If you are flying during your vacation, it is very important that you know how to enjoy your flight without worrying if everything you have packed will be allowed on board and being totally miserable during the flight because you chose the wrong seat.
ARRIVAL AT THE AIRPORT
You should arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight. If you arrive early you will also have a better chance of getting the type of seat you want (more on that later).
An early arrival will also help you avoid the type of stress that you can do without before flying. Once you arrive you have to check-in and there might be a separate baggage check-in, you have to go through security and then find your way to your departure lounge. A lot depends on the size of the airport, but this can take a lot of time in a large international airport.
The last thing you want is to watch that minute hand move round while you are stuck in a large queue at check-in, knowing that there will be an even larger one at security. If you get there early you can get all that out of the way, and then enjoy a coffee or a snack and then wander round the airside shops. That’s a lot more relaxed, and far better flight preparation than sweating in a long queue wondering if you are going to make it through on time.
Many travelers are nervous of the increased security systems that have been adopted more or less permanently by airports and airlines throughout the world. Even though a particular airport authority might relax some of their security after a trouble-free period, different airlines have their own security policies, and you must therefore either understand what is generally needed, or take the chance of leaving some of your stuff behind.
It is not the purpose here to provide a list of what is and is not allowed, since that varies too much between airports, airlines and even countries. The best advice to take is to check out the airline’s website, and you find out what is needed for each airline at each airport. The following advice, however, is fairly general.
1. Do not carry sharp objects such as scissors or nail files in your hand baggage.
2. Stick to the rules on liquids and pastes allowed in your hand baggage. The airline will be able to inform you of the rules applied by each airport regarding allowable volumes. All liquids and pastes carried through security must be contained within a zip locked transparent bag. These can be purchased at the airport.
3. You are best to buy drinks airside, since you won’t be allowed them through security. Anything purchased airside, however, can be taken on board.
4. If you must pack anything that contravenes the hand baggage rules, then pack it in your checked in luggage. Your luggage can contain items not allowed in your hand baggage.
That covers airport security: it goes without saying that none of these items can be carried on your person.
Electronic ticketing and self-service check-in allows you more freedom in choosing your seat. If you prefer a window seat, then that is fine. Keep in mind that on long haul flights you will have to squeeze past the other passengers to reach the aisle, some of whom might be asleep. An aisle seat, on the other hand, gives you more space to stretch your legs out into the aisle, but you also have the other passengers squeezing past you to get out. However, it is easier in an aisle seat since you can stand up to let them past.
Most people prefer not have a middle seat, unless they are traveling with companions, since it suffers the disadvantages of both the other types of seat. In general the aisle seat is better unless you want to look out of the window. Seats towards the rear of the plane tend to be noisier, but children tend to be seated towards the front, just after first and business class. The choice is yours. Seats by the toilets can be smelly, and also have people passing backwards and forwards all the time, so they should be avoided!
There is not a lot involved in boarding your flight, but there is one general rule. If you are seated near the back, then you should board early so that you are not held up by passengers nearer the front. If you are seated near the front, then wait and board towards the end when most passengers have already boarded. That way you won’t hold others up while you get yourself settled down.
If your flight is four hours or more, then get up and have walk every two hours. This will help prevent deep vein thrombosis which is caused by blood clots being formed through your legs being in a cramped position for too long. This mostly occurs in economy where the leg room can be more restricted than in business or first class.
There are two ways to deal with jet lag, caused by passing through several time zones during your flight. You can try to maintain the same sleeping pattern as back home and slowly adjust, although this is not really practical on vacation. The best way is generally to convert immediately to the time zone you are in, and either stay awake until bedtime in that country, or go to sleep if it is during the night in that country. It will take time to overcome your tiredness, but if you are on vacation you might not notice it: you will be too busy enjoying yourself!
If you know how to enjoy your flight by choosing the best available type of seat, and understanding how the security arrangements at your airport work, then you will set yourself up for a great vacation. Having your hand baggage half emptied and then wishing you had chosen a better seat on board is no way to set yourself up for a vacation, and you will avoid all that if you take heed of these tips.