Flying all around the world doesn’t have to be a stressful task, in fact when I’m not working flights I absolutely love being a passenger getting comfy, snoozing, watching films and being fed and watered. I thought I would write this blog to share a few tips on how to make your next flight more relaxed and enjoyable.
Airline Loyalty Programme
If you haven’t already sign up to an airlines loyalty programme, these are a must! Even if you don’t fly often there is a whole range of ways to earn points. You can save your points and either put them towards flights or upgrades, and gain perks for being part of the programme. Many airlines have loyalty schemes and you can earn points not just on flights, but also by having their credit card, or by shopping through their app and collecting points on online purchases. It really is as simple as a few clicks, so even when your not flying don’t miss out on points from doing your day to day shopping or filling up your car. Plus when your part of a loyalty programme your more likely to be considered for any potential upgrades at check in!
You can also earn points by flying with airline partners, many airlines partner up to form alliances, the three main alliances are One World, Sky Team and Star Alliance. Have a browse at which airlines you fly with the most, and next time your flying with another airline check to see if their an alliance partner of you airlines loyalty programme. When flying with an alliance partner your points will be combined and added to your points account. Make sure your not missing out on air miles and tier points, which get you different statuses on the loyalty programmes, the higher up you go the more perks and benefits your earn.
So whether your flying regularly, long haul, mid haul, short haul or just fly once a year for your annual holiday, make sure your signed up to a loyalty programme. Honestly it’s so simple to earn points, you won’t believe how many points you have missed out on over the years by not being part of one!
If airports and travelling stress you out like many people, then why not upgrade your experience and book into a lounge. There are two types of lounges which are airport lounges and airline lounges. Airport lounges are accessible to everyone and normally range from £25 – £50 per person. The airport lounges are quiet spaces with comfortable lounge chairs, private WiFi, showers, food and drink, they can vary slightly so have a look through what’s included before booking. Airport lounges might seem quite steep in price, but if you work out how much you normally spend on food and drink while sitting around waiting for your flight, then there’s probably not much difference in the cost.
Airline lounges are generally far more superior to airport lounges, and tend to have many of the same features as airport lounges but a much fancier atmosphere, and some airline lounges have open bars, spa rooms and beds etc, these can vary between airlines and destinations though. Normally airline lounges are only accessible if your flying first or business class or if your part of their frequent flyer programme, but you have to have gained a certain status before being allowed into their lounges. Some airlines around the world do allow you to pay to enter their lounges so it’s worth asking at check in.
If your travelling for a special occasion then I would definitely recommend booking a lounge, as it really is a lovely way to start your trip off. There are plenty of places to book airport lounges before you arrive at the airport such as Holiday Extras, Lounge Pass and Lounge Buddy. Try and pre-book your lounge rather than turning up as it’s normally a couple of quid cheaper to book in advance. If your are a frequent flyer it might be worth signing up to an airport lounge members club, where you pay a one off annual fee and get access to airport lounges worldwide. Some credit cards also gain you access to some lounges as one of their perks for being their customer.
When catching a flight always arrive as prepared as possible, and arrive in plenty of time to avoid any stress and panic. To make your flight more comfortable there are a few items you can take such as your reusable water bottle. Once through security fill it up at one of the airport refill water stations, or when onboard ask one of the cabin crew if they can fill it for you. Staying hydrated is so important when flying, your body can loose up to 2 litres of water during an average 10 hour flight. With humidity levels low, a mix of recycled oxygen, altitude and pressure, flying can really take its toll on your body so make sure to take extra care of yourself.
If you find you suffer quite badly with jet lag try adding a hydration tablet to your water during the flight to help boost your electrolytes, minerals and vitamins. Dehydration can lead to headaches and fatigue, so drink regularly during a flight and mist your face with a face mist or spray water.
Take some ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones to cancel out any noise during the flight especially if you want to get some sleep, also take an eye mask, flight socks, travel neck pillow and if you get cold onboard take a small hot water bottle, and ask the crew to fill it for you. If your on a long flight take something comfortable to change into to help you rest better. Most long haul carriers provide snacks during the flight, but I always take some snacks of my own, and if your health conscious take some nutritional snacks.
My biggest recommendation is to take plenty of your own entertainment for flights such as books, magazines, tablets with downloaded films and series on and a power bank, just in case of any major delays or the inflight entertainment doesn’t work or isn’t to your liking.
Even if your sat in economy choosing the right seat for you can make a huge difference to your inflight experience, if your tall I would always recommend paying extra for the extra leg room seat or opting for an aisle seat, just make sure to tuck your legs in when trolleys are coming past. All airlines have a variety of aircrafts and each one has a different layout configuration, so to choose the best seats in your cabin use Seat Guru which gives you all the information on each seat on the aircraft your flying on, and gives each seat a ranking depending on its legroom, seat size, and distance to the toilet etc.
If your travelling as a couple and want to try and get a row to yourselves use the sandwich booking method, you book the window seat, and your travel companion books the aisle seat, which leaves the middle seat between you empty. Someone else looking for a seat will most likely try and find any other seat other than a centre seat. If it is a full flight and someone is sat in between you, just politely ask if they would mind swapping, which most people would be more than happy to do.
Some airlines now offer their economy passengers the chance to bid for cheap upgrades, however they may only be on specific routes and you normally have to bid per sector and per person. Ensure your signed up to the airlines loyalty programme as the airlines tend to email passengers a few weeks prior to the departure date, so by being part of the loyalty scheme means your more likely to get the email, so keep an eye on your mailbox and don’t miss your chance. Check the airlines website too to see if your booking is eligible for a bid upgrade.
When you bid don’t bid too low, or you won’t stand a chance against other bidders, and they will normally only have a set number of seats available. A good tip I read online from a flight expert was to workout the regular cost of a business class seat for your flight, subtract what you paid for the economy fare, and aim for around 20% – 40% of the remaining price, and bid slightly above the minimum, try and beat the crowd as the majority of people will bid at the lower end.
Have a look at Expert Flyer to see how many premium seats are remaining on your flight, and have a look at the website PlusGrade which many of the airlines that offer these bidding programmes use as an auction site. The Points Guy is also great for lots of tips on perks, upgrades, air miles and how to get the most for your money when flying.
If you want to try your luck at blagging a free upgrade then I would say it’s always worth a try. However in most cases it’s highly unlikely you will manage it. It’s very rare for an airline to upgrade passengers as it devalues their premium product, and passengers that have paid full fare might be slightly annoyed if they get wind that people have been upgraded free of charge. If you are going to try you luck then always dress to look the part, by that I don’t mean turning up in a three piece suite or formal dress, but turning up in a tracksuit and travel pillow around your neck is definitely not going to get you upgraded, always look smart and presentable so you look the part for a premium cabin.
Be polite and kind to the airline staff both on and off the ground, the more someone warms to you the more likely they are going to go out of their way for you. When checking in, try making conversation with the check in staff, and ask politely if there are any upgrades or discounted last minute upgrades, it’s always worth an ask, the worst they can say is no!
Sometimes when an airline over books a flight there are involuntary upgrades so you can always ask about that too at check in. Time your arrival just right and get there early as when check in opens the staff may already know about some involuntary upgrades, see if you can put your name forward. Ask at check in and also at the boarding gate, as passenger numbers always change right up until the gate closes.
Even if you don’t manage to get upgraded, always be nice to your cabin crew and make conversation. They will always look after you regardless, but in economy when there are hundreds of people they always remember the friendly passengers, and normally go that extra mile for them, such as an extra drink or your first meal choice or just doing something nice to make your flight that bit more special.
Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful, if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx