Despite rising airfares due to inflation, many Americans are taking to the skies to spend the holidays with loved ones and celebrate the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. The number of travelers in just the few days leading up to this Thanksgiving has surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
When it comes to travelling, preparation is key. “Who, what, where, when, why, and how” takes on a whole new meaning in regards to packing and prepping for the journey you’re about to embark on, wherever that is. Besides what you need for the trip itself, if you find yourself booking a long flight to paradise, you’re going to need to bring some things to keep you entertained and at ease while you’re en route. So make sure you leave room for some of these essentials in your carry-on.
To start, make sure you have a quality carry-on to begin with. Most aircrafts can support bags of a relatively large size on board now, but a large backpack should suffice all your needs that don’t fit in your checked bag. Try to find something with a lot of zipped pockets and padding. While it may take you longer to figure out which pocket has what in it, you’ll be more relaxed knowing that all of your belongings are zipped up and secured with you.
Let’s start by going through the on board essentials that make any flight much more bearable. A neck pillow is the first thing that comes to most of our minds when we think of airplanes, as it should. Airplane seats can be unsupportive and lumpy, and a neck pillow offers the perfect amount of support for your neck and head when you’re trying to catch up on some sleep during your flight. Match that with a weighted eye mask and some earbuds and you’ll be as comfortable as one can be sleeping on a plane.
Makeup removing/facial cleansing wipes are an underrated essential to put in your carry-on. We all know that airlines see some of the most foot traffic of any industry, meaning there’s a ton of germs being transferred among all of us constantly. Hand sanitizer and general hand washing will help prevent you from getting sick (among other things), but staying relatively clean throughout a day of non-stop travel can be tough. Cleansing facial wipes will not only remove any makeup, dirt, or foreign bacteria from your face, but give you a more refreshed and clean feeling, something that’s pretty hard to accomplish while on an airplane.
Along those same lines, toiletries are always good to have on hand when in the air. Since all airlines have pretty strict guidelines as to how much liquid you can bring onto a plane, head to your local drug store to ensure that you’re getting the right size of everything to take on board. Most drug stores, like CVS or RiteAid, have a travel section where they sell mini bottles of things like mouthwash and toothpaste that already fit the size requirements of most major airlines. Pick up some mini mouthwash, toothpaste, and maybe a new mini toothbrush, in case you eat a lovely airplane meal and want your breath to feel a little fresher after. Deodorant is another great thing to have on hand.
Sticking to self-care and hygiene, a face mask can be an extremely fun way to pass the time on a flight, and a great way to keep up with your skincare routine. Travelling in general can really stress our skin out; the change in altitude, environment and air can lead to dryness, irritation, and breakouts. Packing a sheet mask in your carry-on is the cleanest face mask option one could bring on a flight. You simply unfold it and place it on your skin, and when you’re done you can just throw it out, no sink or washing off required. While you may look a little strange, most people know what a sheet mask is, and besides, you’re going on vacation and will likely never see these individuals again, so just go for it.
It should go without saying that you should pack some in-flight entertainment for yourself. In case none of the movie options appeal to you, download some of your favorite films onto your phone, tablet, or laptop the night before you leave. This way, you likely won’t even need the on-board WiFi to watch, and you have a simple way to pass a few hours.
To keep your devices charged up, pack a portable charger. Some flights have outlets or USB ports for your chargers, but those can be flimsy or not even work. By packing your own fully charged external battery, along with all of the appropriate cords for your devices, you will ensure that no matter how much you’re using your electronics, they won’t run out of battery.
Finally, bring a change of clothes. Yes I know, you’re technically packing a whole bunch of outfit changes in your regular suitcase, but planning ahead for the climate of your destination, and potential changes in cabin temperature, will ensure that you remain fully comfortable throughout your travels. In addition, once you arrive, you can easily change in the airport so you’re ready for wherever it is you decided to go!
As Christmas and New Years get closer and closer, millions of Americans are gearing up and already preparing for their holiday commutes this year. Whether or not you already have a plane, train, or bus ticket purchased there’s always room to improve upon your travelling plans. Every year it seems as if more and more Americans decide to gear up and make the holiday commute to spend their days with family and friends. So when is the best time to actually hit the road and make your way to grandma’s house?
Airlines for America (A4A) is an industry trade group for all major airlines and they recently released their reports for what to expect during holiday travel this year. The reports list all the best days during the holidays to make your commute, and when the worst time to travel is. Surprisingly, the data shows that Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve will be the lightest travel days this year. This means there’s likely to be much less foot and regular traffic amongst the roads and air terminals on these days. This data is compiled by using the results from the A4A reports of the past few holiday seasons. Most travelers are already at their destination by actual Christmas Day, however, if you can manage to hold off and wait, and are in a situation where you’re not going very far, definitely hold off if you’re dreading your commute this year.
The same logic goes towards New Years, by the actual eve of the day, most individuals are either already at their destination from Christmas, or are heading somewhere local for the day, so for the most part the roads and skies remain clear. However, “clear” during the holiday season, really just means that public transportation will look like it does on an average day more so than a holiday. A4A is predicting that a total of 47.5 million Americans will fly round trip this year during the 18 day holiday travel period. This period of time goes from Thursday, December 19th to Sunday January 5th, and those dates are again based on past data on holiday commuting.
