Tips from a frequent flier

17:00, May 24 2014

Sharp's New Zealand managing director Jan Nicol learned the hard way when trying to outsmart the slick airport and customs regulations when she opted to change her usual flight path to Kuala Lumpur.

Nicol grew tired, quite literally, of flying to Malaysia through Singapore without a break. So she treated herself to a stopover stay in the transit hotel in Singapore's Changi Airport, to break the 16-hour journey before a day of back-to-back meetings in Kuala Lumpur.

"When it came time to check-in on my flight, the woman asked if my luggage was getting checked all the way through to Kuala Lumpur.

"I explained that I was staying the night in the Singapore transit lounge hotel and so needed all my clothes, work stuff and lady things. She replied that in order to collect my luggage in Singapore I would need to legally enter the country and therefore have to leave the transit area, effectively locking me out of the hotel!"

"There I was in the middle of the airport, pulling out my knickers and contact lenses frantically and chucking them into my carry-on, which of course couldn't take things like liquid makeup and deodorant."

Twenty-four hours later, reunited with her checked baggage in Kuala Lumpur, Nicol made a mad dash to the toilets before an impending day of board meetings and site visits.


"I was madly changing into fresh clothes next to this squatting toilet, trying to fix my hair and do my lippy - it was a disaster."

Nicol said, even if you're a seasoned traveller, don't be afraid to inquire about travel issues before you head off.

"When you're in transit, you really are in transit and can only have a small bag to help you get to the other side."

Best flight?

Business class with Air New Zealand on 777 to Osaka, Japan. Just fantastic service and awesome seats.

Worst flight?

A flight from Hamilton to Christchurch. We hit unexpected turbulence. As I was walking down the aisle I ended up airborne and hit my head on the overhead luggage lockers and then was wrestled into my seat by the air hostess. It gave me a new respect for the words "fasten your seatbelt, we are heading into some turbulence".

Best trip?

I spent the last Christmas in New York. We had a white Christmas which I cannot recommend enough because Americans go so overboard on decorations in the festive season. It was like Auckland's Franklin Rd on steroids.

What are your best travel tips?

Travel light, the less luggage the better and take essential items in hand luggage just in case your check-in luggage does not arrive the same time as you.

Have you ever scored an upgrade and more importantly how?

Yes, but the best time was when I was travelling with my children to the US and we were all upgraded to business class on the flights. I've also been invited by the crew when business class was empty.

How do you avoid jetlag?

Drink lots of water on the flight, wear a noise-reducing headset, and go straight into the local time zone. Don't sleep when you get to your destination until it's night time.

Most underrated city?

I love Osaka because of the atmosphere and energy and because I know it well. Even though it's probably not a popular tourist destination.

Best app for travelling?

The Air New Zealand app.

Sunday Star Times