By Joanie Bergin, guest writer for Unwind and let go
Over the years I have traveled long haul extensively for both business and pleasure. The most important thing I have learnt from various trips around the globe is to be kind to people you meet along the way. I cannot convey how wonderful and unexpected things can happen when you either offer help to someone or offer a friendly smile. No matter what your mood is when you start your journey or even the booking process, my tried and tested tip is to always be polite and show goodwill to the airline staff, airport staff and other passengers. A thank you or a smile to even the cleaners in the bathrooms brighten their days when so many people can be dismissive. Believe me the goodwill comes back in terms of better seats, upgrades or a nicer meal from the first or business cabin and higher quality snacks. I still remember the time my flight was cancelled and rather than staying overnight in Frankfurt I asked to be routed via Hong Kong, met a friend for coffee and chat and got home to my Malaysian apartment 10 hours before my rescheduled flight was due to land. Trust me, kindness works every time!
In the air, I am cautious to limit myself to one or two glasses of alcohol, preferably champagne or wine on a long flight, and re hydrate with a Diorlyte sachet mid-flight or at meal time. Whatever class you are flying in for business or pleasure, on long haul and short, staying hydrated is key; drink plenty of water or tomato juice. Passengers get grumpy when dehydrated. The Diorlyte seems to help keep water in your system longer and also helps remove the horrible headache feeling after a long flight – with or without alcohol. A Vick’s nasal inhaler also clears your head and makes it easier to breathe through your nose too. On a long haul flight in my carry on I always have a change of clothes, a pashmina or a fleece and in my washbags some moisturiser, and Origins Clear Head Mint Shampoo, as it really helps to wake you up after a long flight, either in transit or at your final destination.
What to wear? The eternal question! When flying I always wear smart but comfortable clothes, as it always helps if they are choosing people to upgrade. Regardless of flying class I tend to change into long cotton yoga trousers once on board (a long flight) to be comfortable, whether curled up in the front row of economy, which when travelling without my four children is for me almost as good as business class!
Who to fly with? Here’s my top tip. My company, like most businesses is careful on travel budgets, but fortunately flights over 8 hours are in Premium Economy or Business class. A couple of years ago I needed to fly from Malaysia to Washington DC for 5 days, a door to door journey of almost 21 hours. As I was obliged to fly premium economy, I was lucky to find that Etihad were launching a new route from Abu Dhabi to Washington DC with discounted business class fares. I had always avoided going through the Middle East, but wow, I had the best flights in Business class that I have ever experienced. Their discounted fare, introduced me to a world of A la carte dining (meals at your choice of eating time, not the airlines), excellent food – in fact the best scrambled egg I have ever eaten, cosy blankets, comforting soup and the unrivaled Six Sense’s Spas in their lounges with free treatments. When I arrived in the US I was able to do a full week of work without the usual exhaustion of a long journey. The economics of flying in business meant that I did not waste any company time on fatigue. I had also done the same trip in Business with Singapore Airlines, Thai, and Korean and in Premium Economy with Thai, but good food and rest on the Etihad plane did make a difference. You can get as comfortable as you can in economy but if you are not served something decent it is hard to rest properly. No other airline offers such comforts or good quality food in their lounges or in the air. Other airlines ”largest seats”, “Hygge night lights and on-board chefs”, “luxury, branded amenity kits” do not match the flying re-imagined by Etihad.
Finally flying should be as stress free as possible and it should also be time out. A chance for some ‘me-time’, to drift through the clouds and chill out. Approaching any flight with a positive outlook and a carefully considered plan, makes all the difference – believe me!
Joanie Bergin imagines herself (when not working or cooking for her husband and 4 children, or 6 if you include their Golden Retriever and Sourdough) to be constructive travel critic. She is really passionate about baking and cooking and is a self professed vanilla snob.