Surviving a long haul flight can be compared to the a soloprenuer doing a first time masterclass. Anxiety, stress and in some cases fear, all these have some level of inevitability in the process but that’s only natural.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any steps you can take to achieve any significant level of confidence in the trip going smoothly, even if you’re flying as a first time flyer.
A long haul flight is typically referred to as any trip with a flight length longer than 6 hours, this type of long distance flying occurs with longer destinations.
From sitting in the same position for what seems like forever, to experiencing awfully cranky nerves and the boredom oozing out with every breath you take, oh and do not even get me started on certain people who can’t seem to grasp the concept of tranquility.
You could call this the D-day of any traveler’s experience, but what makes it so feared and avoided whenever possible, is it because:
- It’s potentially harmful to one’s health?
- Its sometimes incredibly uncomfortable?
- It gives you a different class of jetlag?
- Side effects include questioning literally every decision you’ve ever made in your life?
If you’re wondering which one’s correct, the answer is yes, they all are.
However, since you’re here, you also (on some level) know there should be a number of ways to curb this overall otherwise terrible experience. Now let’s see what those are and also, a few interesting pros when it comes to long haul flights.
1- Be selfish
That’s right, as much as you want to save money and be efficient, you have to think differently when you’re approaching the part where you choose your airline for your long haul flight. Done with ignorance, this can spell disaster for such a trip.
After all, you’re gonna be flying for almost the whole day so it’s best to view it as a sort of mini vacation if you will.
Indeed the rate for a long haul flight is somewhat expensive, but investing in that trip in contrast to financially getting by can mean the difference between a vacation-like experience and a psychological deathtrap. If possible, see that you financially supplement your flight.
Side note: know your aircraft
Different aircrafts offer different types of experiences, be sure to watch out for any red flags about your seat while making your research.
Some things to watch out for include:
- If your seat does not have foot area restrictions
- If your seat has a power outlet
- If your seat has reclining capabilities
- If your spot has a seatback feature
Those offer more variety and are rather forgiving on your upper body over the course of viewing the seatback screen. They also tend to provide more viewing options.
Pro tip: Think ahead
You can ensure the smooth boarding of your flight seat with online tools like seatguru, for viewing flight seat images, details and specifications.
It’s also worth noting that its better to book your flight earlier to allow room for further research, comparisons and clear any impending issues leading up to the day you board your flight.
Furthermore, in the process of booking your flight, specifically for cases where a connection is involved, you may want to watch out for any flight connection options that seem too convenient.
More often than not, these schedules are calculated by computer algorithms and unless you can clear security, customs, recheck bags and transfer luggage amongst other things in 0.724532 seconds.
Its highly recommended to consider the feasibility of catching up with your connecting flight and how much time you have to pull yourself for the next flight in contrast to any other available options.
2- Picking packing preferences
Another important to thing to consider is your luggage, you’ll basically want something with far less management overhead.
Some features to look out for include:
- Something lightweight
- Something durable
- Something multi-functional
A popular recommendation for such a product is something like the carry-on from away.
It’s also a good idea to bring another smaller bag besides your cabin bag, where you can keep the more essential essentials, this way they’ll be more easier to reach (water, eye-masks, ear plugs etc), it’s best if the bag is TSA approved too.
Over packing is something you should avoid doing too, it’ll waste your precious time and if anything, just get in the way en route.
Side note: Select beneficial clothes
Don’t just pack a piece of clothing for the sake of wearing it or because you’re fond of it, you wanna make sure every piece in your luggage serves a purpose.
The clothes you pack should help with:
- Falling asleep
- Stretching around
Pro tip: Get comfy
You’re gonna be flying for quite a while so it helps to keep this in mind as you pack items for your trip, like comfortable and cosy feeling, hassle free footwear that can be interchanged with shoes as many times as needed.
Sweaters, blankets and articles of clothing like socks or scarves to add that extra layer of warmth for when the plane gets chilly.
Bring along a few layers too for when the airplane gets a bit hot, these can be easily added or discarded.In the process of packing items you’ll need for your flight, its highly advised to do some research on luggage weight and approved sizes.
Its not very flattering to have a favourite possession of yours getting left behind because its properties aren’t airplane compliant or because you kept it in the wrong place.
3- If possible, go for business class
There’s a lot that goes into making something like a long flight in economy class a bit more tolerant, although expensive, the single most effective way to enjoy your long haul flight is by opting for a business class upgrade.
It’s more spacious, provides room for greater body flexibility, they’ll be less people surrounding you so its much easier to stretch around and even take some walks. People in this space also get more nutritional offerings.
Side note: Pool your resources
Purchasing a business class upgrade right off the bat can indeed dramatically improve your travel experience, but it comes at a very, very expensive cost and so its a good idea to get creative on ways to get a business class, like cashing in on travel points you may have scored over the course of staying loyal and travelling with a specific airline.
You may also wanna check out your emails and stuff for more information regarding any earned travel points (miles), the last thing you want is to plan on banking on travel points that’s long expired.
Pro tip: Level up your flight
Another interesting way to get around the expenses of business class is by using easy up fares, popular travel blog, investopedia, highlights this strategy.
The way you do this is you purchase an upgradeable coach or premium economy fare and then apply your points to get into first class/business class.
