Business Travel 101: Flight Comfort

Business Travel 101 is a weekly series about making that first business trip as easy and successful as possible. Packing, security, comfort, and etiquette are all factors that, with a little planning, can contribute to a smooth and efficient trip. If you think of a topic I should include, email me at

For some people, sitting in a cramped, crowded airplane is the same as sitting in their office. They feel comfortable, can get work done, and arrive feeling refreshed and ready-to-go. I am not those people. I have to work at feeling comfortable on a plane, sometimes convince myself to work, and often arrive feeling exhausted and frazzled. There are tricks I’ve picked up on over the years to make this process easier, and I hope they help you too.

  • Pick your seat online. If there is a way that you can pick your seat before you check in, you have a better chance of avoiding the dreaded (and uncomfortable) middle seat. For Southwest, make sure you check in as close to 24 hours before your flight as possible to give yourself an earlier boarding number.
  • Wear comfortable, wrinkle resistant clothes. The easiest way to feel good during travel: comfortable clothes.  This is not the time for tight-around-the-midsection pants or a movement-restricting shirt. Make sure that you feel good sitting for long periods of time in whatever you wear. I prefer slacks with a bit of stretch in them and pullover blouses, not button downs, as well as flats.
  • Stay hydrated. This is important for comfort, for health, and for looking good. Drink at least 8 oz of water for every hour you are flying. This will keep you from getting dehydrated, which in turn keeps you feeling more alert and prevents your skin from drying out.
  • Bring a pashmina. I know I talk about the wonders of the pashmina often, but when you are freezing on your next flight you will be really glad you have it. This time of year you can use it as a blanket while flying and then as a scarf once you arrive. It can also work as a pillow if you have a window seat.
  • Keep your skin hydrated. I always keep lip balm with me when I fly because my lips get super dry. A friend of mine always keeps lotion with her because her hands get really dry. If you tend toward dry, you will feel much better if you can address these issues before they become problems.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Shoes that are too tight can become painful during flights. A few years ago I was flying home from California, and because I was running late to the airport didn’t get to change into my softer, more flexible shoes. That flight was miserable–my feet were cold, sore, and hurt a LOT. My advice is to look for shoes that are flexible, breathable, and even a little bit loose.
  • Bring entertainment. Whether it’s work, a book, music, knitting, or whatever it is you like to do, you will be happier if you have something going on. If your flight is bumpy and the person next to you is snoring, it’s much easier to block out if you are involved in an activity.

Readers, any other tips for being comfortable on the plane?


  1. Get upgraded? LOL. I’m half joking, but in any case, three cheers for elite status with an airline. 🙂

    Upgrade or not, one of my favorite things about status is getting to board first, so I can stow my things and get settled before the crowd descends. I’m much more comfortable when I can do that.

  2. I love that you often mention the pashmina. You are consistent, so I trust you. I always take one on planes now!

    I’d also add to pack healthy snacks. Almonds, granola, and fruit will make you feel a lot better than eating junk food (which is sooooo tempting when traveling through airports). Also, natural snacks will be less salty, helping with hydration – a major point of your post.

  3. Great tips and comments. One thing you didn’t mention is to practice a little chair yoga on the way. I know there’s not much space but there are small little spinal stretches, shoulder and neck moves that will help you land ready for action. One of my favorites is to sit up straight and gently pull your tailbone down and into the seat. Breathe. Gently scoop it up and forward. Breathe again. Then scoop it back into the seat. This is a great help if you’ve been sleeping or sitting long anywhere! More tips on the blog and my Flytime Yoga booklet. Happy trails and contrails!

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