In-Flight Entertainment: Killing Time On Long Distance and Overseas Flights

Delta A330-323 Air Bus

I will take this plane from Bangkok to Tokyo Narita.
I will take this plane from Bangkok to Tokyo Narita. | Source

Overseas Flights

On October 6, 2012, I made another trip from Thailand back to the United States to visit my brother and sisters. In the past, these transpacific flights have been very long and tiring. After I departed Bangkok at 6:00 A.M., I passed through 12 time zones and relived 12 hours before touching down at Green Bay, Wisconsin Airport at around 4:00 P.M. on the same day I left Thailand. The total travel time with layovers at two airports was about 22 hours. It included a six and one-half hour flight from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport to Tokyo Narita Airport. The longest leg of the flight was about 11 hours from Narita to Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. The shortest and last portion of the trip was a one hour flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Green Bay Airport.

My flights were especially tiring because I chose to fly economy class. From past experiences, these flights can also be very boring unless one utilizes in-flight entertainment and devises other ways to kill time on overseas flights. In this article, I share with my readers suggestions for making overseas flights more entertaining and less boring.

Inside a United Airlines A320 Economy Class Cabin

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In Flight Entertainment System on A330s

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Steve Jobs with an Ipad

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Miss Aurasby: John Lavery Depicting a Woman Reading a Book

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Killing Time on Long Distance Flights

How do you kill time on long distance flights?

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Ways to Make Overseas Flights More Entertaining and Less Boring

1. Strike Up Conversations with Passengers

Unless you are totally shy or unsocial, 22 hours can be a long, boring time not having any meaningful conversation with another person. The problem I have found is that the persons who are sitting next to you either talk too much or don't like to talk. I have had occasions to run into people, usually fellow ex-patriots, who monopolize the conversation and don't give you a word to get in edgewise. At the other extreme, there are foreign nationals from Thailand or Japan who don't like to converse in English. Since I don't know Japanese and can't speak Thai very fluently, it's hard to have a really good talk with these people. Just the same, if you can find the correct conversation partner, it will make the flight time more enjoyable and pass more quickly.

2. Do Puzzles

Doing crossword puzzles or Soduku is an excellent way of killing some time during flights. I usually attempt the crossword in the in-flight magazine, and it keeps me occupied for one or two hours or until I get frustrated and give up trying to solve it. I have seen some passengers doing Soduku which I haven't attempted. In Soduku the objective is to fill a 9x9 grid with digits so that each column, row, and each of the nine 3x3 sub grids that compose the grid contain all of the digits 1-9.

3. Make Use of Airlines In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) Systems

I especially like the IEP on the Delta A330-323 air buses which fly between Bangkok and Narita. Included in this system are personal monitor screens and controls for playing by- demand movies and news programs. You also have the option of activating an in-flight tracker where you can display various maps of the aircraft as it moves through its flight path. You can also display data relevant to flight altitude, speed, wind course and speed, temperature, and distances to and from destinations. In addition to this, you have access to an audio system where you can select channels with different types of music and news reports. In the past, I have found the IEF on Delta flights from Tokyo to the States not as good as those on Bangkok to Tokyo flights. This is because passengers don't have individual monitor screens with access to movies on demand and the in-flight tracker. On previous trips I have usually watched two films on the flights from Bangkok to Tokyo and two to three films on flights to the States from Tokyo.

4. Enjoy Meals and Beverage Service

On flights from Bangkok to Tokyo, I always look forward to the breakfast which is served one hour after take-off and a lunch served one hour prior to landing. On flights from Japan to Minneapolis, three meals including a dinner after take-off, breakfast, and lunch are served. For all meals, passengers have a choice between Japanese and Western food. Prior to meals, beer, wine, and mixed drinks are complimentary. In-flight dining and drinking is certainly a welcome break from other activities.

5. Use of Ipads, Smartphones, or Laptops

If you carry an ipad, smartphone, or laptop, you may turn it on and use it when the plane is not taking off or landing. Wi-fi is provided, but it is not free. With your own ipad or laptop, you can work on personal files, surf the net, look at pictures, play games or watch DVDs.

6. Reading

If you enjoy reading, this can be an enjoyable way of passing time. The airlines normally provide newspapers, and every passenger has a copy of the in-flight magazine. I plan on reading "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte and maybe another book by Hemingway.

7. Writing

If one enjoys writing, you will certainly have enough time on long flights to draft articles for Hubpages or any other website you choose.

8. Card Games

In the past I have played sheepshead, hearts, and blackjack with my family members on long overseas flights. These card games really helped to pass the time, and of course we weren't gambling.

9. Sleeping

Finally, if you have exhausted all of the above activities, sleeping is certainly a great way to make the time pass quickly. The problem is that I have a hard time sleeping on economy flights where the seats are smaller and there isn't much leg room.

Traveling many hours on international or overseas flights can be tiring and boring. These flights need not be boring, though, as long as you plan different activities to occupy your time.




