Flying is something we all do these days. But just because everyone’s doing it, it doesn’t mean that they’re doing it right. Mrs Romance and I fly all the time; and with all that practice, we’ve developed some great techniques for flying in style.
It’s no wonder so many stand-up comics have material on flying. Everyone’s got a funny anecdote about being on a plane or an airport horror story. It makes sense why so many people find flying stressful.
From the experience we’ve accumulated from flying all over the world for the past 30 years, we’ve come up with the following tips to help you fly with style.
It just goes to show, you don’t always have to fly first class to have a first class flight – though that’d be a nice way to do it.
37 tips for flying in style
Before you book
1. Get up front with your seat selection
Book seats as far to the front of the plane as possible – single digits if you can. Service starts from the front, you get to your seat and off the plane sooner, and if there’s only one tunnel to board by or disembark from, it’ll be at the front. The rear doors get the stairs.
2. Choose seats on the right side of the plane
They often empty out faster than the ones on the left. However, if you’re hoping for a good Instagram photo from your window, think about which direction you’ll be flying in and what the view will be like as you leave.
3. Aisle or window?
Find out if you’re an aisle or window person and pre-select your seat accordingly.
4. Book yourself more space – for free
If you’re travelling with your partner or friend, book seats on the aisle and window. Most people won’t book the middle seat unless the flight’s full. If it is, just ask to swap seats. Worst case, that person gets to score a window or aisle seat out of the deal.
5. Get the best out of your airport
Download the departure and arrival airports’ apps. They usually have up to date information about your flight’s status and also handy tips on what services are available at the airport.
6. Get the most from your airline
Downloading your airline’s app to your phone can give you lots of hidden value. Some airlines have additional entertainment delivered via their apps. They will also have information about your flight and some have special offers too.
7. Make your own entertainment
Put playlists together. Very handy if your flight’s delayed, if your personal entertainment system on your plane isn’t working or if the music on offer isn’t up to much.
8. Be a frequent flyer
Join your flight’s frequent flyer programme. Frequent flyer points and air miles aside if there’s an upgrade available, flight companies offer their members first.
9. Make the most of your flight
Link up your credit card. You can earn extra frequent flyer points on purchases you make if you link your credit card up. You don’t have to use your points only on flights.
10. Look for free travel insurance
Get a credit card with travel insurance. Banks often have special credit cards that include travel insurance in their terms.
Before you travel
11. Protect your ears
Buy noise-cancelling headphones. These things save me every time I fly. It’s surprising how much ambient noise there is during a flight from the engines, which can disrupt sleep and effect your hearing. They’re also way more comfortable and give better sound quality to inflight movies than the headphones they give you.
12. Bring your own blanket
If you’ve got space in your hand luggage, there’s nothing like a little bit of home to keep you warm. Plus, I’m never totally sold on how clean those plane blankets are.
13. Don’t lose your favourite perfume at customs
Buy some Aroamas perfume sticks. These are solid perfume sticks – a bit like lip balm, so they won’t get confiscated at customs for being over the 100ml limit.
14. Portable scales are not a gimmick
Mrs Romance wasn’t sure about these when I bought them, but they’ve proven to give great peace of mind. Plus they’re easier to use than standing on the bathroom scales with your luggage.
15. Make your luggage stand out
Tag your bags clearly or unusually. Coloured straps, stickers or clearly visible tags make spotting your bags on the carousel much easier – and easier to describe your luggage if it gets lost.
16. Do an insurance pack
If you’re travelling with your partner, pack some of your things in their bag and their things in yours just in case your luggage gets lost or delayed.
17. Pack a fresh set
Pack a change of clothes in your hand luggage – especially if you have a layover. Also in case your checked luggage goes missing, you’ll have a change of clothes.
Customs and the terminal
18. What shoes are best?
Wear loose shoes that’ll slip on and off easily. You might need to take your shoes off when you go through security, plus taking your shoes off on a long-haul flight is… well, it’s awesome.
