Seven tips to enjoy long-haul flights dur­ing hol­i­days

The Punch - - SATURDAY BREEZE - Je­suse­gun Alagbe

The year will end in about two weeks’ time and al­ready, some pub­lic and pri­vate or­gan­i­sa­tions have started wind­ing down their op­er­a­tions for 2019. Now is the time of the year when many peo­ple usu­ally travel from one coun­try to an­other to enjoy the hol­i­days. Also for some Nige­ri­ans and their fam­i­lies, the hol­i­days are a pe­riod to travel out of the coun­try to enjoy the Yule­tide and the New Year. Un­sur­pris­ingly, avi­a­tion ex­perts and bod­ies such as the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion have al­ways de­scribed De­cem­ber as the busiest air travel pe­riod of the year.

Ex­perts have said hol­i­day travel is never fun, es­pe­cially as the air­ports get busier more than ever be­fore and air­lines are fully booked be­cause of too many pas­sen­gers.

For those plan­ning long-haul flights such as Nige­ria to China (13 hours), Nige­ria to the United States (13 hours) or Nige­ria to Aus­tralia (18 hours), the ex­pe­ri­ence might be worse.

How­ever, to min­imise the aw­ful ex­pe­ri­ence long­haul flight pas­sen­gers might have dur­ing this pe­riod, ex­perts have sug­gested the fol­low­ing seven tips.

Choose good air­line, seat

Ob­vi­ously, this is the best de­ci­sion you could take while plan­ning long-haul flights. Note that there is a dif­fer­ence be­tween a good long-haul air­line and a bad one.

Avi­a­tion writer based in Scot­land, United King­dom, Cather­ine Mc­gloin, ad­vised do­ing some re­search be­fore book­ing an air­line and read­ing reviews to see what other pas­sen­gers think of your cho­sen car­rier.

“Gen­er­ally, the best long-haul air­lines are those which carry a seat width of more than 17 inches and more than a bag of peanuts as your on-flight meal, but look for what mat­ters most to you,” Mc­gloin wrote on Skyscan­

She also ad­vised com­par­ing things like air­craft’s legroom mea­sure­ments to know how com­fort­able the flight might be.

Af­ter re­serv­ing a good air­line, Mc­gloin also ad­vised re­serv­ing a good seat.

“One of the most es­sen­tial long-haul flight tips is to think ahead and choose a good seat, where pos­si­ble,” she wrote.

Ac­cord­ing to the writer, there are some sim­ple rules to choos­ing a good seat, de­pend­ing on a pas­sen­ger’s pref­er­ences.

She said, “If you want more legroom, opt for exit rows; if you want to avoid crying children, stay away from the front of the plane as this is of­ten where you will find spe­cial pro­vi­sion for ba­bies on in­ter­na­tional flights.

“If you like to move about the plane (or have quick ac­cess to the loos) make sure you get an aisle seat.”

She added, “You might have to wait un­til one or two days be­fore de­par­ture with some air­lines, but the best ad­vice is to get on­line as soon as check-in opens to hand­pick the ex­act seat you want.”

Avoid peak travel dates

Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts at Ac­cuweather, an Amer­i­can me­dia com­pany that pro­vides com­mer­cial weather fore­cast­ing ser­vices world­wide, the year-end peak travel dates are De­cem­ber 22 to Jan­uary 1, 2020. These days are re­garded as the worst days to travel due to high air­port traf­fic, high flight tick­ets, among oth­ers.

“Things get hec­tic at air­ports dur­ing this pe­riod for pas­sen­gers. So, if anyone is go­ing for long-haul flights, it is bet­ter to travel be­fore the rush,” Mr Olu­mide Ayan­wale, an avi­a­tion an­a­lyst based in Abuja, said.

Leave early for the air­port

Dur­ing peak travel times, much of the trou­ble you will face in­clude traf­fic jams on your way to the air­port, cum­ber­some se­cu­rity check-in, ab­sence of air­port shut­tles and long queues at air­line coun­ters.

Know­ing you have a long trip ahead, an avi­a­tion ex­pert at Smarter Travel, US, Ed He­witt, said it was im­por­tant to leave for the air­port early to avoid any de­lay one might en­counter.

He said, “Many flights are com­pletely full around the hol­i­days, so if you miss your sched­uled flight due to a flat tyre or un­ex­pected traf­fic, it may not be easy to get on an­other flight in a rea­son­able amount of time.

“Most air­lines rec­om­mend check­ing in 90 min­utes early for do­mes­tic flights and two hours early for in­ter­na­tional flights. For hol­i­day travel, how­ever, it is wise to ar­rive even ear­lier. Ex­pect to en­counter long lines at check-in and se­cu­rity and plan ac­cord­ingly.”

Drink wa­ter, eat fruits dur­ing flight

The pit­falls of long flights can in­clude jet lag, bloat­ing, swelling of the legs and feet, de­hy­dra­tion and dry skin. But fear not be­cause the food you eat in the air can ac­tu­ally make a huge dif­fer­ence in the way you feel, both in flight and af­ter the plane touches down.

By choos­ing your snacks care­fully, you can se­verely di­min­ish the neg­a­tive effects of fly­ing.

