Wear a jacket – one for the chaps I suppose? I always wear a jacket as it smartens up any outfit, meaning you get treated better by staff and should also act with more confidence. Add in the bonus of a place to put your pocket contents when it comes to security screening and it’s a great item to have. Also works as a makeshift blanket for budget journeys.
Loafers – I always try and travel in slip-ons or loafers, for at least three reasons. Firstly, they’re much more comfortable than lace ups for long haul journeys. Second, they’re also easier to take off at security. And finally, they add a smart but not stuffy element to your outfit – meaning you look like a pro relaxed traveler and not someone going to a meeting.
Be ready to take advantage – different airlines have different policies on a wide range of things. Some allow you to take hand luggage AND a laptop bag/handbag, while others allow you to bring you own booze (ahem, Brunei…). Others have amazing amenities that are worth grabbing (see Emirates eye masks). Be aware and be ready to make the most of each airlines quirks. After all, you’re paying for it!
Be nice. On long haul flights I often drop off a bag of mixed chocolates in the galley so the staff can have a treat – if you think flying thirteen hours non-stop is boring, imagine having to serve rude people for that length of time. Sympathise and make an effort – I’ve received some great treatment in return for simply being polite.
Water – I can’t emphasize this enough. Stay hydrated and everything will be better. Pretty much everything on a plane dries you out: the air con is like a desert wind, the alcohol isn’t great for it either, and the food is highly seasoned due to the tasting issues at altitudes. Drink water and your sleep will be better, your skin will be better, you’ll feel better, and trips to the toilet mean you don’t have to panic about DVT.
There’s no need to rush. Don’t be one of those people that stands up as the plane lands, blocking access to the overheads, because you’re stood for half an hour waiting for the doors to open. Your luggage is going to take its time, so sit down and enjoy the unhurried final few moments before you’re thrown in the maelstrom of baggage and immigration.
Be prepared – when it comes to immigration, read the forms and fill them in BEFORE you get to the counters. Don’t be that guy that gets to the front of queue and then has to fill in the papers to one side. Also don’t be the guy that holds a place for a friend – that’s just not on.
Learn a bit of the language – it’s not hard to pick up “please”, “thank you”, “hello”, and the like. It’ll be appreciated and it shows you actually pay attention to where you are. If you want to bellow in English at people, go to Skegness or don’t leave your house. You can print off phrase sheets from various websites and the Lonely Planet phrasebooks are a gem, including menu decoders and phrases in the local language or alphabet alongside phonetic approximations – in a bind you can point at what you want to say. Even if you were awful at GCSE French, don’t let that put you off. Things spelt out phonetically and syllable by syllable should be pretty easy to grasp, and you’ve got some time to kill brushing up on the plane.