30 Tips for Flying Like a Pro
Never stress about flying again.
Whether for business or pleasure, flying can be stressful. Making your flight on time, hoping you remembered to pack everything, changing time zones, long layovers, crowded airports and long security lines can all induce stress. Take note of these expert tips and you’ll step off the plane feeling relaxed and ready for whatever awaits you at your final destination.
Before You Go
Save time by skipping lines. Sign up for TSA PreCheck and go through the lines where shoes stay on and laptops remain packed. Fast Track Global Entry makes sense for jetsetters with disposable income who don’t want to stand in the customs line. Both require advance paperwork and fees.
Pack smart. Don’t check bags unless you’re going on a month-long adventure. There's no need to create another reason to wait in line.
Take advantage of airport apps. Filo connects you to airport WiFi and helps locate amenities like power outlets, play areas for kids and connecting gates. If you’re delayed or have some extra terminal time, FlySmart has reviews of terminal restaurants and shops by fellow travelers. The directionally challenged will love iFly, which uses GPS to help you reach that connecting gate without walking the wrong way.
If you’re sitting on a plane for several hours, you might as well use the time to pamper yourself. Use a headscarf to keep hair in place and avoid bed head from napping. Pack some cocoa butter in your one-quart bag of liquids plus cotton hand gloves for a refreshing hand treatment. Give yourself an in-flight spa session with cucumber eye pads. Pre-moistened pads soothe and refresh tired and puffy eyes. You may get a few strange looks from people walking the aisle, but you won’t even notice (or care) because you’ll be relaxed to the max.
Yes, it is possible to get some shut eye on a plane. If you suffer from anxiety or have trouble sleeping on planes, consider getting a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets simulate the effect of a reassuring hug, which increases serotonin, producing a calming, sleepy feeling. Mosaic Weighted Blankets offers a refreshingly low-tech solution.
Click through these galleries to read all 30 tips for flying like a pro.
Cake MascaraCake mascara is a great alternative when liquids are not allowed. This is the classic Hollywood way to darken and define the eyelashes. It comes in a pressed, cake form and can be mixed with water then applied with a firm brush. They recommend curling the lashes first -- Paula Dorf or Longcils Boncza brands are favorites. 960 1280
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Sleep TightMany people suffer anxiety while flying, leaving them exhausted upon arrival. Mosaic Weighted Blankets offers a refreshingly low-tech solution. Weighted blankets simulate the effect of a reassuring hug, which increases serotonin, producing a calming, sleepy feeling, as if you were napping under Grammy's homemade quilt. 960 1280
Relaxation 30,000 Feet in the AirThere are ways to do yoga on a plane that do not end with an air marshal and handcuffs. Yogi Ramesh Padala has devised YogaTailor a personalized yoga and meditation guide with suggestions for air travellers by which he swears. Teri Meissner teaches the Japanese practice of Jin Shin Jyutsu, a touch-based relaxation technique that can be applied even within the confines of an airplane seat. 960 1280
Tune In, Drop Off With MeIf you find it impossible to tune out the carnival in your brain prior to an early flight, the DreamScience Brainwave Oriented Sleep Companion is your own personal off switch. 20 nature-themed soundscapes and hypnotic mood lighting will drop you into a blissful dream that the gradual wake setting will lift you out of in time to make your connecting flight. 960 1280
Fasten Your Head BeltsThe only thing worse than not being able to sleep on a plane is being too good at it. The GoSleep Travel System is a car seat for your nodding noodle. It combines a memory foam neck pillow with a sleep mask that wraps around the seatback keeping you in the upright, locked position for the entire flight. We love the cool retro-aero designs. 960 1280
You're Getting SleepyFour out of 5 scientists agree that listening to the windbag next to you doubles flight time. SleepPhones are headphones in a headband form that comfortably and cordlessly evict the outside world from your headspace. They’re made from recycled plastic bottles, so when you glance out the window at that swirling vortex of trash in the Pacific, you’ll rest easy knowing you had little to do with it. 960 1280
