The Catholic Travel Guide
Travel Tips for Enjoying Your Overseas Flight
All travelers... keep your passports, visas (if applicable) and tickets on you at all times. Do not give them to a traveling companion or spouse. If for some reason you become separated from each other this could create many problems, missed flights and delays. Most of the information below is based on the assumption you are flying from the U.S.A. or Canada to Europe.
AT THE AIRPORT
SEAT ASSIGNMENTS AND CHECK-IN: We advise you to bring a doctor’s note if you have a medical condition requiring a special seat. Sometimes it helps. Bulkhead seats are usually given to parents with babies or small children. So that extra legroom may come with the cost of crying babies or rambunctious children.
Exit rows have more leg room, usually hard to get, and you must be willing and able to help in the event of an emergency.
And of course airlines are now charging extra for any of these desirable seats.
Current requirements are that you check in for international flights about 2 hours prior to scheduled departure. Domestic flights are often less, but again check with the airline or your tour operator.
Even if you have no luggage to be checked, you almost always must check-in at the ticket counter (not the gate) prior to departure. There may be a few exceptions so check with your travel agent or tour operator to be sure.
FREQUENT FLIERS: Each airline has its own frequent flier program, which you may join, either at the airport or by contacting the airline in advance. You can possibly earn miles on another airline if you already belong to one of those programs. We urge you to check with the airline whose frequent flier miles you wish to accumulate---each one has certain rules pertaining to frequent flier miles. In order to obtain credit on one of these airlines you must keep the back copy of your ticket and all boarding passes. You will need to submit these to the appropriate airline. Unfortunately, if you do not have them, they will not give you credit. Personally, unless you do a lot of flying, we have found frequent flier programs to be more hype than anything else. If you are traveling with a tour group your ticket may have been purchased at a discount that will not give you frequent flier miles, so check with the airline to be sure.
ENJOYING YOUR FLIGHT
DINING On international flights dinner is most often a choice of beef, chicken or fish unless you’ve prearranged your meal with the airline (you can make a special request for low-fat, diabetic, salt-free, vegetarian, etc. by calling the airline at least 24 hours in advance). Coffee, tea, water and soft drinks are usually available, sometimes alcoholic beverages are free depending upon the airline.
STAYING HYDRADED Because the air aloft is very dry, drink plenty of water while on board; remember that alcohol and caffeine drinks may tend to dehydrate you as well as contribute to jet lag. Hand or moisturizing lotion will help to keep your skin from drying out. Also, if dry eyes are a concern, there are very good moisturizing drops available in the pharmacy that deal specifically with this. If you wear contact lenses, you may be more comfortable wearing your glasses during the flight.
IMPROVED CIRCULATION Swelling of feet and legs are sometimes a concern on long flights. Although this is fairly common and usually not serious, there are steps you can take to improve circulation. Hourly walks about the aircraft help with circulation. Exercise the calf muscles by rotating your ankles. We also encourage you to consider Compression Socks (not support socks). These help reduce swelling are reasonably priced. Do not wear stockings or clothing that will cause a restriction of circulation, however. For long flights wear loose, comfortable clothing. Again, drink plenty of water to help keep you from swelling.
CABIN NOISE: Use of "earplanes" or other devices can help reduce the cabin noise and allow you to sleep more comfortably.