how to fly better

Air travel can be a nightmare. The terrible food, the tight squeezes, the jet lag – it can all be overwhelming.

That being said, there are a few things you can do that can drastically improve your flight experience, especially if you’re considering taking a long-haul trip. We just got back from a 16-hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa from New York City – here’s how we made the trip as enjoyable as possible.

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1. Make use of the lounge

how to use the airport lounge

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get lounge access anymore. A good credit card is all you need to bypass the front desk and treat yourself to unlimited food and drinks, comfy chairs, and magazines and newspapers that would cost you an arm and a leg at Hudson News. We recommend the Chase Saphire Reserve card which comes with a Priority Pass. Arrive at the airport early and skip the rushed line at security, kick your feet up in the lounge, and chill.

2. Limit the alcohol

do not drink on your next flight

A lot of people drink before they get on a long haul flight. Some because of nerves, others because they think it will help them sleep. The truth is, alcohol is only going to make your travel day worse. It’s hard on the stomach, your REM cycle, and your wallet. Skip the booze and have a glass of water instead – traveling in a pressurized cabin is sure to dehydrate you.

3. Push for upgrades

how to ask for a flight upgrade

Even if it’s just an upgrade to an exit row, a few extra inches go a long way on an airplane. Always call ahead, speak to the agent at the airport entrance, and to the agent at the front desk. You never know when you’ll strike gold, and seats are often locked up until different times so it makes sense to ask as much as possible.

4. Check SeatGuru

how to find the best seats on the plane

This is one of our favorite websites in the world. SeatGuru maps out your flight’s seating arrangement and lets you know where the best and worst seats on the flight are located. Green means good, red means bad, yellow means there’s something to be aware of (like a misaligned window or proximity to the bathroom) and green and yellow mixed means the seat has mixed reviews. This website is a lifesaver.

5. Pack noise-canceling headphones

pack headphones for flying

We’ve all been stuck behind a screaming baby on a plane. It’s no fun. Protect yourself by bringing a good pair of noise-noise canceling headphones, like Bose Quietcomfort 35’s or Sony WH1000’s. They cut out the static noise as well, making sure that you sleep like a baby…unlike some passengers.