Welcome to our ultimate flying tips guide, designed to elevate your flying experience and have you travelling like a pro in no time. As frequent flyers, we quickly learnt the do’s and don’ts to having a smooth air travel journey. We’ve also searched the internet and spoke to other travellers to learn helpful flying tips that you may not have thought of.
So, whether you’re a first-time flyer that wants a great introduction to flying, or a seasoned traveller that just wants to pick up a few travel hacks, we’re sure that you’ll learn something new.
Read on for flying tips that cover everything from booking, boarding and choosing a seat, to being comfortable during the flight. If you have any of your own flying tips that we haven’t included, be sure to let us know in the comments section below. 😊
Before you board
1. Arrive early for your flight. There’s nothing worse than rushing through check-in and security in an epic dash to catch your flight. Arriving 2+ hours early for short haul flights and 3+ hours for long haul flights is recommended. You should have plenty of time to relax and wait for your gate to be called.
2. A similar flying tip to the above; try to be one of the first to check in for your flight. Most passengers arrive the recommended 2 or so hours before, so arriving 15 mins earlier than that will often guarantee you a spot at the front of the queue. That extra 15 minutes could save you 30-minutes of queuing up.
3. Book your flight on a credit card. You have more protection compared to booking with a debit card.
4. As soon as you book your flight, buy a travel insurance policy. This will protect you in the event of a cancellation, delays, pandemic issues, or any other unforeseen events.
5. Choose a quick and comfortable method of transport and a low-traffic route to get to the airport. A smooth train journey or the comfort of your own car (with airport parking) are often nicer ways to arrive at the airport compared to the bus or metro. However, this all depends on the airport and the time of day you travel! Sometimes a train is best as you’ll beat traffic.
6. Consider paying for ‘fast track security’ (TSA pre-check in the US). Most airports offer this service and it gives you access to a quicker moving security line. It only costs 5 – 10 £/$/€ but is well worth it if it’s busy. We recommend buying a fast track security pass if travelling during peak hours and holidays.
7. Going hand-in-hand with the above advice, consider leaving your fast track security pass until the very last minute and then buy it online on your phone at the airport. We usually arrive at the airport and check out how busy the security queue is before deciding whether or not to buy the fast track security pass. That way, you won’t waste any money if the queues are particularly quiet and a fast pass isn’t needed. Note: this only works for airports that allow you to purchase fast track security passes online, with instant confirmation.
8. This one may seem obvious; ensure that all liquids in your hand luggage are packed into a small, transparent sealable bag. The liquids should also be less than 100ml (99ml or less). Forgetting about this can add lots of time onto your airport security experience. Other essentials ahead of going through security include removing your laptop from its case and placing it into a container. You should also remove everything from your pockets and any belts/jewellery.
9. Download your airline’s mobile phone app and activate your boarding pass digitally. Most airlines have an app these days. It’s particularly handy, as you won’t have to print the usual boarding pass documents, which is both better for the environment and will save you a lot of time.
10. Bring an empty, reusable water bottle with you. We personally recommend this one on Amazon. It’s becoming increasingly common for airports to offer free water at drinking fountains and you can fill up your bottle ready for the flight. This will save you money on expensive airport bottled water. It’s also good for the environment.
11. Avoid sitting in the middle of a row of three seats. It’s uncomfortable sitting with someone on either side of you, so window or aisle seats are best. We personally prefer the aisle seat as you can get up as frequently as you wish and have more space on one side.
12. If you want to sit in a specific seat or if travelling with others, always opt for ‘seat selection’, even if you have to pay for it. Auto-assigned seats often result in your group or couple being split up.
13. If speedy boarding and quick exit of the plane is important to you, choose a seat near the front of the plane.
14. Consider paying for a priority/fast boarding pass if the airline offers it. You’ll have a more comfortable experience getting on the plane and can relax in your seat before everyone else starts to board.
15. Go to the toilet before boarding the plane. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than holding it in as you wait to take-off. Equally, go to the bathroom plenty of times whilst in the air. It’ll reduce bloating.
16. The centre of the plane, just behind the wing, is known to be the least turbulent place to sit. If you hate turbulence, select a seat here. On the other hand, the very back of the plane is the place where you’ll experience the most turbulence.
17. Avoid sitting near a toilet. It can sometimes be a crowded and noisy area.
18. Don’t fancy paying for upgraded seats such as business, first and premium economy but want a more comfortable flying experience? Consider booking an extra leg-room seat or exit row seat. They usually have a small additional cost compared to standard seats. However, they offer a good deal more space for comfort. They’re also sometimes located in less crowded areas of the plane. This is a must for long haul flights!
19. If you board the plane and you’re not happy with where you’re sitting, politely ask a member of the cabin crew if you can move. If there are free seats, your request will usually be granted.
20. You see all those people in business class? Many don’t pay for it with their own money; they use frequent flyer miles! Start collecting airline miles yourself and use them for an upgrade when you have enough points. You also get additional benefits with some airlines, including departure lounge access, priority boarding and other cool perks. If you fly often, this is a must! View a full guide to collecting and using air miles points here.
