Being from Australia I’ve had to deal with my share of long flights. Singapore is around 9 hours away, Dubai about 14 hours and well if you want to see Europe or America then you can expect a good 24 hours+ of airports and planes to reach your destination. As I prepare for another trip home to Australia this week its got me thinking about how I handle a long flight so I thought I’d share my tips with you all. The first of course is fly First/Business class but hey who can really afford that?
These days airlines get that sitting on a plane with nothing to it is very boring so they introduced inflight entertainment. That is of course unless your airline doesn’t offer it like a recent flight I took with Delta who seemed to have wheeled the plane out of a nearby museum but that’s a whole other post.
Inflight entertainment is a big part of me surviving a long flight. A movie can last 1-2 hours and there is always a big choice on offer so as long as you aren’t a cinema buff there is always going to be something to watch. The only problem with the system is the headphones many airlines offer you. Try drowning out the aeroplane/people/crying baby with something you’d find in the $2 bin.
It’s why I travel with some good quality noise cancelling earbuds. Sure there are better earbuds and bigger headphones that work but I like to travel light and the thought of misplacing expensive headphones isn’t fun. Along with the earbuds I carry a nifty little airline adapter to fit the sound system. Why they need to avoid using a standard 3.5mm jack is beyond me but as the adapter can be had for a couple of dollars in many electronic stores it’s a bargain.
With the ability to drown out the noise around you music is my next step, especially if I’m trying to get some sleep. I’ve always got some really relaxed music on my phone or iPod that I can put on to help me tune out. It doesn’t always work as I find it almost impossible to sleep in a cramped chair but its a welcome distraction from the noise.
While the above works really well for night flights (especially when I can’t sleep), if I’m flying during the day I like to try to stay busy to help pass the time. This is where I make sure I’ve packed a puzzle book (Sudoku is a regular), downloaded a book to read or charged up my Macbook to draft out content for the blog. I’ve even resorted to organising my photos as I never make time for that. By spending the daylight hours working, reading or solving puzzles I can then relax during the night section and hopefully sleep.
Seat choice is the last thing to look at for long flights. Do you opt for the window and face having to crawl over people or take the aisle so can you escape anytime you like. For the longest time I’d always gone with a window seat because at least then you can lean on the side to try to sleep. I’ve since experimented with seating and come up with the following.
Aisle seats are great during the day. I can get up and down as much as I want to get things from my bag, be it for working on my mac, grabbing a book or just to stretch my legs. I’ll normally pick an aisle seat in the middle row of seats towards the back of the plane so there is less chance people need to step over me. I tend to find there are less kids at the back of planes but that could just be me.
Window seats are where I go for night flights. There is nothing worse than someone waking you up as they climb over you or worse still getting a hit on the arm as the airline staff wheel their god heavy carts up and down the aisles. I still prefer the back of the plane as I normally find the crying babies at the front in bassinets so the more distance between me and them at night-time the better.
And lastly I always make sure I’ve picked up the following at the airport or packed in my bag before leaving:
- Pain Killers
- Water/Soft Drink
- Chocolate or other Snack
You never know when you’ll get hungry or thirsty so having something on hand saves waiting on airline staff. Headaches are the devil on a plane so ALWAYS pack something for that. As for the pen well I always seem to be filling out entry forms for countries so having your own just saves time when you get to the customs line.
So that’s how I try to handle long flights, how do you deal with them?