How To Survive A Long Haul Flight

Travelling is awesome. But it sometimes involve taking long and painful flights in economy class to get to our destination. So the question is inevitable: How To Survive A Long Haul Flight?

Here are my top tips to make your flight more enjoyable.

Emirates Economy Class

1. Get up often

This is probably the biggest tip I can give you. While on a 14 hour flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, I got up a few times, but not a lot since I had a window seat and had to get past two people to get out of my seat.

But on the 15 hours return flight from Sydney to San Francisco, the flight seemed so much quicker. Why? Because I got up every few hours. Sorry, seatmates, but I gotta get up! You’re sleeping? Wake up, I gotta get up! (Actually, my seatmate told me it was a good thing that I was getting up every few hours because it was pushing him to move around also).

So get out of your seat and move around the cabin, stretch out in the back. Talk to someone for half an hour, bring a magazine and read it standing up in the back of the plane. You’ll find out that the stretching will help you surviving a long haul flight!

2. Drink lots of fluids

Not alcohol. Try to avoid alcohol. But water is good (from a bottle – I’ve heard that water tanks on a plane are filthy). Orange juice also. Or anything else that you like. Stay hydrated, it will help your body stay on top of everything and will decrease the chances of a headache when you step off of the plane.

KLM Catering

I did say to avoid wine right? Oops.

Planes are a dry environment, so drinking lots of fluids will help you surviving a long haul flight!

3. Bring your own in flight entertainment

Many long haul planes nowadays have personal TVs at each seat, but even if they do have those personal in flight entertainment (IFE) systems, you’re sometimes better off bringing your own.

If you’re a reader, bring your reading stuff. Be it a book, an e-book, magazines, newspaper, e-newspaper… Just make sure you have enough for the flight and make sure that you have a charger if you use an electronic device.

There is a relatively new thing called Next Issue that is a bit like Netflix, but for magazines, which gives you Unlimited access to over 140 of the best magazines in the world to your favorite magazines. Prior to your flight, you can load any magazine that you want and read that onboard the plane. You can get a Free 30 Day Trial by registering through those links. (Disclosure: I get a small commission with no other cost to you if you do. Thank you!)

If you like movies of TV Shows, load your tablet with enough episodes to last you through the flights. What I’ve done recently to avoid filling my iPad to capacity is load a memory card with episodes of Grey’s Anatomy that I transferred from my DVDs to my computer. I brought with me an adapter that I could plug in the iPad and in which I could insert the memory card. I would transfer a few episodes at a time from the card to the iPad, and then delete them from the iPad when I was done. Doing so saved me tons of space on my iPad.

So bring your own IFE, it will help you survive a long haul flight!

4. Sleep

That’s an obvious one, I know. For a reason I can’t figure out, I can’t sleep on airplanes. I really wish I could. It would make flights pass by so much quickly! But if you can, unlike me, please do so! You’ll arrive at destination much more refreshed.

If it’s something that works for you, you can bring sleeping pills and take one when stepping on the plane. I don’t know why but sleeping pills don’t have much effect on me… I’m better off with my own IFE and getting up.

So if you can, sleep! It will help you survive a long haul flight!

5. Wear comfortable clothing

I like jeans. They’re practical, can be worn with everything and can absorb anything that is wiped from your hands onto them without ever showing any stain. So I (almost) always wear jeans when I fly (unless I’m flying out right after a word day for example). But for long haul flights, I like to bring a pair of comfortable pants. Sweat pants or any other comfy pants you like.

They might not be the prettiest, but they sure will make your time in your crappy economy seat more enjoyable. Change into them before stepping on the plane, or after take off.

And while I’ve talked about pants, don’t forget a good sweater also. Planes tend to have various temperature settings from one plane to another and even during the same flight. It can get from “I’m freezing” to “Bring me a pina colada and some sunscreen” in a matter of minutes. So plan accordingly. It will help you survive a long haul flight!

6. Avoid having too much stuff below the seat in front of you.

Since space is limited, try not to stuff the space below the seat in front of you with all your carry ons. For an hour flight, I usually don’t care. But for a long haul flight, I know that this space will be much-needed later on.

So I usually try to keep the minimum under there: my iPad, my Bose headphones, my camera so I can take awesome scenery (and airplane food) pictures, my sweater and a little pouch with my small electronics that I might need (memory card and adapter that I talked about earlier, small earphones for when the Bose can’t be used, USB cable to charge iPhone or iPad, etc.).

Emirates Economy Seat

I will usually get those items out of my carry on backpack and put them in a small foldable bag so that I don’t lose them.

With all that space saved below the seat in front of you, you will have plenty of room to stretch your legs. It will help you survive a long haul flight!


Everyone has their ideas on how to survive a long haul flight. I think that to make a long story short, it comes down to: Entertainment, Personal Space, Hydration, Stretching.

Oh and the best way to survive a long haul flight? Fly business or first class of course! It can be free if you have enough miles!

Emirates Business Class Seat

What about you? What are your secrets to survive a long haul flight in economy class? Let me know in the comments below!

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