In essence, instead of buying an expensive business class service, you’re purchasing a far more affordable service and upgrading it.
Airlines tend to offer upgrades during check-ins as the people needing a business class have already bought it and because of this, making seat upgrades at the last minute will increase your chances of getting a business class at a dramatically lower cost.
It’s more or less a win win situation for everybody, the airline gets more profit and you get access to the airplane’s luxury suite for less than the original price.
As you plan for what flight class you’ll be taking, be sure not to overlook other important details like your travel passport, health insurance and certificates amongst others.
4- Bring your own entertainment
It would be quite unfair to write a post on travel tips for long haul flights without talking about entertainment, you’re gonna be on that airplane for quite a while and you’ll want to account for a few other entertainment options besides your viewing screen at your seat.
Whether it’s a tablet or an mp3 player or even just adding to your mobile games collection, having a variety of entertainment options is great because you can frequently interchange between your object of attention.
In terms of audios, podcasts and audiobooks are great for passing time, you learn new things while offline and audios are more forgiving on battery life compared to others activities, if you’re looking to take a quick nap, you might be interested in things like ASMRs as they’re known to be somewhat sleep inducing.
Side note: Get creative with your time
Befriending the airplane crew will make you a candidate for preferential treatment for starters and besides they’re the ones taking care of you up there so it never hurts to occasionally start a conversation, not be a horrible human being and offer a few kind words instead.
Don’t be shy to say hi to someone close to your seat you find interesting, long haul flights are already boring as it is, striking up a conversation with someone can give you the benefit of doubt and help you pass the time, maybe you could even discuss Auxoria’s potential benefits to the travel industry. [Insert winky face]
You could also use your free time mid flight to get smaller tasks done or try out a new activity like drawing or writing a diary. I personally have this saying “For every time wasted, there’s something you can better do with it”.
Besides technological entertainment, paperbacks like novels and comics are also great because they help pass time, save battery life and get your creative juices flowing, who says you can’t kill 3 birds with one stone.
Pro tip: Charge your electronics
Chances are you’ll want to make use of your device(s), if so charging them prior to getting to the airport is important for ensuring long battery life, and besides it’s very much possible for your seat to not have a power outlet.
Speaking of charging, don’t forget to pack your charger as that could prove to be a rather nefarious mistake in this day and age, if you’re likely to forget, it may help to place it in your luggage right after fully charging your device.
5- Take care of your body
We’ve talked about entertainment, clothing, travel documents and flight upgrades. Another equally important thing to account for is well- yourself, Your body to be precise.
You can pamper your body for the long flight by sleeping earlier the night before you travel, avoiding dehydrating substances like coffee, soft drinks and alcohol before and during your flight, staying hydrated throughout the flight.
Just don’t overdo it lest you’re compelled to visit the toilet every 2 minutes (very inconvenient).
Side note: Be extra considerate
Considerate of your body, because long haul flights typically includes being in your seat for 4+ hours, your body can start to get really worked up after a while, and health studies show that this uneasiness can result in a risk of developing DVT, formally known as deep vein thrombosis.
This condition is where blood clots in the veins and have a possibility of breaking loose and moving to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.
According to popular health blog, medicinenet,
Warning signs for DVT include:
• Leg cramps
• Leg pain that worsens when bending foot
• Bluish or whitish skin discoloration
Staying active on a regular basis will help prevent this, make timely efforts to walk around the airplane aisles, stretch your legs, flex around and wearing comfortable, loose clothing.If it helps, there are lots of comfort minded pillows designed for airplane travel to you relax more.
Investing in those could prove helpful. All these will help your body stay in good condition over the course of your flight.
There’s also the topics of jetlag, since jetlags are still very much a thing, its highly recommended to synchronize your sleep schedule to flight, this helps minimize its effects.
Jetlag isn’t limited to mid-flight experiences alone, even after you arrive at your destination, be intentional about taking some walks to bring your body upto speed and help shrug off any residual sluggishness.
Pro tip: Don’t forget your vitamins
Snacks are fun, easy to munch on and they also supplement for some of the nutrients your body would appreciate, so you should definitely consider packing along some snacks.
Some of those can include:
• Trail Mix
• Granola bars
They also serve as a time oriented buffer between meals served on the plane, this way you’re exposed to a wider variety of options, reducing your chances of getting tired of airplane cuisine so quickly.
By now you’ve known a lot about traveling on a long haul flight, once you apply the steps above you’ll be good to go.
But wait- one last thing, those annoying set of people you always find in any flight.
There is something you can do about those people and it’s a little known tip but its a fairly effective way of maintaining the airplane serenity.
According to popular travel brand, Travel + Leisure, all you have to do is master the “Death Glare”.
In their words:
That child across the aisle from you, running havoc at 30,000 feet? Death glare. The guy behind you who’s been kicking your chair for three hours? Death glare. Those four party animals trying to lead the cabin in a drunken rendition of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” at 4 a.m.? Death glare. Hone it. Perfect it. It will serve you well.
If you’re not sure what a death glare looks like, here’s a starting point:
Long haul flights are definitely not your average everyday travel experience, they’re quite demanding. But with a few handy tips applied in conjunction with each other, the experience you’ll get is far more better.
After all, the trip is half the journey, plan accordingly and make the whole trip memorable. Keep calm enjoy your travels.