Joaquim Andrade, longtime flight attendant, Brazilian journalist, and our rocking intern shares his wealth of knowledge on flying.
When it comes to traveling, flying has become a real battle lately: delayed flights, finding space on board for your carry-on luggage, arriving on time, making sure all your checked luggage arrives… intact, finding a cab, and the list goes on…
It’s pretty evident that the days when flying was fancy and elegant are way gone. But, we still need to get places, and there’s no avoiding the airport. Here are some tips to make flying a little more bearable… before the booze kicks in:
- Pack what you can carry. You don’t need that extra sweater you are taking “just in case."
- Invest in a good, solid suitcase. The cheap ones may seem like a good deal, but they rarely last more than two trips, or two falls off the baggage claim carousel.
- Pack light. You’ve heard it before and that ain’t a lie. Heavy bags make for cranky travelers.
- Don’t take what you’ve never worn… let’s be honest, you probably won’t wear it there either.
- You don’t need more than two pair of jeans; one on you and one in the bag.
- Wear the heaviest shoes you are taking. Think, boots. It saves space and weight in your luggage.
- DO NOT pack watches, jewelry, iPads, laptops, MP3 players, important documents or anything you would not want lost or stolen in your checked luggage.
- Go for the early check in. You miiiiight still find the staff in a good mood.
- Ask for upgrades at the check-in, not on board.
- Ask for emergency exit seating. It’s only available at the check-in and there is usually more legroom. If you get one, take an extra blanket; because of the door or the removable window next to you, it gets cold as hell.
- Eat before you fly. Food has become a rare item on board lately.
- Pressurized cabins and foods that make you bloat do not make a happy passenger. Avoid broccoli, beans, processed foods… alcohol (ok, ok, limit the alcohol).
- Complimentary doesn’t mean “free refill.”
- Do not fool yourself with books and magazines. Just take that one you have at home that’s been taking you forever to finish.
- Respect your bin (overhead compartment) area. Use only the one near your seat.
- Set your watch to the time zone where you are traveling to the moment you take off. That helps your body and brain adjust to the new time. Don’t wait until you land to do it.
- Take your own earphones. Depending on the airline, you may be charged for earphones. And, getting charged for shitty earphones is worse than not having earphones.
- If it’s a long flight (more than six hours), do not party too hard the night before. Your body bloats on board. Just so you can have an idea of the power a pressurized cabin has on the human body, the effect of one beer on board feels like four beers in your system--it might be the worst hang over you’ve ever had.
- Be nice… but not overly nice. Not everyone on board wants to know you are visiting your sister who has three kids, and their names, ages, and the school play they’re in, or the snow man they built and… zzzzzzz.
- The crew probably does not know the name of that river or the city they are flying over. Don’t even bother to ask, they will probably make it up anyway.
- We all know smoking is prohibited on flights, but did you know that anything resembling a cigarette is also banned? No electronic smoking. Although the T.S.A. hasn’t officially forbidden e-cigs, don’t play. E-cigarettes are not FDA approved yet, and they are not under tobacco regulations either, but airlines have internal regulations and they forbid anything that resembles a cigarette.
- Try to sleep. It’s good for you.
- Don’t rush to get off the plane. Your checked bag probably hasn’t even been taken off the plane yet anyway.
- And the usual, but necessary: no liquids, no knives, no guns, explosives… you get it.
- Relax, breathe, and safe travels!