12 Travel Hacks for Better Plane Rides

By: Mary Townsend | Last updated: Nov 03, 2022

Most people love going on vacation. Well, that’s not entirely true. They love the part where
they’re sitting on a beautiful beach on a tropical island with nothing to worry about for two
weeks. What they don’t love is the whole getting onto the plane and flying process. Sure,
airplanes are amazing modern inventions that have cut down travel time considerably. With that
said, they aren’t particularly fun or pleasant.

Most of the time, the onboard food and drinks are bad, overpriced, or overpriced and bad.
Added to that, the pre-flight security always seems to take far too long. Once on board, babies
seem to magically cry as if on cue. Plus, there’s the risk of loud passengers, kids kicking your
seat, and getting gas while stuck in a small seat for hours on end. To avoid some of that, let’s
take a look at 12 plane hacks for a smooth ride.

Workout before flying

For most people, going to the airport is an unpleasant experience. Whether you’re taking an
hour-long flight or a twelve-hour flight, the process always takes longer than you thought. You
have to arrive in time to check your bags, make it through security, get on the plane, and much


It’s enough to make people tired, grumpy, and sick. One way to counteract that is by working out
before hitting the airport. Although it’s not always possible, try your best – that extra bit of
exercise will boost your mood and immune system while making it easier to take a nap onboard.


Avoid turbulence with morning flights

Nearly all flights experience some level of turbulence. It’s just how things are when you’re
30,000 feet in the air and the winds are harsh. That being said, the morning tends to be a bit
gentler. Ergo, if you’re prone to motion sickness, consider early morning flights.


In the early morning, it’s not that hot outside. However, as the day continues, the heat begins to
rise, and this may cause high winds and storms. Those storms can cause turbulence.
Additionally, if you really want to avoid turbulence, book a front seat near the wings in the
morning. Turbulence is less strong there.

BYOT: Bring your own tea

As anyone who has tried to pass through security with a water bottle full of water knows, liquids
aren’t allowed. However, dry tea bags are. This is a great way for frugal-minded travelers to
save some money.


Instead of spending lavishly at an airport coffee shop, wait to board the plane. Then, when the
flight attendants come around, ask for some hot water in your mug. Voila! You have a nearly
free tea, and you don’t have to deal with the watered-down caffeine they often give out on

Forgo the ice

For some – especially those traveling from tropical environments – it can be tempting to get a
drink with a huge heap of ice placed inside. However, there’s plenty of reason to pause and opt
for the room temperature version instead. Well, there’s one reason, really.


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That reason is sanitation. The ice on the plane has to be stored somewhere. Usually, that
means the airplane’s water tank. With so many flights and tight turnarounds, the water tank isn’t
cleaned as much as you’d think. Furthermore, ice gives you less of the actual drink you want.

Don’t forget to wipe the tray table

Although airplanes are generally clean, they aren’t you-can-eat-off-the-floor clean. Or, more
appropriately, you-can-eat-off-the-unwashed-table clean. Most airplanes undertake far too many
flights each day to thoroughly clean the interior before each departure. That means germs have
the nasty habit of sticking around for quite a while.

In particular, for sticking around on the tray tables. Since most people use these to eat, place a
laptop on, or try to use them as a headrest for sleeping, the tables are full of germs that may get
passed onto you. To avoid that unwanted fate, make sure to wipe off your table before each use.


Think twice about the blankets

It’s no secret that planes can get a bit cold. Mostly that’s due to the full-blast air conditioning that
seems to stay on for the entire ride. Although this has certain benefits, such as circulating the air
and masking unpleasant smells, it’s also, well, cold.

That feeling of coldness makes many passengers reach for the nearest blankets. It’s better to
tough it out or curl up under a jacket. Unless it’s absolutely brand new, the blankets are rarely
washed and probably carry germs from the person who sat in the same seat before you.


Avoid the sodas

Alcoholic beverages and sodas are popular drink options when flying cross country. The alcohol
can leave you feeling dehydrated, so it’s best kept to a minimum or avoided altogether. The
sodas are similar – they’re best avoided.

That’s because drinking carbonated beverages 30,000 feet in the air is far different from having
the same beverage on land. The added height can cause the air in the soda can to expand
inside your stomach. That leads to gas, which no one wants while stuck in a confined space for
hours on end.


Use people’s hatred of the middle seat against them

No one likes sitting in the middle seat. Not the person actually sitting there or the people who
have to share the row. One way to get around that is by booking a window and an aisle seat.
This isn’t guaranteed to work, but it’s worth a try if you’re a couple or a pair of friends.

When booking the flight online, one of you goes for the window. The other takes the aisle. Then,
when a stranger looks at the available seats, they’ll (probably) avoid booking the middle one.
Once you’re on board, you can both sprawl out a bit more.


Turn left at security

Shortly after people make it through the little section where security checks your passport or ID,
they’re given a choice. Turn left to go through the security screen, or turn right. Most people will
turn right. Why is that?

Well, most people are right-handed, and they tend to (unconsciously) move in the same
direction as their dominant hand. That means the right-side line is bound to be longer than the
left-side line. Although it may not work 100% of the time, it’s worth a try to see.


Download your playlists to listen offline

Not every airplane has free wifi. In fact, most don’t. So, unless you plan on handing over a hefty
sum for a few hours of wifi, you’re stuck without internet. That means streaming your favorite
songs will be difficult. That being said, there is a solution.

That solution is to upgrade to Spotify Premium. With that subscription service, you can put your
favorite playlists in “offline mode.” Once you do that, they’re downloaded to your phone without
any need for wifi. If it’s clogging up your phone’s storage, you can just as easily delete them
after a listen.


Call the customer service line to rebook your flights

Most of the time, flights go as scheduled. Sometimes, however – and it’s usually when you can’t
afford delays – flights get canceled. When that happens, people scurry through the airport to
make it to the flight counter as soon as possible to book another flight.

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Rather than participate in that race, take a step back, pull out your phone, and dial the customer
service line. They can help you rebook the next available flight. It won’t solve all your problems,
but it’s nice not to have to wait in line forever.


Find a chapel for peace and quiet

Airports aren’t known for being quiet places of contemplation. On top of all the people running
around, chatting with each other, and talking on cell phones, there’s the sound of machines,
announcements, construction, and more.

Finding a quiet place can be difficult. However, most airports do provide a dedicated quiet space
in the form of a chapel or a meditation room. Even if you don’t choose to go inside for one
reason or another, hanging out nearby is bound to be quieter than in other parts of an airport.