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General Travel

Best tips for a long haul flight?

I've flown many times in my life with most trips being between 4-8 hours. Now I'm not the best flyer and my track record is that I am incapable of sleeping on a plane (even when drugged!). I've always toughed it out before but I have my first long haul flight - 16 hours with a 3 hour layover then another 4 hours - coming up in a couple months. From what to wear, what to bring, how to pass or break-up the time - I'd love your best tips and tricks for making it as comfortable as possible and what helps you get through hours on end in economy!

9 Answers

top answer by
Justin from Phoenix

First, pick a good airline. The right airline will have decent food and service, plus on-demand entertainment at every seat. Pay a few extra bucks for whatever it calls its premium economy section. Bring an eReader, relax and just remember that - no matter how little legroom you have - you will fly halfway around the world in the time it took our great-grandparents to get outside the state lines. 

By the way, your airline choice is directly related to your destination. If I'm headed to Asia, I'll make every effort to fly Asiana or ANA.

4 thanks

answered by
Rachel from Kuwait City

Dress in layers, some planes are too warm and some are too cold.

Ear plugs, a sleep mask, and a neck pillow make you look like a complete dork but make a world of difference in your ability to get some sleep.  

I often times travel with my husband and we always bring an aux splitter (not actually sure that is what is is called) but basically a little device that makes it so two people are able plug into and listen to music on one of our iPhones. This way we are only slowly killing one of our batteries.  I also love to listen to podcasts, check out for some awesome and inspirational listening material.  

3 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Brenda from Long Beach

Fly lufthansa. Great airline. Also, don't get drunk, drink a ton of water, and dress in comfy layers. Avoid lugging a giant carry on. Most importantly, save those ff miles and book business class. Nothing makes having to come home and a 13 hour flight better than a bed and big TV screen.

2 thanks

answered by

I usually travel in leggings with a maxi skirt over it. With some flats and bring some socks. I hate wearing shoes for a long flight but I will not, not wear socks. I tend to get pretty cold so I'll wear a shirt and bring a sweater or jacket and bring a scarf. When I went to Zurich from lax last month I took a melatonin before the flight and I was passed out. The entire flt. Those really help me fall asleep. But I do like to travel comfy and in layers. I always bring a book but I never read it because I get so sleepy. Hope that helps

2 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Andy from San Francisco

I also have a hard time sleeping on planes so I understand your pain. I do have to agree with Rachel that once I started wearing an eye-mask and ear plugs, it was a lot easier to fall asleep. The sleep was still not great, but it was better than nothing. 

My preferred activity during long flights is to watch movies. If the plane comes with an entertainment system, then great, I'll binge watch 4 or 5 movies in a row. If I don't have an entertainment system, then I'll watch the movies I've downloaded on my laptop. If the plane doesn't have outlets, then I'll watch a movie or 2 on the laptop, and spend the rest of the time reading or on my tablet or phone. I make sure that all three devices are fully charged so that I can always read something if I can't sleep. 

What I also do sometimes is to play the trivia game on the inflight entertainment system. Most of the time I'm just playing by myself, but the questions are hard enough to keep you engaged. Once in a while you'll get to play with a few of the other passengers, and then it can be pretty fun. 

It's too bad there aren't great options for people who can't fall asleep on planes, but just remember that you're traveling and enjoy that sense of anticipation. Think about all the awesome things you're going to do and what you want to tell your friends. And if you're on your way home, remember how great your trip was and the funniest things that happened.

Hope your flight is pleasant! 

2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Janelle from Charleston

1.  Book an aisle seat, and pay extra for an upgrade to upper class, exit row seat, more legroom or early boarding if you can afford it. 

2. Don't drink alcohol - it dehydrates you and the effects are magnified by the dry air and low cabin pressure.

3. Don't take sedatives before the flight - they f*** with your biological clock and they're dangerous - if you're zonked out on ambien or valium you'll be too stoned to follow instructions in an emergency.

