How to look human after a 12 hour flight

In honor of all you who will be cluttering up the airways over the next few weeks, I’ve put together the “Do as I say, not Do as I Do” guide to exiting the plane unruffled. I have yet to manage it, but I’m confident that you can improve on things..

The Girl Version

Popular comment among women’s magazines is to “drink lots of water and get lots of sleep”. Sadly, for my 40 years and 2 kids later pelvic floor, the two are mutually exclusive, but I’m sure it works for 17 year old models. For those of us ‘blessed’ with children or advancing years, go for the water and a mammoth movie session. Sleep just leaves you with a cricked neck, crease marks on your face, and make-up by KISS (the band, not the brand). So take an empty water bottle in your hand luggage and ask the cabin crew to fill it for you once you are on the aircraft. Oh, and ask for an aisle seat, so you don’t have to climb over everyone for the inevitable bathroom break.

Carry face wipes. Not just for taking off your make-up at the start of the journey, and then taking it off fourteen times in the toilet at the end when turbulence is interfering with eyeliner/lipstick/blush application. Oh, no, these things should be used at every opportunity, to sanitize anything you touch, including your own children. Planes are hotbeds of bacteria, with hundreds of people crammed into very small spaces boasting recycled air and very, very minimal hygiene facilities.. Every flight I go on takes me right back to my teenage years, with a fresh outbreak of acne, and hair last seen modeled by Bananarama. Do not, however, use baby wipes; they are loaded with pore clogging mineral oils and youthful skin should mean fresh and unlined, not cystic zits..

Wear uncomplicated clothing with lycra, and avoid tight footwear. In my early expat days, I would saunter into the airport in low slung jeans, Frye campus boots, wide leather belt, and linen shirts. By the time I had made it through security, I was red-faced, sweaty, had a dislocated hip from trying to pull on knee high boots while balancing precariously on one leg, and most of the line behind me were now intimately familiar with at least half my naked backside. And by the time I exited the plane at the other end, ankle swelling had rendered me unable to put the boots back on, my shirts looked like they had been used to mop the plane floor, and the imprint of my belt buckle on my stomach left bruises. My clothing of choice now includes boots with side zips, leggings with lycra, baggy sweaters and a large scarf, all in red wine/orange juice/toothpaste friendly colors and fabrics. And nothing with metal objects that require removal at security.

Clean your face, brush your teeth and hair, and apply a moisturizer at least an hour before you land. It will help to start the wake-up process, you will feel a million times better and you beat the last minute rush before the “Fasten Seatbelt” sign goes on. And who wants to a) stand in line for 20 minutes or b) be 147th in line to the throne..

Reapply makeup sparingly. The light in the toilet is truly horrible, and while you think you may have done a creditable job, when you exit the airport you will realize that you fall somewhere on the scale between the overmade-up woman on the MAC counter and Ronald McDonald. And for goodness sake, do not use this as an opportunity to try out the new seasonal colors that you bought on a whim in the duty free.

The Boy Version

Wear deodorant. Use the toothbrush. And please, please keep your shoes on..



One thought on “How to look human after a 12 hour flight”

  1. Don’t forget the spare set of lycra leggings and baggy sweater incase one of said offspring vomits over you – otherwise you too may have to walk off the plane in a one size fits ALL pair of first class grey t’shirt material pajamas and then parade through the airport in style to collect baggage, go through customs and meet your loved ones who look aghast and then pretend they don’t know you. Believe me, if you don’t have a change of clothes all the other advice will be a waste of time – I speak from experience!

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