13 tricks for making plane travel easier

Written by admin on May 18, 2009 – 5:44 pm -

There are two types of travelers: those who are constantly in the air and others who take occasional trips. People who fly a lot appear to have it down (kind of) to a system.

Much depends on whether or not you’re flying coach or in the front of the plane. Are you flying more or less than three hours? This will dictate some of the preparations you’ll need to make — but fewer than you think. Travelers should always be prepared for delays and what’s supposed to be a short trip may end up being anything but.

Here area a baker’s-dozen tips that I follow whenever I jet off into the skies.

Wear really comfortable clothes so not to feel confined if you’re stuck sitting for hours. This doesn’t mean sloppy but they should be loose. Shoes should be the slip off type. I always wear (or pack) a pair of really comfortable socks.

Dress in layers. Some flights tend to get very cold and there’s no joy in freezing while flying from one coast or continent to another

Pack a blanket and pillow if you’re flying long haul. It can be a neck roll or another type that helps you catch a few winks. Your own blanket can be a godsend and you know whether or not it’s clean. If it’s not as clean as it should be, you’re the only person who’s used it.

Bring a small package of baby-wipes. They can come in very handy and negate your having to go to the WC if all you want to do is wipe your hands or face.

Don’t forget a package of tissues. Be germ conscious and careful how you blow your nose. Immediately dispose of the tissue in the sack supplied in case of airsickness.

Use headsets and ear plugs. Most ‘road warriors’ have a set of noise canceling earphones and wear them throughout the flight. Bring a pair of foam earplugs in the event you’re seated next to screaming babies or party animals.

Heavily padded eye shades are godsends if you want to sleep.

Power adapters help. If you’re traveling with a computer and want to work, buy a charger that’s specifically configured for plane outlets. It will keep you from playing beat the clock. Plus, if you want to watch a CD on your laptop, you won’t need to worry about the battery’s life.

Don’t forget reading materials. Take books and magazines you’ve wanted to read. An increasing number of people will probably be traveling with “Kindles.”  iPods seem to be the fashion of the day so you can listen to books and/or music you’ve downloaded.

Bring a notebook and a pen. You never know when you might get creative or need to make some notes. If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll need a pen to fill out the immigration forms. Flight attendants are the first to admit they’re at a premium because of cost cuts.

Don’t forget to pack your medications (and copies of the prescriptions) and enough of them in the event your trip is delayed, you won’t panic. Some people I know wouldn’t fly without Airborne or a cold remedy.

Pack some snacks, even if you’re traveling first or business class, in case you’re stuck sitting on the plane waiting for it to take off. When you’re traveling coach, you may want to pack a meal brought from home rather than buying something at the airport where they tend to be expensive and not necessarily what you’d prefer to eat.

Bring an empty plastic bottle and fill it up with water after you clear security.

These are some obvious tricks and tips. My next article will include carry-on packing ideas, clearing security, airline clubs, how to select seats and anything else you’d like to have me research.

In the meantime, please add your travel tips.

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis.

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Posted in Consumer Traveler |

Cell phones — yes or no? That is the question

Written by admin on October 30, 2008 – 1:13 pm -

When the pilot announces all electronics must be turned off before the plane departs, it’s amazing how many people continue phone conversations, sending text messages or emails as if the world were coming to an end. They must be very important.

Federal Aviation Administration regulations prohibit any use of mobile phones except when the aircraft is on the ground. It is believed that cell phone use may interfere with aircraft electronics. Airlines can be fined up to $25,000 if they permit mobile phone usage during a flight. Individuals are also liable.

Some travelers think they know better and contend that cell phones or PDA’s don’t interfere with take offs or landings or feel they’re simply beyond the law. What happened to the old days when we waved goodbye and left our troubles behind while we soared through the sky?

If Representative Peter DeFazio has his way, cell phone use on airplanes may not be allowed. Defazio has introduced legislation that would prohibit passengers from using their cell phones during flights. He calls it the Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace (HANG UP) Act.

Travelers who consider flying a way to get away from some of the realities of life and would like to sleep, work or simply read a book are hoping the bill passes. There is obviously a battle going on. Even some scientific groups are getting in on the dispute claiming using cell phones on planes will hurt astronomy research efforts.

On the other side of the Atlantic, airlines and regulators are moving toward allowing cell phone use on airplanes. Are we Luddites on this side of the ocean?

I’ll confess, I’m totally technologically challenged and am firmly in the camp of maintaining cell phone free cabins. I also follow all directions, when I can. As soon as the no electronics announcement is made, I turn off my Blackberry and touch nothing until I see its  dark screen. But, on a recent flight, I looked in my purse and was horrified that the cell phone evidently had a mind of its own — the screen was shining like a beacon. If the plane had crashed, it definitely would have been my fault.

I often wonder, can cell phone use be an addition? During one trip to Beijing, I witnessed a man, tapping non-stop. When he deplaned and had a signal, I’m certain his email recipients probably wanted to commit suicide. There was no question he was productive during the 12+ hours duration of the flight.

During 2007, The Federal Aviation Administration recorded 133 cases in which passengers were charged for unruly behavior, such as interfering with the duties of crew members when requested not to use cell phones.

How would you vote on allowing or banning cell phone use on airplanes?

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis

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Posted in Consumer Traveler |

Cell phones on planes, the approaching reality

Written by admin on October 1, 2008 – 2:44 pm -

Today’s technology is enabling people to use cell phones from planes. Is everyone thrilled over the thought? I’m certain some travelers will be delighted in the event of an emergency. But, they may not be as happy when they receive their bills that may resemble the national debt. One of the last refuges from ring tones is undoubtedly coming to an end.

Ryanair is the first no frills airline to enable in-flight calling. Ten planes are already equipped. When the service launches, fourteen planes will allow passengers to make calls and send text messages from cruising altitudes. But there will be limitations on the number of people who will be able to “communicate” simultaneously.

The watchdog group Ofcom states it is talking to all concerned parties to clarify what steps can be taken to ensure consumers understand the costs of making calls from on board an aircraft.

Unfortunately, Ofcom can only regulate planes registered in the EU. The group is fast to say the use of mobile phones on passenger aircraft has “raised concerns about passenger welfare and the potential for discomfort, antisocial behavior and ‘air rage’ on board.”

As a frequent flyer, I welcome having access to WiFi on long haul trips. But the last thing I want to hear is someone else’s conversation. Invariably, people who use their cell phones as extensions of their personal and professional lives tend to speak more loudly than others.

I know what my response would be if I were seated next to a non-stop talker. At the very least, I’d ask him or her to find another place from which to make calls. Some passengers would. Then there are others who’d shoot a dirty stare and continue talking. Should earphones and microphones be mandatory?

What would you do?

There are so many options to contemplate and some of them aren’t in the least bit polite. And it’s against FAA regulations to either make a quick exit when you’re at cruising altitude much less push another passenger.

Karen Fawcett is president of Bonjour Paris.

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Posted in Consumer Traveler |