Over the years, I’ve grown to hate tolerate long-haul flights. Between 2003 and 2012, I travelled home for almost all Easter, summer and Christmas holidays. International flights became a regular part of my life. I’m fortunate to have been able to make these journeys, however, I’d be lying if I said the experience was always a relaxing one. I’ve put together a list things you should think about to make sure you’ll feel as comfortable as possible in economy class.
It all comes down to the seat. I usually go for a window seat. Partly for the view, and partly because it’s nice to have something to lean against when you’re sleepy. Also, unlike some passengers I’ve had the misfortune of sitting next to, I don’t tend to get up 50+ times to go to the bathroom. If you’ve got a dodgy bladder, do us all a favor and opt for an aisle seat.
Next, I look at the location of the seat. Try and pick a seat far from the lavatory. I was once stuck in a seat nearby, and the smell was awful for the entire flight – never again! Unless you want to sit up stiffly for the entire flight, avoid the last row of the cabin – they have limited seat recline. Seats in the exit rows have the advantage of providing that extra bit of leg room but they do come with a level of responsibility. If something goes wrong, you’ll have to step up and help the crew. If you’re anything like this guy,* then avoid these seats, too.
Charge your electronics the night before.
Laptops, tablets, music players, e-readers, the lot! Charge everything before you go. There’s nothing worse than running out of entertainment on long-hauls. If you’ve got some work to do, bring that, too.
Bring your own food.
Let’s face it – airplane food has never been something to rave about. There have been a few improvements in recent years, but you still come across a monstrosity now and then. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to pack a few snacks so you don’t go hungry.
Invest in a travel pillow. Airlines do offer you one but, most of the time, there’s just not enough support. A neck pillow allows me to sleep peacefully without waking up by the constant head-bobbing that happens every time I doze off. The only downside is that it takes up room in your carry-on so think about getting an inflatable version if you’re running out of space.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
Think about bringing an extra layer of clothing – planes are notorious for being cold.
Keep that water flowing!
The air on flights is dry, so it’s important to keep yourself hydrated. Water, among other things, helps keep your energy up.
Avoid jet lag by changing the time on your watch to the time of your destination. Adapt to the new time – if it’s 3am at your destination, try to get some sleep.
And finally, move!
Stretch in your seat (without hurting anyone), go to the bathroom or, simply, stroll down the aisle. See what’s going on in the galley – some airlines leave the bar open between meals so you can help yourself to whatever goodies you wish.
What do you do to survive long-hauls? Leave your tips below!
*Video clip from Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 5 – Episode 10. Length: 1 min 39 seconds. Larry panics when he has to sit beside the emergency exit on the plane. Property of HBO.