How To Survive A Long Flight

How To Survive A Long Flight

When it comes to surviving a long flight and the ensuing jet lag, we’ve suggested downloading some podcasts (or TV shows/movies), bringing a book and remembering to get up and move every now and then. You’ll also want to stay hydrated, bring some snacks and remember to charge all of your electronics ahead of time. Have a trip of your own coming up? Consider some of these recommendations:

First, recognise what you’re in for, suggests TheLaughinKipper:

Earplugs, drugs, self-pity and a deep sense of loathing for humanity at large (until the drugs kick in).

Then I get to my destination and everything is just peachy.

Booktart stresses the importance of dressing appropriately:

I recommend compression socks, for long flights. I generally keep a small backpack or a medium-sized purse with me at my seat, with the following: book, tablet, phone, charger, chapstick, ear plugs, headphones, snacks, water bottle … ibuprofen, Kleenex, hand sanitiser. I always wear some kind of scarf, usually an infinity scarf, which can be used as a hood or a face covering, because (a) I like to cover up a little if I’m sleeping, and (b) other people are gross. And I remind myself that as bored as I am on that plane, I’d be far more bored at work!

Take advantage of your time in the ether, says katie_keys, and consider a white noise machine:

I try to sleep as much as possible. Instead of using ear plugs I like headphones and I listen to my Sleep Machine app — I like a combo of the train and the cat purr on a plane, it’s the right mix to cancel out a lot of other noise. Even if I can’t sleep sleep, the rhythm helps me zone out.

I also like to work on fiction because airports and aeroplanes are weird liminal spaces that seem disjunct from reality, and it helps me get in the right headspace.

Also I keep chapstick in my pocket or my bra, because my lips dry out no matter how much I seem to drink.

Pick your seat carefully. EBDBBNB likes the aisle…

Aisle seats. Always aisle. This may be because I don’t sleep but I’d rather have to get up for someone than have to wake someone up who may not be able to be awakened. Also it avoids any residual claustrophobia, and if your neighbour is… ample… then you can lean into the aisle.

…but City Mac’s Greased Up Beefcakes (what a name!) swears by the window seat and a neck pillow…

I do books and Benadryl for the most part. I put the books, comics, magazines, whatever on my tablet and then wait until I’m sleepy, then sleep against that window.

Getting a good travel pillow is key to making this work. It’s also good to know the plane you’re going on so you get one of those prime seats where the window is situated just right for sleeping, otherwise if the windows are offset it can throw your comfort off.

…and BugeHalls says to just get that upgrade:

Upgrade to business class! And do it when you check in at the airport — it’ll save you a lot of money. Trust me, the extra space is worth it!

Mr. E and the beater Z would like to remind you it’s every man or woman for him or herself up there:

Ear plugs and a sleeping mask, even for when your plane isn’t doubling as a daycare for the flight. Headphones. Sleep on the tray table if it’s more comfortable. Kindle & downloaded Netflix to pass the time. Maybe a phrase book or travel guide if you’re going somewhere completely new. Slightly devious tip…. move people’s seats forward while they are in the bathroom, especially for those that think their seat should be in full recline before we even take off. They usually don’t even notice.

And don’t drink too much coffee before your flight, as maarten reminds us:

Pro-tip: If you are a must-have-coffee person and your flight is early … and you get to Starbucks near the gate (or whatever your choice of coffee place is), get the SMALLEST version of the drink you get. Otherwise you end up peeing at least twice on the flight! ;)

Let me know if we forgot anything important in the comments.


  • Dos:
    1. get the highest class ticket you can. Use points if necessary (many airlines will allow points upgrades if booked in advance, especially off-peak routes/times (last minute is a gamble there will be award seats free). Worth it not just for the in-flight perks but also the increased baggage allowance, lounge access, etc
    2. use noise-canceling headphones. Tune out crying children, snoring neighbours, etc. Plus most have way better sound quality than airline provided ones. Don’t forget the 2-pin adaptor.
    3. take a water bottle. Cabin crew tend to be stingy with water. Take it through security empty and fill up before boarding. Hydration is important (to reduce risk of DVTs) and needing the toilet will force a walk (which also helps reduce that risk).
    4. get an aisle seat. There’s little to see outside for the majority of the flight, especially if an overnighter. Not having to climb over people to get up/walk/toilet is worth the price of having them do it to you. Plus you’re within eyeshot to alert cabin crew for another drink, etc.
    5. schedule going to the toilet (if you can) to avoid the queues. Most people go after the meal service or after the lights are turned up on overnighters. Options include: the instant the seat-belt signs are turned off, as the meals start to be doled out, in the middle of cruise, or just before the lights will be turned up (cabin crew can alert you in advance of this if asked).
    6. dress for comfort, not to impress. It’s amazing how many people wear constricting business or fashion stuff to fly long haul. Change before departure/on arrival if necessary. Beyond cultural norms and modesty, airlines don’t have a dress code (even up the pointy end).
    There are many more of course

  • The number one tip is to not stress or worry about how you will survive. You will, so don’t focus on the length of the flight or be worried about being bored or uncomfortable.

    Noise cancelling headphones is a must, but I guess earplugs can do. Noise cancelling headphones should be comfortable. I have become quite a fan of a neck pillow for long economy flights. Get one with a clasp at the front to hold it in place.

    As for entertainment, most plans have decent inflight entertainment. I personally carry a small tablet and load it up with content I want. Have plenty of podcasts and audiobooks on my tablet. I personally don’t like reading books on plans.

    Dress comfortable goes without saying.

    Be organised with your carry on. I tend to have a large backpack and getting it in an overhead bin is a must. I have everything organised so I can pull out the main items I need within seconds. Chuck it on my seat and put the bag in an overhead locker.

    It can be helpful at the gate to put your in-seat items in a plastic carry bag. So as soon as you get to your seat you can get your carrry on in a locker and sit down with out fuss.

    You don’t want to be fumbling around getting set up and unpacked when you get on the plan.

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