Commercial aeroplane flight is one of the most common forms of international travel. These are some tips for making your flights safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable.
For a guide to the standard procedures, rules, and other basics of travelling by air (some of which have changed in recent years), see [[Fundamentals of flying]]. See also [[First and business class travel]], [[Discount airlines]].
===Choosing an airline===
There are several airline quality ratings (like [http://www.airlinequality.com/StarRanking/ranking.htm]) that can help you understand how different airlines operating on your chosen route compare in levels of service, timeliness and comfort .
===Domestic vs International Flights===
As domestic flights are usually significantly cheaper than international flights for the same distance travelled, if you are in a city near an international border and wish to get to a destination in a neighbouring country, you can usually save quite a bit by crossing the border by land and flying from that country. For example, if you're in San Diego and need to get to Mexico City, you can cross the border to Tijuana by land and take a flight from Tijuana. Similarly, if you are in Hong Kong and need to get to Beijing, you can cross the border to Shenzhen and fly from there. People in Ottawa and Montreal can use Syracuse N.Y. for flights to American cities and Toronto residents can fly out of Buffalo instead of Lester B. Pearson.
===The cost of budget travelling=== While it is a good idea to save on air fare, you could face trade-offs in choosing budget carriers or the cheapest tickets off mainline carriers. Some of them include *more restrictions when it comes to changing travel plans *lower baggage allowance *less amenities (at least the free ones) on board *paid food and beverages *absence of check-through facilities *no mileage accrual
Take note that even major carriers, especially in the United States can put a price tag to other amenities and services even at a full price of an economy ticket. Pre-booking these services or amenities online where available can mitigate the costs somehow.
Finally, unless the promo or point-of- sale is based in the European Union, you should take note that the advertised price usually does not include taxes and other surcharges.
It will be up to you to find the right balance between costs of air fare and the amenities. The old saying goes: you get what you pay for. For more advice on budget travelling, please see the article [[Discount airlines]].
== Ticketing ==
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot|When calling an airline or travel agency to make changes, the fastest way to find your ticket is to tell the reservations agent that you will give them your [[:WikiPedia:Passenger Name Record|Passenger Name Record]] (PNR), and spell it out with the [[:WikiPedia:NATO phonetic alphabet|NATO phonetic alphabet]] (Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta Echo Foxtrot Golf Hotel India Juliet Kilo Lima Mike November Oscar Papa Quebec Romeo Sierra Tango Uniform Victor Whiskey X-ray Yankee Zulu). This is much easier than trying to spell out your last name, and you will gain some instant respect for sounding like a pro.}}
The major advantage of an '''electronic ticket''' (e-ticket) is that because your flight details are in the airline's computers, the e-ticket can't get lost, forgotten, or stolen. Your travel plans can also be altered without the need to print and deliver a new ticket. If your airline offers online or self-service kiosk check-in, you can use these to print boarding passes, thus saving time at the airport.
Some airlines and stations also offer alternative ways to check-in. Singapore Airlines for instance will allow you to check-in via self-service kiosk, SMS, mobile phone application or at Marina Bay Sands. Lufthansa also offers SMS check-in. If you use a kiosk, you can either manually input information, swipe your cards or scan the 2D barcode located in your printout or sent to your mobile phone for faster check-in.
If you are departing out of [[Hong Kong]] and taking the MTR Airport Express train, you can enjoy the convenience of a typical check-in (see the Checking In section) at the Hong Kong or Kowloon station. However, you will need to have already purchased an Airport Express ticket to enter the check-in area as there are faregates used for entry. Once you are done, you can just take the train and proceed directly to passport control upon arrival at the airport. This is very useful if you still have a lot of things to do in downtown Hong Kong but don't want to worry about carrying and transporting your luggage by yourself to the airport or leaving them somewhere. A
similiar system exists in Kuala Lumpur, with the KLIA Ekspres train leaving from KL Sentral Station.
