THERE'S no doubt about it, Aussies love to travel and flying is the preferred mode of transport to get going fast.
In February there were 59 international airlines operating scheduled services to and from Australia, combining to carry 2.97 million passengers, with another 4.54 million bottoms occupying seats on domestic trips.
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And while a flight often signals the start of a holiday it can be the toughest part of the journey, especially when completing a long-haul hop and occupying space in the back end of the aircraft long enough to see the little hand on your watch do a full lap of the face.
But there are ways to make the expedition easier with 12 expert flyers sharing secrets that guarantee good airtime.
SCHEDULE A STOP
I do a lot of flying to South America - Chimu organises trips mostly to South America and we're opening our first hotel, Casa Republica, in Lima - and find long-haul flights across the Pacific are more comfortable when I include a stopover of at least four days to get over the jet lag before starting the nitty-gritty of the trip. Buenos Aires is my favourite stopover city and one of my top things to do is explore the fascinating neighbourhoods including La Boca which is home to some of the best art galleries, restaurants and tango shows.
Chad Carey, Chimu Adventures' co-founder
It's worth checking aircraft type before you book and, where possible, I choose flights served by a 787 Dreamliner because the cabin feels more spacious, the air quality appears cleaner, and engine noise is minimal. Also do your research when comparing flights - from price through to baggage allowances and on-board amenities - and the convenience of choosing specific add-ons for low-coast airlines can be great value.
John Guscic, Webjet's managing director
DRESS IN LAYERS
We recommend travellers dress in smart-casual attire while flying, however it must be comfortable as you can often be seated more than 12 hours, and I wear multiple layers so I can dress up when it's cold or dress down if the cabin gets warm. I travel with a scarf and while I use it to keep warm it doubles as an extra pillow to help me sleep. I also pack a change of clothes in my carry-on bag should something get spilt or my luggage is lost or delayed.
Michelle Mickan, Phil Hoffmann Travel's head of marketing
SELECT YOUR SEAT
When preselecting seats for my clients at the time of booking I tell them about the optional extras that will make the flight more enjoyable. Purchasing an exit row will guarantee extra leg room but things like selecting seats at the rear of the aircraft will maximise chances of having access to any empty rows there might be if the flight isn't at capacity.
Sue Corvasce, Helloworld Lower Templestowe's manager
SIMPLIFY THAT STOPOVER
Did you know you can book luggage through to your final destination if your stopover is less than 24 hours? Why bother waiting for luggage and lining up to check in again the next day when you can check it straight through and just take hand luggage for your overnight stop. And book a transit hotel. Look for hotels inside the airport - such as at Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Abu Dhabi - and they may be slightly more price wise but by the time you pay for a shuttle and waste unnecessary time going through customs and immigration it may be worth it.
Craig Mathieson, Experience Travel & Cruise's manager
TRACK TRANSIT TIMES
The US is Collette's home ground, so I travel there for work and frequently fly to the eastern states via Los Angeles, and my top tip for smooth connections through LAX is double check minimum connection times as the airport takes some navigation. A nice walk to stretch your legs is essential so explore, shop and wander. Pack a supply of rehydration tablets, a comfortable head pillow, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, and I always take a small bottle of tea-tree oil to sniff during the flight as it helps keep in-flight bugs at bay.
Alison Mead, Collette Australia's general manager
FLEXIBLE CARRY-ON BAGS
Mid-week flights are popular with those travelling for business, meaning overhead lockers are often filled with briefcases and bags, so on full flights it's always a struggle to find room for your own carry-on luggage. I always take a soft bag - such as a rucksack or suit bag - that make it much easier to slot between the bags already overhead and it's a simple strategy that can minimise stress on busy flights.
Michelle Desmarchelier, TravelManagers' Berowra personal travel manager
BLOCK OUT THE NOISE
Sleep deprivation can send even the most placid personality delirious so noise cancelling headphones or earplugs are at the top of my must-have carry-on items. Not only can I listen to my own music I find that cutting out the noise of the plane, the chatty kids, and the coughing passenger behind me are all conducive to a decent sleep. I also use my own headphones with my seat's entertainment system, and all you need to do is pick up an inexpensive plane adaptor from your local electronics store.
Jodie Banbury, Hoot Holidays' marketing director
FLY WEST AT NIGHT
When travelling to Europe or Africa I prefer Emirates and the night-time departure EK435 - departing Brisbane 9pm, arriving Dubai 5am - is my go-to flight. I love the way Emirates manage the time-zone changes and leaving at night allows me to have a meal, watch a movie, and then get some rest. As it's really important to stay hydrated while flying I take an empty water bottle and fill it on the aircraft to drink lots of water throughout the journey. And I never board a long-haul flight without my Korjo compression socks, earplugs, eye mask, lip balm, and Refresh eye drops.
Judy Polkinghorne, Girls on Tour founder
THE LITTLE THINGS
I spend a lot of time in the air and some of the things that keep me sane are checking in online whenever I can, taking only carry-on luggage as a fast journey through the airport makes all things better, reserving an aisle seat so I can stretch out, and drinking lots of water. Depending who you fly the in-flight entertainment could be a blessing or non-existent, but I like to catch up on my reading and podcasts with noise-cancelling headphones a must.
Darren Wright, Flight Centre's general manager
BE A FREQUENT FLYER
I recommend my clients travel with a sausage pillow on long flights as they give good neck support when trying to sleep in an economy seat. I also recommend they sign up to frequent-flyer programs as the points do add up and can be used for upgrades.
Ben Farrell, Escape Travel Helensvale consultant
ALL RIGHT AT NIGHT
I usually eat and drink on day flights but at night I eat before boarding so I can try to sleep immediately after takeoff. And I always preselect my seat, with my choice changing depending on the aircraft and length of the flight, but on short flights under two hours I always go for an aisle seat. On longer flights I sit by the window, especially at night, as this limits the potential for being disturbed.
Ray Smith, Globus' business development manager
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