As an International frequent flyer one of the questions I am asked the most its how do I “survive” or get through an International long haul flight. Keep in mind the term long haul flight is minimal because there is also “Ultra long haul flight”, so in reality it depends on how you want to look at it. For every traveler out there specially if you are not much of a traveler and only do it during your holiday time they might consider a 5 hour flight a long flight, when for myself its just a quick hop. One of my favorite things about flying is being able to meet like minded people that share the same interest as me and share their travels with me. If you think about it, what is the number one question someone asks you who sit next to you on a plane? I give you a minute to think about it…and that question is, Where are you going?. It is a pretty universal question that can lead to a never ending conversation and by the time you reach your destination and get out of the aircraft you have made a friend and even potentially formed some sort of business connection that may lead to something bigger and better in the near future. I am proof of that and I have to admit, it is one of my favorite things about traveling.
On Today’s blog post I will be sharing my thoughts and tips to keep in mind during a long haul flight. Do keep in mind I have done every possible flight time out there and one of the longest ones I have done were the following: Dallas To Hong Kong with American Airlines, Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi aboard Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles aboard Etihad Airways, each and one of those flights were over 16 hours once we were airborne, so it is by no means a “short or quick hop”. In fact the total flight time from Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi during my flight in June was 16 hours and 30 minutes, talk about long. You may say it “But you are flying first class or business, how can that be rough to you?” Regardless of flying premium cabin, they are vital tips to keep in mind and thats for your overall health, safety and flight enjoyment.
10 TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND
- Get a good night of sleep before the flight – In the past I’ve done the mistake of not going to sleep until late hours of the night so I can “sleep” on the plane. For me that was a rookie and silly mistake to make. Sleep it’s important in every aspect and getting a good night of sleep the night before your flight its vital. You want to feel rested and ready to take on your travel day. Nothing worse than feeling sluggish and with zero energy when rushing through the airport. Traveling as a whole it’s exhausting as much as I love doing it. Shoot for at least, 8 hours of solid sleep the night before, it will make a big difference on your overall performance.
- Avoid alcohol consumption a night before the flight – As a casual and occasional drinker because I am not much of a drinker myself I refuse to have all sorts of alcohol the night before my flight. It is super important to have your body feel good without any symptoms of throwing up or battling a bad migraine throughout the journey. It is not a comfortable feeling completely out of it aboard a metal tube, at 30,000 feet in the air while seeing the flight time still showing “13 hours until your destination”. I’ve flown sick before and it was not a good experience as my body was craving my bed and being at home.
- Bring a medication kit aboard – I am not to keen on medication of anything because I rarely take pills even when I have a headache as I don’t believe on medication and I believe on the natural healing of resting when I need to rest and letting my body naturally recover. Though on a long haul flight its important to have some medication just incase you aren’t feeling 100%. I bring headache pills, stomach pills, digestive pills, blood clot pills, immune system support pills. Those are my vital items I bring aboard. You never know how the food on the plane will settle in your stomach so bringing a digestive pill will help you, so I would recommend taking that before the meal service begins, some meals aboard can be full of sodium, etc so it may cause bloating and thats where the digestive enzymes will help you.
- Limit your onboard drinking – Don’t get me wrong here, you can have and enjoy your drinks aboard specially when flying a carrier who provides an amazing on board experience and alcohol to match though as I usually say, everything in moderation. Alcohol dehydrates you and thats not a good thing on a long haul flight. Drink plenty of water to wash down the alcohol and to avoid getting dehydrated. From personal experience, I only drink during the meal service which is right in the beginning of the flight and for the remainder of the flight I will have juice, lots water or tea and from time to time, I will have a soda.
- Focus on stretching during your flight – Wether you are a passenger flying premium cabin or the main cabin it is important to stretch from time to time throughout the flight. Of course, you can stretch when the seatbelt sign is turned off and just let the cabin crew know you are just stretching, it is important to let the cabin crew know – just for your safety. Stretching will help you release muscle tension and keep the blood flow running throughout your body to avoid blood clots, on a long haul flight I stretch every chance I can without overdoing it to the point that the cabin crew will feel fuzzy about it ;).
- Wear comfortable clothing – A very important factor to keep in mind during a long haul flight is the clothing you will wear during the flight. It is ok to be fashionable and wanting to look during your travels and as you roam around the airport, but once you are aboard, leave the fashion and glamour behind and put on something comfortable. It is important to not feel “restricted” by the clothing you wear. Pajama pants, comfy hoodie weather, socks and keep those slippers near by. Wearing comfortable clothes makes the journey even more comfortable so keep that in mind.
- Bring your own music & entertainment – This is something I do on a lot of my flights. Between having my mini iPad loaded with my favorite films, I always load up my iPhone with some of my favorite tunes I am currently listening and really like. I don’t depend on the on board entertainment all the time. Enjoying your favorite music and movies makes the ride go by fast (believe me when I say this). I’ve fallen asleep to my favorite music and by the time I wake up, we are 2 hours out from touch down. It gives you a sense of relaxation and “home feeling” so load up those iPads/iPhones with your favorite tunes/films prior to the flight and if you like to read, bringing your own book to read throughout the flight can be a great way to pass the time.
- Sanitation – Regardless of what cabin you are flying, sanitation is vital specially while flying. Being on an aircraft with another 200+ passengers the germs are circulating through that metal tube like nobodies business. Wet wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer, etc. Anything to prevent getting sick. Clean your tray table with the wet wipes as well prior to meal service along with the arm rests of your seats, something I do right away upon boarding the aircraft. You may be surprised how many people have asked me for wet wipes once they see me doing that to my seat.
- Socialize – Chatting with your seat mate can make the time pass by quicker than you think. Making friends aboard has always been one of my favorite aspects of traveling. From time to time I do want my “quiet time” but its to be expected to get approached by your seat mate and exchange a few words and get to know each other and when I have done that in the past, the flight time shrinks rapidly. Be mindful of the other people around you and keep the chatting on a low tone.
- Seating arrangements – You know you will be on the plane for over 10 hours or at least for 8 hours, pay the extra to get the best seat in the house when it comes to main cabin (economy). Normally the best seats in economy can be the exit row where nobody is in front of you and you can stretch your legs all you want. Don’t leave to the airport without knowing what seat you will be seated at because when you let that aspect go to airport control chances are you will end up with a middle seat all the way in the back of the aircraft. Always go for a seat towards the front of the plane so incase of turbulence occurs the ride is much smoother upfront than in the back and if you have the chance to upgrade to premium cabin, go for it – it is 100% worth it.
Those are some of my vital tips to keep in mind to survive and get through a long haul flight. If you are wanting to keep on flying I would highly recommend joining a loyalty program of your choice where accumulating miles and airline status goes a long way and the benefits can be applied for upgrades, airport lounges and overall a much better flying experience.
If you have any other tips to share or something you do before your flights, share them with me down below.