10 Tips & Tricks for a Smooth Flying Experience

Vacations are something that people look forward to weeks and even months in advance. It’s an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, explore new-to-you destinations, and experience a different culture depending on the location you choose. What’s not always fun to look forward to however is the flight.

For many people, flights can be tedious, uncomfortable, and even a source of stress and anxiety. The problem is, for many destinations – especially long-haul trips – a flight is the only viable option. Now what you may not realize is that National Frequent Flyer Day happens on May 1, and this is meant to be a day to celebrate what flying has meant for travelers and how it has transformed the way people vacation. It’s also a great time to look at ways that flying can be smoother for you.

Here we’ll take a deep dive into 10 tips and tricks that will help ensure a smooth flying experience on your next trip. It’s time to erase the stress and anxiety.

Don’t Fly During Peak Times Whenever Possible

Busy man speaking on phone and walking in airport
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kaspars Grinvalds

Did you know there are certain days of the week and even times of the day/night that are known as peak times in airports? This is when the highest volume of passengers are passing through and for that reason, the lines are longer, crowds are denser, and it can seem much more chaotic. If your goal is to have a stress-free and smooth flight, avoiding these peak times is wise.

Generally speaking, airports tend to be the busiest early in the morning, early afternoon, and early evening. If you can get a flight during those mid-periods, it can be a more relaxing atmosphere.

Choose the Right Seat for You

Woman sit by window of airplane during flight
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Vasin Lee

Then we have the issue of choosing your seat. This isn’t an option for every carrier, and some do allow it but you will likely need to pay a fee. For nervous flyers, those who want to be seated with their companion(s), and who require extra space or prefer a specific location (aisle, window, near the front, and so forth), it makes sense to pay the fee and choose your seat.

Keep in mind, when you choose your seat that is usually for one-way only, so you’ll need to do the same process for your return flight.

Opt for Direct Flights If Available

Back side of traveler girl looking at the flying plane above the sea.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kite_rin

Direct flights are far and away the most convenient and smoothest option. You don’t need to worry about catching another flight, they save a lot of time, and they cut down on passenger error as you try to navigate the layover airport.

The negative with direct flights is that they are usually more expensive. You’re paying for the convenience so think of it that way. If you’re flying to a destination where no direct flights are offered, choose an itinerary with the fewest flights possible.

Leave Plenty of Time Between Connecting Flights

Travelers waiting at the airport departure area for their delay flight.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jaromir Chalabala

And speaking of connecting flights, if you are dealing with this kind of itinerary always leave as much time in between flights as possible. An hour may seem like plenty of time, but by the time you disembark, figure out where you’re going, and reach the next gate – it could be too late.

Travel agents tend to suggest leaving a minimum of at least 90 minutes between domestic flights, and two to three hours for international journeys. Being early for your flight is a much better feeling than arriving late and missing it.

Research the Carrier’s Rules and Regulations Concerning Baggage

Man with tatted arm packs suitcase for adventure travel trip.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / BublikHaus

One of the biggest sources of confusion and frankly stress is regarding the baggage rules, regulations, and allowances. The first thing to note is that every carrier will be a bit different. Rather than just assume you know the rules based on prior flights, be sure to check on your carrier’s website to see the latest information.

The key things to figure out are:

  • How many checked bags are you allowed?
  • What is the weight limit on checked bags?
  • What are the size limits for checked bags?
  • Are checked bags free?
  • What are the size limits for carry-on bags?
  • What is the weight limit for carry-on bags?
  • What is and isn’t allowed in carry-on bags?
  • What is and isn’t allowed in checked bags?
  • Do you need to pack toiletries and other such items in clear see-through bags?

Pack Your Carry-On Bag Wisely

Young man is standing near window at the airport and watching plane before departure.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Olena Yakobchuk

This brings us to packing your carry-on bag. A good rule of thumb is to pack anything you absolutely cannot do without if your checked luggage were to be lost for a few days. No one wants to think about their luggage being lost, but the reality is that it happens.
Experts tend to suggest packing at least one complete outfit, travel-sized toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrush, and any medications you may require.

Bring Entertainment with You – Don’t Just Rely on the Airline

Successful female book editor reading literature during time in airplane
Image Credit: Shutterstock / GaudiLab

Airplanes are often equipped with a variety of entertainment options, but not all options are available on all flights, and it’s not always free. To ensure you’re not bored, be sure to bring entertainment. Items such as a book, magazine, music player, and a tablet with games or movies downloaded on it, and so forth can all help you pass the time.

Bring a Neck Pillow and Mask If You Plan on Sleeping

Woman sleeping in airplane.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / kudla

Should you be going on a long-haul flight, you may want to try to get a little sleep. Bringing an inflatable neck pillow and a comfortable eye mask can make napping a lot easier. You may also want to bring noise-cancelling earphones to listen to your music and drown out the rest of the sounds in the plane.

Always Arrive at the Airport Early – Expect the Unexpected

Travel, airport and excited woman with passport.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / PeopleImages.com – Yuri A

On the day of travel, make sure to arrive early for your flight. When it comes to air travel the golden rule is to expect the unexpected. Arriving early gives you a cushion should the unexpected occur. There’s even the issue of traffic that you may encounter on your trip to the airport.

It’s usually requested that you show up 90 minutes before domestic flights and three hours before international flights.

Hydration Is Extremely Important When Flying

Woman drinks water during flight in an airplane.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / BLACKDAY

Nervous flyers tend to forego eating and drinking on the plane, and while food may not be necessary – hydration is important. When you fly it’s normal to become dehydrated, which can cause headaches, mild dizziness, tiredness, and just a general unwell feeling. This is why drinking is so important, and the best drink to choose is water. You want to arrive at your destination feeling fresh and ready to hit the ground running.

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