Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Better at the Basics: Flying High-Maintenance

There are lots of tips out there for flying with babies and kids, but I need a little help too. Flying is a pretty lousy experience for everyone, right? I legitimately fear for those around me when the day arrives that children are involved. There have been times on cross-country flights when I was pretty sure I was losing my mind. It usually happens somewhere over Montana. My flight from NYC to LA a couple weeks ago inspired some tips. If you get a little whiny while traveling, these might help ease your pain.

1) Just relax. I'm the kind of person who gets all worked up over delays, cancellations, annoying people and all the rest. But the last time I flew, Louis C.K.'s rant about flying/"everything is amazing and nobody is happy" kept replaying in my head. Flying through the sky is amazing and when I'm flying it usually means I'm on vacation, so I'm trying to stop complaining (and tweeting) about my airport woes. This mindset helped me cope with a 4-hour delay the last time I flew.

2) Investigate. I want to know why I'm delayed and for how long, and I always think, "What aren't they telling us?" There are some apps and websites that allow you to track your aircraft's status like This way you don't feel so powerless when it comes to information, and it gives you something to do.

3) Beauty and comfort. I try to wear less makeup than usual, bring moisturizer, lip balm and wear my glasses instead of contacts on long flights since plane air is the enemy of all things good. Another tip I heard recently, the side pony. It gets your hair out of the way without leaving it all smashed. I always bring a pair of socks and a cardigan with me for layering, and on my last flight, I wore a long jersey dress, possibly the most comfortable flying outfit ever, and I didn't look like a slob.

4) Listen up. I'm a secret fan of eavesdropping in general, but airport and airplane eavesdropping can be pretty great. I recently overhead a conversation about the club scene in Jerusalem and a girl force her older brother to pick his favorite One Direction member. I also love listening to accents and trying to figure out whether people are going, coming or just visiting.

5) Entertain me. I love when planes have TVs. If I'm flying JetBlue, it's pretty much a guarantee that I will end up watching some version of The Real Housewives. If you have a personal DVD player or an iPad, it's a great time to catch up on Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey or whatever else. A few episodes of television, especially those 1-hour dramas, kills a lot of time. I usually mix in a good book and This American Life podcasts to get some variety.

6) Treats! I like to bring real food on flights so I can avoid airplane food and airport food. Fruit, unsalted nuts and a favorite chocolate bar will seem like such a treat when you're starting to get bored, hungry and stir-crazy ... somewhere over Montana.

Any tips that make flying more bearable for you?


  1. I too am really bad at flying -- suffering with anxiety and motion sickness. Go to your nearest pharmacy (Walgreen's for me) and buy the motion sickness wristbands. They are less than $20 & work on the theory of accupressure. No knock-out effect or drug hangover like the OTC remedies. I've used them for years and am able to relax and even sleep.

  2. I love airports, but I hate flying....and recently all my high stress flights (due to delays, etc) have also included lots of turbulence. I drink vino and listen to joni mitchell on my ipod. It soothes me :) I'll have to try these tips for my trip to Atlanta this fall!


  3. I really hate taking off. So, when I'm flying with someone else (which I almost always am) I make that person promise to tell me an interesting story/ask me questions about something while we're taking off. I've found, over the years, that this really helps to distract me and prevents me from completely panicking! Strangely enough, I love landing, and I find looking out the window when landing uber comforting!

  4. These are great tips. The food tip is a must. Airport food is really really bad. Haha. And I love your suggestion about a side pony. Makes complete sense--- and it will be more comfortable. Now that I'm ready--I need to book a long flight for vacation---I'm ready for Italy or Switzerland. :)

  5. Loving everyone's tips!

    SavannahRed, I've always wondered about those wristbands. Good to know!

    M. Eileen, Vino never hurts! ;)

  6. this made me laugh out loud! I'm not going to lie - on long flights, I'm a boozer. It puts me right to sleep!

  7. As an anxious flyer with an anxious bladder...I always go for the aisle seat so I don't have anxiety about being trapped by the window in a row of sleeping people. I also always smile A LOT at everyone, even though on the inside I am likely freaking out...I find the flight staff generally seems happier to deal with someone with a smile.
    I am employing that side pony trick next week for sure!

  8. I like the idea of packing your own food! Eating at the airport is painfully expensive, and to save a few bucks, I usually end up settling for something greasy. That is not a fun way to begin a flight! I have also found that chewing mint gum helps with any nausea and ear popping. Finally, like you said, layering is important! Airplanes can get so darn chilly.

  9. I love that Louis CK bit. I just quoted it to my husband the other day!

    I like bringing books/puzzle books to help keep me entertained, especially since the one in the plane magazines are already done. Oh, and magazines are always fun, too!

  10. The title of my blog was born out of my fear of flying. The one thing that has made the biggest difference for me is telling people I'm scared: other passengers, flight attendants, occasionally I'll even ask to chat with the pilots. Without fail, whoever I'm talking to instantly becomes kind, gentle, and reassuring, which makes a difference for me.

    Also, alcohol.

    And next time I'm trying the side pony too!

  11. I love the jersey dress tip. I've been doing that for several years now and it's the best! I once saw on youtube a woman recommend doing full on facials during long flights. She says it not only gives her something to do but also leaves her with grat looking skin when she lands.

  12. love this! jerod + i have a routine of getting to the terminal early enough to have an adult beverage before the flight....and then maybe one on the flight as well :)

  13. John's dad is a pilot, and told me once that a 747 can easily do a barrel roll. It makes me feel better when we hit a patch of turbulence!

  14. I agree with Bethany; adult beverages are a must. Also, I won't fly with underwire.



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