This is why planning ahead is so important. The reports also tell us that the worst days for travel this holiday season will be Friday, December 20th; Saturday, December 21; Friday, December 27; and Thursday, December 26. On these days as many as 2.6 million flyers are expected to take a plane ride to their holiday destinations. Compared to last year the reports tell us that’s a 3% increase in passengers! To convert that percentage, that means an additional 88,000 individuals will be flying on an additional 884 flights that airlines are cramming into the schedule every day.
“Throughout this year we’ve seen steady gains in air travel demand, and this winter will be no exception. Buoyed by a healthy economy and plentiful, affordable air service, travelers once again are expected to take to the skies in record numbers,” said Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich in a statement.
In addition to the millions of passengers that will be passing through these airports this holiday season, U.S. airlines will also be transporting around 58,000 tons of cargo per day. That’s a lot of presents in Santa’s sack.
Whenever you plan on making your commute, it’s likely that you will hit traffic (either in a car or on foot) of some sort, so make sure to plan. It’s recommended that if you’re taking a flight this holiday season to ensure that you have a ride to the airport that will get you there at least three hours before your departure time. This will ensure that you have enough time to get through security, no matter how long the line is, and might even have time to grab a snack for the plane. Additionally, if you’re flying, consider getting TSA precheck to skip heavy standard security lines.
If you’re driving, and it’s on one of the days listed above as the worst day to travel, try to leave as early as possible. You can catch up on sleep once you get to your destination but the longer you wait to leave in the morning, the longer it’s likely to take to actually get there. Regardless, plan it out, pack the essentials, and take your time, Christmas will still be waiting for you once you get there so you might as well get there safely.
Airline passengers are easy to upset, often rightly bemoaning delays and disruptions. But for the operator, with a plane on the tarmac grounded by mechanical failure, the frustration is even more intense.
The Federal Aviation Administration estimates this inertia equates to an eye-watering loss of at least $150 per minute.
With optimal reliability and an uptime vital just to break even, squeezing every drop of efficiency from an aircraft’s assets has become critical to the sector’s future health. Forecasts, from aviation consultancy Cavok, predict global sectors spending on maintenance, repair and overhaul will hit $100 billion by 2021, with smarter analysis of aircraft data playing a central role.
In turn, engine and airframe manufacturers are incorporating predictive models in their offerings to airlines, which will not only help identify faults and component failures, but also pre-empt issues before they become more serious.
“Predictive technology is great at finding a needle in a haystack and helping engineers pinpoint the areas they need to focus on. With experienced aircraft engineers proving scarce and many now retiring, these solutions are set to become even more vital in gathering and utilising all this invaluable knowledge and information,” says Torsten Welte, global vice-president for aerospace and defence at enterprise software company SAP.
Mr Welte traces the genesis of this traction to the power-by-the-hour approach for engine maintenance, which Rolls-Royce pioneered in commercial aviation in the 1980s.
“When Rolls-Royce innovated the model with performance-based contracts that charge customers per flying hour of the engine, it became a case of ‘we must keep the engine running or we won’t make any money’,” he says.
“This changed the dynamics in the aviation industry between manufacturer and operator, and drove a different behaviour from the former that was now far more focused on getting the most out of their resources at all times.”
The exponential rise in data has continued to fuel momentum. IBM figures reveal that an average aircraft generates between 500 to 1,000 gigabytes of data. Data analytic platforms such as SAP HANA tap into this business intelligence to monitor fuel speed, torque and pressure with internal predictive algorithms making recommendations in real-time so parts can be sourced and engineers reassigned even while the plane is airborne, and it doesn’t stop there. The technology is also able to tackle the information silos which have traditionally undermined the effective sharing of key intelligence across the aviation ecosystem.
Mr Welte says: “In some countries, due to local ownership rights, performance data is owned by the pilot rather than the airline, which means they have to get permission to access it. Elsewhere, a manufacturer does not necessarily have access to maintenance data which is often owned by the airlines’ own maintenance systems, so it’s all very disjointed.”
Another process undergoing significant transformation is the traditionally complex task of tail planning; in essence, assigning the most appropriate aircraft to a flight route. For example, if an aircraft has an issue that adversely affects fuel burn, it will be allocated to the shortest flight.
Typically, an airline would spend three to four hours working on a plan which can be subject to 150 changes daily. Until recently, the process had barely evolved from the handwritten schedules of the mid-1980s, with many airlines still transferring the information manually into spreadsheets comprising a dozen pages.
Dubai-based airline Emirates is one of the big names now automating the process, having adopted software vendor IFS Aviation and Defence’s predictive technology.
“Previously, the plans were devised based on the judgment of someone with perhaps 10 to 20 years’ experience, but our technology means we can tap into historical data that goes back 40 years, all in a matter of minutes,” says IFS business development head Espen Olsen.
“Maintenance history, fuel consumption, climate, forecast – all these characteristics are put into the algorithm to calculate the best option, which means reduced risk, increased fuel efficiency, and improved fleet utilisation and maintenance planning.”
Mr Olsen believes the Middle East is driving this market: “They see an issue and do something about it without over-analysing the problem, and they are definitely ahead of Europe when it comes to using this technology. One manufacturer does something visionary and everyone follows.”
More broadly, he is seeing a lot of interest from oil and gas companies inspired by the latest innovation in aerospace and defence. “There has been so much money in this market in the past, they didn’t have to consider how they could become more efficient,” says Mr Olsen. “Yet since the downturn, they are now far more focused on extending the life of equipment and how, as a service provider to the industry, they can commit to a 10-year contract on a fixed basis and still make money. Increasingly, predictive analytics has the answers.”
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