I love a good road trip. But, you can’t always take a road trip. Sometimes you just have to fly. I never really thought much about how I got somewhere by plane. How long will it take? How many stops? What is this going to cost me? Sound familiar? Yes, I use to think the same things too. My husband is our flight aficionado. How you fly really does matter.
It might be beneficial to research the airline that you will be flying with, especially if you are a family traveling with young children, elderly individuals, or if one of you have certain medical conditions. Not all airlines provide the same level of services, accommodation, and comfort. This is important for long haul flights.
Make sure to check the FACTS/Rules of the airlines if you need special accommodation. It might be best to call a representative and ask. He/she will provide you with more details and answer any additional questions that you may have. The representative can also make any necessary arrangements at the airport for you prior to your arrival.
Booking a flight via third party websites can save you money if you are on a tight budget. It might be cheaper if you are traveling as a large family, or a large group. However, booking directly with the airline of your choice comes with some benefits as well. They may also offer you a similar discount. You can be enrolled in the frequent flyer program. After you reach a certain level, most often achieved after flying a few times with the airline, you can enjoy the perks of being a frequent flyer member. Some benefits include access to the lounges at the airports, being part of the first group of people to board the plane, discounts on your next flight, being able to select your seats early, and e.c.t. These benefits vary by airlines.
In terms of comfort, you might want to look at the measurements of the seats in the plane if you are tall, on the bigger side, disabled, or just anti-social. Some airlines offer wider seats and more legroom than others.
For example, you might notice that airline A and airline B are both using their 747-400 from Boston to London, however, airline B offers 36” for legroom and airline A only offers 31”. That’s because each airline design the configuration of their planes before they put them in service. If that particular class does not meet your requirements, then you can opt to upgrade to premium economy, business class, check the seat measurements in other aircrafts that they may use on the same route, or look into different airlines.
Which airlines and type of planes are better? Well, that is very subjective. It all depends on your preference and situation. Are you a fearful flier? A first time flier? Are you traveling with young children? Do you have motion sickness?
In general, flying is very safe. The FAA and most airlines take great pride in enforcing the safety of all passengers. The pilots are well trained professionals and have to spend many years of training before becoming captains. They also have to be re-certified every six months and pass all the “What If” emergencies that the FAA requires such as an engine failure, mid flight decompression, and such. Those are rare occurrences by the way. The commercial aviation industry has very strict rules implemented by the FAA. It might bring some peace of mind to research how planes fly and how safe flying really is. Some airlines offer fearful fliers program to help passengers. There are also several websites that list the safest airlines in the world. The list is updated annually. International airlines that are deemed unsafe are banned in the U.S and EU. Beware if you have to fly while abroad.
You tend to feel less movements in bigger airplanes. The A380-800 and the B777 for example. We won’t get into the specifications and technological details in this article but they are marvelous airplanes. To enhance your flight experience, choose a seat as close to the wings as possible, it will be smoother in case of turbulence. Turbulence is felt the most in the back of a plane. Bigger airplanes handle turbulence better. The A380 is very quiet and smooth during takeoff, cruising, and landing. It handles turbulence very well. So does the B777 but not as quiet as the A380.
Low cost airlines are convenient. However, make sure to read the fine prints. You may be required to pay for food and luggage. Make sure to check the weight limit for your bags and carry on allowance. You may save in some areas but pay big in others.