Never are manners so important as when you’re travelling on an aircraft. Modern air travel has us all packed in like sardines, and that’s after having had to remove what feels like every stitch of clothing in security. It’s vital that we remember our manners, both before and during the flight. This can be difficult for us all, particularly those travelling with children or elderly people, when the whole experience seems to be extremely stressful. But we try! I think there are five steps to comfortable air travel.
1 . BEFORE YOU LEAVE
I travel an awful lot, so I’ve fine-tuned the art of packing, because I haven’t got time to carry heavy suitcases: I need to zip on and off the flight. Many travellers nowadays also want to avoid paying fees for excess baggage and so will be filling only one of those small wheelie suitcases. Here are my tips for packing that little suitcase. • Check your airline’s baggage restrictions before you pack, and measure your suitcase to make sure it meets the criteria. I know that this might sound a bit extreme, but you’ll thank me when the airline representative approaches you with the measuring tape!
- Wear your heaviest shoes, and only pack a light pair in your suitcase. Shoes are very heavy, so try to restrict yourself to the minimum number of pairs to get by. If you’re going to a sunny place don’t bring your boots: pack something for walking and something for the beach.
- Make sure your toiletries are no more than 100 ml in size and pack them in a clear plastic bag. Many chemists now do little travel packs in a clear toilet bag.
- When it comes to clothes, many of us pack the kitchen sink in order to prepare for every eventuality. But because you have a limited amount of space it pays to think carefully about what you’ll need. If it will be chilly you might need your winter coat, in which case wear it or sling it over your arm. But will you also need that woolly jumper or jacket? If you do, can you get away with lightweight versions, or with layers that can be taken off if it gets too warm? If it’s going to be sunny you can fold lightweight, packable dresses or slacks and one jacket into your case. Why not check the weather forecast before you go, just to be sure. When you’re packing try to stick to neutral colours— not for fashion reasons, but because from a practical stand point they’re easier to mix and match. Try to remember any special events you’ll need to pack for—that black-tie dinner or the beach barbecue you’ll need a swimming suit for.
- When packing, start with the bigger items and then pack the other things around them. I find that rolling items, rather than folding them, helps me keep things relatively free from creases, and I can fit more into my suitcase. I also find that wrapping clothes in tissue paper can help if you want to avoid creasing.
- Don’t be tempted to pack your case to the rafters, as you’ll only end up exceeding the baggage restrictions—and you won’t have any room for souvenirs! • A good tip when packing is to put your fragile things in the middle of the case, where they’re less likely to be damaged. My top tip is to pack underwear and socks into your shoes, where there’s all that empty space. The trick is to make the maximum use of a small space. Before you head to the airport, check in online and make sure that you have the correct ID. Finally, double-check your suitcase to make sure you don’t have any bottles or toiletries over 100 ml.
2 . AT THE AIRPORT
As we all know, many airports are more or less in complete chaos nowadays, with people rushing all over the place and with long queues for security. Maybe it’s because I travel a lot, but I have to say that it never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t get ready for security in advance, in spite of the long wait. Instead, they look a bit bewildered when they get to the security area and only then start to get ready. I always have comfortable clothes to travel in, because I need to bear in mind that I’ll have to disrobe when I get to the airport. And remember, upgrades tend to be given to the better-dressed person,