1. Get drunk
“I’m just getting in the holiday spirit!” Tempting as it is to start your fortnight in Fuengirola as you mean to go on, it is wise to exercise restraint in the alcohol department until arrival at your destination. As well as the need to keep a clear head to deal with last-minute gate changes and the possible operation of emergency exit doors, it is inevitable that you’ll be needing the loo and won’t be able to go until you’ve reached cruising altitude.
You’re tired: you got up at 3.30am in Christchurch. It’s now 4pm in Abu Dhabi. Your head says “must… stay… awake”, but your body is saying “float me down the lazy river, I’m off to curl up with a large chamomile tea”. But whatever you do, don’t give in. One minute you’ll be thinking about catching 40 winks, the next, you’ve missed your flight. Once you’re on board, however, here are some essential tips on how to get some sleep on long-haul flights.
3. Be a ‘gate lurker’
You know the type. Resist the almost irrepressible urge to hang around the gate waiting for your flight to be called, like it’s some twisted game of musical chairs. ‘Flight 243 to Barcelona is now boa…’ and the queue already stretches all the way to Wetherspoon’s. A tough one this, even in our brave new world of ‘allocated seating’ – you’ve still got to get on that plane as soon as possible to get your bag in the overhead lockers.
4. Lose your temper
The airport experience offers many opportunities to lose your rag in style, but even though it’s socially acceptable to drink six pints of lager before midday in an airport, the rules of social decency are not entirely suspended. Thus, nothing gives you the right to give any member of airport staff a hard time just because your flight is delayed, they’ve run out of almond croissants at Costas or the £12 offer on a litre of Bombay Sapphire is only open to travellers outside the EU. It’s not their fault, so don’t take it out on them.
5. Chat up the check-in staff
You don’t normally make queasily lecherous comments to your colleagues at 7am (or maybe you do?) so don’t think that just because Sonja on the check-in desk smiles at you, it is an invitation to sleaze over her. All Sonja wants is to get through another day without bashing someone like you in the face with her court shoes, and share her woes with her man over lasagne and a bottle of Rioja. Leching certainly won’t get you an upgrade – but these 15 tips might.
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6. Jump the queue
The epic journey through the airport is fraught with possible stress, especially if you haven’t given yourself enough time to allow for delays caused by the failure of the airport’s computer systems or an unscheduled toilet trip. But lose your manners and you lose a little bit of respect for yourself. Remain courteous, don’t sigh audibly when the person in front of you fails to understand the necessary technique for scanning their boarding pass, and don’t push in front of the 80-something couple in the security queue. Karma will find you. If you want to beat the queue – and remain at peace while doing it – take a look at these 20 tips on staying calm and saving time at the airport.
7. Try to be funny
The airport is not an appropriate arena for humour. When the check-in person asks if anyone else has packed your bag, resist all temptation to respond: “As a matter of fact, yes, now you mention it, this shady-looking man approached me…” While it may put a smile on their face, it may also backfire as you are wrestled to the ground by security staff and your bag blown up in a controlled explosion. If you want a laugh, check out these bizarre and surprisingly rude airport names instead.
8. Play videos really loudly on your phone
This especially applies when your fellow gate waiters are already really annoyed because your flight is delayed. There are already enough annoying things at airports – and annoying passengers – so don’t become one of them.
9. Believe the sudden change in status on the departure board from Delayed to BOARDING!
Do not down the pint of lager you’ve only just ordered, don’t go to the loo, sprint 15 minutes to the gate, and then be stuck in a sheep pen for another hour because your flight isn’t really boarding. They just do it for a laugh.
10. Take this list too seriously
While they are very much worth taking on board, these points are not hard, fast and watertight. Apart from number four. Losing your temper at people who are just doing their jobs is unacceptable. And of course, it is possible that a friendly flirtation with a member of the check-in staff will lead to a whirlwind romance, or perhaps even marriage. Or an arrest.
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