My first Long-Haul flight (12+hours) was when I moved from Puerto Rico to Dubai, took me a day and a half to get to the desert. I was intimidated by the flight time from New York to Dubai: 12 delicious hours. I remember I was so anxious, bored, I watched like 6 movies, watched the sunset like 2 times, watched the sunrise as well, ate dinner, lunch, breakfast, slept I don’t know how many hours, I even got older and yet that plane hadn’t landed. That was the time I was on my way to develop as a long haul flight expertise and I didn’t even knew…
I’ve done so many long haul flights as cabin crew and as passenger that people ask me, how do I survive these long deadly flights. I don’t do them that often anymore but when I do, I know what to expect. These tips are more general and experiences that I’ve learned through time, and traveling. Some tips may help you, some might not. It depends actually from each person’s view and likes. People often say it’s about the journey, not the destination – but poor planning can make a long-haul flight less than agreeable.
1. Comfortable Clothes
Oh Yes! This, this is so me. I’m the one who checks-in well dressed but once I get into that aircraft, I change to some nice and loose pants with slipper stocks. Just think of an outfit you’ll be comfortable and happy after a fourteen hour flight! You can wear baggy PJ pants and a jacket or scarf. Sitting still can be chilly and specially on a plane. I, for instance, bring always my jacket, even though I still bring my blanket and a comfy baggy/stretch pants to sleep.
Don’t wear any jewelry, sometimes when I wear earrings or rings, I remove them always and put them inside my bag. This is something I learned by losing earrings in aircrafts. Closed shoes are better than flip-flops for moving around and for any case of emergency. Make sure you don’t wear any footwear that’s too snug, as your feet swell at high altitudes. Make a small space in your bag and bring your favorite pair of cosy slipper socks, use them during the flight! Loose clothes or even pyjamas are the way to go!
2. Pack Your Own Travel Essentials
You’ll be on the plane for the equivalent of a whole day or night, so it’s worth bringing a few long haul flight essentials. As I mentioned above, some airlines provide basic amenities. However, is always good to invest in some travel essentials and bring always your own, for instance; a good travel pillow, to make sleeping less of a neckache, a lightweight blanket, slipper stocks and a baggy PJ pants.
To shut down that noisy cabin, you don’t need an expensive noise canceling headphones, I use ear plugs and it works just fine. Bring an eye mask as well to sleep. Finally, bring your basic travel size toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash. I’ve travelled in Business Class and Economy with airlines that provided a nice toiletries kit pouch, so what I do is that I keep using them and restocking them every time I travel.
3. Don’t Pack Too Much In Your Cabin Bags
Anything that is under the seat in front of you just means less legroom and a more cramped living space for 15 or 17 hours, Why would you sacrifice your little space? See, I carry my makeup, PJ’s, stockings, blanket, extra underwear (you never know for any flight cancellations), one extra shirt and my camera, all these items inside my carry-on luggage. Inside my personal bag goes; my laptop, my chargers, toiletries pouch and personal documentation. In my returning, I can always buy something fragile and pack it inside my carry-on since I always have free space 😉 (if you love shopping like me though…) Just don’t bring so much on that you compete for your own sleeping space.
4. Secure Your Stuff
As a former Flight Attendant, I can assure you that things happen in flights, specially in the super long ones. I’ve seen passengers looking…searching in different compartments, opening, looking around, moving and touching others people belongings and then closing the compartment to continue on the next one. I’ve stopped people with strange behaviors, they always say they’re looking for their bag or that they got confused with the wrong compartment. Sometimes it might be true, but sadly not all passengers are respectful, thus I continued to observe the person and passed the information to my crew.
Always, always be malicious with your stuff. I don’t place my personal documents or other important stuff in the overhead compartment. Instead, pack them in your personal bag which goes under the seat in front of you. Don’t leave it open and if your going to the lavatory, don’t leave it on the seat.
Other thing, I know you might get too comfortable but don’t use the pocket that’s on the seat in front of you. Even though you might think that you won’t ever leave your laptop or phone…yes, it might just actually happen.
5. Reserve And Ask For Seats At The Gate
This needed to be #1. One of the best tips to fly comfortable is by choosing your seat of preference. Either is on aisle or window, Middle seat for a 17 hour flight? -No thank you. The best way to choose your seat is immediately after you’re done with your booking, select your pre-assign seat online or you can always call reservations and they can assist you.
Another way is – even if you already have your seat selected – ask the gate agent to see the availability. Sometimes passengers don’t show up, miss their flight or rebook their flight, leaving seats available for you to change and choose. Also, ask for an upgrade, sometimes the airline has a promotion discount that day and you might be able to upgrade. Upgrading is by far, the best way to survive a long haul flight. Yet, depending of the airline and length of flight, it’s still expensive… unless you have a bunch of miles points, THAT might work!
6. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
When you’re dehydrated, your mood, energy levels and cognitive function will all drop. It’s also responsible for dry, flaky skin, headaches and irritability. I always buy a big bottle of water at the gates to maintain my body hydrate during the flight. Drink water frequently – even if you don’t feel like you need it – and limit booze to combat dehydration. If you wish to drink alcohol, make sure to drink lots of water after you’ve finished your beverage.
I’m not saying to do yoga in the aft galley, flight attendants hate that and is uncomfortable anyways, don’t do that. Sitting for prolonged periods can cause discomfort so it’s important to stretch your body and exercise when flying (without disturbing those around you, again no yoga). There’s plenty of easy exercises you can do on a plane; neck rotation, leg stretch while seating or you can walk through the aisle (as far you can go) and move around the plane at least two to five minutes of walking. This gets your blood circulating and muscles moving.
8. Plenty Of Rest Before The Flight
Always make sure you’re well rested before the flight because you’re never going to sleep the same on an aircraft as you would at home. Denying yourself sleep in order to be exhausted on the plane can backfire.
9. Bring Back-up Entertainment
You can be productive and finish some work you left behind but then again, you still have ten more hours to go… Bring your own downloaded movies and series, a book, a new magazine, anything that could keep you busy other than just the inflight entertainment that will eventually bore you.
10. Bring Snacks
There are meals available on the plane (depending which airline) and often a few snacks too, but it’s good to have something from home, even if it’s just a couple of pieces of fruit, crackers or chocolates. Avoid rich foods that could potentially trigger adverse reactions: things like hot chilli, coke or carbs if you’re prone to bloating.
Do you have any other tips and different planning? Please share them!