Abuja - Charlotte Quenet-Meintjes is head of Workaway International South Africa, a recruitment company that that has helped more than 13 000 South Africans find work at a number of five-star country clubs in the US over the past 14 years.
She has seen many first-time flyers pass through the programme, and says, “For many recruits, their trip to the US was the first time they had stepped onto a plane.”
Quenet-Meintjes explains that it’s completely normal to feel anxious. “Flying can seem like a daunting experience if you don’t know what to expect, but if you’ve planned for your journey ahead properly and are prepared, flying is the last thing you need to worry about,” she explains.
Below, Quenet-Meintjes shares a few top tips on how to make your first flying experience easy and stress-free.
First and foremost, planning is the most important aspect of travelling. “When it comes to planning a trip overseas proper research is your best friend,” comments Quenet-Meintjes.
A few important aspects that should be planned before your trip include making sure your passport and visa are valid, researching your destination’s culture, weather and top things to do. And making sure you have all necessary items for your time away from home, including medication and other essentials.
Helpful items for hand luggage – A couple of small familiar items, included in your hand luggage, can make your journey that much more comfortable and enjoyable.
“A change of fresh clothing and perfume/aftershave (be sure they are the volume of liquid allowed onto a plane) are essential to making you feel fresh on a long haul flight,” says Quenet-Meintjes.
“A soft travel pillow can make a world of difference to how much sleep you’ll get, and bringing a pair of soft socks will keep your feet warm when the temperature takes a dip. Many recruits take their laptop, iPod/Mp3 player and a book with them to help pass the time.”
“To avoid any hassles, it’s important to ensure that any luggage you’re checking in, as well as your hand-luggage, are the correct weight and size” advises Quenet-Meintjes. “Mark your bag with something distinct, like a colourful piece of ribbon. This will help you to identify your bag more easily at baggage claim. You can also lock your bag and/or have it plastic-wrapped to keep your belongings safe,” she says.
Choosing a seat
Quenet-Meintjes encourages all her recruits to look at their airline’s seating plan ahead of time. This will allow them to see how many seats there are in a row, where the restrooms are and where the best seats with more legroom may be located – for economy, this tends to be the exit seats, so recruits should try to book one of these if they can!
“Window seats are also great, as that will give you an amazing view. And if you’re not one for turbulence, sitting in a seat along the wing of the plane will expose you to less of this,” she advises.
“Most airlines advise that travellers arrive at the airport two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights are due to depart.”
Quenet-Meintjes explains that this is to account for the time it takes to check in, check luggage, navigate security and find the correct terminal.
“Also, remember to factor in time to get through crowds during peak travel periods, such as major holidays like Christmas,” she says.
“Make sure you have proper paperwork, such as your passport and itinerary on hand, so that as soon as you get to your airline’s check-in counter you are ready to be served. Online check-in is also an option, so check your airline for how to go about doing this,” she explains.
Time to fly
“Once you are in your seat just before take-off, a flight attendant will explain the safety procedure to passengers. This is nothing to get alarmed by; it’s just part of the standard procedure for flying.”
Quenet-Meintjes suggests that if you begin to feel panicky, speak to a flight attendant. They are used to calming nervous fliers and are there to help put you at ease and make your journey an enjoyable one. It’s normal for people to feel nervous on their first few flights, but this too will pass,” she adds.
The increase in altitude can subject travellers to many physiological changes and low moisture levels. “This can lead to dehydration which often exaggerates jetlag, so drinking lots of water is highly recommended,” advises Quenet-Meintjes. She adds, “It is also a good idea to remain active when flying for long periods - try walking up and down the aisles of the plane and moving, flexing and stretching your legs to encourage blood flow.”
For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!