It is exciting to head off on that long-awaited vacation or honeymoon. The first moment in the car leaving home, I consider my vacation has begun and am filled with delightful anticipation of a good trip. With a little preparation, my self-pampering begins at the airport. So let’s discuss how to make the first leg of the journey, the airplane ride, comfortable and enjoyable.
ESSENTIAL AIRPLANE COMFORT LIST
Pack into carry-on to be placed under the seat in front of you on the plane:
Consider taking: Baby aspirin, sea sickness medicine, sleep aid, immune system boost supplements, eye drops.
Ear plugs or noise reducer ear phones
Thick socks or slippers
Reading material or electronic entertainment that does not need the internet
Neck pillow and thin blanket
Lip and skin moisturizer
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Gum or mints
Empty water bottle (fill it up once you are past security at the airport)
WHEN BOOKING YOUR FLIGHT – Comfort starts here:
- 1. Be sure your name on the ticket is absolutely to the letter correct. Security at the airport requires it to be correct. However, you most likely will still be able to board if a mistake has been made, it will take longer and require extra measures.
- Select your seat, if possible, when you book your flight. Aisle seats allow more freedom of movement, window seats provide a view and a place to lean your head. Avoid the middle seat if possible. Within five rows from an exit or towards the rear is safest in an emergency. Over the wing limits your view from the window. Avoid the seats at the end of the aircraft and those near the wings and toilets if you want minimal distraction, noise and movement. Sit up front for best air quality. A recently released Harvard study found air quality in aircraft cabins didn’t meet minimum standards for office buildings. You’ll find less carbon dioxide in forward seats.
- Use www.seatguru.com to find out the most comfortable seats on your particular airplane.
- Two people flying together on a flight with three seats in a row, may consider reserving the aisle and window seat. Just maybe the middle will remain empty giving you extra room. If not, the middle seat traveler will inevitably be happy to exchange for your isle or window seat.
- Here are the top rated airlines for economy class comfortable seats:
Jet Blue – extra leg room and Direct TV plus endless snacks
Southwest – still as of this publishing date offers blankets, pillows and in flight snack. Be sure to go online 24 hours in advance to get “A” boarding or purchase “A” boarding for $5.00 by going to Boardfirst.com.
Virgin Atlantic – provides earplugs, slippers and eyemasks
Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific – In flight entertainment, comfortable seats and leg room. Best economy seats if you are flying these two airlines are seats 61A and 61K on Singapore and seats 66A and 66K on Cathay. They are the only twosome in a 3-4-3 configuration with extra room around them.
- Consider the bulkhead or exit row aisles. Advantages are you will have extra leg room, no one can recline their seat into your face, and no children will be seated next to you. Disadvantages are, your plane comfort bag will need to be stored overhead and you will need to be able to open the emergency door if needed. Some airlines charge an extra fee for bulkhead seats.
- Do the electronic check-in to avoid waiting in line and to get a better seat assignment if not previously selected.
- Pack your bags.
- Search for a discount coupon online if parking your car at an airport parking lot.
- Plan the time you need to get ready in the morning and drive to the airport arriving a minimum of 2 hours prior to your flight. Minimize the stress at the start of your trip by not needing to rush.
- Double check to be sure you have: Driver’s license, passport, flight tickets (e-tickets), itinerary, money, medicines, glasses.
- Lay out your clothes to wear on the airplane.
COMFORTABLE AIRPLANE CLOTHES
Layer Up. Dress for fashion when you get there, on a long flight, dress for comfort. That means layers of loose – no pinching or pulling or unzipping required to be comfortable. You have three temperatures you need to consider here – the temperature in your country, the temperature on the plane, and the temperature when you arrive at your holiday destination. What makes life tricky on the plane too is that it’s very hard to predict the temperature and this is largely because of the sporadic use of air conditioning. Some planes will have none and you’ll be boiling hot, while others will have the air conditioning on full blast and aimed right at your feet – and this can get freezing cold. The solution then is to wear layers so that you can put more on if you’re cold or take more off if you’re hot. You should also wear soft and comfortable clothes though so that you can essentially pad yourself into your seat. Think nice wooly jumpers and t-shirts that are made from soft neoprene, nothing silky as silky tends to be cold. Don’t wear anything too tight. . Bring a jacket
My Layer List: Short sleeved t-shirt, Long sleeved t-shirt, sweater or sweatshirt, jacket. Shorts in my comfort carry-on bag. Long loose fit pants. Wearing my short-sleeved t-shirt, I can layer on or off as needed and change into my shorts right before the plane lands if the weather is hot.
SHOES AND SOCKS
Your feet will naturally swell during the flight due to the pressure in the cabin. They will also tend to get both cold and hot.
