As you likely know, health and flying typically don’t go hand in hand. Often, airports and planes are a major source of tension. The delays and cancellations shown at the overcrowded airports are stressful. Airplanes are no better, as they shove you into their ever-shrinking seat, all while a baby screams in your ear.
There is good news to report here from both the airline carriers and the airports. American’s quest for less stressed is being noticed by these industries, and they are bringing changes to help enhance your health.
Save on the hassle of waiting in long security lines by obtaining the T.S.A. PreCheck. The $85 fee associated with this program allows you to keep your shoes on, literally, for a span of five years. Do you desire similar offerings when you travel internationally? Check into the Global Entry program. For $100, you can expedite your entry back into our country.
My favorite option though, which costs you nothing, is the Mobile Pass app. Authorized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, this app allows you to quickly and easily get back into the states, often faster than Global Entry. With locations at 25 major airports (such as Atlanta, Dallas, Ft Lauderdale, Raleigh, NYC, and many others), this free app is a great find.
Dedicated yoga and meditation rooms are popping up at national and international airports due to the increasing interest in calming the mind and moving the body before flying.
The etiquette here is to take off your shoes first, enter the room quietly, use headphones for your music, and be considerate of others practicing in this same room.
For a space that offers a laid-back atmosphere, consider the airline carriers lounges. Fresh food, beverages, WIFI, comfy seats, and showers are often provided. You might even find spa services here. If you don’t have access to the lounges, you can pay a one-day entrance fee. In addition, review your credit card benefits to see if there are current perks that will allow you to gain access to the lounges.
Priority Pass is an independent network of 1,000 airport lounges and restaurants across 500 global cities. Annual membership rates begin at $99. Keep in mind that certain credit cards can offer membership to the Priority Pass program. One such example is the lounge in the Minnesota airport (MSP). Here there’s a putting green, a golf simulator, and golf lessons for a cost. Quite a fun way to add in some relaxation to your travels.
Let’s talk about something that I personally feel is challenging on the plane: sleep. Or the lack thereof. Sleeping soundly with those restless legs moving and cramped neck hurting is just hard. If you are talented enough to fall asleep quickly here (like my husband), kudos to you, but you are not the norm.
Don’t think that business and first-class travelers sleep perfectly up in their secluded areas. They suffer too, albeit at a lesser degree due to the reclining seats and a quieter environment. I was recently upgraded to business class on a flight to Nice, France. My seat laid completely flat; I had a comfy pillow and blanket. I still-did-not-sleep!
For all those sleep zombies like me, I give the following advice: bring along an eye mask, listen to peaceful songs, rock an amazing neck pillow, and try your best to relax. Don’t force yourself to sleep. Just accept that it will be completely fine if this doesn’t occur. Your body will recover during your next sleep. Remove that undue pressure that shows up as thinking that you must sleep on that long-haul to Sydney, Hong Kong, or wherever your travels take you. Better yet, come to your flight fully rested and binge watch the Handmaid’s Tale.
To help choose the most comfortable seat on your flight, check out the SeatGuru. This helpful website gives you guidance on where to sit on the plane. It will show you what seats to avoid, like the exit row that looks great, but offers limited foot space.
For more wellness on your flights, add in a few of the suggestions to your routine: • Use anti-bacterial towelettes to wipe down that dirty tray. Who knows how long ago that tray was really cleaned? Forget that, wipe down everything in close proximity of your seat.
• Be one of those weird people and bring your own snacks. Load up on nuts, fruit, and veggies. Supply your own water-preferably in a reusable bottle.
• Pack your own blanket or large scarf, plus a great neck pillow. Refer back to the tray comment when you consider how dirty the supplied pillows and blankets are.
• If you are feeling rebellious while traveling internationally, don’t eat at all on the plane. This will allow your body to regulate itself to the new time zone. Consider skipping this advice if you are in business-class and just eat that food!
• Wear compression socks on long flights to eliminate the swelling in your feet.
• Drink water… a lot of it and frequently. Being dehydrated causes headaches, makes your nose run, and prolongs migraines. If you partake in wine/beer, you’ll need to double up on your water as alcohol is a diuretic.
• Don’t give hate when the plane gets bumpy or things go bad: instead meditate. Breath in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of eight, and breath out for a count of four. Repeat ten times.
• Dress comfortably in loose-fitting clothes for long flights. Leave those skinny jeans packed away in your suitcase.
Airline carriers want to make your travels more bearable and satisfying. If they won’t change their seats to be wider, at least they are working on making the flights more enjoyable. The airlines have begun to add in healthy features in their flights that include meditation, yoga, and nutrition. Videos on yoga, stretching, and meditation have shown up on KLM, KoreanAir, and AirFrance. Headspace (my favorite meditation app) has partnered with United Airlines and Jetblue to be a part of their in-flight entertainment, allowing you time to redirect your breath and focus.
Providing healthier food options is a growing priority for many international airline carriers, such as Delta and Cathay Pacific. In addition, business-class flyers aren’t the only people who can enjoy these meals, as they have expanded to offer the same meals in the coach class. Finally, you may have noticed an upping in the quality of snacks being handed out by Delta and JetBlue, as they now provide gluten-free snacks.
While the new wellness solutions offered at airports and airlines are not drastic, it’s a step in the right direction and should be applauded. Allowing you the opportunity to fly well, my friend.