10 Tips to Get Through That Long-Haul Flight

The longest flight I’ve ever taken was from Washington, D.C., to Singapore, via Newark and a stop in Frankfurt. It was effectively a 24-hour flight -- in coach. Even with Singapore Airlines’ great coach product, which includes ergonomic seats and headrests, great inflight menu choices and more than 1000 options on its entertainment system, that’s still a long time in a narrow seat. And since my bank account is not big enough to get one of those lie-flat comfy seats in business and first class, I’ve come up with these ways to get through a long-haul flight.


  • 01 of 10

    Spring for a more-room economy seat

    ••• Vida Images/Getty Images

    I have a flight to Asia coming up on American Airlines, so I decided to spend a little more on top of the great fare I snagged for a seat in Main Cabin Extra. For $60, I get up to six more inches of legroom, boarding with group one and being in the first group off the plane. Here's my list of eight U.S. carriers offering more room in coach.



  • 02 of 10

    Snag an exit row or bulkhead seat

    ••• A bulkhead seat. Photo courtesy of Andrew Currie/Flickr

    If you can’t spring for economy plus, then try and score these seats (although some airlines do charge for the exit row). Every inch of room counts on long-haul flights.


  • 03 of 10

    Wear comfortable clothes

    ••• Photo courtesy of Babble.com


    I dress stylishly (you never know when you might get that upgrade) but comfortably with tailored yoga pants, a long-sleeved top, a long cardigan (it doubles as a blanket) and a pashmina scarf. You can’t be comfortable or sleep if you’re wearing tight, binding clothes. Get more of my fashion tips from my Pinterest board here.


  • 04 of 10

    Wear socks


    Long hours on a plane can cause pressure and swelling, so slip on a pair of socks as you rest.



    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Hydrate, hydrate hydrate

    Thanks to dry recycled cabin air, you can get really dehydrated on a long flight. There are some who say no alcohol, but I will indulge in a glass of wine or an adult beverage or two. But I will also drink lots of water.


  • 06 of 10


    It’s not good to stay at your seat when you’re awake. So get up and take a walk to get your circulation going. This will also lessen your chances of getting deep vein thrombosis. Also don’t forget to stretch!



  • 07 of 10

    Sleep aid


    Let’s get real. Sleeping in a coach seat is not like sleeping in your own comfy bed at home. Sometimes you need a little help falling asleep. I’m not a doctor (so please check with yours), but I’m a fan of melatonin, both for the flight and to handle jetlag when I arrive at my destination. There are also over-the-counter sleep aids on the market that can help, including Zzzquil, Unisom and Simply Sleep.


  • 08 of 10

    Sleep mask/neck pillow

    Again, you are not at home, so you need to do what you can to recreate it to get your rest. And while neck pillows look silly, it will support your head as you sleep. And a good sleep mask blocks out light, which also helps with sleep. 

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Noise cancelling headphones

    ••• Image courtesy of Bose

    These can be a lifesaver by cutting out the noise on an airplane, including the engine whine, the children’s whine and other assorted sounds. I decided to spring for a pair of Bose QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones, but there are others out there that cost less.


  • 10 of 10


    ••• smemon87 / Flickr

    You may not like what’s available on an airline’s inflight entertainment system, so make sure your smartphone, tablet or eReader is loaded with content. And make sure your airline has in-seat power outlets or bring your own portable electronics charger.