4 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Flying

A new survey of air travel habits shows a lot of passengers are jerks – although fortunately not the majority.

Franchise firm Travel Leaders Group asked more than 850 consumers what they would do in a variety of in-flight situations. The responses ranged from kindly to passive-aggressive to, well, just aggressive. What would you do in the situations below?

If a nearby passenger won’t turn off his cell phone?

  • Call a flight attendant to handle it – 34.3 percent
  • Say something directly – 27.1 percent
  • Sit quietly and say nothing – 23.9 percent
  • Not sure – 14.7 percent

If a child passenger behind you kept kicking your seat?

  • Say something to the parent or child – 62.8 percent
  • Call a flight attendant to handle it – 10.2 percent
  • Sit quietly and hope the parent stops it – 9.7 percent
  • Ignore it – 6.7 percent
  • Turn around and glare at the parent or child – 6.1 percent
  • Not sure – 4.5 percent

If a couple asked to switch seats so they could sit together?

  • Gladly move without question – 44.7 percent
  • Move if it was not to a middle seat – 27.2 percent
  • Move if it was to an aisle seat – 13.6 percent
  • Not sure – 6.4 percent
  • Move if it was to a window seat – 4.4 percent
  • Move if it was closer to the front of the plane – 1.8 percent
  • Move if the new seat had extra leg room – 1.3 percent
  • Refuse to move, period – 0.6 percent

If you were traveling with someone but only you were offered a first-class upgrade?

  • It depends on who I’m with – 38.4 percent
  • Pass it up and stay together – 29.9 percent
  • Not sure – 11.8 percent
  • Give it to my companion – 7.8 percent
  • It depends on the flight length – 6.3 percent
  • Jump on it – 5.8 percent

If you put a small bag in the overhead bin and someone asked if they could put a much larger one there instead?

  • Gladly move my bag beneath the seat – 54.6 percent
  • Do it, but grumble because the other passenger should’ve checked the bag – 22.1 percent
  • Politely decline with an explanation – 9.9 percent
  • Politely decline with no explanation – 6.9 percent
  • Not sure – 6.5 percent

While the results are pretty funny, we all experience situations like this when flying. What can you do to make the flight go more smoothly? Here are some ideas…

1. Pick your seats online

Most ticket-booking sites let you choose from available seats when you buy. If that option isn’t there, if it costs extra, or if someone else handled booking, just check in up to 24 hours early – you can do it at the airline’s website, before leaving for the airport – and pick the best seats then.

2. Travel light

Less baggage means less stress, less time wasted (checking, dragging, and stowing), and fewer fees. For trips shorter than a week, I almost never have to check anything – because you’re allowed one small carry-on bag and a “personal item.” My “personal item” is a laptop bag that I cram half my stuff in and always manage to fit under the seat. If you do check bags, make sure you know how to handle lost luggage claims.

3. Use the sandwich trick

This isn’t about bringing food on-board – it’s about using psychology to earn yourself a little extra room. If you’re traveling with multiple people, pick an empty row and claim the window and aisle seats, leaving the middle open. Because most people hate sitting in the middle, you’re more likely to end up with an empty seat between you unless the flight is full. (If someone shows up and you want to sit together, just offer to switch.)

4. Learn to avoid delays

On delayed flights, everyone’s a little more stressed and grumpy. The best ways to avoid flight delays include flying nonstop, skipping the traffic-heavy hub cities (like Atlanta or L.A.), and flying in the morning (because delays cause a chain reaction throughout the day).

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