19. Get through security faster
Wear a belt that’s easy to take off and put on again – or isn’t metal. This is one thing I still get wrong. I always have to take my belt off at customs and it takes forever to put back on. On the plus side, I often avoid the annoying extra test for explosives while I’m putting my belt back on.
Compartmentalise your hand luggage. Separate your laptop, liquids and aerosols so you’re ready to drop everything into the trays.
20. Don’t bother taking coins out of your pocket at security
True fact: coins won’t set off the metal detector.
21. Find the best coffee
Ask someone who works in the airport where they get their coffee from. Do the same for food. Choose a good quality shop and one that’s not busy.
22. Think about getting a lounge pass
Even if you don’t have enough status credits, consider purchasing a lounge pass for long layovers. The food, drink, comfort and space will make your long-haul flight feel much shorter.
For your flight
23. Keep your details within easy reach
Put your passport details into your phone or write them on a note so you don’t have to search for your passport to fill in the arrivals form. Don’t forget to keep details like your flight number handy too.
24. Prepare for your timezone change
Set your watch and phone to the destination time when you get on the plane. It’s easy to forget to do it when you’re on the ground. Your arrival time will be in your destination’s local time so you’ll be able to quickly see how much longer you’ve got in the air.
25. Stay hydrated
You can’t take your bottle of water onboard but you can just take a bottle. Pack an empty one in your hand luggage you can fill with water during the flight.
26. Make your seat your own
Your seat’s headrest will usually be fully adjustable. Change the height and flaps to make your seat more comfortable. It’ll stabilise your head and help you sleep.
27. Keep your posture supported
Put the little onboard cushion in the small of your back to give your seat better lumbar support. It’ll feel weird at first but by the end of your flight you’ll be much more comfortable.
28. How to get to sleep
To sleep on the plane, I recline my seat as much as I can (I check behind me first and never have my seat reclined during meals or on short flights). I loosen my belt as much as possible and turn sideways and stretch out as far as possible. I’m not short but I can still get most of the lower half of my legs under the seat in front. I usually sleep with my arms folded, which keeps me warm.
29. Don’t get woken up
If you want to sleep with a blanket on, wrap yourself up first then buckle your safety belt. If there’s turbulence, the crew won’t wake you to make sure you’re wearing your belt.
30. Make the right food choice
When food is served onboard, ask for the dish that’s typical to the country your flight company is from… unless you know you don’t like it! I always avoid the cooked breakfast. The egg is usually weird and so is the sausage.
31. Stay comfortable and warm
Wear layers of natural fibres on the flight. It makes it easier manage if you get cold or hot.
32. Leave your flight in style
A blazer or stretchy jacket will make you feel more human when you get off the plane. Pack a toothbrush too. It’s amazing how much better you feel after a long flight when you’ve got clean teeth.
33. Always pack sunglasses
Once you’ve landed
34. Time your bathroom trip
When you land, try and hold off going to the toilet until you’re at baggage reclaim – or at least past the first set of lavatories. There won’t be any queues and it’ll give you something to do while you wait for you bags.
35. Be prepared for the customs guy
At customs, have your arrival card ready in the picture section of your passport.
36. Keep the customs guy happy
If you have a cover for your passport, take it out. Customs people hate them. If you know you’ll need any other documentation (a recently expired passport you’ve just replaced, a visa, accommodation details) have them ready to hand.
37. Leave the airport like a local
At arrivals ask at the information desk what the best way is to get to town or your hotel. It might be a taxi but it might be cheaper to get a shuttle or train. If a taxi’s the best option, ask if they know the rough price.
The most important thing to remember about flying is to enjoy it. I can still remember the first flight I ever took and I still get the same thrill when I get on a plane now.
Travel is an awesome thing. It’s often easy to overlook that flying’s an important part of it.
Do you have any tips for flying in style? What’s your flying routine? Tell us in the comments!