- The best shoes to wear on the flight are flexible shoes that you can dislodge easily from your feet (slip-ons, loafers) and do not require tying when you need to put them back on (like for that long postponed trip to the lavatory).
- Next best are any flexible shoe (sneakers, walking shoes, etc).
- Dress shoes, especially heels, do not adjust for swelling and would be a hazard in an emergency.
- Flight socks (any heavy, loose-fitting socks) are more comfortable than shoes, keep your feet warm, and serve to walk around the plane, at least anyplace but the lavatory.
- Slipper socks are great for comfort, warmth and also for the lavatory because they have soles.
- For an extra luxurious comfort treat yourself to some cashmere socks and slip on slippers for your in-flight feet pampering.
BLANKETS, PILLOWS AND SLEEP
Most airlines no longer provide blankets and pillows. If they do, grab on as you walk to your seat because there are not enough to go around. In a pinch, your coat will act as your blanket but taking your own blanket will make the cold flight infinitely more comfortable.
Any thin car blanket will do but is hard to squeeze into your flight comfort bag. Purchasing a pashima might be worth it for a long trip. A Pashmina shawl is a fine cashmere wool from a special breed of goat. It is soft and warm, takes less room than a blanket and can easily pack into a small bag. It multi tasks as a scarf, shawl, blanket or lumbar support. If you don’t need it to keep warm, roll it up and put it behind your back, which helps significantly to increase your comfort level. These shawls come in muted colors so gentlemen can enjoy one tucked into their comfort bag as well.
- Instead of drinking soda or coffee, opt for water if you are wanting to sleep. Save sugary treats for when you wake up.
- Take off your shoes and cuddle your feet in warm socks.
- Use your neck pillow.
- Wear compression socks if your feet tend to swell.
- Listen to soft music
- Use an eye mask
- Take the wallet out of your back pocket and store in your under seat bag.
- Put a lumbar pillow or your rolled up sweatshirt between your low back and the seat to alleviate spinal compression.
- Consider a light sleep medication if your flight is over 8 hours and if OK with your doctor.
For Noise Reduction – Crying babies, etc.
- Consider buying EarPlanes Earplugs – Relieves inflight ear discomfort with the exclusive CeramX™ Filter that regulates air pressure and reduces harsh noise naturally.
- Ear plugs from any drug store
- Bose noise-canceling headphones
- Down load a white noise app on your phone and use with headphones
- Listen to an audio book on your mp3player
- Listen to your favorite music or video
PACKING FOOD FOR YOUR FLIGHT
WATER, WATER, WATER – Flying is dehydrating.
Eat a good meal before you get on the airplane incorporating plenty of water and fruit juice to hydrate yourself. Go to a deli at home before your flight and treat yourself to whatever deli foods tickle your fancy. You can purchase many of these items at the airport but the cost will be double. Remember, no liquids and that includes apple sauce or liquid type foods. The minute you leave home, your vacation begins so plan your airplane picnic with gusto. Be sure it will pack well and not smash easily. Here are some suggestions:
- Cut up fruit or veggie dip plate
- Hunk of salame and cheese, sour dough bread, specialty olives
- Specialty salads
- Raison cinnamon bagel and cream cheese
- Deli Sandwich or buy meat, cheeses and a roll and put a sandwich together on the plane
- Jerky, protein bar, trail mix, chocolate bar.
- Add on moist toilettes and napkins. An empty water bottle to fill up after security.
- Drink lots of fluids on the plane to stay hydrated. Alcohol doesn’t count. Try to drink down your full bottle of water plus whatever the flight attendants provide.
- If you have a long layover, this it the time to have a nice meal in an airport restaurant. After you eat walk around a good deal to get your circulation going before the next flight.
Of course you need to pack your personal medicine requirements but in addition consider the following suggestions. Ask your doctor about taking baby aspirin for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis and blood clots caused by physical inactivity. You may also want compression socks. For those who get motion sickness, consider taking sea sickness pills or ginger capsules. If sleeping on an airplane is an issue for you, over the counter sleep aids can be of assistance. Though be sure to take it early in your flight or right before you get on board so that you are fully awake when the flight arrive at your destination. If you have a cold or allergies, ask your doctor about taking a decongestants before the flight to help clear your ears. Many supplements to boost your immune system are available. We seldom get colds any longer after breathing the recycled air on a plane since we started fortifying our immune system with “Airborne” about half an hour before the flight.
Just a precaution, wipe your table top on the plane down with a moist toilette when you first sit down. Who knows what hands with a snotty infectious nose have been sitting there just before you.
DURING THE FLIGHT
- Get up and walk up and down the aisle
- Wiggle toes and ankles
- Stretch your arms and back
- Put your feet up on your under seat bag