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The Creative Habits of Frequent Fliers

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If you want to work on a flight, don’t book a middle seat. If you need to sleep for a long flight, hit the town the night before. And if you want to avoid jet lag, look for the sun. These are just a few of the creative travel solutions that came out of Air New Zealand‘s first in-flight focus group. We sent web editor Lily Kosner on board the NZ2 from LAX-LHR to report on the lessons we can all learn from the creative habits of frequent fliers.

While a 10-hour flight makes most traveler think of schemes for upgrades, there are ways that travelers can eliminate some of the pain points of long-haul travel.

How to Get Excited for a Trip

Most travelers consider packing as part of their pre-airport ritual. Mike Ortiz, editor of Smart Women Travelers, gets excited for a trip with iTunes and Twitter.

I try to find either music or movies that have to deal with where I’m going. Before this trip, I was into Beach Boys and then Beatles, back to back. And I always post my packing music on Twitter beforehand. And I never let anybody know I’m going out of town until I’m already out of town. I don’t want to be one of those people that posts a five-day countdown to a trip.

How to Sleep on a Plane

Have you ever had trouble sleeping on a flight? AirfareWatchdog’s Peter Thornton has, so his solution is to exhaust himself beforehand:

If I’m going on an international flight, I try to board the plane pretty tired, so I fall asleep basically when I sit down. And when the food comes, I’ll wake up and eat then go right back to sleep. Honestly, I try to go out and hit the town the night before a really long flight just so I guarantee I’m really tired the next day.

How to Work on a Flight

We all get on a flight with good intentions of being productive, but questionable Wi-Fi speeds, nosy neighbors and cramped seating are all a problem. Harriet Baskas, who writes about airports and air travel for outlets including NBC,, MSN, and her own blog, details the distractions: “There’s food; there’s liquor; there are movies.”

LinkedIn community manager Amy Chen cautions further:

If you’re in the middle seat, forget it. You’re not opening your laptop because there’s no room. And you don’t want someone throwing a drink on your laptop either. So if anything, I’ll print out things and I’ll line edit. I’ll work at the airport much more easily and effectively than I can do on a plane.

How to Eat on a Flight

Who can resist the allure of Hudson News before a flight? Some crave salty snacks, some crave sugar, but LinkedIn’s Amy Chen has some advice for chocoholics, “M&Ms don’t melt as easily as a chocolate bar….who knew?”

Thornton realizes that moderation is key:

When I travel, I try to only eat one big meal a day really. I love eating food, but I’m not a big breakfast person. I’ll start the day very simply with fruit. I try to keep my diet somewhat nice that way, but I’m not going to watch everything like I’m going to pig out. I got to try the local food.

How to Dress for a Flight

We all hate the inappropriate dresser, but choosing an outfit for a flight is a matter of comfort as well as etiquette. Los Angeles–based travel writer Adam Popescu notes, “I don’t think you should ever wear shorts, unless you’re flying in the Bermuda or another island. “

Baskas notes:

For a flight, I try to dress in layers. I used to dress in a kind of soft dress, but too often dresses shift in flight, so now I wear pants.

Chen opts for pants as well:

I have several pairs of linen pants that I wear on the plane just for comfort. If it’s a short flight, under two hours, I’ll wear jeans, but definitely I feel better not wearing jeans for a long-haul flight.

How to Avoid Jet Lag:

Switching between multiple time zones can derail a traveler for days. Every traveler has their own techniques to combat jet lag (Click here for Peter’s Four Step plan). Oritz notes,

I push myself to get acclimated as soon as possible. Once I get checked in, I’ll try to walk around outside and get some sunshine on my face. I try to not immediately go to sleep. Instead, I may take a shower. If I’m traveling for business or pleasure and either/or I don’t want to be in the hotel room sleeping the day away. I want to get out there and start doing stuff. The first thing I’ll do when I land is to set my clock over. That will be the time during the day.

How to Change Air Travel

Modern air travel is full of pain points and we all want to see change. Chen touches on one of the most common problems…the carry-on bag crush:

I wish airlines would stop charging checked baggage fees because that means other people are dragging on everything and crowding up the bin because they’re too cheap to pay the $25; whereas, I just carry it on because, again, I’m impatient.

By Lily J. Kosner for

Image Credit Air New Zealand and Bret Hartman