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Flight Secrets

How to Sleep Like a Baby On a Long Flight

Here are some simple things you can do to make your long-haul journey comfortable.

  1. Say no to carbonated drinks.
    The bubbles in carbonated drinks expand at high altitude, making you feel bloated. Enjoy some fresh fruit juice and plenty of water instead.
    Source: http://www.seriouseats.com/
  2. Don’t chew gum.
    It tends to make you swallow as you chew on it, which can cause gas. Source: http://thewinglet.boardingarea.com/
  3. Eat food that contains Tryptophan.
    Tryptophan is a calming amino acid and food items that carry it in high levels tend to induce sleep naturally. So start munching on dates, cottage cheese, turkey and fish once onboard. Source: Thrillist
  4. Ditch gas-producing foods.
    Gastrointestinal discomfort is one of the biggest problems typically associated with long distance flight. Flatulence can be a cause for discomfort and embarrassment for you as well as your co-passengers. The best course is to cut out on food items belonging to the cruciferous family such as brocolli, cauliflower and potatoes which encourage intestinal expansion.

    Source: http://www.wellnessbyzoe.com.au/
  5. Choose vegetarian meals.
    Vegetarian meals are served first, so you’re done faster, thus cutting out unnecessary wait before you go to sleep. Simple! Source: American Airlines
  6. Eat something light before boarding.
    Rather than a secret, this is more of basic common sense. If you find yourself really tired and don’t want to wait till your meal is served, grab something to eat before you step onboard and let the flight attendant know that you don’t want dinner.
    Goodnight!

    Source: chow.com
  7. Always carry earplugs and an eye mask.
    These wonderful sleeping aids are easily available and affordable too. An inflatable pillow is another good investment.
    Source: Alamy
  8. Choose a window seat.
    The benefits of choosing the window seat is three-pronged. You can lean against a solid surface for support while sleeping and not get disturbed by a co-passenger wanting to go to the loo. Plus, you don’t miss out on the view outside. Source: Thrillist
  9. Try and get a seat up front.
    By getting a seat in the first few rows, you can avoid the disturbance caused by engine noise which is loudest towards the rear. You can do this by checking-in online. Most airlines allow web check-in 24 hours before take off. Source: Telegraph
  10. Don’t be tempted to take a sleeping pill.
    A sleeping tablet can increase the risk of a blood clot from sitting in cramped spaces for too long. Besides, it’s good to be alert, not inert, when flying.
    Source: Huffington Post

This story was published in our Nov-Dec 2012 issue. Re-edit: TS intern Siddharth Birla
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What is “shoulder season” and why is it good for travel?

Shoulder Season falls between peak season and off season. So, you get many advantages. The weather is neither too hot nor too cold. The crowds have thinned out but are not absent. Airfares and hotel tariffs tend to dip slightly, so you have more money for shopping! The local tourist industry is now free from the pressure of catering to throngs, and you can expect better service.

DSC_0306

According to Rick Steves, “Shoulder season varies by destination. Because fall and spring bring cooler temperatures in Mediterranean Europe, shoulder season in much of Italy, southern France, Spain, Croatia, and Greece can actually come with near peak-season crowds and prices. For example, except for beach resorts, Italy’s peak season is May, June, September, and October, rather than July and August. Paris is surprisingly quiet in July and August.”

Venice (43)

We at Travel Secrets try and stay away from even the best destinations during peak season, because the crowds can be simply too overwhelming. Last year in Florence and Venice, we found ourselves jostling and gasping for the most part. Taking photos ended up being a Click-and-Move affair in places, with the next person breathing down your neck.

A shoulder season trip to Switzerland, on the other hand, was pure relaxation. Under the mild September sun, it was blissful to walk down the quiet streets of Basel, taking in the crisp cool air and lazing by the Rhine. We could feel our lungs turn pink again:)

Basel by the Rhine River (1)Posted by Travel Secrets Editor Shubhra Krishan

Pix: TS Photo Editor Nitin Gopal Srivastava

 

6 Types of Airline Fares Every Traveller Should Know About

When you book your air ticket, just before pressing the ‘purchase’ button, you are greeted with a fare summary, telling you how much you’re going to pay and why. Fair enough. But airline lingo isn’t known for its simplicity.

