Long-Haul Flight Survival Tips

How to manage a long flight more comfortably

A long flight in an economy seat doesn't have to be something to endure. Try and get an aisle seat for easy access to galley when required and let these tips help you travel more comfortably.

  • 01 of 10

    Avoiding Jet Lag

    Air stewardess giving drink to passenger
    ••• Image Source/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    Jet lag is the disruption of the body's rhythms with travel across time zones, plus probably pre-travel sleep deprivation. You need to adopt the 'rhythms' of your destination to help adjust, so set your watch to the destination time as soon as you are on board. Flights east generally caused worse symptoms than those westbound. A general rule of thumb is that the number of days needed to recover is equal to two thirds of the time zones crossed. With westbound flights, the number is half the time zones crossed. Find out more about Jet lag from About.com Air Travel.

  • 02 of 10

    Wear Shoes

    Never, I repeat NEVER, use plane toilets without wearing shoes. The flight attendants work hard to keep these areas clean but I'm sure you can guess what some of the splashes on the floor are and do you really want to walk in that – and then take it back to your seat? You need loose comfortable shoes as your feet can swell during the flight so I recommend traveling in lightweight sandals.
  • 03 of 10

    Two Drinks

    Flight attendants tell me it's OK to ask for two drinks at a time so you don't need to call them back in 5 minutes. Remember to drink plenty of water and juice to keep you hydrated, and avoid caffeinated soft drinks, plus tea and coffee.
  • 04 of 10

    Basic Toiletries

    Even with liquid security restrictions, we are allowed basic toiletries on board. (Do check before traveling in case the situation changes.) I'd advise taking a small toothpaste (under 100ml) and toothbrush, a small moisturizer, and deodorant. This should also stop people taking too long on the toilets! Remember you can freshen up in the airport toilets when you collect your luggage if you have friends coming to meet you and you're worried about smelling!

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  • 05 of 10

    Get Your Food Earlier

    If you like to eat early, order a special meal. (You will need to book this when booking your ticket. Allow at least 24 hours.) I am vegetarian and always get my meal before everyone else. But do note, your tray won't be cleared away any earlier.
  • 06 of 10

    Wear Layers

    You've got to contend with busy airports at each end, and different levels of air-conditioning on the plane, so layers are best. I usually have a body warmer/vest with pockets as it gives me even more 'hand luggage' space.
  • 07 of 10

    Do Exercises

    Get up and stretch regularly if possible, or at least circle your ankles once an hour. The in-flight magazine will have pictures of the recommended exercises.
  • 08 of 10

    Dry Air

    Keep the air vent above you open. Dampen a facecloth, place it over your face, and aim the air vent at the cloth and this will help with the dryness.

    • Treatment for Dry Skin When Flying
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  • 09 of 10

    Chewing Gum

    Chewing can help with the changes in air pressure, as can sucking on boiled sweets. Remember, your ears don't always pop just at take-off and landing times, but during the flight too. Chewing gum can also help if you feel nervous as it gives you something to do.
  • 10 of 10

    Use Cushions

    To help ease lower back pain, place one of the pillows provided between your lower back (just below your ribs) and the seat. If you are trying to get some sleep do support your neck - you can use your own inflatable neck pillow or scrunch one provided by the airline.

    See more tips on Making Long Economy Flights More Comfortable from the About.com Air Travel site and on this Long Haul Airline Guide.