Nothing beats the stress on a long haul flight. Things go often wrong and always expect the unexpected. But one can reduce the suffering with just a few simple tips. Go through this article once for all and try to get into the things that troubles you most.
1. Airport Security Is No Joke!
If you’ve flown anywhere in the last several years, you already know how much of a pain airport security can be. And with each successive year, it seems like the restrictions become more numerous. Below are some useful tips to help ensure that your airport security experience is as smooth and “hassle-free” as possible. These tips will not only help you, but they will also make the airport’s job much easier. Believe it or not, security checks are as annoying for the staff as they are for you. Just imagine how many times must they remind people to remove their shoes, open their computers, toss their liquids….remove their shoes, open their computers, and toss their liquids?
Find out What Is and Isn’t Permissible
When we first sat down to write the list of restricted travel items, we quickly realized that a site of this scope could never hope to stay abreast of all the changing rules and regulations.
Common sense will guide you through most of what you’ll need to know (no combustibles, no weapons, no liquids over 3 ounces, no sharp items, and no disabling substances or toxic chemicals), but for a comprehensive, real-time list of airport security dos and don’ts, check with the Transportation Security
Administration’s (TSA) section on travel restrictions and carry-on items. This site even has an “alert” feature so you can receive email notifications in case there are any changes to this list prior to your departure. While the Transportation Security Administration deals predominantly with US travel, its guidelines are pretty universal.
Few transportation organizations will have stricter rules than the TSA.
If you’re dependent on certain types of medical equipment or prescription drugs (especially in liquid form), please read our detailed discussion on how to handle these items at security checkpoints.
Jump over The Que
Have you ever noticed how some travelers manage to jump ahead of the line, go through security, and find their seats faster than everyone else? There are many reasons why certain travelers seem to enjoy special privileges (maybe they’re frequent flyers, first-class travelers, or airport personnel). But you can also expedite the check-in process substantially by following a few of these important tips.
Print out Boarding Passes in Advance
With certain carriers and flights, it’s possible to print out your boarding passes and check-in remotely from the comfort of your home or office personal computer. This doesn’t always work for certain carriers, but it’s worth checking out their Web sites in advance to see if they have expedited check-in options. This is especially true if you don’t plan on carrying too much luggage. For power travelers who prefer compact backpacks over large suitcases, you don’t need to wait in long lines to check-in your luggage. Instead, simply take your printed boarding pass directly to the security check-in and skip long queues at the front of the terminal.
2. Planning Ahead
The only thing worse than arriving at the airport too late is arriving at the airport way too early. Airports are loud, expensive, and deliberately uncomfortable. Before departing for the airport, use sites like Flight Stats to see if your particular flight is early, on time, or delayed. As a redundant measure, however, you might also want to call the airline directly for extra confirmation. Flight Stats is an excellent resource, but even still, mistakes are possible.
It’s also not a bad idea to provide all of your flight information to your friends and family members so that they can monitor your departure and arrival. They can use Flight Stats to make sure that you got off the ground safely. They can also combine the power of Google Earth with FBOWeb to actually track the progress of your flight in real-time.
The 3-Hour Rule
They say that you should arrive at the airport 2 hours early for international flights. We actually recommend arriving 3 hours before your scheduled flight time. You might even want to arrive a little earlier if you’re bringing lots of luggage or various types of medication. We fully acknowledge that nothing is more boring (or expensive ) than waiting at the airport. We also realize that this tip is in direct contrast with the previous tip about reducing wait times. But in today’s world of extra security checks , long queues, traffic congestion, and unpredictability, you’re better safe than sorry. Given a choice between missing a flight and spending a few unnecessary hours at the airport, most people would choose the former.
Realistic Wait Times
The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides historical wait time data for travelers who want to estimate how far ahead they should arrive at the airport. Keep in mind, however, that this information only represents what others endured in the past. The TSA’s online program won’t necessarily be able to predict future traffic jams, heightened security levels, holiday travelers, equipment malfunctions, and other things that might slow down normal check-in times.
Always Have Your Passport, ID, and Boarding Pass HandyThis is just common sense, but it’s worth mentioning. Always have your travel documents handy. You’ll have to show them at check-in, security, and the departure gate. Make these items easily accessible, secure, and organized.
3. Lose the Metal and Wear Comfortable Clothes
Try to streamline your outfit for maximum convenience. This means ridding yourself of belts, key chains, coins, unnecessary gadgets, and anything else that might trigger the security alarm when you walk through the metal protectors. In other words, don’t wear clothes with lots of buckles, metal snaps, and other unnecessary doodads. The only things you should have in your pockets are your passport, boarding pass, wallet, cell phone, and essential medications (like inhalers). All other items should go into your carry-on luggage (including any winter garments that you might be carrying at the moment). And as a general rule of thumb, comfortable, easy-to-remove shoes are best. If not during security checkpoints, these shoes will certainly become useful during long flights when you want to stretch your legs and relax your feet.