== Choosing a good seat ==
See [[Fundamentals of flying#Choosing your seat]] for an introduction to choosing a good seat. However, in addition to the choice of window seats (good views), aisle seats (more freedom to move) and middle seats (lacking the advantages of either window or aisle seats) there are several other considerations for choosing a slightly more comfortable economy class seat.
How close you sit to the front or back end of the plane is a mixed bag of benefits and drawbacks. In most jet aircraft, seats in back experience more '''cabin noise'''; the difference can be significant enough to cause discomfort, and it's one of the reasons why first class is always located in the front. In wide-body aircraft, rear economy window seats will provide you with a better '''view''' than in the front of the economy section, where the view is obstructed by the wings. The effects of '''turbulence''' are weakest near the leading edge of the wing, in the middle of the aircraft. Finally, US National Transportation Safety Board data from accidents in which some passengers survived and others did not, indicate that seats at the rear of the plane are statistically '''safer'''.
Airplanes also have "ordinary" seats that are less or more desirable for some reason:
* Seatmaestro [http://www.seatmaestro.com/]
If you know what type of aircraft
on which you are traveling, you can look up the seat map on all of these sites. SeatExpert also offers a unique feature that allows you to find a seat map by entering your flight information (airline, flight number, date of departure). SeatGuru also helps to find out what aircraft type you'll be flying [http://www.seatguru.com/articles/aircraft_type.php] (although it gives little help beyond US airlines).
Sometimes aircraft scheduled to fly on a certain day for a certain flight may be substituted for another aircraft at the last minute. Therefore it is a good idea to take a look at all possible aircrafts and their respective configurations to find out the number of your preferred seat. Furthermore, an airline may have a certain kind of aircraft with different configurations. For example, the front row in one of Airline X's A330s may be row 1 but in another kind of A330 of Airline X it could be row 11 even if the front row of both A330s are of the same service class. It is also worth knowing if the an airline's aircraft is 2nd hand or leased from another airline as the seat design may have significant differences from in-house aircraft.
To save time, please ensure that you pack only what is '''absolutely necessary''' for your trip as having really bulky or plenty of luggage can cause a security hassle, as well as additional costs
if you want to check them in.
usually allow you to bring your own food so in case you have a feeling food isn't going to be great or will cost you extra, there shouldn't be any harm in bringing your own home made meals (or even snacks). However, if you are travelling internationally (especially to Australia) and have food that is not or partially consumed when your flight is done, be ready to declare them!
See [[Packing list]]
==At the airport==
If you want to reduce stress get to the airport at least an hour before the recommended time. (Check with your airline. In the US, the recommended time is usually 1 hour before takeoff for domestic flights, 2 hours for international. In some countries, it may be up to 3.) You will not have to worry while standing in long queues for check-in, security, emigration, and more security. It also gives you a buffer for delays on the way to the airport. If for some reason you are delayed and you're worried about missing your flight or the flight status indicates that you are in danger of missing your flight, find a member of your airline's staff or talk to staff at the security gate. If you are really in danger of missing your flight, they can arrange for speedy check-ins and for you to be moved up in queues. But they won't notice if you don't tell them. Calling for late-passenger instructions while you are on your way to the airport can also help. The plane will not wait for you; but it might wait if you're one of 50 connecting passengers on a delayed flight. == =Check-in=== Check-in for domestic flights can usually be done on the airline website up to 24 hours in advance of departure. If you have no baggage you can just proceed directly to your gate and flight with your printed boarding pass. However, some carriers insist that they inspect and verify your travel documents before allowing you to go through security, do this but there is usually a special lane provided for you. If you have baggage, drop it at the bag drop lane. Removing old tags from your bag before proceeding to the bag drop will speed up this process and avoid redirection. If you can't check-in online, the check-in kiosks at the airport are much the same, and issue a boarding pass for you. You then need to go to the bag drop if you have more than carry on luggage. If you have to check-in manually, be prepared for longer queues. Have your documentation ready before you get to the counter. If other methods of check-in are made available, avoid