The Secret Life of Melanie O.
 
Sunday, October 22, 2006
How to survive a 24-hour flight
I'm putting my mother to the test. She says she's not afraid of flying - she just doesn't want to have to endure a long-haul flight. Well, here are my survival tips for anyone (Mom included) who is contemplating being stuck in a 3 x 5 cubicle for 12 hours or more.

Tip One:
Prepare to be in the air. A couple of days before you fly, take an aspirin in the morning, and another at night to thin your blood. Buy flight stockings, or wear support pantyhose to reduce the risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis.) Be sure to take a break every hour or two, when you're in flight, to get up, walk around, and stretch to keep your blood flowing.

Tip Two:
Always check with your airline the day of your flight, to see if there are delays, or even worse, see if it's been bumped up in the schedule. There's nothing worse than missing your flight. Second-worst is having to hang around the airport for three hours because your flight's been delayed due to bad weather.

Also check for their list of prohibited items. It might seem silly to have a pair of tweezers confiscated by someone going through your bag, but them's the rules.

Tip Three:
Get in the check-in line an hour before the airlines post check-in for your flight number. By the time all of the passengers ahead of you have been processed, it will be time for your flight to check in and you'll get a head start in requesting a seat allocation. Once you're checked in, keep your passport handy at all times. You'll have to show it more than once.

Tip Four:
Something I learned from a pilot: wear natural fibres on your flight. Wear cotton, linen and/or wool and leather shoes. Cotton, linen and wool breathe - and in the unlikely event of a cabin fire, are less flammable and won't melt to your skin like man-made fibres. This isn't paranoia - it's just about being in the best circumstances possible. Some things you have control over. Other things you don't. This thing, you do.

Tip Five:
Bring earplugs. There's no telling who'll you'll be seated next to. You could be stuck for hours with a screaming infant nearby or next to someone who snores. Carry some sugarless gum - good to give to screaming toddlers if their parents agree, to quiet them down.

Tip Six:
Buy an inflatable neck support pillow. Use the pillow that the airlines give you, to sit on. Put it under your thighs, not your butt. Elevating your thighs helps you feel as if you're just that little bit more reclined. Use the neck pillow to support your neck, and the little blanket they give you, to support the side of your head as you lean against the head rest, which you pull up to cradle your head. I can't sleep sitting up normally, but I can if I do this. You won't get cold if you dress in layers.

Tip Seven:
Avoid alcohol. You will get dehydrated on the flight. Drink water. Not softdrinks. Not coffee nor tea. Lots and lots of water. Don't be afraid to ask the flight attendants for extra water.

Tip Eight:
If you need a little extra something to help you sleep, take an antihistamine. Again - forget alcohol unless you need the synergistic effect that the alcohol will have with the antihistamine. I find I also fall asleep better if I've got a movie on.

Tip Nine:
Bring a couple of books and magazines with you. Sometimes the movies on offer aren't worth your attention. Laptops and PDAs are OK, but most of the international flights have games you can play on board. They've come a long way from pull down movie screens and canned music. On Qantas, anyway, each seat has its own screen built into the back of the seat in front of you, and a menu of films, games, and TV shows to choose from. Pens haven't been banned, so bring a notebook and start a diary of your trip. For fun, record the quirks of your fellow passengers.

Tip Ten:
If you're flying Economy, try to get a seat behind any bulkhead, or in the emergency exits. There's a lot more leg room there. The very back of the plane isn't so bad either. Tell them you have a "problem" and have to be near the restrooms.

Tip Eleven:
Don't bring anything "nice" on board. I used my carry-on bag as a footrest. Between that and the pillow under my thighs, I did a lot better than I usually do on a long flight. Remember, the more you bring, the more you have to carry through airports. Try to limit yourself to one carry-on. For women, that means combining your handbag with your carry-on bag. Or better yet - treat yourself to a new handbag when you get to where you're going.

Tip Twelve:
When you get to your destination, force yourself to stay up until nightfall in the new timezone. You will adapt to the time zone change much better if you allow your body to be active in the daylight. At least - this works for Dan and me. It doesn't work so well if you get absolutely no sleep on your flight. Sleep on your flight if at all possible!

Lucky Thirteen:
Buy Duty-Free on the way home - never on the way to your destination. It just becomes more stuff to carry. This is, of course, is true unless you've forgotten that birthday or anniversary gift and you need to cover your rear-end.

So, now that you've got these tips, there's no excuse for not being a citizen of the world and experiencing all that it has to offer. Flying's the easy part.

Now - here is Dan's list of tips:

One: Fly business class and be done with it.
posted by Melanie O. at 4:33 PM -
7 Comments:
  • At 11:42 PM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    The tips are good...but a 30 hours trip still sounds awful...followed by jet lag. I think I'll pass for now.

     
  • At 5:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    great tips! (especially Dan's...)

     
  • At 9:39 AM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    LOL! Yeah, I wish we could fly business class. We just need a business that will sponsor us trips back to the USA every year or so. We don't ask for much.

     
  • At 3:59 AM, Blogger Jules said…

    Totally agree with Dan!

    My flight from Brisbane to Dubai was in economy, and it was HELL - 16 hours of hell, plus an extra 2 hours sitting on the tarmac due to a "problem" with the plane (we weren't allowed off). 18 hours in total. Urgh.

    Here's my tip: if you want a warm drink and don't want to drink tea or coffee, ask a member of the cabin crew if they have any herbal teas. Camomile or peppermint tea can be quite nice, and doesn't dehydrate you.

     
  • At 8:41 AM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Jules - great tip! Qantas did have camomile tea available. I guess you could always bring your own, too, as long as you leave any left-overs on the plane (I am guessing they wouldn't make it past quarantine.)

    I bet you're glad to be on the ground!

     
  • At 1:28 PM, Anonymous darrio said…

    The standard of flight attendants isn't what it used to be!

     
  • At 3:30 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    darrio - I think she must have missed the hair, makeup, and decorum classes.

     
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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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