3. Don’t get exhausted in the airport itself
Long haul flight means that you could spend anywhere from 5 to 20 hours sitting in a cramped plane. Our first piece of advice to you is use the restrooms at the airport before getting on the plane. The stalls are larger, more comfortable, and cleaner than what you’ll often find on most commercial carriers. This is especially true for longer journeys where the facilities become more unpleasant with each passing hour. Remember that flight attendants don’t normally double as sanitation workers on board.
4. Traveling with Prescription Medication
We strongly recommended that you keep all of your prescription drugs and medication with you at all times. This includes inhalers, heart monitors, medical batteries, medical records, prescription eye drops, instructions, and notes from your doctor. If these items are stored in the luggage compartment underneath the plane, you’ll have zero chance of retrieving them until you land.
5. Keep a Bite Reserved
Snacks Come in Handy on Board. Snacks are not only handy during pre-boarding, but they also prove quite useful during the actual flight. This is especially true if you have certain dietary restrictions (like peanut allergies). For whereas many American airlines try to design their menus and meals for the masses, some international carriers have yet to follow suit.
6. Drink Plenty of Water
As you travel abroad, potential dehydration should always be at the forefront of your mind. Whether your traveling on the plane, visiting temples, or waiting in the doctor’s office, make sure you drink plenty of water at all times. 8 oz (237 ml) every waking hour is a good rule of thumb. This might seem like a lot, but you can never have too much water. This is especially true in medical tourism destinations like India and Thailand; 2 countries known for their heat and humidity.
Additional Thoughts about Water
Not all fluids are created equal. 8 oz of coffee, cola, or alcohol is not the same as 8 oz of water. Diuretics (like caffeine and alcohol) actually rob you of water over the long run. To ensure that your body remains properly hydrated throughout your medical vacation:
Stick with water as much as possible. Natural fruit juices are sometimes okay, but they often contain a lot of sugar (fructose) and added preservatives. There’s no substitute for water.
Only drink water that has been sealed, purified, or boiled. If you are ever unsure of the source, don’t take any chances. This includes restaurants, stores, and hospital facilities.
Airplanes are notorious when it comes to dehydration. Long hours sitting, fluctuating cabin pressure, interrupted sleep schedules…it’s best to accept every refreshment offer that comes along. When the flight attendant wheels the beverage cart down the aisle, ask for a glass of water.
7. Prevent DVT overpowering You
DVT or deep vein thrombosis is a condition that usually occurs from prolonged immobilization like after surgery or other venous disorder. You may be surprised to read that these can appear or aggravated after a long haul flight. Here is a complete guide how to avoid DVT during a long flight.
9. Account Cabin Pressure too
If you ever feel leg pain, chest pain, arm pain, dizziness, nausea, migraines, or anything else out of the ordinary, alert the closest flight attendant immediately. DVT is a very serious medical complication that demands proper attention as soon as possible. Left untreated, it can lead to a whole host of illnesses and diseases, and in some cases, even death.
Most of us are already familiar with the effects of cabin pressure. When the plane takes off and lands, we often experience a popping sensation in our ears and sinuses. Yawning, chewing gum, or blowing our noses usually takes care of this uncomfortable feeling. In more extreme cases, however, the increased pressure inside the cabin can result in a decrease in the oxygen saturation of your blood. This can lead to an expansion of gases throughout your body, resulting in extreme discomfort, pain, nausea, and even unconsciousness.
If you’re someone who is easily susceptible to cabin pressure-related issues, you should seriously consider a different mode of travel. Or at the very least, consult with your physician about possible remedies. Because some medical tourism flights can last up to 15 or 20 hours, it is imperative that you take the necessary precautions before getting on the flight. It is very difficult to make an emergency landing when you’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
9. Flying after Surgery
Patients who have just undergone surgery should consult with their physician (both domestic and abroad) before flying long haul distances. Medical complications from cabin pressure, improper healing, prescription drugs, or anxiety could arise if the patient is not fully recovered. This is especially true for surgeries related to the stomach, ears, and eyes. Cabin pressure in the airplane can cause severe reactions since these three areas are particularly sensitive to changing oxygen levels and air pressure.
Naturally, this might change the nature of your medical vacation. You might have to rethink taking a medical vacation that involves flying. If you go abroad for stomach surgery, LASIK, or something of this nature, your doctor might insist that you remain on the ground until you have made a full or partial recovery. Just to be on the safe side, make sure you consult with your doctors ahead of time. Alert them to your potential travel plans and see what type of feedback and recommendations they provide.
10. Flying after Scuba Diving
It’s worth pointing out that some of the most popular medical tourism destinations are in excellent scuba diving areas. While we feel that scuba diving has much to offer in the way of entertainment and adventure, you should be aware that certain flying restrictions apply in the days following an underwater dive. If you plan on going scuba diving at any time during your medical vacation, make sure you consult with your physicians and scuba instructor beforehand.