4. Don't wear shorts or sleeveless shirt, and bring a sweater or a hoodie - it's always cold on board!

5. Bring your own food - whatever you bring on board is going to be loads better than the feces the airline serves you, even in first class.

6. Drink plenty of water - staying hydrated reduces jet lag.

7. Befriend the flight attendants - they'll appreciate the gesture and give you better service.

8. Take a shower and brush your teeth right before leaving for the airport, and avoid strong perfumes or strongly scented deodourants - no one likes a stanky passenger. 

9. Try to sit next to unaccompanied minors - they're always the quietest passengers on the plane and you'll get better service from the flight attendants.

10.  Try not to sleep - it'll help you adjust to the time change faster.

1 thanks

answered by

When doing overseas flights which I do more than a dozen times a year I always pick a good airline with free food, free drinks, including alcohol.

And a good entertainment system is important to metoo, especially if they have a lot of documentaries I can see.

Emirates, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Airlines, British Airways and TAM Brazilian airlines do a pretty good job in these regards.

And then I bring my laptop and sit and work while I am flying, especially in the beginning of the flight when I am not too tired to think.

And I talk to my neighb our if he/she is interested.

I love talking to strangers.

1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Rafael from Antwerp, Belgium

Oh yeah, i got tons :)

  1. Dress Casual - No leather pants, no belts, no high heels. Keep it simple. Wear sneakers (you'll see why in a minute).

  2. Bring a jacket on board - Even if you're flying from Arizona in the middle of the summer. This is meant for the plane. Long haul flights have bed times. On bed time, they usually turn on the air conditioning, which is usually freeeezing (even if you close the blinds), and the airplane's blanket just doesn't cut it.

  3. Book a window seat - For several reasons:
    - You can lean your head on the window to sleep better
    - You won't have to get up every time one of your seating neighbours needs to go to the bathroom
    - Cool view

  4. Go to the bathroom before boarding - If you do get a window seat, then reduce your bathroom breaks during the flight to a minimum. Otherwise you'll be the annoying one making your neighbours get up every time :)

  5. Empty the chair pocket in front of you -  Gives you more breathing space and reduces stress, and allows you to:

  6. Store your entertainment gear in the chair pocket - That includes your iPod/iPad/Kindle etc'. Do this before you sit down. It's a long flight, you want to avoid unnecessary struggles to take something out of your backpack such as your headphones. And speaking of headphones: 

  7. Get noise-cancelling headphones - Nothing worse than a 16 hour flight with a crying baby who wouldn't shut up. Use them not just for music, but also for annoying background sounds and for bed time. And speaking of bed time.

  8. Use a sleeping mask - That can be the difference between an awful flight to a great flight. I started using it on flights, now i use it every time i go to sleep.

  9. Avoid coffee & tea - Yes i know it's free. But it's a long-ass flight. Stay off the caffeine... 

  10. Take your shoes off - Remember i told you to wear sneakers? Well, now it's time to take them off :)
    Wearing your shoes for 16 hours is not fun. Who said flying shoe-less is a luxury reserved only for first class passengers? Just make sure you're socks don't smell, and have a great flight :)

That's just scratching the surface... I got a ton more hacks like these. I've actually written an entire article of awesome flight hacks to use on long-haul flights on my blog. There are 35 of em' :)

answered by

First choice, of course: save your frequent flyer miles and upgrade to Business Class or the equivalent -- much more comfortable! 

Second choice: Try again to get some sleep. This is especially important if you're flying east, I believe, because you'll arrive the next day (US to Europe, in the a.m.) and the day and especially the evening will be difficult if you want or have to do anything. Use all the aids mentioned in the other answers (noise blockers, light blockers, various shape pillows -- and I also use compression socks which I got for running recovery), and if melatonin doesn't work for you (it does for some, but not all), try another herbal remedy: Herbs Etc.'s Deep Sleep or Irwin's Power to Sleep PM (check them out before you fly to see which works best for you.) 

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