Flyer Ground: Air Travel With Style

Above, my dream ride: the first-class cabin on Emirates Airlines. I will fly this before I die.

There is no better combination than true comfort and travel. Why? Because if you fly as much as I do you would know that it is quite frankly a damn near impossible concept. I’m writing this from the exit row seat of a Miami to NYC flight right now and if it wasn’t for the extra leg-room I would probably be thinking of ways to eject the passenger to my left in order to stretch my gams (I’ve done it, I’m suffering right now. This would make my third coach flight out of 23 flights in the past three years, but I’m not ready to divulge my “how in the hell does she fly first/biz class and not really pay for it” secrets yet, Parlour is only one year old (in March!) so we have to get to know each other a bit more. Besides I haven’t flown my dream flight yet (see above), however a five hour first-class flight on an American Airlines 777 came pretty close. But I can tell you how to make flying coach not the crap shoot that it can be.

1. Join The Club
If you find yourself shopping and flying more than driving, invest in joining a frequent flyer club. They are free and very worth the loyalty. How worth it? In 2008, I flew roundtrip from New York to Trinidad..for $33. In 2003 I hooked up my debit card to my American Airlines AAdvantage account and have been reaping the rewards ever since. I paid a one-time fee of about $60 to have every dollar I spend become 1 mile in my account, and seeing that I have a small addiction to retail, I’ve earned some serious miles. Actually, the flight I am writing this on now is on a reward ticket: try New York to Miami, w/ premium seating, during a holiday weekend, for $100. Other than racking up miles, joining a frequent-flier club gets you access to the best seats on the plane, free checked bags, advance notice of fare sales, price reductions and flexibility with moving, canceling and editing flights that aren’t available to the masses. But you have to give to get—the more miles you fly the more perks you get. Being a frequent flier member can be the difference between that aisle seat or the middle row of doom.

Another great perk of any frequent flier program is the airport lounge. They are a virtual oasis in airports—seriously. So what if you aren’t flying first class, that doesn’t mean that you can’t wait for your flight like you are. For the past 4 years, me and the Admiral’s Club of American Airlines have had a special relationship. I don’t have to worry about internet access, a healthy snack, a space to stretch out or if needed, work-out and take a quick shower between flights. Why? Because my airline club has it all. Every airline’s club’s perks vary, and the individual locations have their own details, but anything beats the view of Auntie Annie’s Pretzel stand, Burger King and the newsstand when you are about to head out on a 2+ hour flight, first-class or coach. Generally, the clubs have their own airline attendants who are willing to help you with your flight and smooth out any snags in your itinerary without rushing you. The celeb-spotting isn’t bad either. Yearly memberships can be pricey but are discounted for frequent-frequent fliers and day-passes are available at most clubs. Get more info over at here.

2. Know Thyself.
If you read Parlour, you would know that we are all about getting to know yourself, but in this case I’m serious. Do you go the bathroom easily or are a taller girl? You may be the aisle seat type. Are you a sleeper or crave a bit ‘o privacy? Consider the window seat. I’m not discussing the middle seat. We don’t DO the middle seat.

Do you fly to one city more than others? Chances are you are probably riding the same exact aircraft, so why don’t you discover your favorite seat? Believe me, you will feel special when you know the difference between an Airbus A300 and a Boeing 767. One of my favorite sites, SeatGuru is all about finding that perfect seat on the plane with reviews, tips and seat maps so you can be prepared before you purchase that ticket. It’s either that or its the middle row by the bathroom, your choice. You can save your preferences with any frequent flier club database so you automatically get your way when booking your next adventure. After receiving elite status on most airlines, access to the economy-coveted exit-rows are done with ease, and then you can really kick it.

3. Get Connected…For The Air.
There is no worse feeling than your laptop or your vibrator shutting off while you are in the middle of something. I get some of my best work done while 3,400 miles in the air so when I invested $49 into an airplane charging adapter for my laptop. I can watch a movie, write a post and edit my own files without having to worry about my battery life. Whether you are a laptop or blackberry girl, having the option for more power in the air for your gadgets is a must and a great way to escape that annoying kid sitting behind you.

Speaking of escape, your ipod headphhones suck in the air. Sorry. Invest in some noise-cancelling or noise-reduction headphones, and don’t restrict them to just the aircabin, they come in handy for the subway or even for a day at office when all you want is you and your tunes.

4. Get Compact, Yet Comfortable
I’ve talked about this before, but I will say it again, dressing for your trip is crucial. If your jeans are tight now, how comfortable do you think you will be after sitting down in them for a few hours? After finding the right ensemble, stop at your local shop and grab a $10 travel blanket, and a great carry-on bag for all of your must-haves. Fill it with healthy, TSA approved (ie, no liquid) snacks that are better than the salty chips that you may get on your flight (and can bloat your face), grab that book you have been promising yourself you will read or that shamefully empty journal and record those brilliant ideas of yours. Bring those unopened Netflix dvds to play on your laptop, or rip and throw them onto your iPad/iPod. Make this time yours. Also, if your flight is more than 3 hours, may I suggest some travel footies and a compact pillow? After a 9 hour flight to Brasil I have decided that I refuse to live without either. Flights are chilly and even in first class, the seats aren’t really that comfortable. The trick is, bring what you realistically can do on your flight. Don’t plan on writing a full report, and responding to emails while watching a movie while starting the great American novel. It’s not gonna happen on that 2 hour flight. Sometimes all you need are some trashy tabloids and a good music mix and a blanket. The possibilities are endless, you can even bring your own spices for the foodies out there. Instant luxury.

So times are tough and that golden ticket to seat 2A may not be in your reach right now, who cares? As long as you have the right accessories and information, you can chill in style in one of the other best seats in the house with everything you need. Safe travels ladies!


Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington