Air travel hacks: 20 tips you need to know

Don’t watch movies on board, ditch the neck pillow, speed-walk to passport control

Cabin fever: Don’t watch the movies, bring your own orange juice. Photograph: Getty Images

Cabin fever: Don’t watch the movies, bring your own orange juice. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Air travel. It’s great in theory, but can be stressful in practice. Between long queues, stodgy plane food and uncomfortable seats, the whole experience can sometimes leave you wishing you had just stayed home.

With that in mind, an avid flyer by the name of Taha Khan has taken to Twitter to dispense pearls of wisdom for those of us who find the whole thing to be a bit of an ordeal.

“I fly a lot,” Khan’s sermon began. “A thread of what I learned.” Over the course of six tweets, he shared 20 tips on how to become a ruthlessly efficient flyer. After all, it’s every man for himself at the airport.

Packing

On packing, Khan recommends never checking a bag and packing 10 days’ worth of clothes, regardless of whether or not your trip is longer. Investing in good bags is also essential. Khan’s preferred bags for travelling are an Away suitcase and Peak Design Everyday Backpack.

Getting to the airport

For those who fret about getting to the airport on time, Khan advises “arriving 1.5 hours before an international flight is fine” during school term.

Security

When it comes to security, Khan recommends removing your belt, shoes and jackets. “Even if they don’t ask, it saves you any trouble,” he says. Likewise, keeping electronic items on your person in a backpack or handbag is a must. After all, “Repacking your suitcase after an inspection is a nightmare.”

Oh, and the cardinal rule of flying? Keep your passport on you from start to finish. They’re pocket-sized for a reason, you know.

Travel tips: Share yours

Pre-boarding

Chance your arm and you never know where it might land you. Khan advises asking for an upgrade at the gate every time. “Sometimes they’re really cheap,” he notes.

Flight

Now this is where Khan’s tips really come in handy. First of all, he is opposed to neck pillows and advises making do with an eye mask instead. Noise cancelling headphones, portable power banks and anti-bacterial wipes are also essential.

Snacks like M&Ms and Skittles will tide you over. His tip for feeling semi-human? “Orange juice is magic. It makes you feel alive again. Bring your own, theirs is sugar water.”

As cabin pressure and lack of movement is bad for circulation, Khan recommends “regular stretches and movement” to prevent aching. Counteract the effects of dry cabin air by “[moisturising] skin and lips often”.

Finally, don’t be tempted by the inflight entertainment. “Watching films dries your eyes quickly, you’ll feel rough afterwards,” says Khan. “Podcasts, music & audiobooks are better.”

Arriving

Once you land, Khan recommends speed walking to passport control. “You save a minute of queuing for every person you pass,” he says. Well that’s one way of looking at it.

Should you encounter any difficulties upon landing, he recommends having a shortcut set up to alert someone. “This is especially important for non-white people,” he adds.

The aftermath

For those returning from a longhaul flight, Khan says jetlag will usually kick in on the second night. He recommends melatonin as a sleep aid, which is only available by prescription in Ireland.

His final tip?

“Being patient, smiley & friendly go a long way.”

Underneath the thread, people weighed in with their own tips for air travel. One user recommended always selecting an aisle seat when on a flight with three seats to a row. “This allows you easy access to get up and stretch during long flights without having to disturb your seat companions,” they noted.

Another intrepid traveller advised travelling with your own teabags and instant porridge. “Just ask for hot water,” he said.

Finally, one gentleman advised using the bathroom at the beginning of the flight or right when you board the flight. “It’s as clean as it will ever be, and there’s no line,” he said.

Truer words were never spoken.

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