Air travel: while most would agree that having the ability to get from LA to NYC in 6 hours flat is nothing short of a modern miracle, it still doesn’t diminish the fact that flying can be a real pain in the butt! Whether it’s due to sky-high airline fees, delays, or cramped seats, it’s no wonder why anxiety can surge at the mere mention of flying.

With that being said, there are plenty of ways to hack that long-haul flight and make it a super comfortable experience for both you and your family. Here are some of our favorite ways we stay happy and healthy at 30,000 feet.

  1. Plan your snacks accordingly

    sandwichUsodesita via Flickr

    Unless you haven’t flown in 20 years, you’ve likely experienced the paltry food offerings that airlines have been passing off as meals— i.e. small packs of nuts and nothing else! So, unless you’re keen on starving your way through a coast-to-coast flight, be sure you bring plenty of TSA-approved snacks. For a comprehensive list on banned foods, click here.

  2. Don’t pay full price for in-flight Wi-Fi

    airplane wifiMatthew Hurst via Flickr

    Just because you paid an arm and a leg for in-flight Wi-Fi doesn’t mean it will actually work. The service is usually spotty at best, and rarely gives users the ability to stream videos. What a rip-off!

    If you absolutely need to get some work done during your flight, try THIS simple hack, where you trick the system into thinking your device is really a smart phone. It won’t fix the connectivity issues, but it will save you some cash!

  3. Re-think that cup of coffee

    flight attendantAustrian Airlines via Wikimedia Commons

    Ok, here’s a REALLY gross one! It turns out that most airlines make their hot beverages with airplane tap water instead of bottled water. Though this H2O is technically potable, some airline insiders have come forward to reveal that these water tanks are rarely—if ever! —cleaned. Yep, we’ll stick to bottled from now on!

  4. Make the flight peaceful for your baby


    Although airlines are pretty much known for nickel and diming their customers, many still display at least some sense of generosity. Case in point: the bassinet program for passengers flying with babies. If you call ahead, your airline may be able to reserve an infant-sized safety seat. Now both you and your baby can sleep peacefully!

  5. Get up and move

    crowded via Flickr

    This goes for those taking shorter flights, as well. Experts recommend that passengers get up and move around the aisles at least every 2 hours. This simple act reduces the chance of blood clots and will make your entire body feel much better after you land.

  6. Don’t sleep during take-off or landing

    lady sleepingkasto

    Nope, this isn’t a safety precaution; it has everything to do with your ears! You see, passengers experience the most intense shifts in air pressure at both the beginning and end of the flight. This can wreak havoc on the ear canal, creating a potentially painful situation, even hours after you land.

    So, stay awake, keep your head up, chew gum, and do your best to “pop” those ears. It may sound obvious, but it really does work!

  7. Stop air sickness in its tracks

    air sickness bagespring4224 via Flickr

    Choose a window seat at either the front of the aircraft or near a wing, as these are places that generally experience less movement. If you are feeling really queasy, keep your gaze focused on the horizon. In addition to picking the best seating option, be careful what you eat before your flight. Stay away from alcohol and greasy food, and take an over-the-counter nausea medication, if necessary.

  8. Don’t be shy

    first classRichard Moross via Flickr

    While most frequent fliers will tell you that it’s become harder and harder to get upgrades in recent years, you’ll never get one if you don’t ask. Your chances are better if you have some sort of status with the airline, but if you don’t, there still is hope!

    If your flight is oversold, you can always volunteer to go on a later flight with one stipulation—you need a first-class seat. In addition, if you have had a nightmare of a time with the airline—i.e. you’ve had multiple flights canceled in one day—you may end up getting some sympathy from a gate agent. Doesn’t hurt to try!

Pretty sound advice, if we do say so ourselves! Now that you know how to optimize your flying experience, we’d love to hear from you. Do you have anything you would like to add to this list? What was your most uncomfortable flying experience? Do you have any advice on nabbing upgrades?