Air rage: 5 ways to avoid losing your temper when flying

Katia Hetter, CNNUpdated 11th June 2015
(CNN) — The seats are too small, the meals are nonexistent, and the people across the aisle have taken off their shoes and socks to share their stinky feet with everyone.
Not to mention that poor crying baby and the seatmate who wants to talk ad nauseam about his work in plastics.
It's no wonder we're all a little infected with air rage.
What is the weary traveler to do? If you've got enough room in your coach seat for yoga, that's awesome. Don't kick anyone while you check out yoga teacher Alana Kessler's in-flight class with CNN's Rachel Crane in the video above -- and Namaste.
If yoga's not your style and you don't have a Xanax prescription, here are more ways to survive short- and long-haul flights.
Frequent traveler Arabella Bowen, editor in chief of Fodor's Travel, recommends combining strategies for greater impact. And yes, she flies coach 98% of the time, so she knows your pain.
"Noise-canceling headphones, an iPad loaded with a favorite TV series or recent documentaries and a window seat are essential ingredients to my remaining calm," Bowen said. "I sit down, plug in and tune out."
Here are five ways to make yourself calm during a flight:

1. Create a buffer

Noise-canceling headphones are an excellent way to block out chatty seatmates, jet engines and crying babies. Old-fashioned foam earplugs can also dampen the din a bit. Or queue up your favorite movies, television shows or music on your portable device.

2. Make your captivity count

You pretty much have to stay put in flight. Why not make the most of that stillness by practicing loving-kindness meditation? Check out Barbara Fredrickson's book "Positivity," or use Headspace's guided meditation app on your smart phone to keep yourself calm.
Prayer also brings peace to some fliers. "Artist's Way" author Julia Cameron writes prayers out for each step of flight: the takeoff, the turbulence and the landing. A fearful flier who wrote a book about managing her fear, she even prays for the courage to start packing.

3. Treat yourself

You've sacrificed enough for a low airfare. Why not invest in some trashy magazines, a lovely biography or the latest New Yorker magazine? Add a window seat with a view, those noise-canceling headphones, snacks and a special drink, and it sounds almost delightful.
Some airline loyalty programs offer a complimentary alcoholic beverage to members, even in coach.
Just don't overdo it: Alcohol has fueled many an air rage incident, and it can dehydrate you more quickly in flight.

4. Maintain connections

It seems counterintuitive to keep up with the people in your life at 30,000 feet, but a flight does provide a good chunk of relatively uninterrupted time. Use your aircraft's in-flight Wi-Fi connection to message or email with friends and family, preferably the calm people who can distract you. Or go old-school and put pen to paper in a letter to an old friend.

5. Set yourself up for a smooth trip

The seeds of air rage may be planted way before your trip, and you may be bringing a nearly fully developed case onto the aircraft. Sometimes it's an eruption of the simmering stress of rushing to pack, arriving at the airport late, getting hung up in security and running out of time for your pre-flight rituals.
"People go nuts when they're running late for a flight," said veteran flight attendant Heather Poole, author of "Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet."
"And that just snowballs because then they don't have time to grab something to eat in the airport, and they freak out on me when I run out of food in coach," Poole said. "Or else they have to go to the bathroom and the seat belt is on but they get up anyway because it's an emergency.
"When I remind them the sign is on, because it's my job to tell them the sign is on, they get angry and storm back to their seat, and now I'm the bad guy who then runs out of tomato juice because there's only five cans, making an awful flight a million times worse. "
All because you didn't have time to get a snack, buy your magazine and use the restroom before boarding the plane. Building in a little extra time can make all the difference.
This story was originally published in June 2015.