Flying – best advice
It is possible to travel by various means of transport. But for longer distances, a plane is the best alternative. Traveling by plane has its rules. Here are ways to get the most out of such a journey. The following tips are divided into airline tickets, airports, flying, after landing, and COVID-19
Table of Contents
- buy airline tickets outside the main season, this can save you a significant amount of money
- buy airline tickets in advance, 2 to 6 months, also this can save you money. airlines at intervals publish promotions on their flights approx. six months in advance. find out when these promotions are and wait for the purchase until then.
- when buying a ticket, be flexible with the date of departure/return, because this can also save you money (during the week it is cheaper than during the weekend or holiday, when demand is higher),
- when buying a ticket, be flexible about the place of departure/return, because this can also save you money (more on overseas flights). e.g. you fly from Venice instead of Ljubljana and the ticket is € 100 cheaper. when choosing airport, take into account all costs (transport by bus or car + parking; time spent, risk on the way, …)
- if you are willing to wait at the airports for a connecting flight (layover) this opens up additional flight combinations and the possibility to find even cheaper airline tickets. if you are more adventurous choose a longer stopover and set out to explore the city. make sure you return on time (re-checks, boarding earlier, …). in case the stay is longer, some airlines also offer you accommodation or organize transport to the city.
- be prepared to quickly decide about trips (money saved and vacation available) because occasionally airlines post low prices by mistake (error fare) and you have a couple of hours to buy a ticket before they fix this mistake. there are mobile applications to monitor these errors, e.g. Secret Travel
- similar to the previous point is the last-minute offer, for flights soon in future. again, you need to be prepared to react quickly and leave soon.
- the browser should be in incognito mode when looking for offers because they can track you through cookies and raise prices. This has been banned for some time, but caution is not superfluous
- search on several web pages, I have the best results with:
- look for offers that have discounts for students or any other groups to which you belong or sites with special offers:
- collect miles – points for flights and in the long run, they can bring you a discount, a free ticket, an upgrade to a better category and such
- for intra-continental flights, it is usually the best alternative to buy a ticket from a low-cost airline (in Europe Easyjet, Ryanair, Wizzair, … in Asia AirAsia, TigerAir, LionAir, JetStar, …, in USA Southwest Airlines)
- when you buy from low-cost carriers you only get a basic seat and everything else needs to be purchased, everybody has its own preferences, the following are mine:
- priority boarding – makes no sense
- additional insurance – makes no sense
- extra luggage – I travel alone and pack lightly so it doesn’t make sense. if there are more of you that travel you can take one extra suitcase together. girls traveling for shopping must have an extra suitcase
- extra legroom – makes no sense on short flights. for long flights, however, given my height and back problems, this will be an increasingly common choice for me. check how much space there will actually be on a specific plane https://www.seatguru.com/
- flexible dates – if you are not likely to change dates it makes no sense
- seat selection – if there are more of you and you have bought separate cheaper seats, you can make arrangements with other passengers and flight attendants and change seats for free, so it doesn’t make sense
- when you fly between continents and when you have connecting flights I suggest you buy tickets through one of the agencies. the costs can be 20-40 € higher, but in case of any complications, their help will come in handy. I currently have years of experience with the following agencies in Slovenia, which are of different sizes:
- when buying a ticket with a credit card, do it on a secure network or via VPN. when buying from an agency you avoid this risk and you can pay later or pay in installments (longer flights).
- put the boarding pass on the phone in the airline app, for safety make a picture of the ticket (if the internet is off), print one copy (if the phone crashes or you lose it), send it via mail to yourself and a friend/relative for extreme cases
- cancellation risk – buy only if there is a high probability that you will not be able to travel, because in most cases when you do not go reasons are justified. I once had this cost due to illness in the family
- on the day of the departure, it is necessary to somehow arrive at the airport. if we are in the hometown, we ask some acquaintance. if we are flying from a place of residence the train or metro is usually the cheapest choice. if there is no other option take a shuttle that picks you up at home.
- if we have to drive further it is profitable to drive more people in the car.
- when parking, we can save money by choosing a more remote parking lot from which the owner delivers us to the airport. savings are big in cases of multi-week trips. follow the promotions of the airport where they occasionally give a discount on parking.
- back in the day friends and I took each other to Venice, Vienna, Munich, Zagreb. Just for fun, a trip where the passenger could give somthing for gas or not. However, this is a favor that will need to be returned
- however, we can go by public transport, the most common options are listed below:
- Nomago – positive experience to Vienna and Venice
- GoOpti – positive experience to Milan, Trieste and Zagreba
- prevoz.org – positive experience to Vienna, Zagreb, Budimpešta
- Flixbus – positive experience to Venice and Vienna
- BlaBlaCars – positive experience Barcelona-Valencia
- Lux – positive experience on Baltic
- Greyhound – positive experience USA and Canada
- it is important that we arrive at the airport on time. how much earlier depends on the size of the airport and the type of flight (domestic or international). consider on the road: speed limits, traffic peaks, and other factors that may affect ETA. we should be at least 1 hour earlier at a small airport, and on larger ones with international flights 2 hours earlier.
- if we have the option of online check-in we should take advantage of it because it saves us a lot of standing in que. here you should be careful, somewhere it’s mandatory (low-cost) and we have to do it early enough because we may have additional costs or even miss a flight if not done in time. when checking in luggage we can ask nicely if a free upgrade is possible (once already got business class without question).
