So, your bags are packed, you’re ready to go, you’re leaving on a jet plane. To paraphrase the great John Denver song. How very romantic. Then you realize you’re going to be spending 17 hours in the air, probably sitting next to the worlds worst snoring beast while a screaming child behind you relentlessly smashes the back of your chair.
The leg room will be minimal, you’ve seen all the movies offered on the in-flight entertainment, and there’s a group of lads attending a stag holiday on board. You check your watch and in utter horror, you realize you’re less than ten minutes in the air. Breathe easy people! We’re here to give you their best advice for how you survive a long-haul flight. They might not be able to make changes to the passenger list, but they’ll sure be able to arm you with some quality hacks to ensure you have a smoother journey. So, pay attention as we go through the in-flight safety instructions!
When you’re sitting down anywhere for a lengthy period of time it can cause you some problems, so you’ll always try and opt for the most comfortable seat. Flying is no exception, so book as early as you can and hand pick your seat of choice.
If you want more leg room, opt to sit on the emergency exit row – and hopefully, you won’t ever be called into action there. Sitting right by the toilets is a no-no (for obvious reasons) as is sitting well to the front – as this is where the kiddies are likely to be. Aisle seats are useful if you need the freedom to get up and down – which is a wise move when you’re on a long-haul. It’s all about personal preference though – and some people really love to be in control of that window blind.
You never know your luck in the raffle, do you? Arrive early and charm the cabin crew or airline staff, and you never know – you might just get an upgrade to a better class or seat. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try, and many frequent travelers who give it a go are justly rewarded. While we’re on the subject of being nice – if you’re super pleasant to your cabin crew you’ll be amazed at what it can accomplish. Treat them like poo at your peril.
You’re stuck 35,000ft up in the air wearing shorts and T-shirt because you’re traveling to the Bahamas, but you’ve not accounted for the aircraft’s futuristic, weapons-grade air conditioning system. Believe us – it happens.
On long-haul flights, it’s advisable to have a change of clothes, because the cabin is often likely to be icy cool. That doesn’t mean you need to pile on several winter coats, just make sure you choose something warm, loose fitting and comfortable. Wear some cosy, high socks too – the kind that helps with circulation, and your little toe is less likely to drop off mid-air. Remember that your feet are likely to swell too – so roomy shoes are an advantage.
Don’t overdo it with your onboard luggage – you really don’t need everything and the kitchen sink. Traveling light will not only help you negotiate the airport stress-free, but you’re all but guaranteed to keep cabin crew and other passengers happy at each point of the journey. You’ll breeze through security, and you’ll be able to run faster when you realize you’re about to miss your connecting flight.
Essential for getting you through this nightmare journey is some quality, time-wasting entertainment. Don’t rely on what’s on offer in-flight, as there’s a strong possibility you’ll have seen it all, it’s not to your taste, or knowing your luck your viewing screen won’t work. Stock your tablet or phone up with some quality films, podcasts, books, TV shows, documentaries and music, and the hours will fall away. Or bring a good book for the more traditional amongst you.
Don’t be a potato. Get out of your seat, stretch those legs, do a little dance. Whatever it takes to get the blood pumping. We’ve all heard about the threat of deep vein thrombosis – and it is very real, so make sure you’re not sitting for the entire time you’re in the air. Some airlines even have a handy fitness guide you can do from your seat.
Oh – and it’s a no-brainer – but drink oodles of water. Even if you’re enjoying vats of complimentary, distinctly average quality wine, make sure you don’t neglect the aqua.
Noise canceling headphones are ESSENTIAL! Don’t leave home without them. Those little rubbery earplug things they give you simply won’t cut it. These are particularly useful if you’re not a good flier, and cutting on the whine and roar of the engines (and all the other panic-inducing noises) can be a huge benefit to those with a nervous disposition. Use the eye mask and blanket – and ask for an extra one if you need it. And those blow-up neck pillows are a godsend too. Don’t be afraid what you look like – nobody cares.
Packing an on-board care-kit will be a lifesaver when you wake up. Don’t ever underestimate the power of toothpaste – so whatever you do don’t leave that in your check-in luggage. Cleaning your mouth out when you touch down will feel like heaven on earth. Wet-wipes are a great addition to freshen up your tired face, and a good lip salve is great for your dry kisser. Keep yourself fresh and clean and you’ll feel fresh and clean – at least until you can de-louse in a cracking hotel shower.
Armed with these simple, but essential tricks and you’ll have a wonderful time on your long-haul flight. Well, maybe not wonderful – but better than it might have been. As for jet lag – we could write an article on conquering that alone, but basically keep yourself rested, your watch wound, and lay off the booze. At least until you’re sipping on a piña colada while soaking up the sun on that Caribbean beach. We hate you.
Let us know your top tips for surviving a long-haul flight!