I’ve heard friends complaining about long flights as one of the reasons for not travelling further. Agree that being stuck on the plane for 9+ hours is not the most exciting activity, but there are a few tips to make it more enjoyable. Or at least to not be a reason to avoid long travels.
Choose your route wisely
The longest direct flights I took so far were about 14h each, Paris – Buenos Aires and Amsterdam – Jakarta. Not including the connection flights before. So I know it can be a pain sometimes (and I like flying in general).
When travelling very far, better to divide your trip into segments. For example, if you go to Jakarta, you may want to stop in UAE/Qatar for a day. You go outside, stretch your legs, eat something good and rest. The next segment should be more bearable afterwards. There are some airlines that offer stopover programs. Never used one but I’m considering for the future. Note, that these flights may be more expensive. I usually make my own “stopover program”. Some airlines offer free accommodation between your flights, under certain conditions of course.
And as I mentioned in my previous post about flights, you can choose your stops in cities you haven’t been before, and enjoy them for as long as you want. This way you have time to rest between flights and don’t feel you’re wasting time.
Upgrade your flight
Of course, flying in business/first class is better than in economy. Not to mention that the charter airlines don’t offer anything for the most basic ticket (no entertainment, no food). There are many tips on the internet on how to get a free upgrade, but it actually doesn’t happen so often. And no matter the tricks, I wouldn’t advise relying on them. I got a free upgrade only once, and I didn’t ask for it. It really depends on the circumstances, and as a passenger, you don’t have the visibility.
Upgrade your flight – DIY
It is not the same, but there are ways to make yourself feel “at home”, without disturbing other passengers.
Bring your comfy clothes. The seats get uncomfortable after so many hours, that’s why it’s better to bring loose and soft clothes. Think about the clothes you will be comfortable sleeping in, not going out in.
If you know what you are sensitive about, take care of it. I’m usually cold during a long flight, so I bring socks and a blanket-like scarf/cardigan. I also have a sensitive throat, so I make sure to drink lots of water and somehow cover my nose/mouth while sleeping, to avoid the dry cold air. There are many conditions that are not an issue otherwise, but when you spend so much time in the airplane/ seat, they can cause pain or just discomfort. It is always great to learn more about your body and help it overcome the stress of a long flight.
It happened to me once, I had to fly when my flu was just starting. I had no idea that it mattered, and when the plane started descending, my ears were hurting so much. Those 20 minutes felt like forever. I read about it afterwards, and this is what happens with the flu. Travelling while ill can make your pain worse and it’s good to find out more about it before the flight (not like me).
Cleaning time. Well, we all know planes are not the cleanest places and it’s hard to avoid contact with anything. Don’t read about the possible diseases or bacteria in planes, or how “thorough” are they disinfected, because you won’t board a flight again. It’s just for your well-being (or level of freaking out), it’s good to have a toothbrush, wet towels or hand sanitizer, clothes to change or other products to keep your body refreshed.
Food and drinks. Restrictions apply, but usually, you can bring food in your hand luggage. I always bring biscuits/nuts and fruits with me. You can buy food on the plane, but they are more expensive and might not have what you want. You can just stop by a convenience store before going to the airport and buy something, as long as it’s not watery or goes bad in a few hours.
Regarding water, I’ve seen a few airports have drinkable tap water all over the place. When you get past the security check, you can empty your water bottle instead of throwing it away. You can use it afterwards for a refill. This also applies when you have a long stop and decide to stay at the airport.
Entertainment. Most airlines have free entertainment, and movies are one of the most common. But some charters, for the basic fare, have cut the free entertainment. Or as it happened to me on an Air China flight, all movies except 1 or 2 were in Chinese/ with Chinese subtitles. There were no English subtitles. For an 11h flight, oh, the joy. It also happened a few times that the screen was not working, but the flight attendant usually tries to fix it or move you to another seat. In any case, it’s good to have your books/ebooks, movies, music, games etc prepared, just in case. Consider bringing your earphones and/or earplugs.
Happy travels 🙂