First Class Sound, Even in CoachWhen you want to feel fancy even when you're sitting by the aft lavatory, slip these tony Symphony 1 cans over your ears and let the vulgarians speculate as to the aristocrat in their midst. These premium Definitive Technology Bluetooth headphones feature 50mm drivers for high-quality sound and pack a battery with 10 hours of run time, although these leather and chrome babies should score you an inflight upgrade to business class before that ELO playlist blows your cover. 960 1280
Heavenly SleepIf you’re not a fan of bulky, neck pinching, swim camp looking travel pillows, the Travel Halo may be the answer to your prayers. While the oversized eye flap blocks out light, the two stabilizer pillows on the back of the headband keep your dome upright, balanced and comfortable. The Travel Halo packs into a tiny bag that fits neatly into your purse or pocket. 960 1280
Blue Light SpecialUsing a mobile device before trying to sleep is like Red Bull for your eyeballs. The blue light from phones and tablets inhibits the production of melatonin. Enter WaveWall Sleep, an affordable blue light filter and screen protector for Apple and Android devices. Now you can use your mobile device until the sun comes up, secure in the knowledge that it won’t keep you from losing sleep. 960 1280
Convertible NeckwearThere’s nothing more dashing than an aviator scarf, but they haven’t been functional flight wear since the open cockpit era. The Voyager Travel Pillow Set by Happy Luxe resuscitates the classic accessory by including two removable pillows that can be configured as neck support or a sleeping cushion. There’s even an air-activated warmer in case cabin temps dip below your comfort level. 960 1280
Window Seat UpgradeThe Znzi Travel Pillow instantly turns your porthole into a headrest. The plush, adjustable pillow has two suction cups that attach to your window, enabling you to make the most of a limited space. When you arrive, the pillow folds into a small slipcase that slides onto your luggage handle for quick deplaning. 960 1280
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Cut Lines With Pre-ScreeningSigning up for TSA PreCheck can save time via dedicated lines where shoes stay on and laptops remain packed. Fast Track Global Entry makes sense for jetsetters with disposable income who don’t want to stand in the customs line. Both require advance paperwork and fees. 960 1280
Pack SmartPros pack with clothes at the bottom and oddly shaped items such as a hair dryer and shoes on top. Pack all the jewelry you will wear that day in an outside pocket of your carry-on, and then put it on once you pass through security so you don't have to take it off and put it on again. This enables the screener to work faster, saving time and keeping you moving. Savvy travelers also carry nothing on their person: no wallet, no keys, no gum. 960 1280
Get AlertsMany security checkpoint wait times are accessible via an airport’s website. Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta uses Trak-a-Line and will even email you when a line gets longer. MiFlight does the same for 50 major airports. Traffic jams can also put the brakes on smooth sailing. Check your drive time on an app like Waze, which gives you an ETA and reroutes you if there’s heavy traffic. 960 1280
Be Liquid FreeThere are plenty of TSA-friendly concentrated waterless products and collapsible refillable water bottles so that flying through security is a breeze. For example, Lush Cosmetics offers dry shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste in tablet form and solid moisturizing bars that are great for an in-flight refresher. Silicone Bubi Bottles roll up, fit in the palm of your hand and come in many sizes. 960 1280
Use Airport Apps
Flio connects you to airport WiFi connection and helps locate amenities like power outlets, play areas for kids and connecting gates. If you’re delayed or have some extra terminal time, FlySmart has reviews of terminal restaurants and shops by fellow travelers. The directionally challenged will love iFly, which uses GPS to help you reach that connecting gate without walking the wrong way.
Dress Like a Pro
Invest in a “plane outfit” consisting of classic items in dark or neutral colors made from breathable fabrics like cotton and cashmere. A nice poncho, like this one from Minnie Rose, subs as a blanket and is easily packed. Shorts, flip-flops and warm-ups make you look like an amateur. No gate agent is going to randomly upgrade a passenger wearing anything that makes noise when you walk.
Mind Your MannersIf you think you’re stressed, think of the men and women who do it every day. Should an emergency occur, they’re the ones who will help keep calm and even save lives, so show some respect. Treated with courtesy, a flight attendant might even slide you a free beverage or extra peanuts. One polite gesture can go a long way, on that long 2,134 mile route from ATL to LAX. 960 1280
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