A long haul flight is often dreaded by all. It usually starts off well, and then by the end of it you are either tearing your hair out with boredom, or you look so bedraggled after a long stint of sitting in the same chair, dozing off, and dropping plane food into your lap every time the plane passes through a bout of turbulence that you resemble a creature that has emerged from a swamp. So let’s talk about how to survive a long haul flight.
In actual fact, although long-haul flights seem like a drag, they can be a perfect opportunity to get a little “me time” and can be an enjoyable experience if planned right.
Here are our ten tips for surviving long haul flights to help make your flight more enjoyable, and to help you look more presentable during the journey.
Try to Upgrade
There are a few options that will help you get an upgrade, and who wouldn’t prefer to be flying for sixteen hours in first class, reclining in luxury, rather than cramped next to a noisy family in economy?
Use Air Miles – If you have air miles, you can use these to upgrade to the next class. Even if it’s only to premium economy, that extra legroom makes all the difference.
Ask For an Upgrade – If you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you don’t have enough air miles, you can try for a free upgrade upon arrival. Most people who do get upgraded at the airport are those who are traveling alone so the odds are in your favor if you’re headed out to one of BraveWomenTravel.com’s tours! Arrive early, dress nicely and politely ask if there are any seats available.
Pay For Premium Economy – Your third and final option is to just pay the upgrade fee yourself to premium economy for that little extra comfort. This can be done at the time of initial booking, but many major global carriers offer discounts for last minute upgrades so always double check.
Seriously. You’re not here to impress anyone. Keep it comfortable and casual because you’re going to be sitting for long periods of time and may feel horrid and bloated by the end of the flight.
You can pack a light change of clothes in your carry on and if you’re worried about your appearance on arrival, you can always put on your makeup during the last hour of the flight so you’ll look fresh as a daisy.
Look after your skin
Flying is known to dehydrate your skin so don’t make it suffer further by traveling with a layer of makeup on. Travel barefaced and take a small selection of skincare products with you. Some simple cleansing wipes will help you freshen up during your journey and upon arrival at the airport. A miniature tub of moisturizer helps your skin stay hydrated, and hand cream takes care of your hands and arms. This leads us on to the next point…
Drink plenty of water during your flight to stop your skin and body dehydrating. There is usually a convenience store or a vending machine by the gates after security so buy yourself one or two liters of mineral water at least. You can always ask the air stewards for more.
The combination of dehydration and staying sedentary for a long period of time is what can lead to blood clots so use the same mentality as you would when going on a desert trip when packing water. It’s tempting, but avoid diuretics like alcohol and coffee while flying as they will dehydrate you and, not to mention, make you need to take more trips to the dreaded airplane bathroom.
Take enough entertainment to keep you occupied for your entire journey. When you think that you have enough to do, double it, because when you’re sedentary for a long time and you get bored of the activity you’re doing, it can feel unbearable if you don’t have a lot of other options.
The in-flight entertainment systems will feature the latest blockbuster movies, popular TV shows, games, music and an array of choices, but also prepare your own options.
Load up your iPad, tablet or whatever device it is you are using with podcasts, music, and your favorite TV shows so that you have plenty of entertainment options that you know you’ll like if you get bored of what is on the in-flight system. Take a book, a notebook, a puzzle, or some work for when you get bored of watching television and want something a little more mentally stimulating. Oh and don’t forget to pack a portable charger! Your tablet running out of power when you’re a few hours into your flight and part way through a series of Westworld is rage-inducing.
Reserve a Good Seat
Many airlines let you choose your seat in advance online before you go. If you want more legroom or you have a weak bladder, opt for the aisle seat. Noisy families and screaming babies are usually at the front end of the plane (since that’s where additional services are available for them) so try to score a seat in the middle or the back if you don’t want to be awoken by screams or a Tonka truck flying through the air and hitting you on the head.
Okay you’re a little limited on this and you can’t exactly whip out a yoga mat and lay it down between the aisles, but it’s important to move around as sitting cramped up for long periods will make you feel achy and bloated, and will potentially open up the door for deep vein thrombosis. There are many stretches you can do from the comfort of your seat. Exercise your feet by rotating them around from the ankle, stretch your arms like you’re taking a big yawn, and get up regularly if only to walk up and down the aisle like it’s some kind of catwalk. The back of the plane near the bathroom often has large pockets of space where you can stand and stretch.
Pack Some Snacks
If you’re on a long-haul flight, meals will be at set times. Depending on the length, you will have one or two. Sometimes the stewards come around with little pots of ice cream or chocolate between meals but it’s hardly filling. On many airlines, it’s surprising how few opportunities you have to buy snacks from the cart so take some with you. Cereal bars, nuts, seeds and dried fruits are great choices. (Or chocolates, cakes, and sweets – whatever. You’re on vacation!)
Take Some Sleeping Accessories
Some airlines give them out for free, but a cheap eye mask and some earplugs go a long way to improving your sleeping experience on the plane. If you don’t feel that the airline pillow gives you sufficient support then you can always buy a dedicated neck pillow; it is, however, one extra thing to carry.
If you’re considering taking a sleep aid (herbal or prescription), ensure that you have tried and tested it prior to flying in case of any adverse effects.
Check Your Airline and Flight Route
Many long haul flight routes require you to transfer flights which is fine and fairly standard, but make sure that you are comfortable with the amount of time that you have to meet your connection as you don’t want the extra stress of worrying about making it in time. Some airlines are better than others, so ensure that you are happy with the one which you are flying with.