HERE AT PDM we believe that every part of your journey should be pleasurable from the moment you leave your home. With the advent of low cost airlines, we are travelling further and more frequently than ever before, but without careful planning, the flight can be dull, uncomfortable and even stressful. So here is our guide to ensuring an enjoyable flight that leaves you happy, healthy and relaxed when you land.
Create a comfort cocoon
Ex-stewardess and now best selling author, Diana Fairechild, is an expert on air travel and has plenty of advice to offer on how best to enjoy a stress-free flight. Here are some of her simple tips to help make flying more pleasurable.
Wear natural fibres and avoid tight clothes because the body expands at high altitude. Dress in layers so you can remove or add clothing as the temperature changes. Different sections of the airplane have different temperatures and your departure and arrival points probably have different temperatures, too.
Get up and walk around the cabin every hour or two to get your blood flowing in the pressurised airplane cabin. Rotate your neck from side to side and roll your shoulders to relieve stress. Flex your feet, ankles and legs to help prevent swollen feet and ankles. Finally, close your eyes and imagine yourself skiing or swimming – these imaginary visualisations help reduce tension.
Try to get some sleep. Cocoon yourself by creating your own comfort zone with props and preparation, and don’t bother with the services offered on board if there are any. Bring a sweater and socks because the cabin can be draughty and cold. If you like to get cosy under a blanket, bring your own, as the ones on board are not cleaned between flights.
Try to doze off as the plane takes off. Take advantage of the drowsiness brought on by the increased G-forces as the aircraft races down the runway and the decreased oxygen. At that moment, no fresh air is introduced into the cabin from the time you leave the terminal until you are airborne. Before you doze, set your mental alarm and tell your subconscious to wake you about 25 minutes before landing – the noise of the engines whining a higher pitch at the top of descent will alert you to this. Finally, fasten your seatbelt outside your blanket so that, if there is turbulence, the flight attendants won’t need to wake you to get you to buckle up.
If you don’t like sleeping on planes, make sure you bring a book, portable CD player, or a selection of magazines to entertain you. As well as helping to pass the time, these can also act as a deterrent to any overfriendly neighbours.
For a more extreme solution to dealing with unwelcome company in the air, a business in New York has launched a scheme that will match like-minded passengers to help make the time fly. AirTroductions has been set up to give passengers the chance to choose their seatmates. Travellers register online, listing personal details in a profile. When they post their travelling itineraries, the registry provides information on other people taking the same flight. The registry is free until a user opts to contact a fellow traveller for a small fee. They then meet in an airport, where they can arrange to sit together and enjoy the flight. So far, nearly 4,500 people have enrolled, although only around 60 have made matches since the registry was launched last autumn. And even the most miserable traveller can find happiness in AirTroductions as the system allows passengers to note if what they really want is a seatmate who will leave them alone.
How not to catch a cold
If your main problem in the air is avoiding germs rather than worrying about your neighbour, here’s our guide to help you avoid getting other people’s coughs and colds. Close contact with illness may be unavoidable if you’re flying during cold and flu season, but there are a few simple things you can do to boost your chances of staying healthy in the air and back on the ground:
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water, particularly after touching surfaces others have recently touched, or after shaking hands.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, because germs are easily spread that way
• Drink plenty of fluids, starting the day before you fly. The low humidity level in airline cabins can have a dehydrating effect, particularly on long flights, so drink plenty of water. Avoid excessive alcohol, which can cause dehydration, and remember that cabin pressure doubles the effect of alcohol – for example, two drinks on the ground equals one in the air. Staying hydrated wards off headaches and the dry noses and throats that may leave passengers susceptible to infection.
• A healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables helps boost immunity all year long, but you can boost this by consuming vitamin C or zinc lozenges before a flight to help fend off illness. If you are especially prone to picking up other people’s colds, consider having a flu jab before you fly.