Tips for Hassle Free Air Travel

I’m not a big fan of flying. Each time I board a plane, I’m convinced that it will be my last. I imagine the plane crashing on to the side of a mountain/suddenly falling from the sky/inexplicably exploding mid-air. Yet these irrational thoughts never stopped me from flying. I even worked as a flight attendant briefly (a long time ago – worst job ever), just to experience the rush of take-off and the feeling I was going somewhere; anywhere.

Airlines are the most common mode of international transport, being the fastest, most convenient, and, yes, the safest. But air travel can also be very stressful for some. Good planning and organization are the keys to a hassle free journey and avoiding some of the more common headaches associated with flying. So here are some things to remember when you’re planning your next trip.

  1. Study the flight itinerary

Your travel agent or airline may neglect to tell you that the ‘direct’ flight you booked will be touching down at another airport, en-route to your chosen destination. In many cases this will add delays to your schedule, because of slow boarding/disembarking passengers or airport traffic causing delays with landing and take-off. So wherever possible, opt for a ‘non-stop’ flight.

  1. Have the appropriate documents

If you are transiting another country, in addition to your destination visa, always ensure that you have the relevant transit documentation. If you do not, you will almost certainly be refused boarding.

  1. Double check your routing

Travel agents are human and they make mistakes. So make sure yours has booked you to fly to the correct city and airport. There is nothing worse than arriving at Heathrow, when your airport pick-up is waiting for you at Gatwick. While this is not as annoying as ending up in San Juan, when actually you wanted to go to San Jose – Oh yes, I have seen it happen – it’s an unnecessary inconvenience nonetheless.

  1. Check your tickets

Make sure that the name you used to book your ticket is identical to the one in your passport. This will avoid the inevitable stress and delay, while you are trying to convince the check-in agent at Guangzhou airport that Dick and Richard are actually the same person.

  1. Reserve your seat

It’s not always possible to reserve a seat prior to check in, but if an airline allows it – usually 24hrs before departure – it’s worth booking your seat in advance, either via the airline’s website or through your travel agent. Some may find SeatGuru useful for this task – it’s a great source of information, containing configurations for almost all aircraft types and comments/tips from fellow travellers. So if you like to know exactly where you’re sitting in relation to the plane’s wings, toilets, galley etc. – or, like me, you tend to spend hours searching for non-essential info on the net – it’s definitely worth a look.

  1. Allow yourself enough transit time

When transiting another city and your first flight is delayed, you may well miss your onward flight, especially in large busy airports where security is tight. But even if you run like a lunatic through the terminal and manage to make it to the plane in time, your luggage might not. So play it safe and allow extra time for delays, since an extra hour’s lay-over is less traumatic than spending the first half your holiday wearing the same clothes or having to overnight at the airport, waiting for the next day’s connection.

  1. Be nice

Finally, this may seem obvious, but many people don’t realise that ground staff and flight attendants will be more cooperative if they are courteous and polite. So if you would like an exit seat or you forgot to pre-order your low calorie, lacto-ovo vegetarian meal, approach the relevant person and ask them if they can assist. They are not obliged to help you, and may well flatly refuse, if you adopt and entitled or aggressive attitude.