using the traditional check-in counters unless you have special requests. Some carriers already charge a fee for using traditional check-in counters. ===Express/expedited security lanes=== To avoid the delays associated with normal security checks, some airports offer express security lanes for frequent travellers who have pre-registered, or sometimes for passengers who have paid an additional fee. In cases of heightened security, the expedited security check lanes may be suspended or closed. ===Lounge Access=== Even if you don't hold a first/business class ticket or are a member of the premium tiers of your frequent flyer programme, there are ways for you to obtain lounge access: * Priority Pass [http: //prioritypass.com/] allows you to gain access to lounges at most major airports for an annual fee plus a per-use fee. (However, Priority Pass only allows entry to one or two lounges per airport, and at large airports they may not be close to the gates you're using). * Some airlines allow one-day lounge entry for a fee. * It is also possible to pay for lounge entry. ===Boarding=== Often a boarding order is specified by the gate attendants, usually boarding business class, passengers with special needs, and passengers at the back of the plane first. When no boarding order is given it may help if those seated at the back were to board first, but this doesn' t usually happen, and aisle blockages are common. To estimate where your seat is, check your airline' s website for seatmaps or ask staff at the gate. Regardless of the boarding order given, you are always free to remain in the boarding lounge until the final call for the plane. If you choose to spend the least time possible in a cramped aircraft cabin, just wait in the boarding lounge until you see the last person at the gate, and join the end of the queue. Just remember, the boarding gates close 10-15 minutes before departure and no announcements will be made outside the gate area.
==Special meal requests==
are are a variation from the standard food offered by the airline. They generally match a variety of dietary or religions requirements, such as kosher, halal, vegetarian, diabetic, Low salt etc. Children's meals are often also available as special meals.
Special meals are offered by some airlines, often they can be ordered as part of the online booking process, or subsequently by managing the booking online. Special meals always need to be ordered at least 24 hours in advance, and the chances of getting one at check-in or when on the plane are slim (although it can never hurt to ask, as occasionally there are special meals on the plane from people who failed to board).
Jet lag is a form of disorientation and fatigue caused by abruptly switching to a different sleeping/waking schedule and different daylight hours. Some people are affected more than others, but it tends to happen when crossing two or more time zones in a single flight (which first became commonplace with the development of commercial jet air travel, hence the term).
It doesn't follow that the greater the time difference between your origin and destination, the greater the jet lag. Often a short 4-5 hour difference that causes you to wake at 2am can be more fatiguing, and take longer to overcome than a complete reversal of day and night.
For places near the International Date Line (IDL), a time difference of 23 hours (eg. Hawaii and New Zealand) would not cause much jet lag (only an hour). The maximum possible
jet lag is 12 hours . Anything over 12 means it's the IDL that is affecting the calculation, and the jet lag starts decreasing. For example, a 13 hours time difference equals 11 hours of jet lag, 14h=10h JL, 15h=9h JL, and so on.
The basics to remember without going to too much effort, are to get a good night's sleep before your plane trip, and to sleep as much as possible during your plane trip. Ignore timezones, movies and entertainment, and just sleep whenever you can. When you arrive at your destination, forget your origin timezone and exist solely by the destination time.
Attempt to have a normal day in terms of the time zone you've flown into. If you land at 7AM, for example, you will probably have been served breakfast on your flight, so head to your accommodation (ask if they can mind your luggage (if you aren't [[Packing list#Extra lightweight|travelling light]]),
and go and see some of the sights, making sure to get daylight and fresh air. You'll feel tired, particularly by the mid-afternoon, but keep pushing on until an early dinnertime. Eat dinner and then go to bed. You should be tired enough for a good night's sleep.
New scientific research suggests that fasting (not eating) can help to overcome Jet Lag by resetting the body's circadian rhythm (biological clock). Not eating 24 or more hours prior to arriving at your destination contributes to feeling less tired once arrived. The light/dark cycles of the earth
effect our circadian rhythms, but so do our eating patterns. Rebooting our feeding cycles can mitigate the time warp. Some will object that this an annoying remedy, but we ask you to pick your poison: a day of hunger or a week of fatigue?
