Just get a few things right
I've talked about flying a few times on the blog, mainly in the context of using air miles and taking emergency flights.
My personal preference is to use air miles to fly business class for less than the price of economy. Another option is to use air miles to travel for free.
However you choose to fly, there are a few things you can do to transform the flying experience and make it much more pleasant.
The tips today are for medium- to long-distance flights, ie ones where you might want to sleep. For shorter flights it's probably not worth bothering with them :)
Surprisingly, one of the best things you can do is to get changed just before or just after you get on the plane.
I discovered just how much difference this makes a few years ago, when I took a special trip with my wife and we flew in JAL first class to New York. When we got to our seats we found JAL pajamas there (basically a very soft tracksuit). The other passengers got changed immediately, so we did the same.
I'm sure the service, the huge beds, the food and drink, and the peace and quiet helped, but that was one of the most pleasant flights I have ever had.
The next time I flew was in economy, but I took along my pajamas and got changed while people were boarding.
And found that the flight was much more pleasant, relaxing, and comfortable. Just before landing I changed back into my street clothes and was ready to hit the ground running.
Now I don't think you need the magical first class pajamas. The key points are soft, comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that you change into. It could just as easily be an old t-shirt and some tracksuit bottoms. But the act of getting changed into something relaxing really helps switch your brain into relaxing mode.
The second thing that makes a huge difference is noise-cancelling headphones. I got a pair of Bose headphones a few years ago and was blown away with how much difference they make. You have no idea how loud the cabin is until you put on noise-cancelling headphones and the engine roar goes away. A nice bonus is that they also make it much easier to watch films or listen to music.
Noise-cancelling headphones work best on constant background noise, but they take the edge off other noises too -like people talking or children crying.
Last year I got the newest model of Bose headphones -the wireless QC-35. Just as good as my old ones, but more versatile as I can listen my phone on them wirelessly.
Decent headphones are expensive, but if you take long flights more than once or twice a year they are well worth considering. Bose are probably still the best, but other makers are pretty good too so it might be worth shopping around a bit.
My final tip is a bit obvious, but also makes a difference. Putting together your own in-flight kit, including necessary items, snacks, water, and entertainment also helps. You never know what the airline is going to provide in terms of food, (I was unpleasantly surprised on late-night flights out of Haneda to Bangkok that they don't provide food and expect everyone just to go to sleep), entertainment (monitors break down sometimes), etc.
So there you have it, three ways to make long-distance flying a much more pleasant experience.
How about you? Do you use any of these? Any other tips?