As I am now a seasoned airplane veteran (having been on five airplanes, all in the same trip), I feel I have some quality advice about flying that I can share with you.
When you first get onto the plane, you will have to find your seat and store your luggage nearby. For big bags, there is a compartment above the seats; but if you have a backpack or purse and can shove it under the seat in front of yours, it will be a lot easier to access later. Once you’re seated, you have to put your seatbelt on and wait until the plane crew has checked and rechecked the entire plane. At least five times. Then you begin takeoff.
When the plane first starts to move towards the runway, you may think to yourself, “This isn’t so bad. It’s just like riding on the ground.” Well, that’s because you are still on the ground. When the plane finally begins to go up, you will feel yourself tilt as the plane starts to rise. If things start to get bumpy, don’t freak out! Unless everyone else on the aircraft looks concerned, you probably aren’t crashing. Probably. As you get higher, you can look out the window (if you are near one) and see the airport and surrounding city get smaller. Eventually it will resemble a patchwork quilt of little streets and hills.
Soon you will reach cloud level, where the window view is particularly interesting. Clouds tend to look like this:
When you are above them, as you can see in the photo, the clouds resemble frothy white waves. I like to imagine I’m on a beach somewhere looking at a white ocean, instead of miles above the ground.
If you are taking a short flight to another part of the country, you won’t have to entertain yourself for long. However, if you are flying overseas, you have a long ride ahead of you. Mine was between 8 ½ and 9 hours from the east coast to London; I hope you can occupy your time! Longer flights have TVs at each seat, with a selection of new and old films. They also serve scanty meals, just enough so you won’t starve. On both my flights we were served two meals, which differed depending on the time of day I was flying. The food isn’t terrible as long as you remember a few simple guidelines to ordering your meals. First, when they ask if you want pasta or chicken, you always want pasta! Even if you love to eat baked chicken; trust me, you need to order pasta. They heat their meals on the plane, so any meat options have essentially been microwaved. Or that’s how they taste, at least. And as chicken tastes rubbery when cooked in the microwave, pasta is always a better option. You should also know that they won’t wake you to ask if you want food, so make sure you are awake, especially at the beginning of the flight, when they serve the first meal. If possible, I recommend asking those seated next to you to be vigilant and wake you when the food carts come down the aisle.
A word on airplane staff: some are nice, some are cranky. Stewardesses, I have heard, treat you with extra care when you’re an attractive male. For the rest of us, we have to be especially nice to them and clearly make our needs known. For example, if you look particularly young and the stewardess asks you what you would like to drink, she may try to give you apple juice when you ask for the complementary glass of wine. You will have to speak more loudly and correct her if you want to get what you actually requested. Or take the juice meekly and try again on your next flight.
If you plan to sleep on your flight, I recommend purchasing a travel pillow. They are small and fit around your neck to give you some comfort while trying to sleep in your nearly upright seat. Overseas flights, at least on US Airways, provide small pillows and thin blankets, but it’s difficult to find a position in which you can lean your head on the pillow without dropping it onto the person next to you. I also recommend bringing your own headphones; while overseas flights do hand out earphones, they suck, so bring your own if you want to listen to music or watch a movie.
You know how it feels when you’re driving and have to make an abrupt stop? That is how landing feels, except it lasts longer than a few seconds. When the plane starts to land, you will definitely want to be back in your seat with your seatbelt securely fastened. When it’s safe to move again, the seatbelt light will go off above you, and you can stand and stretch before picking up your bag or other belongings. Then, after another five minutes or so of waiting for everyone else to get off the plane, you can exit and be on your way to a great vacation!
I’ll stick in a few more Europe photos for you before you go. Have a good week!