Surviving long haul flights

Top Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights (in Economy Class)

The majority of us are destined for economy class and fear the idea of being in a cramped space in the clouds for more than 8 hours. Depending on your destination, you could be couple of days in a pressurized tin canister and this can seem to drag on for an eternity. Space is a premium, and keeping your cool with the guy in front of you who likes to recline his seat just when the cabin crew serve your breakfast, can simply break you! Keeping on top of boredom, sleep deprivation, and other annoyances can turn your trip into the flight from hell. There are however, a few life hacks for surviving long haul flights.

Book It Online!

Many airlines now have the facility to reserve the seat of your choice. You should be able to do this when you book your tickets or when you do an online check in. Be aware though that there is no guarantee and sometimes the airline may re-allocate your seating.

Opting for the aisle seat in the middle section of a three row seating layout gives you the advantage of being able to access the aisle and bathroom. It also gives the other person in the middles seats a 50% chance of choosing between climbing over you, or climbing over the other person to get to the isle.

More Leg Room

In most wide-bodied aircraft the best position is at the front of economy class or on the exit/bulkhead rows. This is particularly advantageous for the taller traveller as there is more leg room in this row with the absence of seating directly in front of you. However, you may incur an additional charge for these seats.

Here it is much quieter, as it sits ahead of the plane’s engines. You will not have a PTV entertainment system on the seat in front, but it will be attached and stored in your armrest, therefore being a little cumbersome with the limited space you have. Keep in mind this is also the area where people queue for the bathroom, giving an added intrusion of the lights and movement.

Bassinets are fitted for babies in this location and although you have the added luxury of the extra leg room and isle accessibility, it could get very noisy.

Window Gazing

A window seat will give you the advantage of being able to lean against the outer wall, instead of tipping onto your fellow passengers while you sleep. You also get a prime view of the ascent and decent, and during the flight it can be quiet relaxing to enjoy the view of the open skies. The disadvantage of this is that you will have two people to get past to get to the aisle.

Walk Down the Aisle

The aisle seat gives you the ability to come and go at any time without disturbing anyone, but beware that you will be asked several times to move for the other two who have to get over you. You may also get more knocks and bumps, as some of the more inconsiderate or clumsy passengers passing by may bounce around on their journey to the bathroom.

Get moving

Sitting down for a long period of time can be dangerous to many people and whilst you can’t go for a marathon run, moving around whenever possible is the best way to keep the blood flowing. Take advantage of any bathroom breaks and do a bit of stretching, periodically going for walks up and down the aisle.

Sleep off the Boredom

The best way to make the hours fly by is to sleep whenever you get the opportunity. That’s all very well, but the environment will be artificial and your sleep will be disturbed by the constant hum of the aircraft, together with having to sleep in a semi upright position. There are ways to combat this and every little thing helps.

Eye masks and air plugs are paramount. This will enhance the quality of your sleep by regulating your circadian rhythm, as it limits the light. Taking your own pillow on board is bulky and more hindrance than help, so if you are lucky enough to be on a flight that isn’t full, grab a couple of extra pillows from the empty seats. Alternatively, travel air pillows are easier to manage and provide that extra bit of stability in your seat.

It’s never going to be a walk in the park and getting to sleep can be a difficult business. Some people find that setting their clocks to that of their arrival destination the moment they board gets them into the time zone. Others prefer to keep awake for the entire journey. Try having a few shorter sleeps in the days before boarding, as this will make your body more naturally programmed for sleep.

Although clinically unproven and unregulated by the FDA, Melatonin is a natural alternative remedy to aid sleep. It isn’t a sleeping pill as such, but secrets a natural hormone, triggering sleep. As with all drugs, some people swear by it and others have had no benefit at all. If that doesn’t cut the mustard, an over the counter sleeping pill such as Ambien or Unisom may be the thing for you. These drugs tend to be very effective with putting you to sleep, but it might be a sensible idea to “test drive” these before you take your flight, as it may leave you feeling sluggish and groggy.

To Cap Off

Everybody is different and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. The more long haul flights you clock up, the better you will get at streamlining what works for you. Just remember, eventually the flight will come to an end.