Atlanta Trip: Flying Tips

Hey, I thought I share some travel tips I have. Just so to keep the integrity of this blog, I am throwing some, well, eating related stuff too … how does that sound?

I’ll start with some pre-flight planning. Traveling on long haul flights is very uncomfortable unless you are in business or first class. I normally travel on economy and my flights to Atlanta takes at least 5 hours if I have a direct flight.

So, to me, getting a good seat is a big deal. My preference is always windows, followed by aisle seats. I don’t mind the middle seat but I NEED at least an armrest. I make it a point to logon to the airline’s site and then select my seat. You can change your seat even though you have been assigned a seat already on your e-ticket.

What then is a great seat? There’s a good website called seatguru (http://seatguru.com) where they have almost all the seating configurations of every airlines’ aircraft. The beauty of this site is that it tells you the good and bad of each seat so, you know what to avoid and why. Check it out … you will like it.

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To me (and per seatguru too), the best seats are the ones by the emergency exits. Some airlines does not allow you to select those seats through the website but there is a trick … you can call them to put you on that seat. The reason is because they wanted to make sure that you are able to assist in emergency evacuation if required … basically you need to understand English!! The other advantage for this seat if, of course, when it comes to evacuation, you’re the first one off.

See the picture below. The best seat is in this row and the row behind this. I like this row because I have an extra tray space. I normally take out both my camera and notebook and magazine on flight. With drinks and snacks too, you can imagine how cluttered my tray normally is. The seats too have more legroom. It is because they need wider space to help evacuation. Legroom is not a big factor for me really because, well, I don’t have long legs.

BTW, avoid seats that cannot recline … for example, the seat just in front of emergency exits cannot recline and so does that last row of each section.

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Airlines do not provide any headphones for inflight movies. They charge up to $5 for a crummy pair of earphones. I bring my own noise-cancellation headphones. This one is neat … it folds up nicely for travel but the best thing is the noise cancellation feature. Even when I am not using it to listen, I could use it to dampen the ambient noise from the plane’s engines.

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What’s next? Let’s talk currency. I normally find that I do not really need cash for trips to the US. A credit card is widely accepted, even in taxis. But then, I do need some cash for giving tips and such. But when I need currency, I normally would withdraw it through my credit card which I think gives one of the best rates. The only caveat is that I must immediately (within the day) pay off the cash withdrawal or it will incur higher than normal interest rates. That works for me because the company pays for the any ATM or exchange charges.

What about baggage? Try not to check in any baggage. Other than the possibility of having your luggage lost, you will save time at your destination not needing to wait for your luggage. According to stats, 1 in 150 luggage are lost or misdirected. Although airlines posted signs about luggage limitations, they are generally not strict about it unless they have an above-normal load. I travel with a big backpack and a rolling luggage and I get on fine all the time. Worse thing that could happen is that they will take your luggage just prior to you get on the plane to load your luggage below deck.

Oh yeah … loyalty/membership cards. When you travel, apply to the airlines and hotels membership cards. I have racked up quite a lot of miles already and it does come in handy when I travel on my own vacation. I have generally used my miles for free hotel stays. Always remember to give them your membership number when you check-in to your flight.

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I told you I would say something about food. Suanne packs for me those 3-in-1 beverages (coffee and hot chocolate). The coffee that I make from the hotel room’s coffee machine tastes like soot with sugar — I hate that and never touches it. These 3-in-1s are handy in case I wanted a cup. Suanne also pack for me packets of soya sauce that she swipes from sushi places. You see, I NEED soya sauce with my eggs and in Atlanta, all they have is ketchup.

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These are my eating aids. I don’t carry a whole bottle of tums but do have a few in case I need it. I tend to overeat when I travel. Oh, last but not least, the humble dental floss — I go nuts when I get food lodged between my teeth and can’t get them out.

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I am sure there are other tips but that’s all I can think of. If you have any questions or tips of your own, please leave a comment.

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  1. Quite interesting tips Ben. About ‘SeatGuru’, do they only work for North American (I mean booking a seat)? I know that in CX, they normally preserve the emergency exit seats for people who has been trained to open those door (unless the flight is full).

    I also agree that try not to check-in any baggage. I had an unpleasent experience recently as Eastjet didn’t send my baggage until 18 days after I arrive home! It was a nightmare and they had even broken something as well! Bad!

  2. Thanks for the introduction of the noise-cancelling feature in new headphones. I didn’t know that exist! Am going to head out to buy one soon! =)

  3. Something else to note about the emergency row seats. A couple of years ago, we were seated in the row just before the emergency exit. My son who was 2 at the time was riding in his car seat. The airline knew we were using the car seat and they still sat us there. Not only do the seats not recline, they need to flip forward to place the emergency exit door on top of. His car seat would obstruct this procedure if an evacuation was necessary. About 15 mins before we landed, we had to get up out of our seats and switch seats with the people in the row in front of us! What a hassle!

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