Hi! I'm an MBA grad, an avid reader, writer, podcaster and journalist. In these days of COVID-19, I hope my travel tips will keep you safe.
1. See Something, Say Something
It is important for your safety and the safety of others to always report suspicious packages or suitcases to airport security officials immediately. You can remain anonymous and do not have to give your name or identify yourself.
A few months ago prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, my family and I reported a suspicious suitcase at the airport. We were at the baggage claim area when we noticed a lone black suitcase without anyone standing near it. We waited for a few minutes to see if anyone would claim it, but no one did. After a few more minutes, we reported the suspicious suitcase to an airport security official who took the suitcase away immediately, no questions asked. My point is -- do not wait for someone else to report a suspicious package, suitcase, etc. If you see something, say something and don't rely on others to take action first.
2. Check your Fight Itinerary Often
Always check your flight itinerary before you board the plane to become familiar with your flight duration, the lay-over locations and times, as well as the expected date/time to reach your destination. Also check the airplane's policy about wearing masks given that the COVID-19 pandemic is still prevalent.
Even if you have your itinerary printed in hand or on your phone -- when you reach the airport, always check the departure and arrival screens to be sure your flight has not been delayed, cancelled or changed.
Recently, I was at the airport, waiting comfortably for my flight when I got the premonition to check the flight board. I had checked it just a half-hour before and was certain I was waiting at the correct gate. However, when I checked the board once again, I noticed the gate had changed. Luckily all I had to do was cross over the aisle to the correct gate area instead of walking to the other end of the airport. My point is airplane loading gates can change at anytime. Usually the change is announced on the loudspeaker, but sometimes you may be preoccupied and miss the announcement. Be alert to gate changes so you will not miss your flight or be inconvenienced during your airplane flight.
3. Board the Correct Airplane
My tip to board the correct plane may seem like a no-brainer, but you can easily get on the wrong plane, especially if you are already waiting at the incorrect gate. If you are unsure where your flight is boarding, ask one of the airport attendants behind the desk in the boarding area or check the flight itinerary screen. Some people may ask their fellow travellers, but it is best to get the information from the people who will know -- the airport attendants and workers.
Before the airplane departs, the flight attendant will repeat numerous times its destination. The plane's destination is usually announced after everyone has boarded to ensure no one is on the incorrect flight.
Having your boarding pass already scanned is not a sure-fire way to make certain you are on the correct plane. For instance, sometimes planes stop during layovers, and allow passengers to get off and board again before it takes off to its destination. During this time, it is possible for you to return to the wrong plane. You may have seen cases where someone has actually left the plane after being seated because they had inadvertently boarded the wrong plane. Don't let that person be you.
4. Be Careful if You Choose the Exit Row Seat
Choose an exit row seat if you do not mind the responsibilities that go with sitting there. There are age limits for these seats as well, i.e. you must be 15 years or older to sit in the exit row on some airplanes.
The flight attendant will verify that you fully understand that you are sitting in an exit row seat as well as your responsibilities. Many times you have to verbally agree to take on these duties in case of an airplane crash, malfunction, etc.
You may prefer the exit row seat due to the increased leg room when compared with other seats on the plane. However, a disadvantage to the exit row window seat is sometimes there are only two seats instead of three. Due to the vacant space beside you near the window, the person sitting in the window seat behind you can stretch out their legs. When you look down to your right you see someone's legs beside your seat -- which could be uncomfortable to look at for some people.
This happened to me before when I was seated in the exit row window seat. I had to endure seeing someone's outstretched leg resting beside my seat for the duration of the flight. This was not a comfortable flight for me, even though I did like the extra leg room of the exit row seat.
Do you have a favorite place to sit during an airplane flight?
5. Avoid Neck Discomfort during your Flight
On long airplane flights, you may choose to use the curved type neck rest designed especially for travel. Make sure you get the neck rest with the right fit because some may cause rather than prevent neck pain.
You may decide to use the sterilized travel pillow provided by the airlines. Before your neck becomes stiff, you can place the travel pillow behind the lower back part of your neck, and tilt your head backwards over the pillow for comfort. For even more comfort, you can tilt your seat backwards as well. Just be sure to return your seat to its upright position when instructed to do so by the airline staff.
Remember, if you are on a relatively short flight, the neck rest may not be necessary. In other words, the flight may not be long enough for you to experience any neck discomfort.
6. Safe Use of Airplane Restrooms
Some people are not too keen on using an airplane restroom and try to avoid using them entirely because of its small size, possible germs, etc. This is especially true now with the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus.
The bad news is on long flights, sometimes you do not have a choice but to use these facilities. The good news is using the airplane restroom gives you a chance to get up and stretch. In fact, an advantage to taking restroom breaks on an airplane is you have the opportunity to move around and exercise your muscles.
