Long flights are bound to happen when traveling internationally. These flights are exciting because of the impending trip ahead, but can be quite tiring as the plane crosses over many time zones. After experiencing my TENTH flight lasting longer than seven hours, I know a few ways to survive in Coach.
Each traveler is different and certain things work better for different people. This is to give ideas for travelers to think about before a long haul flight.
What should I do with my baggage?
Every airline has a baggage policy and sadly they all differ. Do check the specific baggage policy when booking your ticket, especially since purchasing luggage allowance will probably be cheaper as well as it will make check-in easier come to flying day. Most 'budget airliners' will charge for checked baggage, so keep that into account when looking at flight prices.
From recent experience:
Pack light. Try to fit everything you need for your trip into a carry-on sized luggage piece. I love my High Sierra 35L backpacking internal frame pack since it fits under the seat in front of me, so I do not have to deal with using wheels and issues with the overhead bins being filled before I get on the plane.
What should I bring in my carry-on for a long haul flight?
Since my baggage is within easy reach, I can put these important items for my flight:
How do I stay comfortable on the plane?
If you are flying in First Class; that is awesome and I am jealous of your life. For most of us, Coach is the option within our budget. Coach is quite cramped. It is the people herder of the skies and that is okay, it just takes a little maneuvering to get comfy.
Wear warmer clothes since it gets pretty cold up in the sky. I usually wear leggings, a t-shirt with a light, portable jacket, and whatever shoes take up the most room if I had packed them in my luggage. I take off my original socks and shoes and put on my compression socks to ease the blood flow to my feet. Airlines usually provide a small pillow (personal travel pillows are amazing to have, too!) and blanket for use. I put whatever I know that I will definitely use during the flight in my seat pocket so I do not have to go in and out of my luggage.
What is airplane food like?
Budget and shorter flights will more than likely not provide food for free. On longer flights, many airlines will provide a meal, snacks, or more. It depends on the airline and what they want to provide.
I will probably be the one to raise their hand first when asked who likes airplane. I LOVE airplane food. The reason I love airplane food is because I am vegetarian and many airlines provide meal options when booking your ticket. I personally love the 'Hindu/Asian vegetarian meal' option. This option usually includes curry and vegetables. Also, I more often than not get my meal first and I am usually starving come meal time service. Basically, if you have a special meal request, you will more than likely get your meal first as well as it being very tasty.
After eating, it is a nice time to stand up, stretch, and walk around as your aisle mates may do the same. This helps with your body's circulation.
Some airlines provide complementary alcohol on their long haul flights. This is the best perk ever! Let me explain why. Alcohol tastes great with the airplane food and it helps with sleeping during the flight. I ask the flight attendant for a double of whatever alcohol it is, usually wine. This is so I do not have to have her come around again as well as I can get to sleep quicker.
Is there any in-flight entertainment system?
There will more than likely be an in-flight entertainment system in the headrest in the seat in front of yours. There are recently released movies, TV shows, music, and games. I usually watch two movies and then read or sleep the rest of the time depending on how I am doing during the flight. I use the music option to put on tunes so I can fall asleep.
What should I do when I arrive in a different time zone?
Ah, jet lag. It can be difficult to overcome this lag when traveling through multiple time zones. First, stay awake for as long as humanly possible and avoid naps. Naps are amazing and super tempting after a long flight, but do not succumb to the urge! This is the only tactic I have lived by when traveling around the world. If my flight lands early in the morning, I try to stay awake until 8PM local time. If my flight arrives in the afternoon or evening, I try to stay awake until 10PM. I let my body clock reset and hope that I wake up at a reasonable time the following morning.
Safe travels and good luck with your long haul flight!