Tips for enjoying airline flights

Tips for enjoying airline flights

Although many people love traveling, the actual flight time is not the most attractive part of traveling.  As a former international flight attendant and someone who commuted to work by air travel, there are a few ways travelers can make their flight more tolerable.  Here are a few tips from my lived experience.

Research airlines.

Travelers should research the different airlines not only for fares.  Services and amenities are also used to rank airlines.  Although I worked for an American carrier and knew the airline well, my preference for personal travel was not always for the airline I worked.  Airlines differ in how they handle the services they offer, booking flexibility, and luggage fees, to name a few. While one airline you research may show the lowest price, it may not be the best flight available for your needs.

Seat selection.

Many travelers prefer a particular seat selection, and as an experienced traveler, seat selection can make a difference.  However, not all airlines are configured the same, and knowing where your seat is located on the airplane can make a difference.  Frequent travelers are more conscious of choices when a seat map is available for seat selection. However, if you are unfamiliar with flying, looking up the aircraft configuration can be pretty helpful in seat selection.  For example, a person who prefers an aisle seat may be much more comfortable with a seat selection that is not an aisle rather than an aisle seat that is direct across from a bathroom.

Entertainment.

As a former international flight attendant, I can honestly say that the service advertised is not always available.  If the flight’s entertainment system happens to be unavailable, it is not considered a no-go item by the airline.  Additionally, flight attendants are not engineers. If your particular seats’ entertainment system does not work and there are no other seats available in your class of service, this means that you may have to travel without entertainment.  A traveler’s best bet is to always have their entertainment by downloading movies, books, music, or podcasts in enough quantity to entertain themselves.

Amenity kits.

Premium passengers on long-haul flights are usually given an amenity kit.  The kits typically include a toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, eyeshades, earplugs, perfumes, lotion, and usually a pen.  They may also come in some neat packaging that can be reused as pouches for other accessories.  Once my old airline provided one that could be used as an iPad cover when it first came to market.   Amenity kits will also have branded items from many top brands such as Tumi, or Ferragamo to name a few.  Many travelers can create their own with travel-sized items packed just for inflight purposes.

While travelers cannot always choose the flying time or be able to have their class of service, they can always make the flight a more pleasant experience. I hope these tips help. Have you any to add? I’d like to know.

Long-haul flights

Long-haul flights

If there’s anything that provides an authentic travel experience, it’s long-haul flights.  As a flight attendant, I commuted to work by air from Dallas, London, Germany, and Singapore while being an international flight attendant in New York.  It is not a commute I would recommend, but it worked for my lifestyle at the time.  Here are a few tips for anyone taking a long-haul flight, especially in the times of Covid.

Sanitizer wipes

Sanitizer wipes are a must-have for travel to help protect yourself from the Covid virus.  In the case of travel, the more you have, the better.  Instead of using one wipe for all the different surfaces, you are cleaning, use one per item. For instance, one wipe for the seatbelt buckle and another for the tray table.  Doing this prevents cross-contamination.  You will always be able to get more at your destination as they are readily available everywhere.

Masks

You cannot board an airplane without wearing a face mask as you are more exposed to many more people and spaces that you are unaware of.  However, as with all face masks, frequent changes are necessary. It is preferable to wear masks that do not directly touch your face for long-haul flights as they are more bearable for breathing.  Most airlines will provide face masks, but face masks come in many different varieties, and if you have a preference, then it’s logical to have extras of your own.

Comfortable clothes

Wearing comfortable clothing makes sense.  However, depending on how many flights you have, a change of clothing between flights is recommended to prevent cross-contamination and spreading any virus you may have touched. Travelers should have a separate bag to place any used clothing.

Snacks

On long-haul flights, unlike domestic flights, snacks are usually provided.  However, having your snacks prepared by your hand is highly recommended.  Not only will your snacks be prepared by you, but they will be of your preference and maybe a healthier option than what is provided by the airline.

Class of service

Many will say that all passengers arrive simultaneously, so the class of service does not matter.  If you’ve even had an opportunity to travel in premium cabins, you may beg to differ.  Traveling premium class is not all about fine dining and china. There’s something to be said for more legroom and being able to recline more than 4 inches on a long-haul flight.  Arriving at your destination tired but not worn out is the ultimate goal of premium class travel.

What’s in an airplane seat?

What’s in an airplane seat?

Consideration should be made in choosing your seat on an airplane, especially over long distances.  Frequent travelers usually have a preference noted in their flight record and know to get to the airport early to request a change if their choice is not available.  Here are a few ideas on seat preference so you can make a more educated choice the next time you fly.

Middle seat

The middle seat is usually considered the worst seat.  Inevitably, there is a struggle for an available armrest, and you are stuck tucking your elbows close for the entire flight.  However, there are some benefits to the middle seat.  If you have a close connection, choosing a middle seat closer to the front of the aircraft allows you to deplane faster than another choice further back on the airplane.  Additionally, choosing a middle seat makes it more likely that someone else will choose another row rather than be next to you.  In many cases, you might end up with the entire row to yourself or at least have a seat next to you open. There’s no guarantee, but if you have no choice.