Airline fare

Never be confused again! Here are 6 airfare terms you should know about:

Advance Purchase Fare
An airfare which requires the ticket to be purchased a certain number of days before the departure date. If you know your travel plans, you can get yourself a good advance-purchase deal. But take note: cancelling such tickets often invites higher penalty than normal.

Base Fare
This is the amount that you pay before tax has been added, and it goes to the airline you are travelling. On top of it there are taxes and other add-ons. Commissions are calculated on the base fare.

Capacity-Controlled Fares
A limited number of airplane seats to which a special fare has been assigned. This percentage may change depending upon how quickly seats are selling on the flight.

Conditional Fare
A fare which guarantees passage on the next available flight if the flight for which the ticket was purchased is full.

Fare Basis (Code)
This can be confusing, because the same flight can contain many different fare basis codes. The excellent website travelterminal.com solved the puzzle for us very nicely, through this simple example: Take the fare basis code HL7LNR.  The first letter H refer to the class of service for booking (H class).  The L refers to low season, the 7refers to the requirement for 7-day advance booking, the next L refers to long-haul, and the NR means non-refundable.

Unrestricted Fare
An airfare that is usually higher than regular, but comes with some advantages: you don’t need to make an advance purchase, do a Saturday stay or travel only on certain days. Plus, it’s usually fully refundable.

Got more questions about airfares? Ask us in the comments and we will decode the secrets.

Airbus or Boeing: Which one do pilots prefer to fly?

We asked a pilot who flies both machines. Excerpt from the interview:

Travel Secrets: So which planes have you flown so far? 

Captain D’souza: Like any pilot, I trained on various small planes. These are either single or twin-engine, and usually have two seats for the two pilots on board and are hence called 2-Pilot Aircraft. I have commercially flown the Airbus and the Boeing, which are the planes at our company, for about 23 years now.

TS: What’s your favourite plane?

CD: If you ask any pilot, they’ll tell you that they like the Boeing better than the Airbus, and so do I.

TS: Why Boeing?

CD: Well, let me put it this way. The Boeings put the pilot first and the Airbus puts the computer on top. Planes have changed a lot in the past 5-10 years and so have the cockpits.

TS: Details, Captain? Secrets of each of the cockpits!

CD: Okay, so the Boeing 777 has 33 computers that a pilot has to handle. They are not computers with QWERTY keyboards, but specially programmed computers controlling a particular function each. The job of the pilot is to control each of them. Having said that, if we feel that in a particular condition we should deviate from what the computer says, we can do so. In an Airbus, you can’t do that.

images (4)

The Airbus looks like a meaner, neater machine because it is technologically quite advanced. It is supposed to make the pilot very happy. But does it? Frankly, not me!

images

 

When you have flown almost half your life, you trust your instincts in an emergency. At least in my opinion that’s what a good pilot always does. And an Airbus puts limitations on you precisely in that respect. Once you are at an altitude, the computers take over. Say, the turbulence is really high at some point, the computer will give you the maximum deviation you can make and under no circumstance can you exceed that limit. You have a joystick-like control in your hand and you basically just follow what the computer says. So, while the Airbus is excellent for a ‘normal’ flight, a good pilot will feel the lack of authority and control in case of some problem!

TS: Are there other differences too between the two?

CD: Boeing aircraft are far more stable during turbulence. The Airbus has stiff wings that are designed for high speed flying and efficient fuel consumption, but they aren’t much help in turbulence.

*Captain D’souza is not authorised to share his photo or the airline he flies.  These are his personal views. TS has no bias toward either aircraft!

Airbus & Boeing:  A Passenger Primer

  • Boeing is American. Airbus is European.
  • Boeings come in the #7 series (747, 777 etc.) Airbus is #3 series (A 330, A 380 etc.)
  • An Airbus has a curved, bulbous nose, while a Boeing has a more pointed nose.
  • Airbus cockpit side windows run in a straight line along the bottom. The side windows of a Boeing run in a ‘V’ shape along the bottom. Also Airbus aircraft cockpit side windows look like one of their corners have been ‘cut’.
  • Only A340s, A380s and B747s have four engines. All other aircraft have twin engines.

Curious to learn more about the two craft? Read up Arun Rajagopal’s superb blog. This Dubai-based social media manager says he’s ‘crazy about planes,’ and it shows! 

 

 

 

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