Whether you are an avid explorer or just enjoy a family holiday each year, the chances are that you will need to take a long-haul flight at some point in the near future. The thought alone can cause trepidation among would-be passengers, as some people liken the idea of being on such a flight to the plight of a sardine in a can. The seating arrangements on many planes are designed to fit as many different shapes and sizes as possible, while also cramming in as many seats as possible – more seats mean higher profits for the airline. We will not pretend that long flights are a comfortable experience for many, but some steps can be taken to improve the overall experience.
1. Dress for Comfort
Some people like to dress for a flight like it is some kind of celebration or a welcome party for the start of the holiday. That’s your choice if you prefer to approach it in this way, but we are far more interested in the idea of being dressed for comfort. Don’t wear anything tight and, if possible, even ditch things like belts that can start to irritate when you’re in the same position for a long time. You’re probably on your way to somewhere warmer anyway, so sweaters and wool are probably out of the question, but they can scratch and itch, so that’s another reason to cut them from your vacation wardrobe.
2. Choose the Best Possible Seat
If you have the benefit of booking early, you can probably choose the seat that will be most comfortable. In many cases, this simply means the seats on the plane that come with extra legroom – the ones located near doors and at the back of the aircraft. Depending on your carrier, you have a choice between different classes too, and if you can get a bed in the budget, the flight will pass without any issues.
Don’t forget to be near the head of the queue at each stage too. Even if you have booked early and selected a seat, check-in ahead of time too to guarantee that you get the seat you have chosen.
3. Keep Hand Luggage Light
Unless you have opted against hold luggage altogether and have all your holiday possessions with you at all times, you should keep your hand luggage as light as you can. Smaller is better too, as if you can fit the bag under the seat rather than in the overhead compartments, you’ll have easier access whenever you need it during the flight.
4. Sleep Through
A flight can pass by in the blink of an eye if you can sleep through it, and this tip reinforces the idea of dressing as comfortably as you possibly can. Anything you can use to get to sleep quickly will help here, so if you are easily disturbed, an eye mask and headphones can be a fantastic idea. If the flight happens during the day, you may even wish to consider sleeping pills to help you on your way. This does, however, potentially lead to a change in your body clock that is not ideal depending on the destination.
5. Bring Snacks
Most long-haul flights include meals, although the quality of this food can vary depending on the airline. Crucially, hunger pangs will exacerbate if you’re effectively trapped and are at the mercy of the cabin crew’s timings. If you bring your own snacks, you can have what you want, when you want it, and the ultimate goal is your comfort at every stage.
6. Get Up and About
We tend to err on the side of sticking to the rules when we put these tips together, and you should technically remain in your seat at all times on any flight. However, you’re not going to get in too much trouble if you take a stroll, and can pass it off as a toilet visit if necessary. There are health benefits to a change in position, and you’ll also avoid stiffening up.
7. Relaxation Trumps Work on Flights
If your travel is for business, you might be tempted to use these free hours to catch up on work. Even if it is for leisure purposes, you might be tempted to get to work on the itinerary. Your body goes through more stress on long flights than you might think, and it may be better just to switch off, relax and be entertained. Failing that, limit any work to only part of your flight and use the rest to recuperate.
8. Don’t Forget Your Basic Needs
If you’ve already switched into holiday mode, it can be tempting to forget your everyday routine. That’s a great idea, but some parts cannot simply be turned on and off. At the top of the list is hydration, and you should ensure that you take on as much water as you need during a flight. This may well be more than when at home too, as plane cabins are notoriously dry.
9. Strike Up a Conversation
If your main goal is to pass the time, then there is nothing wrong with chatting away. If you travel alone, you already have something in common with everyone else on the flight as you’re both heading to the same destination. You may make a friend but, failing that, there will be less flight time left when the conversation ends.
10. Budget for Upgrades
Few places are served by only a single airline, and it might well be worth spending a little more to fly with an alternative carrier. This is especially true in modern times, where there are plenty of budget options. Unless you would prefer to spend your budget on the trip itself, consider going up a class or change the flight company to one with more comfortable facilities altogether. This might mean cabins or even bedrooms on certain flights, representing the pinnacle of luxury and comfort.