Remember, on airplanes you cannot stand by the laboratory area and wait in line for your turn. You must stay seated until you notice the restroom is vacant and free to be used. You may notice some airlines are lax about people lining up in the aisle, but it is best to stay seated until the restroom is unoccupied and available.
For long flights, you may choose to use the restroom facilities at the airport before you board the airplane. If you do use the airplane restroom, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before returning to your seat to avoid germs, including the COVID-19 virus as much as possible. You may want to have some baby wipes or other sanitized napkins like Wet Ones handy to keep your hands germ-free.
7. Exercise Your Muscles During Flight
Avoid sitting for a long time during your plane flight without moving around. You do not want to suffer the possibility of blood clots, or something else happening due to sitting still for long periods of time. If you prefer not to get up or can't because of the airplane's seat belt sign flashing, you can just reach up and adjust the light or the air flow. This counts as movement for your arm and head.
A common problem is lack of blood circulation in your legs due to sitting in the same position for a long time. Try to move around to prevent stiffness in the first place. You can change your leg positions by stretching them out in front of you as much as you can, being careful not to block the walkway if you are sitting in an aisle seat.
You can do this simple exercise to keep your blood circulating properly. Move both feet around, either with your shoes on or off, and try writing your name in cursive with both your feet, wiggling your toes at the same time. Your feet movement will help with your blood circulation. You can also stand up and walk down the aisle and back to your seat -- when it is safe to move around the cabin. Also remember, to keep hydrated.
8. Exercise Caution when Using Airplane Blankets
You may decline using the airplane travel blankets, especially if they are not enclosed in plastic and you are not sure they have been thoroughly cleaned. Rather than using the airline's blankets, it is probably safer to bring a blanket with you. There are blankets available that can be folded up tightly, so they do not take up much space while traveling.
My tip is if you are offered a blanket by the airplane attendant -- accept the blanket just in case you may want to use it later. It's ok to inquire politely if the blanket has been sanitized before you accept it, especially in light of COVID-19. If you do not need to use the blanket right away, it fits neatly in the seat pouch in front of you. Just be sure to sanitize this area before you use it.
Remember, if you are cold on a plane, you can ask for a blanket; however, this may be a benefit to first class customers only. If you cannot use a blanket, use your coat, shawl or any other outer garment instead for warmth.
9. Wear Seat Belts While on the Airplane
For your safety and the safety of others, use your seat belts while on the plane, when in flight and even when the plane has landed and is moving to its hangar. In these days of COVID-19, seat belts and other areas on the plane are probably already sanitized. That being said, I suggest that you still use disinfectant wipes not only on the seat belts, but also on the seats, tray table and seat pocket on the airplane seat in front of you.
Always check the seat belt signs and listen to the pilot or airplane staff if you are not sure if you can unbuckle your seat belt. As a rule of thumb, just keep your seat belt fastened whenever you are seated on the plane. You never know when there is going to be unexpected turbulence and the pilot or airline staff may not have time to give you advance notice.
10. Entertainment on Your Airplane Flight
In today's high tech society, there is a wide variety of electronic devices at your disposal for entertainment. For example, instead of the reading a magazine, or hard back book, you may elect to use the Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble Nook or other electronic books.
Your cell phone is also an option to play mobile games such as My Tiny Horses: Little Pony Racing, which is a fun horse racing game available at the app store that will keep you competing in cyberspace against your friends. My Tiny Horses: Little Pony Racing is available for IOS devices and is playable on your iPhone. There are lots of other mobile games that will keep your interest as well including Candy Crush.
Some airlines offer free movies to watch. If not, you may elect to use your laptop computer, phone or other mobile device to access movies. Be sure to wear your headphones so you will not disturb your seat mates and other airplane passengers.
A plus is that some airlines, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are keeping the middle seat vacant when you book a flight. So it is likely that you will have extra elbow room to stretch out a bit to enjoy being entertained using your electronic device.
Be Safe and Enjoy Your Flight
Remember, the fun part of any trip in addition to getting to the destination safely, is enjoying the journey. The next time you are on an airplane flight, be happy not only when you get to where you are going, but be joyful on the way there too. Enjoy your flight and stay safe!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Courtlney Davis
Courtlney Davis (author) on October 19, 2011:
Thanks for your comments! In my opinion, enjoying plane flights many times involves making the necessary preparations and being comfortable while on the long plane flight! I'll consider discussing what to do when on long plane flights on another hub! I appreciate you stopping by!
Aceblogs from India on October 18, 2011:
You have explained the process of flight in detail , but if you would have written on the tips on how to enjoy the flights after boarding and sitting idle for 3-4 hours , as your topic says would have been more better. Anyways great share