Long flight times are a necessary evil in long-distance trips. But there is nothing to complain about. It is like it is. Pick it up and make the most of it. My experience after years of flying says that long flight don’t have to be miserable every time. There are a lot of things you can do to make this long-haul flights easier on you.
Here are the tips that will turn the economy class into the first class experience:
1. Be at the airport in time
You have a long journey ahead of you. It does not hurt if you are there half an hour rather than necessary. Before long-distance flights, I am at the airport at least two hours before departure. This saves me a lot of stress since even when I arrive in time something can go wrong. Mostly nothing is wrong, but then I relax at the airport. If you get into the plain relaxed, you are more prepared for the flight. This also applies to many other situations when travelling.
2. Choose a good seat
Most airlines offer online check-in. If possible, you should use it – unless it is charged for an extra charge – and choose a seat. The sooner you do this, the chances you will land your favourite seat are higher. The largest seat spacing is at the emergency exits, but these seats are often only given at check-in at the airport. You should avoid the row of seats at the toilets, as there are always people (and the smell is not always neutral).
If you’re looking for a larger seat distance, you can compare the seats of most airlines at Seat Guru and try to book an airline with comfortable seats.
3. Don´t forget to bring lumbar support
Cause the airport seats are shaped in C shape, with the curve, and your back always ends up aching. Pillow or a blanket on your lower back, and against the seat, will give your spine the support it needs for the natural position.
4. Pick the clothes you will wear wisely
For a long flight, you should always wear your most comfortable clothes. Many passengers wear sweatpants, but loose-fit jeans are fine. Always pick sneakers before shoes, cause the legs tend to swell. Some people even recommend compress socks in order to prevent deep vein thrombosis, which is a very serious condition. Wear layers: The temperature inside the aircraft can vary greatly between fairly warm and quite cold. Be prepared for both. This always proves useful, since the temperatures at the place of departure are probably quite different than at the place of arrival.
5. Bring your own snacks and water
The diet has a great impact on your well-being. Before a long flight you should not get stuffed, but light food. Put a few snacks in your hand luggage. In addition, you should always have a small bottle of water, or the electrolyte solutions, as the air in the aircraft is very dry. While there is drinking water on board, it is not available at all times. Just remember: you can not take the water through the baggage check. So you have to buy the water at the airport after the luggage inspection, or you take an empty bottle, which you fill up in the laundry room. Don´t wait until you´re thirsty, drink water in small sips throughout the flight.
6. Bring your own entertainment
Long flights pass faster when entertainment is provided. Put books, magazines or an electronic reader into your hand luggage. Podcasts are a great way to pass the time, and they spend your battery less than video files. For many airlines, there is a screen at the seat, where you can watch movies and series. But the quality of the programs is uneven, and sometimes you have to pay for the headphones. Sometimes there is nothing worth watching, and then a flight can get endlessly long if you have not taken care of it.
7. Prepare for the dry air
There is a different environmental pressure in the plane than on the ground, and the air is dryer, so you are more prone to headaches. So you will be very glad to have something for a headache in the handbag.
The dry air also causes dry skin and brittle lips. If this upsets you, use cream and lip balm.
8. Stand up and take a walk as often as possible
Ten or twenty-hour flight must not only be spent sitting. Stand up regularly and walk a bit through the corridor. It is best to do it before you feel uncomfortable. This will be good for your whole body, not only for the legs.
9. Sleep or at least try to
Especially on night flights, you should try sleeping, or your rhythm might get completely mixed up. Bring a neck pillow, an eye mask, and air-cancelling earplugs. If you can not fall asleep in an aeroplane, consider taking some natural sleeping aid, like melatonin. Avoid drugs, such as Ambien, especially if you haven´t taken them before and know have they affect you.
10. Do not look constantly at the clock
Looking at the clock the whole time can make minutes look like hours. Do not look constantly at the clock. That just makes it worse.
11. In case of an extreme flight, use calming agents
If you have flying anxiety or a fear of flying, the first nine tips will help and distract you from your fear. But if the flight conditions get worse, you should consider taking some form of medication so the trip wouldn´t become total torture. It is good to read up on all the different aeroplane noises and what is causing them and to check the turbulence forecast on Turbcast, which is really a great application made by pilots.
Long flights in very large airplanes, however, are mostly quiet, so you should have a relatively easy time relaxing.
12. Charge your devices and pack some extra power
You will drain your phone´s battery more than usual, cause you will be checking the weather or traffic, playing games, texting, or reading news. Just make sure your phone and tablet are fully charged before you leave and bring a power pack just in case.
If you have any more tips or hacks for getting through the long flight, we will be happy to hear them in the comments!