in the last four years i`ve racked up quite a number of frequent flyer miles. actually i`ve been flying from about 2 weeks old. in that time i`ve learned a number of valuable lessons.

1. check in early. your bags get checked early, you get your choice of seats. and you get to avoid the gibbering idiots. you know the ones who missed their flight the day before and are on standby but insist on standing in line in the hopes that by doing so they will get on the already full flight.

1a. checking bags in early means when you arrive at your destination, you bags are off in the first 10 minutes. and most of the time it means your bags arrive with you. trust me on this, the only time i`ve not had a checked bag not arrive with me is my connecting flight from dc to nashville, when i checked my bags in again, after all the other people travelling on the flight.

1a. [i] always have an extra pair of underwear and a tee shirt, just in case your luggage doesn`t get there with you. i know most of the airlines offer you shit, but you know you prefer your own shit.

1b. if you can get an exit row seat, particularly if the flight is longer than 3 hours. the extra leg room more than makes up for the lack of reclining seats. depending on the aircraft you may get stuck close to the parents travelling with infants, they usually get the bulkheads. most of the time the children tend to be well behaved but be prepared for the occasional screaming brats. they too can be tuned out by good headphones or ear plugs.

2. fill out all your forms as soon as you get them, so that way you get to the counters with your form and you are out of there in no time.

3. for transatlantic travellers, try staying up the night before your flight so you can fall asleep on the plane. most west to east transatlantic flights leave late in the evening to facilitate an early morning arrival. if you sleep through most of the flight you can avoid jetlag and the ensuing distress to circadian rhythms. trust me on this as well. my first trip to london i spent almost a month trying to readjust my sleep cycle.

4. try to avoid caffeine and/or alcohol before very long flights. flying is dehydrating, caffeine and alcohol are diuretics which don`t help the situation. try to drink lots of water when you are awake on the flight, your body will thank you for it.

5. stretch. the exit row seating means you don`t have to clamber over people to get up, so when you`re awake, take a stroll and stretch.

6. pay the extra. the adage, you get what you pay for applies most truly to airlines. avoid charters and budget airlines when you can. the money you think you`re saving is not worth it in terms of stress and comfort. if you`re a student, sign up for STA travel, they offer really great rates.

7. sign up for frequent flyer programmes, there are bonuses like expedited check-in and boarding and if you do a lot of travelling, upgrades and the like.

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