Thanksgiving is a stressful time as it is, but it's especially stressful for those of us who have to fly for the holidays. Luckily, alleviating some of that anxiety is easier than we think.
Here are a few tips for things you shouldn’t do while on the plane — to make the experience better for you, the flight crew and your fellow passengers.
Don’t drink the water (or ice, or coffee or tea)
As a flight attendant once told Business Insider, “Flight attendants will not drink hot water on the plane. They will not drink plain coffee and they will not drink plain tea."
In an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study, one in every eight planes failed water safety standards, according to the article. It should be noted that many airlines dispute these results — but the issue has raised concerns in the past. A 2004 EPA study tested the water supply of 158 aircraft, of which 20 tested positive for total coliform bacteria and two tested positive for E. coli as well.
If you're concerned, stick to bottled water and skip the ice if it is made from tap water.
Think twice before ordering a Diet Coke
On a flight attendant’s blog called These Gold Wings, a post from 2013 explains that pouring Diet Coke takes longer than other beverages while in the air. Soft drinks foam up a bit more due to cabin pressure, and Diet Coke is apparently the worst, so flight attendants must take extra care when pouring the beverage.
The blogger claimed that if passengers request Diet Coke, she will gladly get the orders started — but while waiting for the foam to dissipate, she'll take AND serve three other drink orders before coming back to finish pouring the Cokes.
Put some shoes on
In a piece earlier this year, Men’s Health talked with two flight attendants for their secrets on flying. One attendant asserted, “Don’t walk around without shoes. Every bodily fluid has been on the floor.” The two also said that flight attendants accept and appreciate tips.
Avoid sitting the entire flight
As tempting as it might be to sit in your seat and watch movies the whole flight, doing so might not be great for your health. Aaron Aday, M.D., a cardiology fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told Condé Nast Traveler that sitting in a small airplane seat can make blood circulation from your legs to your heart more difficult.
To minimize the risk of blood pooling in your legs and causing deep vein thrombosis, there are some preventative measures you can take. Try to stretch your legs during the flight, even while sitting, and also try to get up and walk around about once an hour.
Lay off the alcohol
Drinking while in the air can actually make you feel more intoxicated as there's less oxygen than if you were on the ground, Thrillist reports. Further, drinking too much might get you arrested, prevent you from boarding your connecting flight, ruin the rest of your prospects for the day, and leave your fellow passengers hating you, among other consequences.
Don’t eat directly off of the tray table
According to a 2015 Condé Nast Traveler article, which cited TravelMath.com's breakdown of a National Science Foundation study, tray tables are home to nearly 10 times more bacteria than the flush button in the lavatory. Safe to say you should pack some hand wipes to use before digging into your meal.
Ease up on the soda
Carbonated beverages can cause bloating and cramping, two things you don’t want to endure during your flight, according to a SmarterTravel article outlining the foods to avoid while flying. Also on the list: foods high in sodium and saturated fats, which can be difficult to digest, as well as foods like onions, beans and cauliflower, which can leave you bloated and gassy.
Not starving? Maybe skip the airline food
According to a Refinery29 interview, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay refuses to eat on planes: "I worked for airlines for 10 years, so I know where this food’s been and where it goes and how long it took before it got on board." Instead, he prefers to eat something in the airport prior to takeoff.
There is also the train of thought that not eating at all might help reduce jet lag, according to The New York Times. The body’s natural circadian clock regulates when we eat, sleep and wake up, all based on light. Researchers found, however, that a second clock may take over when food is low, and manipulating such clock might help travelers adjust to new time zones. Dr. Clifford Saper of Harvard Medical School, whose study examined this idea, said that 16 hours without food is enough to engage this new clock. The tests were performed on genetically engineered mice, so it's not certain whether this works for humans.
Keep your feet and hair to yourself
This is self-explanatory. Don’t do it.
Have some carry-on courtesy
Placing your jacket, carry-on and personal items in the overhead bin? Be sure to grab your snacks and phone chargers first, lest you needlessly displace your seatmates midway through the flight. SmarterTravel also suggests placing your items in a bin as close to your seat as possible to make disembarking the plane easier for everyone.
Don't be rude to your flight attendants
Very simply, be nice. Most times flight attendants are trying their best, and they won't always have the answer. Plus, they deal with disgruntled customers all day, so your efforts could truly make a difference.