Avoid a Lousy Flight: Most Travelers Don't Know these 11 Tips

RealClear Staff


No one really likes to fly -- just ask the sweaty guy next to you. But there are some things you can do to make your flight as pain-free as possible.

1. How Do You Like to Fly? Because Airlines Fly Differently

Reddit user PlatinumAero says he is an air traffic controller, and "it's absolutely true that certain airlines fly their planes differently. Southwest for example tends to climb like bats out of hell, and then request direct routing/shortcuts from us, and we are often able to approve them and send them direct, since they're above most conflicting traffic. it's one of their signature tricks, and it usually works. This can cut significant time off the flight." However, this can lead to a rougher flight for the passenger. "American Airlines on the other hand tends to be gentle for efficiency and passenger comfort, and they always report chop and turbulence when other guys say it's smooth." Delta is also all about smooth. Now you know!

2. Turn to Outside Help to Improve Your Flying Experience

There are several websites and forums that keep watch on the airlines, but here are three big ones: Seat Guru will give you information on seat selection so you know if your seat has a misaligned window or extra legroom, etc.; Route Happy aggregates some key factors on aircraft type, seat pitch, on-board entertainment, connections, etc. to help you select a good flight; and Flight Stats has data including information on the historical on-time performance of your flight.

3. Dude, Take a Shower!

Be cool to your fellow passengers. Shower. Be presentable. Don't be drunk. Use the bathroom before you get on the plane. Karma will reward you.

4. You Can Lift the Aisle and Window Seat Armrests After All

Yup, when you're snuggling up to the window trying to get some sleep, never get jabbed in the ribs again. Apparently, each of the aisle and window seat armrests, which seem immovable, have a small button in a divot on the underside of the armrest. One potential problem: If you're sitting in an aisle seat and you raise that to to create more elbow room, the flight attendant might ask you to out it back down as it could cramp an already tiny aisle.

5. Be Really Nice to Your Flight Attendant

This might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people are just out and out rude to flight attendants. it's been this way for decades: Flight attendants have a list of who is who and what seat they are in, what level of frequent flyer they are, whether they work for the airlines, etc. That's why you might see them bending over backwards for jerks. But for the rest of us without that kind of power, a kind word can get you just as far when you have a complaint or request.

6. But ... Never Drink the Coffee on Airplanes!

Wait. What? I love coffee on airplanes! But airline employees have weighed in on Reddit with comments such as: "The coffee is absolutely disgusting because the no one washes the container that goes out every morning. ... Also, because we weren't given the proper supplies to clean it. We pretty much just rinsed it out and dumped coffee into it." And: “Sometimes, the vehicle that fills the potable water for washing hands and making coffee is parked next to the vehicle that is used to dump the (toilet) and fill the blue juice for the lavs. They’re not supposed to.” Yuck!

7. Noise-Canceling Headphones Are a Must

First off, it does wonders in blocking out the constant hum of the airplane's engine. It can also block out various chatter from neighbors, but for the screaming baby, you might just be better off with straight up earplugs.

8. Bring a USB Battery Stick

Fully charged, obviously. It takes up so little space and can be a game-changer on a flight.

9. Bring a Pen and Small Notebook

Yup, I know we're all tech-obsessed now, but a good old-fashioned pen and paper can come in handy. Filling out forms (when you're traveling internationally) on the flight, having the address your staying at while your at your destination and contact information of people you will be seeing on paper in your pocket as a backup to the info on your phone can save lots of time.

10. Write Your Pet's Name Prominently on Its Travel Crate

Use a sturdy piece of tape and write it with a marker. The reason? Bag room agents will usually try to comfort a scared animal by talking to it. Hearing that familiar name helps a lot.

11. Got a Complaint? Tweeting Might Be Faster

Customer service reps are getting younger, faster and more tech savvy. If you have a problem, Twitter might be faster -- you don't have to press an endless series of buttons on your cell phone key pad to get to the right department, and you won't have to listen to hold music.



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