Airport Tips and Hacks to Fly to Europe Like a Pro
Today I’m sharing airport tips and hacks to fly like a pro. When it comes to traveling to Europe, your flight is likely going to be your biggest travel expense. While it pays to seek out the best deals on flights, it is important to keep in mind that there is usually no such thing as free when it comes to flying. Make sure that the ticket you are purchasing meets your travel needs with the best for your combination of economy, schedule and convenience. Don’t just choose the cheapest one without weighing all the options.
When I booked my flight to Edinburgh, Scotland, my father-in-law helped me find the best fare, as he’s a seasoned traveler. I chose the Premium Economy seats with Delta, because they have more leg room and I know that having even just a little more space will allow me to fly more comfortably. I often fight with my anxiety and some claustrophobia on planes, so having a bit of extra space really helps me to stay calm.
Where to Start
If you aren’t currently using a travel agent, it is a good idea to start by researching your options. Rather than tediously checking each airline’s website you can begin with a site that allows you to compile your choices and compare them.
There are many different websites that provide flight searches that will compare rates available at several different airlines, travel agencies or both. Once you have found the site you choose to use, sort them by using the price filter. I always check Google, Expedia, and Kayak for starters. Sometimes you will find cheaper flights directly on the airline website, othertimes you’ll get the best deal on a site like Trip Advisor or Expedia.
Time Your Flight Correctly
When traveling from the U.S to Europe it is difficult to find a flight that isn’t a red eye. However, you can maximize the time you have to sleep on the plane by making sure you plan your departure around your sleep schedule. Most airlines offer a wide variety of night time flights, some departing as early as 5pm or as late as 11pm, giving travelers the option to arrive somewhere between 6am or noon. Expect to sleep at least one or two hours into your flight since dinner and beverage service usually happens within the first hour on transatlantic flights. If you usually head to bed around 10pm at night, an 8pm flight will help you to maximize your on-flight sleep time.
When booking our flight to Scotland, I actually ended up choosing a flight out of Orlando instead of Tampa, because it was several hundred dollars cheaper and there were better flight time options. Our flight arrives around 10am in Scotland, so we’ll have hopefully slept on the plane and will be ready to start exploring the city!
The Best Seats for Sleep
When booking your flights, use an app that allows you to select the most comfortable seats available. These kinds of apps allow users to see the specific details of each seat on the airline, allow you to read user reviews and show you which seats are empty and available.
If you want to get a little tricky, there are a few techniques you can use to ensure the best seat selection possible. When two of you are traveling together, book the window and aisle seat near the back of the plane, chances are the middle will stay empty, especially since red eye flights are not often busy. While checking in at the airport, you can even ask the person at the gate how full the flight is and see if it’s possible to move to an empty row in the back. Most of the time when I fly, I will ask if upgrades are available once I’m at the airport. I often take advantage of last minute upgrades to seats.
Skip the Movie
In flight entertainment can be a fantastic amenity during a daytime flight, or at the beginning of your venture by keeping you entertained as you wait for a meal. The truth is though, it can be a distraction from sleep through the remainder of the flight. You will probably have to go to sleep much earlier than you are used to, especially during a transatlantic flight and when there are movies available it may be tempting to pull an all nighter watching them. If you so choose to start a movie while you wait for your meal, select something you have already seen or that runs shorter than most, this way it will be much easier to turn it off when it’s time to get some shut eye.
I usually skip the in-flight movies and read books on my iPad until I’m ready to try and sleep.
A healthy breakfast full of nutrients and protein can help you avoid some of the side effects of jet leg. One of the easiest airport tips is to pack yourself a protein bar, fresh fruit or other healthy snacks in your carry-on. If you are flying first class you will most likely get a good breakfast offered to you, but it is still better to be prepared just in case. Make sure to drink lots of water to ensure that you don’t get dehydrated. Skip sugary juices or caffeinated drinks that will make you crash later in the day.
Before I switched to the keto lifestyle, I would always pack something like Raisinets that I could much on throughout the flight or hard caramel candies to suck on, as a way to distract myself during the flight. Now I’m packing things like macadamia nuts and chocolate dusted almonds.
Travel During the Off Season
I’ve been to Paris in the Springtime and Spain during the Summer, both of which are busy travel times. I recommend heading to Europe during the off season, such as Fall, to have the best trip possible. I’m so glad we’re going to Scotland in the Fall, though it’s truly only a coincidence, because we’re going for my friend Jen’s wedding.
If you’re going to go during the off season to Scotland, like I am, it’s important to know that it gets dark very early! Sunrise is anywhere between 7:30 and 8 am, while sunset is between 5 and 7 pm. So make sure that you know how late attractions are open.
Flying from the U.S. to Europe doesn’t have to be complicated if you implement my airport tips and hacks. It’s important to ensure that you are starting with the right travel booking method for you. Choose the best flight time and seats with ease with these tips and get a good night’s sleep prior to arrival. You’ll have a great trip!
What are your airport tips and hacks to fly like a pro? Let me know!