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Tips for Comfortable Air Travel

The plane ride is often the first step to an enjoyable -- or not so enjoyable -- trip. Whether you are hopping on a quick flight to the Caribbean or travelling half way around the world to fulfill a lifelong dream, the following tips and suggestions can help make sure your flight is enjoyable from take-off to touch-down.

Pre-boarding

Getting a good seat is often the key to an enjoyable flight. If possible, check if your airline allows pre-boarding seat selection. There is often a nominal charge, but it is well worth the expense. And while arriving early is always recommended, checking-in early for your flight often provides an opportunity to request a specific seat.

Best seat in the house

Depending on your comfort level, there are a variety of seat options to suit your needs. Considerations for a comfortable flight include:

  • Looking for leg room - seats by emergency exits provide plenty of leg room.  Be forewarned, these seats often come with the responsibility of helping guests in the case of an emergency.  The bulkhead seats (the ones in the front rows of each section) often have more legroom - they are, however, occasionally reserved for people with medical needs or those travelling with infants, but sometimes they are available.
  • The quiet type - avoid high traffic areas such as seats in the rows near the washrooms which often get congested with people waiting in line, in areas near the crew's galley, or behind the wings which can be noisier due to the proximity to the engines.

Settling in for the flight

Pack the following necessities in your carry-on bag to make the flight more enjoyable:

  • A small air-pillow is essential, especially one with good head support.
  • A soft-cover novel, an e-reader or a travel guide provides in-flight entertainment.
  • Pack a pashmina or light sweater that can double as a blanket if the plane is cold and it can act as a jacket while on your trip.
  • To prevent your feet from swelling, wear comfortable shoes such as loafers, sneakers or sandals.
  • Pack chewing gum to alleviate ear pressure during take-off and touch-down.
  • Travel with healthy snacks such as granola bars and dried fruit in case the scheduled meal is served late in the flight.

In-flight activities

Try one of these activities to help make the flight more enjoyable:

  • Go for a stroll every few hours.  Stretching legs and arms once out of your seat will refresh you, fend off cramping and promote healthy blood flow.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration often caused by flying at high altitudes with minimal air circulation.  Once you pass security, buy water to bring on the flight.  In addition, avoid sugary drinks or beverages high in alcohol to prevent dehydration and minimize the risk of jet lag.
  • Take advantage of in-flight movies and music, or bring a personal entertainment device such as an MP3 player or a laptop to escape the background noise. Don’t forget to bring headphones.
  • Once settled, adjust your watch to reflect your destinations time-zone which is a great way to prepare your mind and body in advance of your arrival.