The Ultimate Guide to Long Haul Flights

The Ultimate Guide to Long Haul Flights

I am not sure what’s worse: Waking up very early on a Monday morning with too little sleep and too much to do already or sitting on a 15h flight unable to sleep and not sure what to do with oneself? The first can be addressed in a variety of pretty simple steps, while the latter is a little more complicated. Being stuck inside a cold aircraft with a few hundred people around you, not enough room to move around in and no fresh air (or food, for that matter) is exciting to some, daunting to most. Here is my ultimate guide to not only surviving, but enjoying long haul flights.

Mt Rinjani - Day 3

Choose your Seat Wisely

Follow Benjamin Franklin’s wise words

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”

and do the ground work while you still can. Use SeatGuru to determine which seat you are most likely to be able to relax in and either pre book said selection or ask airline staff to accommodate you while checking in. As a rule of thumb, planes are noisier the further back you go and aisle seats may lack the view but will allow you to stand up whenever you feel like it.

Stick to Your Routines

Being 30,000ft above sea level makes it rather easy to shut out the outside world and momentarily forget about the never-ending to-do lists or all those unanswered emails. What you shouldn’t forget about, however, is your daily ‘beauty’ routine. Brush your teeth and clean your face before snoozing off and freshen up before breakfast even though it feels like you’ve literally just managed to get some sleep. This won’t only help you beat jet-lag, but it will also leave you feeling more comfortable on and straight off the plane.

Get Changed

There are several reasons why you should always take a second set of clothes with you.

  1. Rocking up at the airport in your pyjamas will definitely not get you that free upgrade you hoped for.
  2. Trying to get cosy in your jeans while you’ve got hardly any room to stretch anyway may also be rather difficult.
  3. Greeting your friend on arrival in the same clothes you stepped on your first plane 17 hours beforehand could quite possibly not result in an overly positive first impression.

Stay Warm

Despite ever more efficient heating and AC systems, most aircraft cabins can still be bitterly chilly. Brace for the cold and have a pair of woollen socks, a long-sleeved top and a scarf handy. Also, remember to get up and walk around the plane every now and then to stimulate your blood circulation. PS. It’s fascinating what sort of movies people choose to watch when there is nothing else for them to do, just saying…

Hydrate, Hydrate, Oh, and Don’t Forget to Hydrate

I am sure this is not the first time you are reading this, but hydration is the key to wellbeing – especially on a plane. Take eye drops, regularly apply moisturizer, and stay away from any foods or drinks likely to dehydrate you (i.e. alcohol, salty meat, etc). By taking your own (empty) water bottle on the plane and asking a flight attendant to fill it up before you take off, you will be sorted for the trip without having to feel rude asking for a second cup of water.

Make Friends

How is it that we can sit extremely close besides someone for over 10 hours and yet don’t make an effort to talk to them? It’s not often that we have time to simply connect without rushing off to the next meeting, so take those headphones off for a minute and say hi to your neighbour – you never know who you come across.

Rest Up

As the cabin lights get dimmed and the flight attendant reminds you one last time to lower your window shade, it’s time to reset your internal clock and catch some shut-eye magically. A pair of comfy pyjama bottoms, noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs and a sleep mask may seem silly at first. Think about it, though. You aren’t flying for the benefit of those around you, are you? You are paying loads of money to get from A to B in the fastest manner possible to then enjoy yourself / make a business deal / say hi to mum / climb a mountain (or all the above). So why not make it as comfortable as you possibly can? Rock those pyjamas and sleep tight.

Make the Most of Your Layovers

If available, make the most of what the airport you find yourself in has on offer. This can range from free showers to yoga classes or may just be the good old duty-free shop and one free hour of free wi-fi. Give yourself some more time and roll back your laptop’s clock just before the time is up to get an extra hour.


Do you or any of your friends have any long flights coming up soon? What are you go-to tips?

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