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Tips For Long-Haul Flights

Whether you love or loathe flying, a 6+ hour long-haul flight can be a bit of a daunting challenge without the right preparation.

Fortunately, at Alternative Airlines, we’re experts and have compiled 16 top travel-tips that will get you fully-prepared and make any long-haul flight a breeze.

1) Research the airlines beforehand

To get a headstart, the first thing you should do is research all the airlines that are flying your chosen route before you buy your ticket.

Dig around on the internet to find out things such as the type of entertainment the airline offers, the common meal types that are served and which airline is the most generous with legroom.

Choosing an airline that offers a variety of things to keep you comfortable and entertained will significantly improve your in-flight experience, without you having to do anything extra!

2) Bring backup entertainment

A laptop, headphones and US passport on an airplane tray table under the seat back TV screen

The time spent on a long-haul flight creates the perfect opportunity to binge a TV show you’ve been wanting to watch, read a book or even start a new podcast series.

Even if you do find an airline that offers great in-flight entertainment, it might be worth bringing your own entertainment for when you want something a bit different or if you’re travelling with children and they’ve become restless.

If you’re watching a video or listening to audio, you can either download it to your laptop, tablet or mobile and watch offline. Or, if the airline you’re flying on offers good WiFi, you can stream it off there.

3) Bring your own headphones

No matter how good an airline’s in-flight entertainment might seem, one thing that airlines are yet to master — unless it’s in Business Class — is providing a good pair of headphones.

It might be that they’re too quiet, don’t fit right, only work in one ear or just don’t work at all. Regardless, it’s always worth bringing your own pair to eliminate the hassle and make sure you can enjoy the in-flight entertainment provided.

4) Charge your devices pre-flight and bring a power ban

Three silver portable chargers on a table top

These days, airlines are generally pretty good for providing a plug socket or a USB that can be used as a power source.

But, you can never be too prepared. And you don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you want to charge two things at once, but only have one power outlet. Make sure you’ve fully charged all your electronic devices before your flight and bring a small power bank for when your mobile runs out of battery.

5) Bring snacks

Plane food in Economy Class can be hit and miss. You don’t always have the greatest of options to choose from and if you’re served something that you don’t like, it’s a long time to go hungry.

That’s why it might be best to bring some comfort food on the flight with you, particularly if you’re a picky eater.

Most airlines will offer complimentary snacks and drink on long-haul flights, with no limit on how much or how often you can order. But, if you want to be safe, bring something that you know you like, whether you bring it from home or buy it at the airport.

Tip: Take a look at our page on which foods you can and can’t take through security and bring on the plane.

6) Or eat at the airport beforehand

An airport cafe in Sofia airport selling a range of drinks, snacks and ice cream

 Sky Café, Sofia Airport

Another alternative to Economy Class food is to eat at the airport before your flight. If you fill up before you travel, you won’t have to worry about whether you like the food on the plane and it’ll put your mind at ease.

Airports are pretty good for food across the board but here’s our favourite airports for foodies.

7) Don’t go too crazy on the freebies

We mentioned that airlines often offer complimentary food and drink on long-haul flights. This might be exciting, particularly if you’re flying for a holiday. But you do need to make sure you don’t overdo it.

With hours of flying ahead of you, you probably won’t want to be sat there complaining that you feel sick because you’ve drunk too much Coca-Cola and eaten too many Pringles. And you definitely won’t want to be that person that everyone is looking at because you’ve had too much alcohol!

So, take it easy. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

8) Pre-book a seat that’s right for you

Where you sit is as important as any other factor when it comes to being comfortable on a long-haul flight.

A window seat is great if you’re looking for something to lean up against and don’t want to be disturbed while sleeping. Whereas, an aisle seat is good if you want to get up whenever you want without having to ask the person(s) next to you move.

If you’re travelling in a group, the airline will always try to seat you next to each other — but this is subject to availability. The only way to guarantee that all members of your party will be sat together is by pre-selecting a seat.

Tip: Here’s how you can pre-select your seat with Alternative Airlines.

9) Upgrade if you can

Even better than pre-selecting your seat is upgrading the cabin class that you fly in.

Although expensive, Business Class and First Class offer unparalleled in-flight experiences, with so many luxury perks and services that you won’t want the flight to end!

But, if your budget won’t allow for Business and First, then Premium Economy is still an upgrade that can make all the difference. The Premium Economy cabin offers seats that are wider with more legroom and sometimes have additional perks that include headrests, footrests, larger TV monitors and premium food.

Tip: If you don't want to spend any extra money, you can try your luck with our tips and tricks for getting a free upgrade on a flight.

10) Don’t keep checking the time

Google maps open on a smartphone in front of an airplane's window inflight over a mountainous landscape

While it might be tempting to check the clock to see how many hours of flying you have left — it’ll only make the time go slower.

Avoid frequently checking the in-flight map too. Watching a little animation of your plane flying over the Atlantic Ocean can be fun at first, but when it’s been half an hour and the plane has barely moved, you’ll become very aware of how much flying is left until you reach your destination.

11) Dress comfortably and bring a layer

Staying relaxed after multiple hours of sitting upright in the same seat can be difficult enough as it is. So, don’t make it harder than it needs to by wearing restrictive clothes that you can’t relax in.

It’s also a good idea to keep a sweatshirt or light jacket on you so that you can put on if you get cold. The temperature in the plane can get low and while you can control the air-con for your own seat, you won’t always able to control the air-con for the people sitting next to you.

12) Walk around

Get up and walk around the plane every two hours to give yourself a chance to stretch your legs and keep your blood flowing. This is particularly important if you’re prone to deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Don’t be put off if you feel you might be annoying other passengers. Lots of people get up to walk around the plane and, as long as you’re not barging into people’s seats or interrupting the meal service, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Tip: Check out our page on wellness and staying healthy on a plane.

13) Invest in in-flight accessories

Neck pillows, eye masks and earplugs are all good for helping you get to sleep. Whereas compressions socks are good for preventing DVT and a travel-sized bottle of moisturiser will keep your hands from getting dry.

14) Fly at night

The concourse of an airport at night being illuminated by overhead lights shining on the Thomas Cook, Ryanair and Eurowings aircraft below

The most efficient way to make the time go quick on a flight is to sleep through the entire thing. Getting to sleep on a plane isn’t always easy but if you catch a late-night or red-eye flight, you’re going to be more tired and will be much more likely to get off to sleep.

15) Don’t bring a large personal item

Most airlines will allow you to two bring to pieces of baggage with you on a plane — one standard carry-on bag and one smaller bag, also known as a ‘personal item’.

The overhead lockers on the plane have the capacity to store each passenger’s standard carry-on bag, but often, you’ll be asked to store your personal item under your seat.

That’s why it’s important to keep your personal item small so that it won’t take up that precious legroom.

Tip: Confused about baggage? Find out exactly what the difference is between a carry-on bag and a personal item.

16) Make a schedule

If you’re really worried about the time passing slowly, create a rock-solid hourly schedule that you can follow.

Most airlines allow you to see what entertainment they have on offer before your flight on its official website. This means you can schedule in a specific film for the first two hours, listen to an album you like for the third hour, read part of a book for the fourth hour and so on…

Following a schedule will keep your mind from thinking about how much time has passed and you’ll be well into the final hours of your flight before you know it.

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