15 flying secrets even the pros don’t know

We’re going to let you in on a secret in this post (well, actually several!) So get ready, hold onto your hats, and prepare to fly better than ever!

1. It’s not just in your head, airlines really are messing with you.

Airlines really do mess with you when you're booking online!
Airlines really do mess with you when you’re booking!

You’re looking for a flight online but the prices just keep on going up and up. It’s not your brain playing tricks on you, it’s the airlines. When you visit a booking site, it’ll likely install a cookie on your computer that tracks your information. If you search for the same flight route/hotel booking/etc. multiple times, the prices will keep going up each time. Though booking sites don’t use cookies exclusively to hike up their prices, clearing your cookies will help somewhat in keeping the prices low.

Related: Get a late checkout, every time!

2. Pretending that you’re alone really works.

If you're not really alone, just pretend!
If you’re not really alone, pretend you are!

When filling seats on a flight, airlines run the risk of leaving a bunch of single seats unfilled. If you’re travelling as a family, it’s always worth looking at booking each person individually to get a cheaper fare. Plus, many websites offer a 24 hour refund period.

3. Watch the flight for 24 hours after booking.

If you do book from a website that offers a 24 hour refund period, make sure to keep an eye on the flight. If the price drops, call the company to cancel your ticket and re-book for the cheaper fare.

4. Trains are the way to go.

Say yes to trains.
Say yes to trains!

Okay, maybe not always true, particularly in North America, but in other places like Asia and Europe, the railway works much better than flying. No long lines at check-in, security, or baggage claim is always a plus, the scenery is always beautiful, and over short distances, a train takes less time than a plane.

5. Regional airlines aren’t quite as safe as larger carriers.

Airplane boarding at gate
Know the difference between regional and national carriers?

But sometimes, you may not have a choice. If you’ve taken a flight on a major carrier, chances are, you’ve been on a regional carrier that the major carrier outsourced its passengers to. The name printed on the plane might be the same, but the airline really isn’t. And the flight crews aren’t required to be as well trained or qualified as those on larger carriers.

6. Say yes to carbs, but no to alcohol.

Dinner of potato slices, salad, nachos, sandwiches, and drinks
Carbs are great, alcohol, not so much!

The research is still out on whether carbs really help jet lag, but I do know one thing: filling up on carbs leaves me stuffed and sleepy. On that same train of thought, avoid alcohol, as it decreases the quality of your sleep, and contributes to dehydration, which is something that you should always avoid in an environment as dehydrating as an airplane.

Related: Get your carbs in Switzerland, the most beautiful place in the world!

7. Hit the airport early.

Passengers walking past an airport gate
Arrive early for your flight, but also make sure that your flight is early in the day!

Crucial if you want to avoid long delays. Delays accumulate throughout the day, which means that the backlog from the morning will carry over to the afternoon, making your journey through the airport progressively slower. From my own personal experience, this tip is completely true.

8. Don’t expect to save too much on flights.

A stack of coins and a clock in the background
Don’t expect to save too much on flights!

Flight fares are generally less discounted than other types of travel services because of the way they operate. If they fill fewer seats on their flights, they’ll just fly fewer trips. Don’t expect too much from their discounts, otherwise you might walk away disappointed.

9. The earlier you book your flight, the more you should consider refundable tickets or travel insurance.

Unfortunate things do happen, and when they do, you’ll want your money back from a flight you couldn’t take. The further away from your departure date, the more likely it is that something unfortunate might happen, so travel insurance or refundable tickets just might come in handy. Take it from my personal experience: an extremely fortunate oversight when booking fares to England led to the accidental purchase of travel insurance, proving useful when I became quite ill and couldn’t take it.

10. You don’t need to pay to select your seat.

Airplane wing in flight over mountains
Seat selection can be free!

Unless you’re very picky about where you want to sit, you can generally choose a seat during check-in. Check in as early as possible to get the widest selection of seats. Many of these will be undesirable seats, but you’re guaranteed a few good ones to choose from.

11. Personalize your checked luggage.

Silhouette of man walking outside with a suitcase
Personalizing your luggage hits two birds with one stone: it shows off your individuality, and makes your stuff easier to spot!

You already know to make sure your luggage is correctly labelled with your name, route, and contact details, but you may not know that it is best practice to include this information inside your suitcase, in case it is lost and the tags on the outside disappear. As well, make sure to rip off any tags from past flights, as sometimes, the wrong barcode gets scanned and your luggage could be sent halfway across the world. In order to avoid mix-ups on the luggage carousel, you should aim for a unique-looking suitcase. Avoid buying suitcases in grey, black, navy, and maroon, because everybody else’s suitcases will look the same as yours, and personalize your existing suitcases with bright ribbons or funky tape. I have a roll of green and pink flamingo patterned duct tape for this purpose.

12. Carry-on dimensions: the bane of your existence

Different carriers will have different requirements (sigh) and to make matters even worse, they won’t tell you straight up what you’re allowed and what you’re not. Sometimes, on particularly Satanic websites, dimensions are listed as a lump sum. So for example, if they list 40 cm as your allowance (yep, I know that’s unreasonably tiny, but I’m willing to bet that in a few years, that will be the allowed carry-on size) , the width plus length plus height of your suitcase must be at most 40 cm. Make sure everything you need fits!

13. Balls are your best friend.

Legs poking out of car window
Give your feet a well-deserved massage!

Not the large squishy kind (I didn’t mean it THAT way!), but the smaller compact ones: golf and tennis balls work particularly well. Give your feet a massage at your seat by rolling the golf balls underneath the soles, or roll out your back and legs at the terminal with the tennis balls.

14. Airplanes: grosser than your toilet seat!

Glass of orange juice, and slices of oranges and lemons
Vitamin C has been debunked, but you know what hasn’t? Zinc!

It’s completely true: airplanes are a hotbed for germs, bacteria, viruses, and grossness. Vitamin C has been debunked as an effective cold remedy, so instead, try zinc supplements, which have been proven to prevent and bring down the severity of your symptoms. Get plenty of fluids (not alcohol!), rest, and fresh and healthy food, and for the germaphobes out there, bring some wipes for your armrests and tray tables.

15. Board later on.

Crowded London Underground station
Stay calm! The plane doesn’t depart for another hour!

Don’t try to be late (unless you want your seat to be given away!), but boarding after the crush increases your (incredibly tiny but still-there) chances of being upgraded. Yes, we know that chance is tiny, but it doesn’t really hurt, does it?

Did you enjoy this post? Make sure to give us a thumbs up, check out some of our wanderlust-inducing travel posters, and we’ll see you soon! Happy travels, wanderers!

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Author: Chelsea Mae

Chelsea Mae created Live Wanderfully to inspire other likeminded travelers, storytellers, and dreamers to embark on their next adventures. Live Wanderfully is now home to tons of travel resources: tips, tricks, and ramblings learned on the journey of a lifetime.

3 thoughts on “15 flying secrets even the pros don’t know”

  1. A little something to add: If you’re prone to airsickness or generally not fond of turbulence, morning flights and sitting directly over the wing is best. As the air and ground heat up in the afternoon, the chance of thunderstorms increases significantly. And the plane is like a lever about the wing, so the very front and back move the most!

    Like

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