Many planes have reduced their aisle width, overall seat size, and leg room, all in the hopes to board more passengers per flight. The FAA isn’t currently doing anything to make flights more flyer friendly, but there is a push to make improvements with a new bill to help protect passenger rights. These changes will keep passengers safe and focus on improving comfort standards.
There are a few ways to make your next flight more comfortable, which can help you reduce travel stress and expedite on-board relaxation. These 5 ways to make your next flight more comfortable will give you ideas on how to make the current airport and plane regulations as comfortable as possible.
1: Choose your seating wisely
To make your flight more comfortable, consider your personal needs and which seat will give you the most flexibility. As a wheelchair user, you may want an aisle seat, as it can be easier to get in and out from the main walkway, as well as get to the bathroom with an onboard wheelchair. These are great features of an aisle seat, but it’s also where everyone else walks and the onboard meal service is conducted. Alternatively, a window seat offers more privacy, but can be more difficult to get in and out of or get situated comfortably.
The best option for a wheelchair user, if available, is usually a first row seat. This removes under seat storage, but gives you a bigger walkway to get in and out of your seat, and also puts you closer to some bathrooms and flight attendants. Choosing to sit in a first row could be the answer to sitting in a window seat if that’s your preference, as you may have better access to the entire row. Online resources can also provide insight into plane layout and where to sit for your specific needs.
2: Use the restroom before you board your flight
While it is within your rights to be granted access to the onboard bathroom during a flight, as a wheelchair user this can be very difficult. Flights are supposed to have onboard wheelchairs, but even if you make this request ahead of time, some flights won’t fulfill your need. If the flight does offer a wheelchair, it can be difficult to navigate seats and the aisle during a full flight while in progress and the bathrooms are very small. Between the narrow aisles, full flights, and small facilities, the best option is to plan ahead and avoid the onboard restroom entirely.
To make your next flight more comfortable, consider planning your restroom stops to use the facilities at the airport. This isn’t always possible given the length of your flight but if you can, use the restroom before you board your flight. Airports have large restrooms with wheelchair accessibility, which makes this process much easier than on a plane. You can make a stop before you board and immediately after you land, giving you more time, privacy, and access to the facilities you need.
3: Board your flight early
As a wheelchair user, this is one of the best ways to make your next flight more comfortable. Traveling with your luggage, as well as necessary medical supplies, you need overhead space and both more time and physical space to board the plane and get comfortable in your seat. Alert the gate desk of your needs and listen closely to the boarding process, as you should be granted priority boarding.
This way makes your next flight more comfortable because you won’t feel rushed to get into your seat and make sure your items are stowed in the overhead bin. Being able to board first with the other priority passengers gives you an emptier plane to locate your seat and allows more time to not only board to your seat, but get situated in a comfortable position before the flight begins.
4: Bring comfort items to make the flight more comfortable
This way of making your next flight more comfortable seems a bit obvious, but planning which comfort items you bring can make or break your comfort throughout the flight. It is a good idea to bring a sweater, blanket, or scarf to help regulate your temperature through the flight. Bringing something to keep you warm can also double as a pillow or cushion through the flight. You may want to consider a travel pillow or neck pillow as well, to give you more options.
Many wheelchair users, including me, find it more comfortable to sit on your wheelchair cushion throughout the flight. Anything you can do to make your plane seat feel more like your wheelchair seat will do wonders for your overall comfort. If you’re traveling with the cushion, you might as well use it during the flight.
5: Consider flying with a travel companion
Lastly, your next flight may be more comfortable if you can fly with a travel companion. Having someone to assist you through the airport, as well as on the flight for companionship, can help make every step a bit easier. Airports offer assistance with transportation and navigation through the airport, but traveling with someone close to you can make everything easier and reduce stress. A travel companion can be anyone, a friend or family member, or an aide.
Regulations are in process to help make air travel more comfortable for all passengers, but until official rules are in place, the comfort of your flight is often up to you. By implementing these 5 ways, your next flight will be much more comfortable and provide a more enjoyable travel experience.