Perpetual travel tips: cheap flights and air travel advice
We are what can be considered frequent flyer customers due to our pursuit of constant travel.
Because we travel with various airlines and are not loyal to any particular airline, we are not into saving-miles programs. We are more sensitive to prices than airline service and happy economy flyers.
But true romantics, which means window seaters, enjoying breathtaking satellite views above the clouds (and a heck of a lot of radiation on the plane), risking to pee our pants rather than squeezing past other passengers to the lavatory.
It is all about being rewarded with one of a kind flight perspective, if stunning 30,000-foot views are any indication of why I love to fly.
Windows give me comfort. I am distracted from the fact of being stuck in a metal tube cramming over a hundred strangers with weird behaviours (see later in the post).
Landing at one of Cuba’s tropical islands.
A lot of cheap airlines are not at all different nor worse than the supposed prestigious ones. Emirates would be such an example enjoying the myth of great comfort and special service.
The by far best airline we experienced, as far as comfort, food, service and free extras are concerned was Kingfisher, a small but very fine Indian airline (sadly facing financial issues). And the worst service so far was offered by the world’s most hated airline.
But I am not picky and generally happy to fly everything, trusting the competence of Russian pilots or Cuba’s fleet to American Boeings. I especially trust the Russians. Only true professionals are able to control those rusty machines and vodka temptations. We have booked our going-to-Japan-in-March-tickets with Aeroflot.
NASTY AND SUPERB AIRLINE STATISTICS
If you are concerned with safety issues then this is the site to get a glimpse of accident and safety ratings for all airlines:
It actually did stop me once from buying tickets from a Pakistani airline but other than that I think I am fine with any bird.
FINDING CHEAP FLIGHTS
The most useful and constantly used site for cheap flights (that we use) is:
The site scans through a massive amount of airlines and their offers. I am not going to include any other sites (which would mainly be the airline sites themselves) as skyscanner seems to come off as the cheapest solution and we always double check prices, comparing fares when booking directly through the airline.
To further cut down on flight expenses we sometimes look up random destinations and check on flights wherever we are.
THE TIME TO TRAVEL IS NOW
This really is going to be the golden century of travel, booking flights is brain dead easy and affordable.
Thailand’s Koh Samui Airport makes you want to come back any time. It does not look anything like an airport.
Bangkok Airways has the much appreciated habit of providing special lounge service for all passengers.
Some airports are a give-away to who is boss in the country. Petronas is Malaysia’s oil company guru and has build itself a monument of wealth in Kuala Lumpur.
To STAY COMFY and get the most ON FLIGHTS
– We try to get window seats to have something to comfortably lean against without risking collisions with passing attendants or snack carts. In practice, Tomek is leaning against the window wall and I am resting on Tomek’s shoulder.
– If you need more leg room, I would go for aisle or emergency window seats. Beware of the last row of seats on board, on many planes these do not recline!
However, some seats are very flexible in their recline function. The Cuban Aerogaviota planes consist of old Russian Antonov models.
Hooray, we made it with the Aerogaviota, entering and leaving like cargo. There are only three windows on each side of the aircraft and the back door opens while landing.
– Stay buckled to avoid flight assistants waking you up for the obvious.
– Cuddle up into provided blankets. A lot of times these are not given out anymore, therefore I always bring a warm sweater, emergency socks and a scarf.
– Adjust your aircon to avoid a cold. ( I am such a wuss.)
– Getting sleep on the plane is easiest when you can get three empty seats to stretch out. Unfortunately that is a very unlikely scenario. When I am lucky to get one empty seat next to me I can curl up. While Tomek is too tall for seat-yoga, I often lay down on his lap to get a good rest.
– Realistically speaking, you will have very little room and getting comfy is easier when you are wrapped up warm, enjoy neck-support and an eye-mask. I don’t use earplugs which give me an annoying high pitched sound to my ears.
– Try not to get stuck with a seat next to the toilet area, if you like to get some rest without disturbing door noise and toilet smells.
– Stay hydrated and take some breaks to move around. We are not the aisle-gymnastics type but we walk up to flight assistants rather than pushing the call button to receive juice or water. Sometimes the crew will have a tray with juices for passengers to pick up.
– Order your free health booster, the tomato juice. Although this vegetable tastes average as a drink on earth – the reason why we never drink it in normal life – up in the air tomato juice bizarrely transforms into the most desirable fluid on board. I love mine with Tabasco or salt and pepper. Not Worcestershire sauce (wouldn’t know how to pronounce it).
– This is your chance to start drinking at impossible hours without condemnation. You are on a flight and that makes sipping alcohol in the morning far more acceptable than at home. It can help to relax having a few drinks from the mini-bar. Alternatively, you can try out some of the alcohol at the duty free shops before boarding to achieve a blissful booze ‘n’ snooze.
– On most airlines you can pick food preferences and we are usually able to order a light vegetarian meal. Airlines do prepare extra orders before flights and our meals were often better quality than the standard fare. In general, airplane food quality is not great. We try to buy water and fresh fruit and a (non smelly) snack at the airport before boarding. This site provides reviews and pics of airline servings:
– To stay entertained, pick up your free newspaper at the front, watch a movie or bring your own. Airlines seem to generally cut costs and sell stuff that used to be free. We always bring our own headphones and have a movie in store or we work on our laptops.
– To stay fresh, we found it very useful to carry our toothbrushes and some toothpaste with us. And chewing gum, for pleasant conversations with the seat neighbour.
– The air on a plane is veeery dry and I recommend a good lip balm and to bring some hand lotion, if you ‘crack up’ easily, like me.
WHAT NOT TO DO – based on first hand experience (thankfully not all)
– Opening window blinds when everyone else is in sleeping mode and most passengers are resting. The experience can be similar to someone holding a torch to your eyes.
– Kicking the back of your front seat. This plea mainly goes out to parents of sweet little kids who have more energy and fun doing things that may disturb other passengers. I never understood the need for special family units on planes but after getting foot massaged over and over again by bored kiddos, I do.
– Touching other passengers. Keeping arms and legs to yourself is an obvious and well understood behavioural rule. Or so I thought.
Once in a while I discover something like this sitting on my armrest.
I am with you on prophylactic measures to fight deep vein thrombosis, just not too close to my face.
Also, please passengers, do not wrestle for armrests and legroom. Tomek (with the book) getting out of the way to make room for big guy to the left.
– Be prepared for omnipresent odour. Flatulence is an issue. Smelly feet. Stinky breath, sleep dribbling, picking the nose, babies getting changed, big sneezes coming without a cover, passengers unwrapping and consuming very aromatic food outside meal times. Sensitive noses and souls do suffer. All kinds of germs are spread around.
Flights can be an endurance contest. So the trick to get over unproductive hard feelings: just pretend the culprit is a long lost friend. I like to wrap myself into my scarf or blanket. If all fails try alcohol refills.
– Do not just reach into the seatpocket but exercise caution. You may find it being used as a waste basket with trash, gum, nail clippings, diapers.
– Do not attempt to join the Mile High Club, although it might seem tempting to get all frisky and private with your partner – you never will go unnoticed. Same goes for adult magazines – people can see your laptop screen.
To the delight of foot fetishists I commonly see passengers who remove their shoes for the flight (fine, I do that) – but also move around the cabin barefoot, and worse, walk into the lavatory without foot gear protection. I can only imagine what kind of hazards you can pick up and what will possibly end up on my armrest…
Ah, you know what, let’s finish with the benefits of frequent flyers:
Flying across the Atlantic every week for 40 years makes you one thousandth of a second younger than your identical twin (Brian Clegg – science writer)
That’s something to look forward to.