Air travel can really take it out of you. Gym goers, yogis and health conscious travellers want ways to maintain or improve health during the journey, and all of us want to touch down feeling at least as good as when we took off. Follow these tips to feel healthy, comfortable and energised during and after your next flight.
Comply with airline staff
It’s a sad fact that airlines overbook flights, and then ask passengers to relinquish their seats in exchange for credit, payments or other compensation. In April 2017 on UA Flight 3411 passengers were asked to volunteer to leave the aircraft in exchange for $800 worth of vouchers. But none of them wanted to leave.
United then selected four passengers to leave the flight. Three of them did so, but one, Dr. David Dao, declined. As many of us know, he was forcibly removed from the flight by airport police, resulting in concussion, broken teeth, broken nose and other injuries.
Although Dao received an undisclosed settlement from the airline and airport police, they actually did nothing wrong. United Airlines can forcibly remove passengers for displaying bare feet, appearing intoxicated and even smelling bad, thanks to a 37,000-word ‘Contract of Carriage’ that is accepted by all passengers upon buying a ticket.
Emotional Support Animals
We’re used to partially-sighted people having guide dogs, who act as their eyes and help them live an independent life. Well now there’s a new type of passenger – emotional support animals (ESAs). ESAs help individuals deal with phobias, anxiety or panic attacks when flying.
To bring an animal along as an ESA you must provide a letter written by a mental health professional promoting the psychological benefits of the animal’s presence. It’s a growing trend with a number of websites set-up to help people gain the necessary permission.
Dehydration, Dryness & Diet
Due to the humidity dropping significantly inside a plane, one symptom of flying you may come across is dryness. This could affect your eyes, nose, throat or skin, and on longer or repeated flights the effects can get worse and worse.
Pack moisturiser and lip balm into your hand luggage in case your skin and lips begin to display signs of dehydration. A washcloth can be used to dampen and pat onto your skin mid-flight. If this doesn’t help, there are saline nose sprays, spray mists and hydrating eye drops available over the counter at most pharmacies.
As tempting as it may be to gravitate towards the salty snacks, alcohol, and coffee, they will only dehydrate you further. Instead opt for water and healthier food and drinks. If you’re really concerned about the in-flight food options there is the choice of buying something once you’re past security in duty free.
The process of sleeping on a plane begins long before you close your eyes. Wear comfortable clothes. Anything tight or unfamiliar will affect your quality of sleep and restrict your circulation. Remember that alcohol has a negative impact on your sleep so try to avoid intake a few hours before you kip.
Pack an eye-mask, neck pillow and noise cancelling headphones in your hand luggage. Not all airlines provide these so it’s a good idea to bring your own. Where some people prefer earplugs and silence when they wish to sleep, for others a soothing playlist does the trick.
Ever wondered what makes your ears feel funny on take-off? It’s all to do with air pressure. As the plane ascends the pressure drops there is a discrepancy between the air pressure in the plane and in your inner ear. This makes the eardrum swell until the air is equalised with a pop.
This is a good thing, as it means air pressure has been equalised, but it can be a very uncomfortable sensation, particularly during take-off and landing.
Tried and tested ways to combat airplane ear pain are to chew gum or suck on a boiled sweet. Any snacks that can be swallowed also work well. If you didn’t have any time to stop off for sweets and chewing gum practice yawning or moving your jaw, as this allows air to enter the middle of your ear and equalise that pressure.
Most people find air flight turbulence to be unsettling and find it difficult to relax on a plane experiencing turbulence. There’s no easy solution other than educating yourself. Planes just don’t crash due to turbulence.
To reassure yourself, try listening to this Fear of Flying School podcast where Delta Airlines captain Bill Watts explains how turbulence is caused and why you shouldn’t be scared of it. We've also interviewed Paul Tizzard, Director of the highly acclaimed Virgin Atlantic ‘Flying Without Fear’ programme on his tips for stress-free travel.
Expedia’s annual Airline Etiquette Survey ranks the most aggravating behaviour of fellow passengers. Seat kicking topped the list for the third year running, but the entire list is a reminder of how other passengers can ruin your flight.
While sometimes you may be able to ask a flight attendant to curb fellow passenger behaviour, the best thing you can do for your own wellbeing is to ignore other passengers and focus on making your journey as smooth and pleasant as possible. It might be hard to ignore seat kicking but you can transcend much of this annoyance but donning your headphones, closing your eyes or wearing an eye mask and snoozing.
Don’t let other passengers press your buttons and raise your stress levels. Equally, don’t let your own behaviour ruin someone else’s flight.