- security check – follow the rules, pack the liquids properly, before you get in line be ready so the process is faster (empty pockets, remove the belt, take off jacket; prepare documents and boarding pass; take out the computer and liquids)
- If we are lucky we arrive at the gate early enough to have a drink, smoke a cigarette, go to the toilet and it’s time for boarding, but unfortunately, it is rarely so
- However, we could be stuck at the airport for several hours (flight is delayed, we missed the connecting flight, the layover is long but not enough to go to the city, …) and now we have to waste time somehow:
- sleep – if we have really a lot of time overnight it is best to fall asleep for about an hour. however, this is not always easy. airports differ in the comfort of chairs, quiet corners or even the possibility of sleeping, this page contains a lot of useful information https://www.sleepinginairports.net/
- shopping – shops at airports are extremely expensive, we are willing to pay more for some products (baklava in Istanbul). however, there are certain items that may be cheaper, e.g. tobacco products, spirits, technical equipment (check the price online at the location where you travel and in the duty-free shop; I bought a camera in Singapore for half the price it was at home). a trick to save money – bring an empty bottle over the security control and fill it with water in the toilet
- food/drinks – it is expensive, on average € 5 beer and € 10 sandwich. we can come to terms and pay. alternatively, we can bring something with us or buy in the store, it is bit cheaper
- charger – a desirable location is where there is an outlet nearby and we will be able to charge our phone. avoid USB charging as there is a possible security risk. have your own charger, preferably with multiple USB ports
- wifi – of course when we take pictures of everything at the airport it is necessary to share it with the world. so we need access to the internet. most airports offer one hour of free access upon check-in. in the bars where you are a guest, they also give you access. be careful because these are unsecured networks. if you do not have VPN access, avoid entering and transferring confidential data
- boarding was announced over the loudspeaker. if you happen to have an instinctive urge to get up and stand in line to wait, suppress this deep until you forget about it. it would make sense if you are among the first five in line, but that’s almost impossible because at least 10 of them usually wait before the announcement. lean back and enjoy the view of those that will stand in vain for half an hour.
we are finally on the plane and what kind of flight awaits us depends on several factors, in what condition we get on the plane, what kind of seat we have, the people sitting around us …
- preparation – it is ideal if we are rested on shorter flights and tired on longer ones to fall asleep easier. do not go on a plane with a cold because you will not be able to level the pressure (bad experience from a business trip to Bucharest). don’t be too drunk because they may deny you boarding the plane. also don’t eat before the flight, especially not heavy food. wear comfortable clothes (hoody, scarf because it can be cold) and wear comfortable shoes (slippers, flip flops, compression socks).
- hand luggage – documentation and valuables, a charger with a converter and headphones for phone and applications that keep you entertained. medicine (prescription, nausea pills, sleeping pills – melatonin), a spare set of underwear and brushes / toothpaste in case they lose your luggage. snacks – nuts, bars, electrolytes, … wipes, moisturizer or lotion, lip balm – dry air, chewing gum – to level pressure, notebook, and pen
- seat – if you follow the instructions above you will get a cheap ticket but the seat must be shitty. if there was no upgrade at check-in, hope for a fairly empty flight and friendly flight attendants so that you can sit down somewhere where there is more space. ideally, the flight is empty and you can lay down over 4 seats (this has already happened but rarely). I prefer to have a seat at the aisle because I can stretch my legs out even though they then tremple on me. around I hope there are no children sitting close, crying or kicking in your seat. even some adults can be tiring. if we found the ideal position, we got a blanket, a pillow, earplugs, a mask, it is time to sleep.
- food – food on the plane is not ideal but it is usually digestible. on the flight from Cuba, half of the passengers had problems. with a friend on way from Munich to Ljubljana we stopped 5 times for the toilet. the trick of how to get food first is to write in the remarks that you eat kosher or halal food and exceptions are always are served first.
- drink – for long flights it is free and as one of the alternatives to fall asleep, start drinking alcohol. on the contrary, low-cost carriers charge € 5 for a small beer. if we opt for a healthier option, however, drink plenty of fluids because we lose a lot of it on the plane because of dry air there.
- entertainment – for long flights there is usually a console with movies, music, and games. Exercise is important, so get up at least every 2 hours and walk to the toilet, stretch.
- disembarkment – similar to boarding, you sit and admire people standing with their crooked necks for 15 minutes. get out slowly. in case you have a connected flight to which you are already late then hurry. then notify the flight attendant of the situation during the flight a geto of the plane among first ones.
- luggage – go pick up your luggage. the suitcase should be marked with somthing colorful to make it easier to identify among other bags. it should also include a label with your contact details so that it can reach you in the event of a loss. if they lose your luggage, keep bills for things you bought and that were in a suitcase because you are likely to get compensation based on the money spent.
- moving to the city – if the city is safe enough I suggest you take local public transport to the city. if the location is dangerous, take an official taxi at the airport. when returning home friends and family are best option, have some souvenires for them
- when you finally get to the location relax, eat some light food, stretch and go to sleep to catch the rhythm after the jet lag.
Due to the virus, some security measures have been introduced, which we must now follow::
- masks – in the plane and at the airport it is necessary to wear a mask at all times
- tests – to get you on a plane/airport in some places you need to have a negative quick / PCR test
- vaccinations – apparently the only way to travel without difficulty
- border crossing – ruls are constantly changing and I advise passengers to double-check the latest information when leaving home
- insurance – because there are a lot of cancellations and rescheduling flights during this time, buy a ticket that will be refunded in such a case, or at least get a voucher for a replacement ticket. be prepared that all plans can be easily postponed for a day or two.
- EU Digital COVID Certificate – in EU you get certificate with QR code that is proof you are not sick and can enter other countries, you can have it in paper od digital form on phone
Flying is another way we can overcome distances. If you would like to buy airline tickets cheap, I suggest you follow the above principles. An important component of such travel is the airport with controls and waiting. During the flight, try to get the optimal combination of sleep, comfort, and fun. When we finally land, it’s important to make an easy transition into everyday life.
Please share your experience on flights and advice you got from them in the comments below!