High roller Lifestyle

My top 5 air travel tips

Written by The Eagle

This article first appeared in the Mar/Apr 2015 issue of WGM.

According to the World Bank, Chinese registered airlines carried 266 million domestic and international passengers in 2010. By 2013, this figure had grown to 353 million. The trend for increased passenger movement is a global one, with the Asian region experiencing record growth of over 10 percent each year. With so many first-time flyers we’ve seen an increasing number of incidents in the air from passengers trying to open the cabin doors mid-flight to abusing crew members or even urinating on the floor!

Given these events, getting through airports and having a pleasant inflight experience can be quite a challenge.

Earning a higher frequent flyer status, or being “pre-approved” through programs like Hong Kong Frequent Visitor, APEC Business Traveler or TSA-Pre in the US, are essential tools for the seasoned air warrior although in many airports even these benefits don’t help unless you are in first class.

So what can you do to ease the burden of travel? Here are my top five air travel tips.

1. The Benefits of coffee. Body Odor is an unpleasant fact of life but it’s particularly unpleasant when coming from the passenger seated next to you. These passengers are easy to spot – they’re the portly ones running to catch their flight before the gate closes because they’ve spent the past few hours getting sloshed at the airport bar. They’re also the first to order five more scotches the minute they find their seat.

I understand some people need a drink to calm the nerves but why should I put up with their pungent odor for the next seven hours? Unfortunately, saying something won’t fix the problem … but coffee will!

Here’s how: order a black coffee with no sugar and place a serviette into the final quarter of the cup – just enough to be soaked through but not enough that the coffee will spill. This will mask the offensive odor between meal services until you finally reach your destination.

2. Request the front aisle seat. Despite there only being one front left door which attaches to the aerobridge, there is always a passenger way back in 68F who believes he can disembark faster by pushing his way to the front. Whenever possible, request a front aisle seat. This position allows you to retrieve your cabin baggage at your convenience as well as access the facilities at the front of the cabin without being blocked by the service trolley.

The biggest advantages come at the end of the flight when you can disembark ahead of the scrum of tired passengers who always insist they have somewhere more important to be than you do as you race to the immigration lines.

3. Noise Cancelling Headphones. Parents are the only ones who should have to put up with the sounds of their crying babies. And no-one wants to listen to the life story of the loud guy behind them.

A good set of noise cancelling headphones will protect you from the usually inescapable noise pollution that permeates aircraft interiors. Not only do they provide a sense of personal space in a confined environment, they allow you a better sleep protected from the chaos around you.

4. Stop carrying loose items. We’ve all heard the security official tell us to, “Take out your laptops, electronics devices, coins and cellphones and place them in the tray”, so why do so many people seem surprised when it is their turn to pass through the security check?

This mad scramble of people dumping the contents of their pockets then rushing to regather them on the other side is an unavoidable problem but you can make your own life easier by putting everything in your bag before you get anywhere near the check point. By having nothing in your pockets and your laptop ready to go, you won’t have a frantic rush to collect your belongings and your items will be safe.

5.Choose your immigration line wisely. When you get to immigration, your destination is tantalizingly close so it’s frustrating to find yourself stuck in yet another slow moving line. It also allows other passengers to beat you to the baggage carousel and in some unfortunate instances grab your luggage by mistake! I always like to stand in the end queues at immigration. The benefit of these lines is that they tend to be the closest to the diplomatic or special assistance counters which have far fewer travelers passing through. Inevitably, when these counters are free, the immigration official will call over people from the closest line to come through – providing you with a much quicker passage to freedom!