Five thoroughly marginal tips for flying cross-country on a regular basis:
1. Pack an extra t-shirt in your carry-on. Several times, I’ve been thankful that I had a clean, dry shirt to swap out for one that was covered in coffee, soda, or something worse (only once, but it was really vile). If you don’t wear it, you can roll it up and use it as a neck pillow. Current t-shirt of choice for redeyes: Underarmour relaxed fit short sleeve, soft and warm.
2. Instant oatmeal packs and a spoon > “Something in a wrap”. Sometimes you don’t quite know what the meal is, and other times you can decipher the wrapper that’s been heat-welded to its contents and decide you’d rather pass. A few packets of instant oatmeal and a spoon are a wonderful alternative. Have the galley attendant pour 1/2 a cup of hot water into an insulated cup and you are Sir Mix-A-Lot of Row 12.
3. Sit on the aisle opposite your handed-ness. Lefties like me do better in the D-E-F right-hand side of the plane, particularly on the aisle. If you’re trying to work on the brain annhilator strength puzzle, your writing arm and elbow can drift (somewhat safely) into the aisle rather than the midsection of the person next to you. A window seat yields the same benefit if the middle seat is empty, versus banging your elbow on the side of the plane as you frantically scribble notes for the talk you’re due to give upon arrival.
4. Check your seat for power and width. The newer Continental 737-800 equipment has in-seat power, but only about halfway back. Many of the seemingly extra legroom bulkhead row seats are actually less comfortable than those in regular rows since they have the tray tables set between seats, reducing their effective width a few inches. For those of us in the shape more commonly called “round”, cross-row seat spacing matters as much as seat pitch. I’m a big fan of SeatGuru to get a projection of my bin-packing problem.
5. Dunkin Donuts is portable. I bring the small individual serving sized vacuum packs of ground coffee and my own filters; any hotel with a coffee maker turns into a mobile Dunkies outpost. Since I’m an iced coffee fiend, I’ll make a pot the night before, let it cool in the in-room fridge, and then add ice to my DD-logo cup for a bit of the home coffee field advantage on the road.