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25 tips for a better flight

James Wysong took the responses of his readers and compiled a list of 25 helpful tips that can improve your flights.
Wearing noise-reducing headphones, being prepared for unhappy kids and dressing comfortably are just a few suggestions readers had for improving flights.
Wearing noise-reducing headphones, being prepared for unhappy kids and dressing comfortably are just a few suggestions readers had for improving flights.P. Masclet / AP
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Last year, I wrote a column giving . At the end, I asked for your tips, and I got a lot of good ones. Much has changed since then in the world of air travel, and I’m sure there are new tips to be shared. So send them in. Top responses will be given prizes and be published in a future column. In the meantime, here are some of my favorites from the last go-around.

General travel advice

  • Make a note of where you parked your car at the airport. After a long trip, your memory will almost always fail you.
  • If your seat mate won’t stop talking, pretend to be asleep.
  • Cross-pack with a travel companion. That way, if the airline loses your luggage, you’ll still have half the clothes you need for the week.


  • Wear shoes to the restroom. Bare feet and bad aim are an unpleasant combination.
  • Match each alcoholic beverage with at least two glasses of water.
  • If you are allergic to cats, bring your allergy medication. Passengers often bring cats on board and carry dander on their clothes.
  • Always, always check that there is a barf bag in the pocket in front of you. You might not get sick, but you never know about your seat mate.

Other peoples’ kids

  • When kids are howling or staring at you from the seat in front of you, hand them some crayons and a sick bag and tell them to make a hand puppet.
  • Pack a small toy or a bag of snacks in your carry-on to quiet the screaming kid three rows back. Works every time and costs only pennies.
  • Bring dollar bills, and if the kid behind you starts kicking your seat, bribe him with money to stop. Tell him that if he can keep from kicking your seat for the remainder of the flight, he’ll get $5. Works like a charm.


  • Wear comfortable slip-on shoes.
  • Unless you are traveling with children, always ask for an exit-row seat. You’ll get more legroom.
  • Pack your favorite hot sauce. It can turn the worst in-flight or airport meal into a culinary delight.
  • Wear noise-canceling headphones.

Mental health

  • Arrive early.
  • Practice patience, and be prepared to test it abundantly.
  • Forget how it used to be and play by the new rules — whatever they are.
  • Be the person you would most like to fly with.


  • Listen to an audio book. It takes up more time than the in-flight movie and is better exercise for your imagination.
  • Make up lives for your fellow passengers. See that woman in the sweats, the one who looks tired but eager? She works in an office with a bullying boss, but today she’s flying to see someone she loves and trusts enough to be comfortable. The guy who’s pacing back and forth with the briefcase? He’s pitching a million-dollar client. The kid with the guitar case wearing rumpled clothes and a tie? You get the idea.
  • Books! I was scolded many times for not including this tip. After all, I’m a writer myself. So, now that you mention it, you should bring one of my books!


  • Ladies: Take the batteries out of your personal massage units; otherwise, the security search could prove quite embarrassing.
  • Have great sex the night before you fly. You will be in a better mood and be more likely to sleep on the airplane.
  • Hire your own jet and pilot.
  • Drive instead!

And now it is time for your new travel tips. with your name and e-mail address. All tips will be read and given consideration. There will be prizes for the top responses. Thanks, and fly smart!

James Wysong has worked as a flight attendant with two major international carriers during the past fifteen years. He is the author of the "The Plane Truth: Shift Happens at 35,000 Feet" and "The Air Traveler's Survival Guide." For more information about James or his books, please visit or .