Monday, September 15, 2008

Travel Tips For A Relaxing Flight

By Mike Grasso
It seems much of the travel news lately has been dominated by service cutbacks and added fees. We've heard everything from airlines slashing routes, cutting out in-flight entertainment, utilizing fewer flight attendants, and now even an increase in the cost to purchase alcohol; so much for drinking away the aches of air travel. But there are steps you can take to improve your next flight experience, even in the wake of industry changes negatively impacting travelers.

-Bring your own _____ (fill in the blank). Pillow, food, toiletries, hand sanitizer, baby wipes (for those foul tray tables). Do not let the poor quality or lack of these items on your flight be the cause of a bad experience. Bring your own goodies. Chances are, the food you bring on the plane will be an improvement over anything the airline is serving up.

-Carry water on board. TSA permits empty water bottles to be carried through security check points. You can fill these up at water fountains, or at food vendors inside the airport terminal before boarding your plane. We all know staying hydrated is important for health, but it is particularly necessary during flight when the air is quite dry.

-Create your own entertainment. As fun as watching passengers try to cram oversize luggage into the small overhead compartments is, at some point the plane must leave and you will be forced to find other forms of entertainment. Consider bringing along a variety of books, magazines, digital music player, laptop, diary or camera. Conversation with a fellow traveler can be pleasing, at times, too. The idea is to have a reserve of options available to you.

-Pick your seat in advance, then again at check-in. That is, pick your seat once you buy your ticket, then look again during check-in. Sometimes a better seat opens up, or an aircraft swap (for a larger or smaller one) means your original seat assignment changed.