How To Survive A Long Haul Flight

A day spent traveling in a stuffy flying machine might not be everyone’s ideal choice. However, if the dream of relaxing on exotic sands or getting lost in huge unfamiliar cities is enticing you, then a long haul flight is your best way to escape!

I’ve been lucky enough to travel on a long haul flight twice. Lucky, you ask?! The thing is I don’t mind long haul flights, nor the food. The food I have experienced hasn’t been all that bad. Apart from dealing with very dry skin and the odd breakout in flight I really enjoy the long flight. I find flying long haul is a place to relax, watch movies and be waited on hand and foot (you don’t just need to be in first class for that). Follow these tips on how to survive a long haul flight for a hassle free travel experience and you too will be saying, “I’m lucky to fly long haul.”


How To Survive A Long Haul Flight


1. Hydration

After security and getting airside find a place to buy a big bottle of water, which you can take onboard the flight. Keeping hydrated is a tip any parent will give and repeat again and again. The truth is they are right… Like always! Flying can be a stressful thing and a sweat can be worked up with just walking to your gate number. Keeping topped up with water will undoubtingly result in a more comfortable journey.


2. The Seat

Upgrading to first class is a dream I am yet to experience. It’s an option myself and many others won’t ever be able to afford. Economy isn’t that bad though and in this situation having short legs is a good thing! The seat you choose is important but it’s also a bit like Russian roulette. My usual choice is a window seat and if my lucky number 21 is available I’ll be sitting there.

A tip I’ve recently been told is to wait until the last day to choose your seat. The airline will automatically put you somewhere but waiting right till the end means you can see if any rows of seats are still available. Fingers crossed they remain empty on either side of your chosen seat. This might mean having 1, 2 or maybe even 3 seats you can lay out on!  Here’s some other points to factor in,

  • Bladder the size of a pea? Book an aisle seat for easier and quicker access to the loo.
  • Gamble on a middle seat to give yourself more leg room.
  • Want to avoid children? Book a seat around other odd bod seats. If there’s a row fully booked chances are it’s a family affair!



3. Passengers

Some passengers just can’t help but be annoying. I’ve had to deal with the sudden pressure or the thumping on the back of my seat as the person behind tries to make themselves more comfortable. A lack of courtesy and spatial awareness are the causes. My tip is to play the unaware game. Usually it ends in getting an apology,

  • Annoying feet under your seat from the person behind you. Swing your feet under your seat, SURPRISE footsy!
  • A rogue arm or hand behind your head. Look behind you (into their soul) like they just tapped you on the shoulder.
  • Upset or mischievous baby. Give the child a brief amount of attention it might cheer them up and will relieve the parent who probably thinks the entire flight hates them right now.
  • Passenger approaching with large rucksack. Keep an eye on them as they walk past, checking their seat number and/or swinging the rucksack off their shoulder. Have your hand ready to block it!


4. Comfort

Wearing comfortable clothing is the easiest thing I can do to ensure comfort on a long haul flight. If a duvet cover didn’t take up so much space in hand luggage I’m sure we would all pack ours. Anything with an elasticated waist will be best and long sleeved items are better as it can get cold in flight. A long thick scarf is one of my essentials as it can act as a blanket. Shoes will no doubt be slipped off during the journey so another item I bring is a pair of comfy bed socks, keeps my toes warm. Here’s some more points to think about,

  • The planes mood lighting will be switched on mid-way through flight so removing make-up is a GO GO. I always feel comfier after my make-up is wiped off.
  • Wearing jeans and enjoyed your inflight meal too much? Undo your jean button and let your tummy breath.


5. Entertainment

If you know me well enough you will understand my love for movies. For me I can easily escape the entire flight by watching films back to back. A tip I have is to bring your own headphones for better quality and better ear comfort. As well as a movie selection, you can also find TV episodes, games and music. Of course, if you’ve packed all your own stuff to keep you occupied just remember to pack extra batteries if needed. Alternately if you are a bit of an old soul and don’t mind a break from electronics, chatting and making friends to the with the person next to you might pass the time even quicker.


