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. If your bank account is not big enough to get one of those lie-flat comfy seats in business or first class, here are ways to get through a long-haul flight.
Spring for a More-Room Economy Seat
If you can, spend a little more for a seat in Main Cabin Extra. You can get up to six more inches of legroom, boarding with group one and being in the first group off the plane. Here's a list of U.S. carriers offering more room in coach.
Snag and Exit Row or Bulkhead Seat
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.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
Dess stylishly (you never know when you might get that upgrade) but comfortably with something like 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.
Long hours on a plane can cause pressure and swelling, so slip on a pair of socks as you rest.
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.
It’s not good to stay in 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.
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. Melatonin can help both during the flight and with jetlag when you arrive at your destination. There are also OTC sleep aids on the market that can help. Be sure to check with your doctor about what might be best for you.
Sleep Mask and 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.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
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.
You may not like what’s available on an airline’s in-flight 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.