What Everybody Ought To Know About Airports, Planes And Flights

How you start off the trip, might be a sure indication of how the rest of it will follow.

Here are some tips to make sure of a good start.

  • This one is my favourite. Be sure to check in to Seatguru.com before you check-in online. (And please, DO check-in online, it saves you from the long queues.) Here you can find Airline seat maps, flight information, Seat advice, user comments, and photos. Every single flight number can be accessed on this site, and it tells you exactly which seats and rows are the best for space and comfort, as well as which ones to avoid. It’s like Trip Advisor for planes. Invaluable information, as I discovered on a 16 hour flight to New York. I had a short time for connecting and wanted to be as close as possible to the front to get off quickly. I booked the second row, well knowing that there might be crying babies in the front row. But I would have seen, if I had checked with Seatguru, that for some reason, the front row on the side was moved back even further than normal and the second row was VERY cramped. Being a long-legged girl, this was most uncomfortable, and to top it off, my neighbour was too big for her own seat and needed some of mine too! Never again will I venture out there without the right information.
  • For booking flights, I love to use Kayak.com. I always seem to get the great deals from them, but the best thing is that you can search for up to a week in one glance, giving you the best combination of dates in terms of price. Obviously this only works if you can be a little flexible. I have used it exclusively for the last couple of years. Mostly for international flights, by the way, car rentals are not so good. Also, for domestic flights, better to check them all individually – not all are featured on this site. If anyone knows a better site, please share.
  • This might come to most people as a no-brainer, but if you make lists like me, it is something that I often overlook and pay the price. Make sure to pack a book, magazine or whatever you need to keep you occupied in your hand luggage, especially when flying very long distance or have long lay-overs.
  • Free airport Lounges (if you’re not flying First Class). 1. In South Africa, most of the big banks will allow you free access to the domestic airport lounges if you have a top-level credit card. I can speak only with authority about Absa, with their Private Bank credit card. Check with your personal banker about this and find out if you qualify at your own bank. Every person needs their own card for this – my husband applied for me to have my own card linked to his account (some trust is needed here… ) This is MUCH more comfy than the normal waiting areas, especially if the plane gets delayed. Free food and drink are available. Definitely worth checking out. 2. This brings me to: International Airport Lounges around the world – also Free! For this, your normal credit card won’t do the job, but you can apply to the same person in your branch for a ‘Priority Pass’. You can also buy one if you do not qualify for a free pass. This I have used extensively, and have not found an airport that did not accommodate the Priority Pass in one of their lounges – From Charles de Gaulle in Paris to Cancun in Mexico. Unfortunately they are not all the same quality, be prepared for this. Still, it’s free and you get much better seating, charging facilities for your cell phone and laptop with free Wi-Fi and great bathrooms with shower facilities in most cases. In Heathrow, I think I had the best experience – like a 5-star hotel with food, drinks, etc. plus I got a discount on a massage in the on-site spa because of my Pass! Unfortunately, the day before in Seattle I had the worst experience so far, with very little facilities. As a family, you only need one card and can take guests for free. In the aforementioned cases, I travelled alone and used my husband’s card with no problem.

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