Tips for Surviving Long Flights

23 June 2022
Tips for Surviving Long Flights

It’s downright amazing that it’s even possible to cross an ocean and land in another country in less than a day, but I don’t know any traveler who loves a long flight. In fact, most loathe them—but they’re a necessity if you want to go a long way and discover somewhere new.

Whether you’re taking a 7-hour overnight flight to Europe or signing on for a 16-hour journey to Australia, long flights can be boring, uncomfortable, and downright exhausting. The nuances of discomfort range from mildly annoying (talkatives in your row) to quite dangerous (deep vein thrombosis is no picnic).

A short trip that’s poorly planned can ruin a day. A long flight that’s poorly planned can ruin several days after.

Happily, there are ways to make long flights more bearable. Read on to keep yourself safe and as comfortable as possible on your next long flight.

When booking your tickets

Planning your long flight starts when you’re booking the tickets. If you’ve got miles, use them to upgrade. If you’ve got cash, now is the time to splurge on an upgraded seat.

Choose your seat well

If you don’t have a favorite seat on the plane, or all the seats in the front with the extra legroom are taken, pick a seat in the back of the plane. Yes, it will be noisier (noise canceling headphones come in handy here) and you won’t be able to get off as quickly, but there’s a better chance of empty seats. 

Pro tip: keep an eye on the seat map right before your flight to see if there are any empty rows you can claim at the last minute.

Find a seat with power

Only some airplanes have power outlets at every seat. When purchasing your tickets, you will usually find information about outlet availability on the airfare comparison sites. Some airline sites list these features, but if not, open both windows in a browser and check the power situation before you choose your seats.

Even if you do have a power outlet, the socket may have been ‘worn out’ by other passengers. I remember on one flight, I was overjoyed to find power outlets for my family only to find out the socket was loose and the plug wouldn’t stay put.

Pro tip: carry a UK adapter in your bag. The prongs on these adapters don’t wear out as easily and three prongs hold it tightly in place.

Pre-flight prep: the week before

The days of free in-flight Wi-Fi are rapidly waning (here’s why you may want to skip it anyway). You can either pay the fee to stay connected or come prepared. 

The week or weekend before your trip is ideal for getting all the stuff you’ll need in flight ready. That includes:

  1. Loading up all your devices. Make sure you have plenty of games, movies, television shows, music and books to keep you entertained on your flight (especially if the Wi-Fi is unavailable or too expensive).
  2. Downloading the airline’s app on at least two devices. The free Wi-Fi will usually let you connect to the airline’s website, so you can get help if there are flight delays.
  3. Collecting all the chargers and testing them out by charging all the devices.
  4. Finding earplugs or noise-canceling headphones for everyone going with you.
  5. Collecting soft eye masks to help everyone sleep.
  6. Organizing toiletry bags with toothbrushes, contact solution, facial mists, etc.
  7. Gathering snacks and water bottles for every traveler.
  8. Packing anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down the tray tables, arm rests, and seats (for peace of mind).
  9. Choosing travel pillows or neck supports for each person on the trip.
  10. Selecting comfortable layers of clothing to wear on the plane.

Hmmm … many travelers swear by sleeping aids (even melatonin gummies for the little ones) and I typically agree; however, I hadn’t considered the safety aspect until I read Johnny Jet prefers to remain fully aware in case of an emergency.

Pre-flight prep: 2 days before

Use the day or two before your long flight to get your body physically ready. That includes:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Getting some exercise
  • Eating light meals
  • Getting plenty of sleep

In-flight tip: sitting in one position in a cramped seat is not good for you. Fight off dehydration and deep-vein thrombosis by sipping water regularly, stretching often, and walking around every hour or so. Your body will thank you.

Related topics

5 Tips to prepare for a safe long-haul flight with young kids

Flight booking mistakes even experienced travelers make

5 Tips to prevent theft in flight

Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.