The economy. Low cost carriers. Terrorists. Children. All things that have made flying a pale shadow of the luxurious pastime it once was. Admittedly, advances in technology and safety mean you’re more likely to get from A to B without smashing into mountain C, but it’s just no fun anymore. Not all is lost, though, because Mantality has tapped the brain of a serving airline pilot for tips that should make the next journey slightly less painful.
ALWAYS PACK A SENSE OF HUMOUR
Whether it’s a jobsworth security guard, grumpy check-in agent or officious immigration bod, by far the easiest and least stressful way forward is to smile, nod and comply. Repeat: SMILE, NOD AND COMPLY. They may be miserable bastards, but they are miserable bastards with power, and an unsympathetic police force at the other end of the phone. Is that 102ml bottle of sunblock really worth a night in prison with complimentary cavity search thrown in?
ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY?
Many airlines now charge passengers for choosing seats in advance. For short flights it could be argued that this is cynical profiteering. On longhaul trips, however, it’s worth every penny. Imagine twelve hours wedged between two salad dodgers while your partner sits fifteen rows away enjoying stereophonic toilets. Now ask yourself whether that extra few Rand is such a rip off after all!
HAVING FUN YET?
These days most reputable longhaul airlines have state-of-the-art entertainment systems that offer a huge selection of movies and the ability to pause while you pee. The fly in the ointment is that these systems are running on the equivalent of Windows and, as such, are prone to freezing and occasionally falling over entirely. Best take your own entertainment or video glasses just in case, and absolutely essential that you have a pair of noise-reducing headphones. Next time you’re on a flight surrounded by bored Italian children you will thank us.
SEATBELTS DO THE JOB THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO
Anyone with above room temperature IQ knows that flying into a hill at 600mph is pretty terminal, whether a seatbelt is worn or not. However, the majority of accidents are survivable as long as you come to a halt at the same time as the aircraft, and that means you have to be strapped to it. This applies even more so to a much more likely scenario – turbulence. If the plane unexpectedly drops like a stone and you aren’t wearing your seatbelt, it will leave you behind…right up to the point when the ceiling hits you on the head. Buckle up!
FLYING AND ALCOHOL REALLY DON’T MIX
We’ve all heard the old wives tales concerning alcohol: drinking through a straw gets you drunk faster, fresh air is lethal, drinking a whole bottle of tequila means you wake up with a sore butt, and so on. The flying and alcohol one is true. Airframe limitations mean that most aircraft cabins are only pressurised to around 8000ft in the cruise. The thin, dry air increases alcohol’s dehydrating effects so, if you don’t want to get off feeling like death, drink plenty of water and stay away from neat spirits. Oh, and remember that it is illegal to be drunk on board a commercial airliner. If you’re thinking of getting hammered and causing a scene, please refer back to the first tip. Especially the part concerning cavity searches!