21. On the topic of frequent flying, being a member of the airline’s frequent flyer programme increases your chance of a free upgrade. If a seat in premium economy, business or first class is empty, staff are more likely to offer it to someone on their frequent flyer programme.
22. Make friends with airline staff! It’s all about who you know. Being friends with the flight staff can really pay off when it comes to upgrades and other freebies.
23. Dressing well will slightly increase your chance of being offered a free upgrade. No need to wear a suit, but a smart shirt/blouse and trousers is perfect.
24. If you’re travelling for a honeymoon, anniversary or special occasion, let the check-in desk and flight crew know. They’ll sometimes go over and above to make your experience even better. We recommend emailing your airline/travel company a couple of weeks before flying too. Even if you get a free glass of champagne, it’s worth it!
25. Ordering a special meal (Vegetarian, diary-free, vegan, etc) can ruin your chances of a free upgrade as your meal will already be assigned to your seat. Avoid choosing a special meal if possible.
26. Contrary to our advice above where we recommend arriving early to check in, arriving late has its advantages too. If you’re at the end of the line, there’s a good chance that seats have already been assigned, and airline staff know which seats remain. Enquire at the last minute and you might be upgraded.
27. One of our personal favourites for grabbing super cheap flight upgrades is to upgrade at the very last minute when you check in. If seats are fairly empty on the plane, the check-in staff can offer you massively discounted upgrade prices. You can pay less than half of the cost of the original upgrade price if you were to book online.
Staying comfortable on board
28. Choose a comfortable aircraft. Modern aeroplanes such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are equipped with better seats, improved oxygen airflow, modern flying technology and other things that take your flying comfort to the next level. Look out for the follow aeroplanes: Airbus A220 (short haul), Airbus A380, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing 777
29. On a similar note, choose a good airline. It goes without saying that some airlines are better than others, providing better customer service, aircraft, services and other important features. We recommend checking out this airline review website for the airline you’re looking to book with, before clicking the ‘book’ button. Top class airlines include Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Jet2 and Quantas. We’re personally not a fan of European budget airlines Ryanair and Wizz Air.
30. Dress for the occasion! Wear comfortable clothing, bring along a travel pillow and wear comfortable shoes. This advice stays even if you’re only on a short flight. If you’re travelling from a hot to cold destination, or vice versa, pack a change of clothes so you can get switch your outfit just before landing.
31. Bring a sweatshirt with you in case you get cold. Even if you’re travelling between warm climates, it can get quite cold on a plane at 30,000ft.
32. Pack your carry on/hand luggage well the day before flying. A well organised bag means that you’ll find everything you need easily whilst on the plane. No scuffling around for electronics or snacks is one of our overlooked flying tips.
33. Pack a small moisturiser in your hand luggage. Aeroplane air really dries your skin out, so moisturising frequently during a flight will ensure you feel energised on landing.
34. As well as a moisturiser, you can pack other wellness essentials to make you feel good. These could include a face mask, lip balm, mini toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, face wash and perfume. They should all be less than 100ml.
35. Drink plenty of water, even more-so than you would on the ground.
36. Bring some anti-bacterial wipes and disinfect your arm rests and tray table as soon as you get to your seat. You don’t want to catch a bug that ruins your trip.
37. Pack a good selection of healthy (and naughty) snacks. Feeling full and energised will give you a much better flying experience. Plus, plane food often sucks. We recommend buying your plane snacks in the supermarket the day before flying. There’s a bigger selection and the airport snacks will cost you more.
38. Don’t drink too much alcohol. We all love a drink when starting our trip, but too much ensures a dry mouth, dehydration and groggy start in your destination.
39. If you’re going on a long-haul flight, be sure to do some in-seat or standing-up stretches during the flight. You’ll feel so much better! Here’s an excellent video guide on stretches you can do on a plane.
40. If you wear contact lenses, take them out before boarding the plane and choose glasses instead. They’re a lot more comfortable and your eyes won’t dry out. The air on planes is extremely dry.
41. Remove your shoes, or wear comfortable, loose shoes. Your feet will thank you! Always have them handy though, just in case of an emergency.
42. Beat jet lag by adjusting your watch and sleeping pattern to your destination, as soon as you take off. If it’s currently late in the evening in your destination but early evening in your departure country, try to sleep as soon as you can. Having plenty of sleep will ensure that you arrive at your destination feeling refreshed. Easier said than done, but noise cancelling headphones and a neck pillow do wonders.
43. Don’t forget to recline your seat! It goes without saying, but is sometimes forgotten about. Don’t feel bad about the person sitting behind you; it’s normal to recline on a plane and they can recline their seat for more space too. Just try to avoid reclining when you don’t need to and during meal times.
44. If you struggle with blood circulation on flights and get leg ache, buy a good pair of flight socks. Compression socks regulate blood flow and help avoid swollen ankles.
45. Download movies, TV shows and music on your phone/laptop/tablet the day before your flight. Apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime allow you to download content for offline play, for when you don’t have internet access.
46. To entertain yourself with electronics, you’re going to need power! Make sure your devices are fully charged before boarding.
47. On a similar note, pack a charging USB cable in your hand luggage. Many airlines now have USB ports on the back of seats that you can plug into.