Check your airlines baggage restrictions carefully. Airlines are increasingly strict on size and weight limits for both carry-on and checked-in baggage, and charges for excess baggage can be steep.
Make sure you always check the actual rules of the airline you
are flying with. With an abundance of codeshare flights it is easy to assume that the luggage allowance will be the same as the airline you are booked through, or the airline indicated by the flight code , however it is the rules of the actual airline operating the flight that apply. If you are a frequent flyer with status be particularly careful, as any increased baggage allowance you have when flying with your airline will usually not apply to the codeshare flight.
Unless you own a business that does a lot of shipping, you probably won't have
access to an industrial scale designed to weigh baggage and large packages by resting them on top of the scale. Nevertheless, there are a couple of methods of accurately weighing your bags. The easiest is to purchase a cheap luggage scale that consists of a handle, a small electronic scale, and a large hook. Simply hook the scale to the handle of the bag, and lift it up using the scale's handle. The weight will be shown on the display. Avoid buying a "hook" scale that won't measure up to the airlines' surcharge limit (e.g. 50 lbs.), or can't switch between pounds and kilograms. You can also indirectly use a scale intended for weighing your body. First weigh yourself holding your bag completely off the ground, then without the bag, and subtract out the latter. However, this can be inaccurate if the scale is placed on a carpet or other soft surface. Also, be sure to "zero" the scale when its empty, and step onto the scale a few times after it's been picked up and moved to another location. It may then need to be reset to zero again.
If you find you are taking more baggage than allowed, check with the airline to see what the cheapest way of carrying it is. Sometimes additional baggage allowances can be pre-purchased, especially online where discounts may be given. Excess luggage fees are heftier if the excess weight is detected at the airport than if pre-arranged and pre-purchased.
Airlines generally offer discounted cargo rates to passengers, but this must be arranged prior to departure and the destination of the goods your want to ship as cargo must match the destination on your ticket and you will need to deliver your bags to the cargo terminal, and you may incur duties and other charges . Consider posting or sea freight which can be ''much'' cheaper than air freight or excess baggage charges. It can be a good way to get some baggage back home when you don't need it any longer, or even to send some baggage ahead for longer trips. See individual country listings for information reliability of postal service at your destination, however. Luggage delivery services provide an alternative. Luggage is delivered by a specific date, normally between 48hrs and 5 days and a door-to-door service is provided so you don't have to go to the cargo terminal either at drop-off or to pick-up your luggage (port-to-port). All paperwork is provided to you and customs procedures are managed. The price is cheaper than airline cargo rates, but still expensive. If you have a lot of baggage, consider flying business class or even first class. The ticket will cost more, but with most airlines you get a larger luggage allowance. ==Deep vein thrombosis== Passengers on long flights are prone to this, which is essentially blood clots forming in the veins, especially those in the legs. You can take precautions to minimize it: * Stretch and/or walk along the aisle every 2 hours or so. Even a trip to the washroom and back is better than nothing.
* Prefer aisle seats that will let you more easily get up and move around.
* Stay hydrated by drinking water, or other non- alcoholic, caffeine free beverages.
You should be aware of the early symptoms, such as pain or swelling in the legs, which can happen after you disembark, and seek medical treatment. The condition can be fatal.
==Flying with children==
* Arrange entertainment. The best way is to bring a portable media player, books, or anything else they can use to stay occupied with themselves. Be creative. Phones, iPods and PSPs also play video these days, and are much easier to carry than a DVD player and DVDs. Kids don't seem to mind the fact that the screen is 1" square, and the batteries last far longer than a DVD player for a longer flights.
* Have something to suck on while ascending and descending. Don't give it to the child when you get onto the plane - wait until you leave the runway, or it will be finished before you take off. Similarly, wait until well into the descent.
* Bring favorite snacks for fussy eaters. If children don't like the airplane food and get hungry, irritability can increase.
* Aim for a window seat for the child, and sit by the window at the airport. Airports are a hive of activity, usually enough to keep any child occupied for a little while.