There was a time when flying on a commercial airline was an enjoyable luxury treat. We had roomy seats, great food, pampered service and no hassle checking in and boarding. Planes had spiral staircases, lots of room to stretch, and full-size sleeper beds for those long flights. Pan Am led the way during the “Golden Age of Air Travel.”
While Pan Am and those golden days are generally gone, there are several things you can do to make your trip more enjoyable.
5 Flying Tips
As a pilot myself, I’ve logged hundreds of flying hours in the cockpit and along the way have learned a few tricks about making any flight more enjoyable. So as you get ready to board a plane this summer, here are a few ideas to consider.
1. Snag the best seat.
You’ve probably noticed that some seats are better than others. You obviously don’t want a seat near a heavily-trafficked bathroom or in the last row that doesn’t recline. But there are a couple secrets you can use to intentionally snag a more comfortable seat.
First, go to www.seatguru.com and lookup your flight. This website will show the seat configuration of your plane and give you helpful tips on the best seats. If your favorite seat isn’t available, go to www.expertflyer.com and setup an alert. This service will send you an email if your seat opens up (e.g., the person gets upgraded to first-class) and then you may have a chance to snag it.
Second, if you’re traveling with a companion, consider booking a window and aisle seat if your plane has 3 seats on one side. The middle seat will get booked last and you may end up with an empty seat between you and give you extra room. If the middle seat gets booked, you can ask the person if they’d like to switch to a window or aisle seat (they’ll say yes) and you and your companion can sit together.
2. Stay hydrated.
I know this sounds basic but drink plenty of water before and during your flight. A typical commercial plane is pressurized to the equivalent of being at 6,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation. In addition, aircraft cabin humidity levels are unnaturally low at 5 – 10%. That’s less humidity than the Sahara Desert!
Drinking 8 or more ounces of water per hour of flying can help alleviate the physiological changes caused by pressurization and low humidity. As for coffee, well, it’s a diuretic. This means it actually sucks water out of your body cells and dehydrates you. So, go light on the coffee if you can.
3. Eat smart.
Just like drinking water makes sense, it’s important to be smart about the food you eat. Rather than grabbing some expensive food at the airport, eat before you go and consider bringing your own “bag of healthy goodies.” For example, pack some almonds and cashews, raisins, a piece of fruit, and perhaps a protein bar. Eating healthy on the plane will make you feel better, give you more energy, and help you hit the ground running when the plane lands.
4. Think twice about your departure time.
Flights get cancelled all the time these days and carefully scheduling your departure time may limit the damage from a cancellation. For example, consider booking the earliest flight out in the morning. Why? Because the plane will usually be sitting at the airport overnight so there’s less chance of it not being ready. Also, if that flight gets cancelled there are usually later flights you can take that day and still reach your destination. Try not to take the last flight out in the evening because if something happens to it, your odds of having to spend an extra night just rose dramatically.
5. Dress in layers.
Airplanes can experience a wide range of temperature fluctuations. It’s not uncommon to walk into a plane that’s quite warm and then 30 minutes into the fight, you’re practically freezing. I always recommend people dress in layers and wear comfortable clothing so that you can adjust for the temperature and relax. It’s no fun being stuck on an airplane when you’re nearly freezing or are uncomfortable because you didn’t bring the right clothes.
As many of you know, we’re big fans of checklists at Keen Wealth Advisors. We use them in planning with our clients to help ensure nothing gets missed. Likewise, you can create a travel checklist. This checklist might include the different types of clothing you need, food items, toiletries, medicine, electronics, and reading material.
Click here to download a very handy one-page packing checklist.
And If You're In Kansas City...
I hangar my plane and do most of my flying out of the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Kansas City Airport. You may recall it once was the main airport in Kansas City. Today, the airport is still very active and houses the National Airline History Museum as well as the TWA Museum. If you have any interest at all in aviation, you'd really enjoy spending some time at these museums this summer.
Finally, if you have some favorite pictures from your travels this summer, email them to us. We’d love to post them on our website and share your fun with our readers!
Travel safe and if there’s anything we can help you with, please let us know.
If you have any questions about today’s post or your specific financial situation, please give us a call at (913) 624-1841 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are here to help you.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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