48. Invest in a pair of good noise cancelling headphones. We absolutely swear by our Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. They drown out the plane engines and passenger noise, improving the flight experience significantly. They also help you to sleep more easily if flying long haul. Check them out on Amazon here.
Flying with children
49. Don’t fly with a baby on your lap. Although it’s allowed on some airlines, it can be dangerous. Instead, opt for a baby aeroplane seat, which is essentially a car seat. A baby sling is also a good idea for smaller children.
50. Pack plenty of entertainment in your hand luggage. That could include, media on a tablet/phone, books, travel board games, colouring-in sets and trivia games.
51. Pack extra food for children that are fussy eaters. If they don’t like the plane food, this can become a lifesaver. Hungry children are more restless and uncomfortable!
52. Bring some hard candy and mints with you. They work wonders for children that are anxious flyers or are uncomfortable with ‘popping ear’ pressure.
53. Some airlines offer free child places, which can save you a lot of money! When researching your travel plans, take this into account.
54. If your child is a first-time flyer, talk to them about what to expect, show them videos and get them comfortable with flying before they board. They’ll be less anxious.
55. Pack your hand luggage just right for your trip. Travelling with kids can mean a lot more luggage than flying by yourself, but it’s important not to overpack. It can lead to a lot of rummaging around. Pack anything you don’t immediately need on the flight in your check-in luggage.
56. Pack some pull-ups. It isn’t always possible to go to the bathroom instantly when travelling, so Pull-ups will prevent an unwanted accident for toddlers.
57. Avoid layovers and long journeys where possible. Short haul flights will give your family a much more enjoyable travel experience.
58. Tire your kids out with activities and a long walk before boarding. They’ll then be less restless on the plane.
59. Avoid packing messy snacks, toys with lots of pieces and too many sugary foods. Balance is key!
60. Pack a small medical kit with child-friendly painkillers, nasal spray and relief for ear pressure pain.
Leaving the aeroplane and arriving in your destination
61. Pack up your bag and belongings before the captain announces landing. That way, you can exit quickly on landing, without scrambling around to pack.
62. When you disembark the plane, walk faster than everyone else! Unleash that built up energy of sitting down for hours and briskly walk past other passengers to the front of the queue. Being one of the first people at security ensures a quick exit from the airport.
63. Book your onward travel in advance of arrival, or at least research the best way to get from the airport to your destination. That way, you’ll arrive prepared and won’t waste time at the airport. You might not have signal on your phone to search for onward travel at the last minute.
64. Have your documents (passport, visa, immigration forms) to hand, ready to pass through border security.
65. If you don’t have an electronic chip passport, or e-passport, consider upgrading before your trip. E-passport gates are usually quicker than face-to-face immigration desks.
General flying tips
66. If your flight is cancelled, don’t necessarily accept the first offer that the airline presents to you. If it’s a real inconvenience, the airline should consider putting you in a hotel, upgrading you for the next flight or offering something entirely different. Also, if offered a voucher, consider asking for a cash refund instead. It’s important to negotiate, whilst still remaining calm and collected.
67. Do you have a long layover between flights? Book into the airport lounge. It’s more comfortable than other areas of the airport terminal, some of them have sleeping facilities, and food and drink is included. That extra cost is well worth it!
68. If you’re prone to travel sickness, buy some travel sickness tablets and/or a travel wristband before you depart. It’ll make you feel a lot better. Also, opt to sit near the centre of the plane instead of the front or back.
69. Buy some affordable digital luggage scales and pack them in your hand luggage. Checking luggage weight allowances and then weighing your baggage yourself before checking in will save the embarrassment and stress of re-packing in the airport.
70. Don’t pack any batteries in your check-in hold luggage. They must go in your hand/carry-on luggage.
71. Instead of walking around looking for a departure board to monitor your flight and gate status, visit the airport’s website on your phone. They all have real-time departure board information.
72. Always pack a pen or two. They come in handy for any paperwork you have to fill-in ahead of landing in your destination.
73. On a similar note, complete any arrival forms whilst on the aeroplane. It’ll save the dash to fill in forms when you arrive at border security.
74. Wear sun cream/sun block. A little fact that not many people know about is that the radiation on your skin is very strong when you’re 30,000 ft in the air. Applying sun screen will protect your skin. This is especially important if you have a skin condition.
75. Take deep breaths and enjoy some relaxing music. Flying is one time in your life where you don’t have the distraction of work, the internet and other things that keep you busy. Taking time to meditate will do you a world of good! Deep breaths are also great for calming you down during turbulence. Practice breathing techniques or download a meditation app on your phone before flying.
We hope you enjoyed our complete list of flying tips for all aspects of the air travel experience. Write some of them down, try them on your next flight, and we’re confident that you’ll improve your flying experience. Do you have any of your own flying tips? Let us know in the comment section below. Bon voyage!
For more tips on flying and booking a trip, check out our other guides below:
By RickyAuthor bio:
An adventurer at heart that loves anything outdoors. Beaches, mountains and amazing scenery is everything I love about travel! I also enjoy home comforts and need a nice place to relax and re-charge after every trip.