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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Use the day or two before your long flight to get your body physically ready. That includes:
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.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.