Another post both about and not about my top-secret summer adventure. Enjoy.
The first time I flew in a plane I was 19 years old. It was a short flight (Newcastle – Stavanger) and I got ‘upgraded’ to business class, a.k.a. the front row of the plane.
Eight years later and I have been on 31 planes, and spent approximately 144 hours in the air. Madness.
However, all of the flying has caused me to learn a few things about what makes the travelling a wee bit more bearable, and you are about to get a few of those things shared with you. You lucky things you.
- Don’t be late. My number one rule of flying is to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Airports are stressful enough without adding the worry of lateness into the mix. The generally accepted convention is to arrive at check-in 1 hour before the flight for domestic, and 2 hours before the flight for international. The Ellidh rule is arrive 2 hours previous for domestic and about 3.5 to 4 hours for international. Perhaps some might say that this is overkill, but it’s better to be safe the sorry. You don’t know what events may conspire to delay you on your way, you don’t know what kind of a queue there might be for security, and if you are early, no worries. Departure lounges are generally quite fun: good shopping, nice food, interesting people and free wireless, what more could you need? However, this is all a lot easier when you’re on your own, and whilst I usually am on my own – of the 31 flights I have been on, on 24 of them I was travelling alone – when I made my top-secret trip over the summer I was in a group with 7 other people, and they didn’t want to be at the airport four hours early. That led to us arriving at the check-in desk 31 minutes before the flight departed and 1 minute before check-in closed, and I nearly had a heart attack. The lessons learned were: ‘get to the airport early’ and, naturally, ‘Ellidh is always right and you should listen to her’. Maybe.
- Take your own headphones. The ones they give you on the plane are usually rubbish, and sometimes they collect them in way too early and then you are left sitting bored and unable to watch the end of the film you were watching.
- If you wear contact lenses, then take your glasses and solution and case onto the plane, but don’t take your lenses off until you’ve taken off. This was the advice of my lovely friend, Cion, who reckoned that if you wore your glasses you were much more likely to get a hard time off the security folk/not be allowed to take a slightly over-sized piece of hand luggage into the cabin/be in with no chance of all at flirting your way into an upgrade. With regards to the last theory I couldn’t possibly comment, but I have held on to her piece of advice, particularly because it means that you can put your lenses back in before you land, and then when you stride out of the airport into the dazzling sunshine of wherever you find yourself, you can put your sunglasses on. Win.
- Regarding aeroplane food: it’s not always bad as its made out to be; if the choice is ‘chicken or beef’, ‘chicken or fish’ or ‘chicken or lamb’, always, always pick chicken; and if you see tentacles on the mystery meat in your noodles, then it really is probably octopus. Don’t eat it.
- If you get to the airport early enough (or check in online) then you can usually pick your own seat: very back of the cabin, aisle seat, central section is the one to choose. You can tip your seat back without annoying people, you get served drinks and dinner first, you’re closest to the loo and you can easily get up for a wee walk around, thereby avoiding DVT/pins & needles. You don’t really want to be by a window: you have to climb over people to get out, there’s nothing that great to look at (airfields and industrial estates when you take off and land and clouds for the rest of the 10 hours) and if you’re not sitting by the window then you won’t be sitting next to that mysterious and slightly upsetting tiny hole that is in the corner of every aeroplane window, disconcertingly surrounded by wee ice crystals and looking like at any moment it will spread into a big crack, tearing a hole in the side of the plane and sucking you out to your death. Oh, is it only me that thinks about those kind of things? Sorry.
- Tissues (because the recycled air is v.dry), hand cream (ditto) and a pashmina (because the blankets are a bit grim) will make the flight much more pleasant.
- If you throw up on the plane then you might get upgraded to business class. It happened to one of our group on the summer adventure return flight. The boys thought he’d been arrested, I thought he might be dead in a toilet (some would call me a ‘pessimistic worrier’, whereas I prefer to consider myself ‘mentally prepared for any and all eventuality’), but in actual fact he’d been sleeping on the other side of the mysterious aeroplane curtain. Some of the others suggested that they would like to try vomiting as a guarantee to nicer seats, but I’m not sure I’m willing to take that chance, and the victim assured us that he wouldn’t recommend it and that it had been “a very dark flight” for him. I simply offer the story – make up your own mind how you use it.
And that’s seven – enough from me I think. Any top tips from you?
In summary: a massive carbon footprint. Sorry.