“It might not tech­ni­cally be food, but wa­ter is per­haps the most im­por­tant item on this list. Fly­ing can se­verely de­hy­drate you due to low hu­mid­ity lev­els in the cabin, so it is vi­tal to in­crease your wa­ter in­take. Drink­ing lots of wa­ter pre­vents bloat­ing, headache and fa­tigue,” Amer­i­can health and fit­ness ex­pert, Mimi Secor, told POPSUGAR.

Apart from wa­ter, fresh fruits are also rec­om­mended dur­ing long-haul flights.

“Fresh fruits like can­taloupes, wa­ter­mel­ons, straw­ber­ries, grapes and blue­ber­ries are typ­i­cally easy to travel with and are rock­star flight snacks for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons.

“Be­cause these fruits are high in wa­ter con­tent and fi­bre, they help pre­vent bloat­ing and pro­vide hy­dra­tion. Plus, the an­tiox­i­dant and vi­ta­min C value of these foods can help keep your im­mu­nity up,” Dr Eu­dene Harry of the Oa­sis Well­ness and Re­ju­ve­na­tion

Cen­tre, US, also told POPSUGAR.

Avoid caf­feine and al­co­hol

Al­though caf­feine has a lot of amaz­ing health ben­e­fits, Secor said con­sum­ing it or al­co­hol be­fore tak­ing or dur­ing long-haul flights could cause headaches, fa­tigue, ir­ri­tabil­ity and con­trib­ute to jet lag and poor sleep.

Stat­ing the rea­son why cof­fee should not be taken, med­i­cal ex­perts said this is be­cause it de­hy­drates the body and since air­plane cab­ins are cold and dry, to be­gin with, you might be do­ing your skin and im­mune sys­tem harm.

“Be­cause it takes about five to six hours for caf­feine to wear off, drink­ing cof­fee even a cou­ple of hours pre-flight could spell bad news for your body,” Brooke Nel­son wrote in Busi­ness In­sider.

So, in­stead of caf­feine or al­co­hol, Secor rec­om­mended club soda with lemon or lime, while Nel­son said stick­ing only to wa­ter was the best way to enjoy long-haul flights.

Move around the plane

Skyscan­ner writer, Mc­gloin, said stretch­ing your legs was not only nec­es­sary for your own san­ity on a long-haul flight, but also to avoid the risk of de­vel­op­ing deep vein throm­bo­sis.

“Keep the cir­cu­la­tion flow­ing in your legs by do­ing gen­tle ex­er­cises at your seat and get up ev­ery two hours. There may not be any­where in par­tic­u­lar to walk apart from up and down the aisles, but mov­ing about the plane once in a while is much more con­ducive to get­ting some healthy rest than pop­ping a sleep­ing pill,” she wrote.

Mc­gloin also ad­vised re­lax­ing dur­ing long-haul flights and us­ing the pe­riod to boost cre­ativ­ity.

She said, “What bet­ter time is there to aban­don your cares and just do noth­ing than a flight? No mo­bile phone cov­er­age, crew wait­ing on your ev­ery need, some­one else is at the wheel…

“Use the time to catch up on that book you have not had the chance to get stuck into, watch a few rom coms or get ex­cited about your des­ti­na­tion by leaf­ing through the guide­book. See those long hours as bonus time and your long flight will im­me­di­ately be­come a pos­i­tive thing rather than a drag.”

Mc­gloin added that since one would be on the plane for the equiv­a­lent of a whole day or night, it was worth bring­ing a few long-haul flight es­sen­tials.

“Start with a light­weight blan­ket and in­vest in a good travel pillow to make sleep­ing less of a neck ache. For­get that those other 349 pas­sen­gers are even there with a good sleep mask and a pair of earplugs.

“Fi­nally, slip in some ba­sic toi­letries, such as a hand lug­gage-sized tooth­brush and tooth­paste and you will feel a bit fresher when you land,” she said.

Wear com­fort­able clothes

This should be a given – just think of an out­fit that you will be happy to wear sit­ting for 10 hours in a plane. Re­mem­ber, sit­ting still and be­ing blasted by a pow­er­ful air con­di­tion­ing can get chilly, so wear­ing sev­eral loose lay­ers are ideal to ad­just your tem­per­a­ture as you fly.

Mc­gloin said, “Save your jew­ellery for the hol­i­days and pack it in the hold – it will only set the alarms off at air­port se­cu­rity any­way.

“In case of emer­gen­cies, closed-toed shoes are bet­ter than flip-flops and make sure you don’t wear any footwear that is too snug, as your feet do swell at high al­ti­tudes.”

The writer also ad­vised against pack too much in your cabin lug­gage.

She said, “While a few lit­tle ex­tras def­i­nitely help, keep things travel-sized and to a min­i­mum. There is noth­ing more stress­ful than lug­ging a great big suit­case around the board­ing area and try­ing un­suc­cess­fully to stuff it into the over­head lock­ers, while ev­ery­one else looks on, tut­ting.

“Ideally, take one cabin bag and a smaller hand­bag or shoul­der bag (where hand bag­gage re­stric­tions al­low) so you can keep your smaller es­sen­tials like wa­ter bot­tle or earplugs within easy reach un­der the seat in front of you.”

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