Flying tips

Stay Organized

Keep all your information in one place by using App in the Air or TripIt, two apps that do things like consolidate your flight statuses, check-in times, gate numbers, and nearby lounge locations, and will update you on schedule and gate changes.

Check Real-time Reports

Like a jilted lover, airline apps are usually the last to know when things are going wrong. Use FlightStats to track flight statuses, on-time performances, weather conditions, and even the flight history of your specific aircraft, all in real-time so that if your plane is delayed, you can be the first to know and the first to get rebooked.

Remember the Liquid Lowdown

Remember, any liquids you’re carrying through TSA checkpoints must be less than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) and placed in a see-through bag no larger than a quart.

Sign up for PreCheck, Already

Keep those shoes and belts on, leave the liquids and laptops in your bag, and forgo the full-body scans by getting TSA PreCheck. You could pay $85 for PreCheck itself, or spend $100 for Global Entry, which also confers PreCheck (usually) as well as expedited immigrations and customs access. Several credit cards, including the Capital One Venture and the Bank of America Premium Rewards card, will even refund you the application fee for either program.

Investigate Security Speed

Bypass the worst security checkpoints at over 200 airports around the globe by tapping into the MiFlight app’s crowd-sourced, real-time checkpoint waiting times.

Buy your ticket as early as possible

Waiting and hoping for that $20 price drop, more often than not, is not worth the trouble. Not only does buying early give you peace of mind in the weeks and months leading up to your departure, it increases the likelihood that enough seats remain open for you to pick where you want to sit—whether you prefer to cuddle up to a window, have easy access to the aisle, or stretch your legs in an exit row. Wait until the last minute and chances are good that you (and your elbows) will be sandwiched into a dreaded middle seat. Frequent flyer? The time to cash those miles in on an upgrade is now. RELATED: 8 Effective Tips for Getting a Free Airline Upgrade

Wear your most comfortable outfit

That fitted blouse and skin-tight pair of jeans might make you feel like you’re 20 again, but trust us—after sitting (and attempting to sleep) in them for 15 hours, you’ll never want to look at that outfit again. When it comes to long-distance travel, stick to a “comfy-chic” dress code of neutral, loose-fitting layers you can move around in. Besides keeping cozy on a flight, you’ll also guard against deep vein thrombosis—a serious condition that’s aggravated when you sit in cramped positions for long periods of time. Experts also recommend wearing compression socks, which reduce swelling and decrease the risk of blood clots. Another must for the ladies: your favorite pashmina/scarf, which does triple-duty as a stylish accessory, an extra layer for beating cabin chills, and, when folded, an extra pillow to lean on. RELATED: JS Editors’ Favorite Comfy Outfits for Spring Travel

Invest in a good travel pillow, earplugs, and sleep mask

We get it: the excitement of opening up your own little long-haul care package is tempting—The tiny toothpaste! The woolly socks! The ear plugs you always forget!—but even on the best international carriers, these tiny conveniences never quite live up to their potential. (We can’t count how many times we’ve suffered through broken sleep-mask bands, pillows that instantly deflate, and ear plugs that never quite stay in.) Embarking on a 12+ hour flight? It’s time to invest in the right pair of moldable plugs that will stay in your ears, a silky (even cute!) sleep mask you’ll hardly feel you’re wearing, and a quality neck pillow—one that provides comfort while also keeping your spine aligned, so you don’t wake up with a crick in your neck. Memory foam works wonders. RELATED: The Travel Pillow You Need for Your Next Flight

Pack your own headphones

Just picture it: you’re reaching cruising altitude and have that perfect movie lined up on your in-flight entertainment console. You dig for the headphones provided in your seat-back pocket, pop them on, and then it hits you—thanks to those roaring engines and crying toddler in the next row, you can’t hear a thing Tom Hanks is talking about onscreen. Solution: bring your own noise-canceling headphones. Besides being more comfortable than those “one-size-fits-none” plastic contraptions, they aid in blocking out white noise. RELATED: 10 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Travel

Take the smallest personal item you can

No matter how tall or short you are, when it comes to sitting in the same seat for hours on end, every inch of leg room is sacred. Don’t limit yours with a needlessly large personal item, which you’ll be forced to stow under the seat in front of you if you’ve also brought a carry-on onboard. Opt for a bag that’s versatile and soft, so you can squash it down if need be.