Best Fares: Don't worry; be prepared

Monday, October 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

By Tom Parsons / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

With air travel becoming more affordable, the skies are becoming more crowded.

Here are a few suggestions that may improve your overall experience.

On long flights, it's best to get up and move about the cabin occasionally. Long periods of sitting and inactivity can add to the risk of circulatory problems. Cramped conditions, sometimes referred to as "economy-class syndrome," increase the risk of blood-clot formation, leading to deep-vein thrombosis, particularly in the legs.

Arrive at the airport early. Nothing exacerbates stress more than running late and having to cope with complications. You could be further thwarted by uncompromising airport and airline personnel and miss the flight. Luggage space disappears quickly, and you may be forced to check carry-on bags if the aircraft runs out of storage room.

The Boy Scouts' motto of "be prepared" rings true. Carry on necessities. It's important to have medications with you. The pressurized cabins aboard aircraft may cause people with heart and lung conditions to arrange for supplemental oxygen. If prone to nervous ailments, such as anxiety, panic attacks or phobias, passengers should consult a doctor for a mild tranquilizer or anti-nausea agent.

Drink plenty of water. Fresh and recirculated air are mixed aboard airplanes, resulting in very low humidity. The dry, pressurized cabin air can lead to dehydration and dry eyes. In addition, crowding may promote respiratory infections. If you're seated next to someone you suspect has an airborne disease, your best defense is to drink plenty of fluids. Ask for second or third servings if necessary or, better yet, bring your own water. Using saline nasal spray also can help to stave off infections. It will moisten the passages of the nose that filter out contaminants.

Just as there are many dos, there are many don'ts. Don't drink alcoholic beverages, which can further dehydrate you and make you feel worse. Too much caffeine also can produce a negative effect. Don't try new foods with potential for allergies. Don't overeat, particularly in the evening. Cabin pressure and sitting for long periods of time slow your digestion. Don't fret about what you cannot control, just learn to accept it.

If you have questions on this topic or suggestions for future columns, send e-mail through

Tom Parsons is publisher of