Bulkhead seat

The bulkhead seat is the seat directly behind a divider partition on an airplane.  If you’re tall, this is one of the best options for seating as it has somewhat of built-in legroom.  The caveat is that not all airplane designs are the same, so checking out the airplane diagram before deciding is recommended.  The negative of a bulkhead seat is that it is also the desired space for parents traveling with babies or lap children.   Many airlines provide bassinets that can be attached to the wall for babies to sleep on long-haul flights.  Additionally, all items must go overhead as there is no under-seat storage. Considering the length of your flight will help you better decide on this choice.

Aisle seat

The aisle seat is also a preferred seat for those that are taller.  With this option, you can stretch your leg into the aisle instead of having your knees bent for the entire trip.  However, you must be careful as flight attendants cannot see over the serving carts, so you’re also more prone to get hit by a service cart if you’re not careful.  Additionally, you will have to get up to allow your seatmates to leave their seats.

 

Window seats

Window seats are great if you do not want to be bothered by anyone, and they are great if you’re going to sleep as they can also double as a headrest when sleeping.  However, getting out inflight to leave your seat can be a hassle as you must ask your seatmates to get up or somehow try to climb over them to get out.  If you have a small or weak bladder, I do not recommend this seat.

Exit row seats

These are the seats that have removable windows or doors used to exit the aircraft in an emergency.  One nice feature of an exit row seat is that it usually has more legroom.  Therefore, it is another excellent choice for taller people.  One drawback is that it has an age restriction and disability restriction, so travelers with disabilities or families with young children cannot be seated here.  Another disadvantage is that some exit row seats do not recline or have limited recline ability. Additionally, exit row seats tend to be colder as you are seated next to a door or window with seals.  Make sure you dress accordingly for these seats.

People often ask my preference in seating, and it varies for me.  If it’s a short flight, I use the bathroom before and choose a window seat.  For longer flights, I prefer the aisle.  I try not to get bulkhead seats as small children are usually nearby, but I like them if my other options are unavailable as I have more legroom. I’d choose a middle seat over another if it’s closer to the front of the airplane.  I avoid exit row seats because I find it colder. What’s your preference? I’d like to know

The long trip home to Singapore

The long trip home to Singapore

I finally made it back to Singapore and my ex-pat life.  I left Singapore for one of my routine trips back to the US.  However, Covid and the many different guidelines set up by Singapore complicated my return. I hadn’t seen my husband or dog for over a year, and I finally made the long trip home.

Getting there

As an ex-pat, I am not a Singapore citizen or permanent resident. The first process for getting into Singapore is to get approval from the government for entry.  Planning the trip home took several attempts as my arrival had to coincide with the dates given by the Singapore government, the availability of flights into Singapore, and the availability of designated stay-at-home quarantine hotels.  Once all the pieces aligned, I could finally schedule my long trip home.

Travel options

As a former flight attendant and living in SE Asia for over ten years, I am accustomed to traveling long distances.  My first attempt at getting to Singapore had me transiting through Germany.  That route was ideal as an established travel lane between Singapore and Germany was established, and travel connections were perfect.  As I could not coordinate all the pieces for my travel, I transited through Istanbul, Turkey.   This route meant an 11+ flight from Dallas to Turkey, a 9-hour layover, and another 10+ hour flight from Turkey to Singapore.

Travel choice

With 30+ hours of travel ahead and my experience as a traveler, business class on Turkish Airlines was my preferred way to travel.  The benefits far outweighed the costs for me. I was particular in this choice because it meant having access to the airline lounge where showers, private suites, meals, and luggage lockers were available.  My preference is always to have a stopover as I do not have a tolerance for 18-hour flights.  I can only say that a hot shower between trips can make a difference between a good or great travel experience.

For me, travel is more than getting from one destination to another; it is about the travel experience.  If you ever must travel long distances, try to make it as pleasant an experience as possible.  Investing in your travel experience will make a tremendous difference in long-distance travel.  Have you taken long-distance trips? How was your experience? Comment and let me know.

p.s. I made preparations to spend my two weeks of mandatory quarantine at a designated stay-at-home hotel before being allowed to go to my home in Singapore.  However, I was permitted to spend my quarantine at home.  I will not be able to leave home for seven days and must wear a tracking bracelet.  In Sunday’s blog post, I’ll discuss more on the arrival process of getting into Singapore.

 

Why EbonyTravelers?

Why EbonyTravelers?

I’m fifty-six, married, and mom to a son who’s 24 and a daughter 21. I have a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development and a Doctorate in Organizational Management. My written work has involved the research and exploration of broken agreements and management in the airline industry.

I spent 23 years as an international flight attendant for a major US airline and have lived as an ex-pat in Asia for over ten years. I love to travel, am fond of people and their cultures, and traveling in general. Traveling is often a topic of conversation for me, and I am genuinely passionate about sharing my travel stories and experiences. Blogging is a way of giving my honest guidance about travel, interacting with my audience, and becoming a source of insight into the travel experience.

Many people interested in travel often see photos and images that appeal to the audience but do not address the realities of travel. My experience as an international flight attendant has allowed me to see the excitement and pleasure of vacationers. However, it has also given me many opportunities to see the grief of loved ones returning home from a picturesque vacation without a loved one.

My goal as a blog writer is not just to show the picturesque travel sights but to share my lived experiences so that when one thinks about travel, they also think about the realities they may encounter. I hope to share serious posts about traveling while being respectful, matter-of-fact, and enthusiastic.

I hope you have enjoyed my posts to date and that you have found value in my tips and advice. I invite you to like, follow, share and stay connected with me on social media and subscribing to my email list. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

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