Whether you’re making the trek from Seattle, Washington to New York City, or San Diego, California to Orlando, Florida, cross-country flights can be a hassle. While they’re certainly the easiest way to get across the country, they still feel like they take forever.
Since long-distance travel is different than your typical one-hour plane ride, use these six handy tips for your next coast-to-coast flight.
Don’t Check a Bag if You Don’t Have To
Most cross-country flights are broken up into two (and sometimes more) legs of different flights. Multiple flights with different layovers mean airline staff having to transport your bag from plane to plane.
If you can avoid checking a bag, it will save you worry and trouble down the road. In 2012, nearly 1.8 million pieces of luggage were lost during air travel. By bringing only a carry-on, you can avoid being part of this year’s statistic of lost luggage.
Get In-Flight Wi-Fi
Not having internet on flights usually isn’t a huge deal. But what if you’re stuck on a six hour flight? You might want to think again. Having Wi-Fi can make the flight go by much quicker, especially if you’re traveling with little ones.
Try to find the best deal ahead of time – different airlines offer different purchase options. If you’re on [only] one flight that is straight through, it’s probably best to purchase the Wi-Fi option that lets you use internet the entire duration of your flight.
If you have to take two or three flights to get to your final destination, you may want to look into an internet “subscription.” Some airlines offer subscriptions for 24-hours, one-week, or longer. This would be the best option if you have to get on and off planes, but planned on traveling with the same airline the entire time.
B.Y.O.S. (Bring Your Own Snacks)
You may be able to stand a two hour flight without eating, but it’s harder to get by on a coast-to-coast flight with nothing to munch on.
Before you fly, check to see if your airline offers a free meal, snacks, or drinks. While it used to be common to receive dinner on your way to California, in today’s day and age that isn’t always the case.
Buy snacks before you even get to the airport. As long as they don’t contain liquid over 3 ounces, most food items should be okay to bring through security and onto the plane (sometimes certain pastes, jellies, and other substances aren’t allowed on the plane either. Check the most current regulations before you fly). This will save you lots of money, as most food is over-priced in the airport and downright unaffordable once you’re on the plane.
Book a Red-Eye
Since flying from one coast to another takes quite a long time, try booking a red-eye flight for your next trip.
Taking an entire day to fly to your destination as well as another day to fly back can take up too much of your vacation time. Red-eye flights are common for cross-country travel, and allow you to fly during the night instead of the day.
Bring a sleeping mask and blanket, and get some rest while you’re making your way to your final destination. Instead of missing a day of exploring, you’ll arrive rested and relaxed.
Remember the Time Differences
If you don’t travel often, remember to take into consideration the time difference when booking flights, making hotel arrangements, and scheduling the rest of your travel.
The United States has nine different time zones – the earliest time starting in the east, and the latest time in the country being the west.
Pay attention to what your reservations say. When booking, do you get in at 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) or Pacific Standard Time (PST)? This can make a big difference – and cause you trouble down the road if you’re not sure – when making your travel arrangements.
Upgrade Your Seat
No, you don’t have to pay hundreds of extra dollars for first class. But if there was ever a time to spend an extra $20 for a wider seat or extra leg room, a cross-country trip would be it.
Check into your options before you fly. If you have to spend that long in a seat, you might as well get comfortable. Spend a little extra (ahead of time, of course) to ensure your comfort during the flight.
We all know how inconvenient cross-country flights can be – but they don’t have to be as long, boring, and uncomfortable as people make them out to be. By making sure you’re set to go ahead of time with the perfect seat, snacks, and a plan for travel, you’ll be making coast-to-coast flights as often as you can.