Once you’ve made it to the airport, gone through security and boarded the plane, your holiday can officially begin. (For the ultimate guide on upping your airport game, check out our guide on the best airport hacks). But there are certain things you should pay attention to while you're up in the air as an airline passenger - and we’ve got you covered.


We’ve rounded up some top tips and the most common mistakes to avoid in order to make your plane journey as pleasant as possible. We’re not talking about the basics of remembering to switch your smartphone to flight mode or unbuckling your seatbelt only when the sign disappears. We’re looking into other aspects of air travel that you'd be better off avoiding (most of them probably haven't even crossed your mind).

By avoiding these common blunders, you can ensure a smoother and more enjoyable travel experience, arriving at your destination raring to go. We’ve also included some of our favourite items to take on the plane with you.

Four mistakes to avoid on your next plane journey

Flight attendant giving safety brief

Follow these tips and get the most out of your flight, whether short or long haul.

1. Avoid tea and coffee

Feeling tempted when the snacks and drink trolley walks down the aisle, or feeling the strain from that 4 am start to get to the airport and in need of a caffeinated drink? Unfortunately, it's recommended to avoid coffee and tea on planes.

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A study conducted by New York University revealed that tap water from some US airlines tested positive for pathogenic E. coli bacteria, suggesting inadequate cleaning of the water tanks. We’d stay clear and opt for bottled or canned beverages instead (fortunately, wine also comes in bottles on the plane!) Remember to drink plenty of water, too, to avoid dehydration.

2. Clean the folding table before using

Unfortunately, the folding table and seat pockets are far from appetising - ironically, they're precisely where people eat on the plane. Due to time constraints, cleaning staff often don't have enough time to thoroughly sanitise every table on the plane, and seat pockets can be neglected (there have been reports of passengers stowing soiled nappies in them or using the tables as makeshift nail salons). To be on the safe side, always carry antibacterial wipes in your hand luggage and use them to clean the table or pockets before use.

3. Keep your shoes on

Comfort may be your number one priority on long and short flights, and one of the first things that may come off is your shoes. Think again. Despite its seemingly clean appearance, cabin floors are not as hygienic as they look.

Keep your shoes on to avoid exposing your feet to unwanted bacteria, or use the socks provided by many airlines on long-haul flights to keep your feet protected (just make sure to put your shoes back on when heading to the bathroom).

4. Don’t ignore safety instructions

Do you immediately put headphones in or get stuck into your book once you’ve boarded the plane, causing you to miss the safety briefing? You may have heard them countless times before, but it’s important to listen to the safety instructions as evacuation procedures and emergency exit locations vary across different aircraft. Pay attention to be aware of your surroundings and know exactly what to do in an emergency situation.

The best items to take on the plane with you

Plane passengers with neck pillow and eye mask

We’ve rounded up some of our favourite items to take on the plane with you to make your journey as comfortable and hassle-free as possible.

  • Eye Mask: Block out unwanted light and get a restful snooze in during your flight with an eye mask. We particularly like the one from Mavogel - made from an ultra-soft cotton fabric with an adjustable strap to fit all head sizes, it will provide the ultimate comfort to help you drift off to sleep. Check out our guide on the best eye masks for some more of our favourites.
  • Travel Pillow: Struggling to get comfy? A travel pillow can make all the difference to your plane journey experience, preventing any neck pains and avoiding awkward sleeping positions. Wilford & Sons offer a premium travel pillow made from viscoelastic memory foam and complete with a set of earplugs, a facemask, and a mesh bag for storage. Check out our guide on the best travel pillows for more top recommendations.
  • Earplugs: Need some peace and quiet? Earplugs will help reduce surrounding noise levels for when you need to sleep, and some designs will also help relieve any discomfort in the ears which can occur during flights due to air pressure changes. We like these flight earplugs from Boots, which come with a handy carry case and sit nicely in the ears.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Keep your hygiene levels up while travelling with a hand-luggage-friendly sized hand sanitiser. We like Cuticura’s 100ml Advanced Protect Hand Gel which kills 99.9% of bacteria while providing moisture to your skin thanks to its aloe vera and avocado oil pearls.
  • Travel toothbrush: Keep refreshed with a toothbrush at hand - the Boots Smile Everyday Travel Toothbrush will keep your teeth clean on the go and folds down to a compact size for easy storage.

If you want to see more travel tips and recommendations, head over to The Recommended's Travel section. Here you can check out our guide on the best airport hacks, the best carry on luggage, the best luggage straps and the best luggage scales.


Cordelia AspinallDigital Writer

Cordelia Aspinall is a Digital Writer for Immediate Media, working across brands including The Recommended, RadioTimes.com, MadeForMums and BBC Gardeners’ World. She has previously worked and written for digital publications including Condé Nast Traveller, The Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan, and several other lifestyle brands.