It is safe to say that putting someone on long-haul flights is an atrocious way to test their patience. Long-haul flights can last for up to 20 hours or more. Usually you are fine for the first few hours, all strong and confident. But as time passes, you begin to lose your grace. Your muscles get sore and skin feels so dry. You feel so terrible by the time your flight lands.
Nevertheless, there are ways you can take the edge off the misery inflicted upon you by the agonizingly long, seemingly never-ending flight. Read ahead, to know how you can survive the long-haul flights in a comparatively comfortable manner.
Get an Upgrade
Travelling in economy class on a long-haul flight is the worst thing you could ever do to yourself. The cramped spaces, lack of in-flight entertainment, unsavoury meals, seats that won’t recline; you don’t have put yourself through all of this. Simply get an upgrade and save yourself the trouble. This is the best time to use your frequent flier miles. If you are looking for a last-minute/miracle, free upgrades, make sure you reach the airport well in time and request a gate agent to consider moving you to the first class.
Break Away from Boredom
While you cannot make time fly, you need a solid plan to kill it. Working on your laptop, drafting official emails or crunching the numbers on the spreadsheet won’t help. Hollywood blockbusters and earphones; those are your ultimate saviours! Sit back and enjoy what the in-flight entertainment has to offer or simply bring your own iPad loaded with your favourite movies.
If you are not into movies, bring a good book. Really, whatever floats your boat!
The exorbitant check-in baggage fee has been motivating the travelers to carry on whatever they can. However, too much carry-on baggage while traveling across the continents would weigh you down. Try traveling as light as possible, or risk losing the precious legroom to your baggage.
It is usually not necessary to take neck pillows, earplugs and eye-mask on all your flights unless they are long-haul. Provide your body with every bit of comfort that you can. Trust me when I say that lugging around the gear is a small price to mitigate the wretchedness from the wailing babies in the cabin, cockpit announcements, noise of the revving jet engines, and of course, your sore neck.
Don’t Board Sleep Deprived
Many novice travellers have a notion that not getting adequate sleep before the flight will help them sleep well while onboard. This is a very big misconception. Do not fall for it, else you will be burnt out by the time you land. Most times, there would be a number of distractions that won’t let you sleep soundly. If at all your eyes begin to shut, don’t think twice. Grab a pair of earplugs and put on your eye-mask and snooze away.
It also depends what strategy works the best for you. You will be able to figure that out with some practice. Thereafter, you will certainly get used to flying for long hours without feeling like being trapped in a metal tube hundreds of miles above the ground.
Secure your Baggage
Long-haul flights present better opportunities to the crooks onboard to steal other passengers’ belongings. When you get too weary to care and lose focus, or simply get some sleep, it only improves their odds of getting their hands on your stuff.
Make it a point to keep your passport, cash and credit cards on you at all times while onboard, in a money belt that can be concealed under your clothes. Lock all your other expensive belongings in a compartment deep inside your bag, which will be hard to find for anybody else.
Choose a Good Seat
Getting a seat next to someone who has a baby on a long-haul flight is one of the biggest nightmares. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate babies. They are adorable tiny humans that won’t leave people around them in peace. Steer clear from the seats in the bulkhead row because even though it offers spacious legroom, that’s where bassinet are typically located. Pick a seat that is reasonably distant from the galleys and lavatories
However, whether or not to opt for an aisle seat is entirely up to your personal preference and your ability to put up with people who would ask you every now and then to give way as they need to step out. How to make sure you get a good seat, you ask? Use the seat maps on SeatGuru to land a good seat on a plane.
Enquire about Seats at the Gate
If you ended up choosing a lousy seat anyway, you may still have a chance to get a better one. Sometimes a few seats on a flight remain vacant and available. Request the gate agent to put you in an empty row, if one remains available.
Look after Your Health
Flying long distances has some health-related consequences. Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT is a condition wherein a person develops blood clots inside the veins located deep inside their body, and, in this case, your legs. Inactivity for long hours, cramped spaces, low cabin pressure, dehydration can lead to DVT.
That’s why you must walk around the airplane for a few minutes every now and then and stretch yourself. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and fizzy soft drinks a night before and during the flight. Drink Gatorade instead of just water to replenish your electrolytes while onboard. Lastly, avoid drinking water from the airplane’s faucet. Carry your own water.
Try Opting for a Sleep Aid
If you have trouble falling asleep on long-haul flights, you may consider getting a sleep aid. Many people swear by melatonin patches. Drugs like Ambien, Tylenol PM or Benadryl would work too after your doctor says it is fine for you to take it. However, this may or may not work for you. Some people reported they felt more stimulated and awake on the flight after taking the meds. So try using the sleep aid before getting on an actual flight.
Gatorade, movies, and Tylenol will certainly not change the fact that you are going to stay on a plane for an entire day. But at least it will make your experience less miserable. However, I suggest you keep ‘I can do this’ until wheels touch the runway.