6. Carry On Bag

To make travel a little less stressful I’d suggest a carry on bag that can sit by your feet. This means anything you need is an arm stretch away. Having to get up to extract items from the overhead compartment can be a clumsy task. If like me you have had to endure being climbed over and then been smacked in the face by bags as they have been pulled out of the overhead compartments you’ll know too well. The person will no doubt forget something so you’ll have to go through it all again. Then of course when it’s time to land all the items need to be returned. (Cue eye roll emoji).

Packing certain items can help you have a more enjoyable flight. Some comfort food like a chocolate bar or sweets can keep the stomach going, especially if a wrong selection of meals was made. A new book can pass the time and help you doze off. Strange as it may seem your carry on bag can act as a bit of security too. Having it close by and knowing your belongings are there and can be rummaged through anytime can calm any travel nerves.


7. Eat

Like I mentioned above, wishing you had ordered something else is not a good start to your journey. Food envy is the worst kind of envy in my book. When I flew with Qatar Airways to Tokyo the food options were in keeping with the destination. My Asian food eating began there and I must say was the best airline food I have had to date. My suggestion is to look through the menu as soon as you can to allow plenty time to decide. Chicken or pasta are your safer options and if asked for a second helping of anything say, “Yes please!” You might be full then and there but you’ll want it in a little while.

[bctt tweet=”Food envy is the worst kind of envy!” username=”schedulescape”]


8. No Clock Watching

Repetitive checking of the time will only cause a total of five minutes to go by. A lesson I learnt in last period at high school. Although I don’t keep an eye on the time while in flight I do split the journey up via movie watching. I’ve worked out that three movies with a bit of stretching, eye resting breaks with of course toilet breaks and the odd episode of Friends made me survive my flight to Tokyo. I did repeat this task on my connecting flight too. It was the most watching I have done in a 24 hour period.


9. Exercise

I am guilty of not stretching my legs more but I get too involved in watching all the latest films. However, taking my shoes off means I can bend my toes more easier and get the blood flowing. It can be easy to forget the amount of time it has been sitting in that one place. Getting up to use the toilet even though you don’t really need to go can be good for circulation. It can also stop pins and needles from sneaking up on you. My tip for when you go to the toilet for a wander is to not look at the mirror! Plane toilet mirrors and the blue spot lighting are horrendous. Don’t look at yourself it’ll only stress you out. First hand experience!


10. Sleep

My final tip to survive a long haul flight is to sleep the time away. This is easier said than done. Getting comfy enough to sleep can be a rather tricky mission. An additional seat or two can help but this will mean more belt buckles to deal with. If you plan to lay out over a few seats I suggest some padding on top of the belt buckles like a jumper or scarf. If you plan to sleep in the upright positions I suggest listening to some music to help you nod off. Sitting by the window is good for leaning your head on. If you happen to be the kind of person that’s able to sleep anywhere then I envy you. It’s a skill I’d like to have!


Do you enjoy long haul flights like I do? Let me know in the comments below.

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  • Reply
    12th May 2017 at 15:06

    I will have my meanest glare ready for Anyone who try’s to kick the back of my chair on my way to Vegas. Such a great read Emma!

    • Reply
      Emma McKay
      12th May 2017 at 19:09

      Yeah! Get the glaring eyes ready!

  • Reply
    Lenka Zlámalová
    19th May 2017 at 12:01

    Useful post! Pity I did not read it before my first 9 hour flight ever! 🙂

    • Reply
      Emma McKay
      20th May 2017 at 12:38

      Hopefully you can use some ideas for your next long haul flight 🙂

  • Reply
    coffee with Addison
    19th May 2017 at 20:14

    I haven’t been on a really long flight, although 5 hours with a 16 month old felt like it. I love the suggestion of engaging with the baby. The parents are most assuredly stressed and a brief reprieve from that anxiety is beneficial for all involved.

    • Reply
      Emma McKay
      20th May 2017 at 12:43

      I’m sure a 5 hour flight with a wee one must feel a lot longer haha Thank you for the feed back!

  • Reply
    22nd May 2017 at 13:33

    These are great tips!!

    • Reply
      Emma McKay
      23rd May 2017 at 19:49

      Thank you!

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