This not only helps provide structure on the flight, but also will help you overcome jetlag quicker.”

10. Stock up on chargers

While keeping your devices charged has nothing to do with your physical health, most people traveling via plane would argue that proper entertainment is essential for maintaining good mental health while flying.

Marjorie DeHey, JD/MBA, travels almost weekly, frequently on 12-plus hour flights to Europe and Asia. She suggests carrying two types of chargers — a standard one and a USB — since some planes have standard plugs while others require USB-style plugs. “This helps when you want to draft documents or watch movies on the flight,” she said.

In a pinch, you may want to invest in a handy portable charger for backup, as well.

11. Avoid hunger pains

It’s no secret that airplane food can often leave much to be desired, but there’s not really much we can do about that (other than packing awesome snacks). There is a simple trick, however, to getting your food more quickly — skip the meat.

“I will often order the vegetarian or the special meal the flight offers,” said Henrik Khellberg, president at budget travel site Hotwire.com. “These meals are brought out first, and there isn’t an extra cost involved.”

Fuente: mashable.com
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