Practical Tips

How to Survive a Long-haul Economy Flight

Usually the least enjoyable part of any holiday is needing to take a long-haul economy flight, especially for something as long as from Sydney to Europe, then back.  Undoubtably you wish you could fly in business class instead, wishing you could afford to pay for that next trip, but knowing that your flights alone would then take up your entire budget.  So, whilst you’re stuck flying economy, try these tips to make your long-haul flight more bearable.

1. Know what works for you

Some people prefer to fly at night, others during the day.  If there’s a stopover some people like to stay overnight in a hotel, others to get to their end destination as quick as possible.  Know what has worked for you best before, then stick to it.  Everyone is different.

2. Arrive at your final destination in the evening

There’s nothing worse than arriving first thing in the morning, then not being able to check into your hotel and go to bed, and being too tired to do anything but grumble all day and fall asleep in a cafe.  It’s best to time your flight to arrive late afternoon or during the evening at your final destination, so you can check-in immediately and go straight to bed for a good night’s sleep, even if it means paying slightly extra for the flight.

3. Change your time when you board

When you board the flight, change your watch and phone to the time at your destination.  If there are multiple legs, I usually change the time on each leg, to the time at that leg’s destination.  That way you are reminded to start syncing your eating and sleeping habits as soon as possible, instead of suddenly having the time of day change on you by up to 12 hours forwards or backwards when you arrive.

4. Try to sleep on overnight flights

Flight Sunset Bali

The sun’s setting, meaning your should try for some shut-eye soon

If a flight is overnight, I always try to sleep for awhile, even if it’s just on and off dozing.  This sometimes works well, other times I barely sleep at all, but it’s worth trying so you don’t have such a big sleep deficit at your destination.  Most chemists can sell you over the counter (non-prescription) sleeping tablets that are enough to give you a nudge towards getting some shut-eye.

5. Avoid short overnight flights on full service airlines

If you’re trying to sleep on an overnight flight, there’s nothing worse than being prevented due to a meal service that takes hours and lights that are switch on a 4am.  On an 8 hour overnight flight, the lights will be out for no more than 4 hours, often closer to only 3 hours.  And often you’ve already eaten prior to the flight and aren’t hungry yet when breakfast is served.  Either only fly longer legs overnight, or else fly with a cut-price service, as long as the seats are comfortable enough.

5. Research your flight in advance

As well as being able to check-in beforehand on many flights, these days you can often also find out the planned meals and movies being shown in advance.  This will answer your question of whether one or two meals are being served, and help you decide whether to eat before the flight.  You may also find out that you’ll finally catch that movie you’ve been meaning to watch – something to look forward to!

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