10 Things To Know About Flying Smart

It's that time again: Spring and summer is when a lot of us start taking trips to visit friends and family, or just to get away. For many, this involves airplane travel, which is why Food Republic took advantage of a recent situation to ask an airline executive for 10 things to know about flying smart.

Lufthansa contacted us about its "Star Chefs" program, which features big-name toques designing menus for first and business class passengers on intercontinental flights. In March and running through the end of April, the menu is by NYC's David Burke, who translated his trademark quirkiness to 35,000 feet in the form of entrées like "Duck, Duck, Duck"—a "trilogy" of duck, with breast, meat loaf, and ravioli served with cranberry relish, spinach, sweet potato, and vanilla mash. Sounds delicious.

May and June will feature menus by acclaimed German chef Wahabi Nouri, who brings an influence from his homeland of Morocco.

All this is well and good, and certainly sounds a lot better than "Peanuts or pretzels?" But what about the basic question of how to handle a long flight without feeling like you've been drugged? For these tips, we asked Juergen Graf, Lufthansa's Head of Passenger Medical Care and Medical Operation Center, whose answers we've adapted for this handy checklist:

  1. Have a light meal before leaving for the airport; drink water; check weather forecasts for the destination and dress/pack accordingly; and include light snacks in carry-on luggage (e.g. a cereal bar).

  2. Stay relaxed! Get enough sleep the night before your flight. Do not rush from work to the airport. In order to have peace of mind, try to have somebody take care of your home/pets/relatives/flowers while you are away.

  3. Plan your meals ahead. Avoid alcohol and minimize caffeine intake and instead eat fruits and/or vegetables and drink water—before the security checkpoint and once onboard. This all contributes to avoiding dehydration. In addition, avoid eating rich food before flying, which may lead to discomfort after you've been sitting for a long period of time.

  4. Eat what you like but do not eat too much! As a general rule you should leave something on the plate all the time to avoid overeating.

  5. Before and after meals, drink a glass or two of water to stay hydrated. Juice is okay, too, but mix it with water to avoid heartburn from the juice acid. Alcohol is a no-go—including beer (unless it's alcohol free). The occasional tea or coffee is alright.

  6. For breakfast choose cereals, yogurt, milk, or some bread. Avoid heavy foods such as sausages.

  7. Avoid rich food and instead select vegetables, salad, and fruits. When you eat isn't a factor. But have a cereal bar or something comparable, and a small bottle of water handy, in case you feel hungry or thirsty. This is especially smart during night flights, when your fellow passengers may be sleeping and you don't want to disrupt them to get to the overhead bins or restroom.

  8. Want to avoid catching a cold? The risk of catching a cold is, in general, not increased by air travel but is more likely to be influenced by the frantically busy time around traveling and sleep deprivation due to changing time zones. Still, have a sweatshirt or sweater handy in case the cabin is chilly and you don't have a blanket. Or get yourself a Snuggie. (Kidding.)

  9. Drink non-carbonated drinks, as cabin pressure will exaggerate the air volume in your intestines and may cause flatulence or impact breathing.

  10. Visit the restroom an hour before descending when it's likely to be less crowded. This is also beneficial if you're traveling to a foreign country and need to spend time going through immigration; there may not be restrooms before you get to the security zone.

Any travel rules you live by? Share and share alike in the comments.