Was there ever really a golden age of travel?
We’ve all seen those pictures and film of travellers dressed in their Sunday best in the 1960s being served champagne and caviar, and a rack of lamb carved beside their seat. What’s not pointed out, though, is that the exorbitant airfares back then meant only the wealthiest in society could travel.
But I’d argue the golden age of travel is now, when most people can jet off to New York for £350 or Thailand for not much more if they want.
There’s a downside though. You can forget that rack of lamb for a start, if you’re travelling down the back.
As British Airways announces the routes which will see its reconfigured Boeing 777s next year – the economy class cabin is being squeezed from 9 seats across to 10 – here are five thoughts on making a long haul trip more bearable.
(1) Choose an aisle seat. Yes, it’s nice to look out of the window, but it’s nicer not to have to clamber over two people in the middle of the night when you want to use the loo. Use the website Seatguru to check out seat plans of the plane you’ll be on.
(2) Load up your iPad/tablet with TV shows and movies. Yes many airlines have seat-back TV these days, but it’s nice to be able to catch up on shows you’ve meant to see. Why not go old school and – gasp! – read a book.
(3) Take your own snacks. One of the biggest changes in the last few years is inflight catering, which in general has got a lot worse. Meal sizes are more like kids portions and British Airways, for example, doesn’t even serve a second meal on long haul flights under eight and a half hours. So take granola bars or even make some sandwiches, but if you’re bringing anything liquid (even yoghurt etc) it still has to be under 100ml to get through security.
(4) Many airlines in economy have stopped giving out eye shades, ear plugs and in some cases blankets, so stock up with your own if you need them. Dress in layers in case you are unlucky enough to be under an air vent.
(5) Stay hydrated. Yes, I know it’s easy to come over all Gwyneth Paltrow, but it’s important to drink plenty of water or juice in the air if you want to arrive feeling slightly more than death warmed up. The crew will come round with cups or just go and ask them in the galley: it’s a good chance to stretch your legs anyway. Should you avoid a glass of wine or a G&T? Hell no: you’re on holiday.
Another tip (I know I said five)…if possible try and go for a quick jog when you arrive just to loosen up stiffened joints and limbs that have been stuck in a cramped seat for 10 hours or more. Plus you can orientate yourself if you’re staying in a new city for the first time. And they say it helps with jet lag, although in my experience, not much helps with jetlag other than sleep.
What are your top tips for flying long haul? Please let me know.