© 2012 Paul Richard Kuehn

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Comments 44 comments

Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 4 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

I've flown Montreal to Vancouver to Sydney and back again, quite the long flights. Fortunately the aircraft used had inflight systems which allowed me to watch many movies to pass the time. The other things from your list I did was sleep and eat.


donnah75 profile image

donnah75 4 years ago from Upstate New York

I have taken many transatlantic flights over the years, and I think you have compiled a great list. I always take a book with me, but I tend to spend some time browsing the bookstore at the airport to pick out something new and maybe unexpected to read on the flight. I tend to fly on British Airways, and they also have music that passengers can play throught the in flight entertainment system. Having a few things to do does keep it from being too boring. Great hub. Enjoy your upcoming trip! Voted up and sharing.


shara63 profile image

shara63 4 years ago from Delhi

very useful information...long journeys are sometimes really boring, specially when its for quite a new place!...i'm happy, your wonderful advice and ideas are going to help me throughout my journey i'm planning for USA next summer.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Phil,

Thank you very much for reading and your comments. I would like to sleep some during the flight, however it's really hard to get comfortable in an economy class seat.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Donnah,

Thank you very much for reading, your useful comments, and especially sharing. I have never flown British Airways. All of my previous transpacific flights were on either United or old Northwest before they were bought out by Delta. Personally, I think air travel was a lot more enjoyable 30 years ago.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Shara,

Thank you very much for reading and your comments. If you can afford to fly or upgrade to business class, it is much better than flying economy. Where are you travelling in the States next summer? I hope you have a good trip and enjoy the U.S.


shara63 profile image

shara63 4 years ago from Delhi

you are welcome Paul, I'm travelling to New Brighton, Minnesota to see my sister overe there...and thanks for the great advice , i'll try to make it out positively!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

shara,

I hope you have a great time visiting your sister in Minnesota!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

My longest flight was from the US to Ireland and I thought THAT was long! Wow, I don't know if I could sit still that long! Hope you enjoyed your visit.

Voted up and interesting.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

tillsontitan,

Thank you very much for reading and your comments! I enjoyed the visit on my sister's dairy farm very much. My sister even put me to work feeding the cattle.


ignugent17 profile image

ignugent17 4 years ago

I always enjoy flying because of the movies and the food. I sometimes talk with the passengers. It is always nice to travel. Dubai to the Philippines is 8 to 9 hours and I can finish 3 movies.

Thanks for the tips. :-)


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

ignugent,

Thanks for reading and your great comments. On my 11 hour flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo, I went through four movies which were all very good.


Tealparadise profile image

Tealparadise 4 years ago

The personal monitors with in-flight movies really make it or break it for me. I thought I had it bad going Tokyo to JFK, can't believe you route through Narita from Thailand! That's the longest flight I have ever heard. If you are seated next to a Japanese national, you can both both agree that it's pretty "Tai-hen!" (difficult, terrible, but nothing can be done about it)


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

I've flown from Mumbai to LA a few times and I agree the journey is very tiring and boring unless you have a few things to do. You give a great list of things to do to pass your time.

Voted up, useful, interesting ans shared.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Tealparadise,

Thanks for reading and your interesting comments. Routing through Narita from Thailand is the fastest way for me to get to the States. It is a difficult and terrible long flight when you are sitting in economy. I couldn't sleep at all on the flight. Unlimited in-flight movies did make the time pass by quicker


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Rajan,

Thanks for reading, sharing, and your good comments. Mumbai to LA seems to be almost as far as from Bangkok to Minneapolis. How long were your trips to LA?


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

It was 34 hours of total time including an in transit time of about 9 hours. Really tiring, more so as Mumbai is ahead by 12.5 hours in time.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

That is really a long, long travel time. My travel time coming back to Thailand from Green Bay, Wisconsin, was almost 25 hours.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Good advice. I think that a tablet, or laptop is vital ... unless you are lucky enough to be sitting next to someone amazingly interesting (which does happen occasionally). The media side of laptops and tablets is also useful when some economy flight 'run out' of media devices (this does happen).

Shared, up, useful, pinned and tweeted.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Brett,

Thank you very much for stopping by and your insightful comments. There were more media devices on my flight from Narita to Minneapolis than there were 3 years ago. I appreciate you sharing, pinning, and tweeting this hub.


internpete profile image

internpete 4 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

I have lived in Japan for nearly half my life and flown across the pacific ocean more times than I can remember. It is always an interesting and different experience flying for 12 hrs straight. Sometimes the planes I have been on had a tv in the back of every seat which was very entertaining. Other flights only had one tv at the front of the cabin, which made it a much more tedious flight. I have typically read, slept or lsitened to music on these long flights. I also enjoy the food and drinks served, which not everyone does. Good hub and info!


point2make profile image

point2make 4 years ago

The hours on a long haul flight can be incredibly difficult to fill if you are not prepared. This hub provides some great ideas to help pass the time. Personally I like to read and nap, with the occasional conversation thrown in, to get through a long flight. I have recently purchased a tablet and it will be coming with me on my next flight for sure. Good hub...voted up.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

internpete,

Thanks for reading and your great comments. On my recent flight from Tokyo to Minneapolis, there were TVs in back of every seat with personal in-flight program selections. There were really a lot of old and new movies I could choose from. It certainly made the time pass quickly.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

point2make,

Thanks for stopping by and your good comments. I didn't bring a tablet or laptop with me, but fortunately the in-flight program selections were outstanding.


sweetie1 profile image

sweetie1 4 years ago from India

Hi paul, I have never been on a long flight. Maximum flight I have taken maximum of two hour flight. I used to watch movie on my tablet to kill time.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Hi Sweetie,

Thanks for reading my hub. I appreciate your comments. If you travel to the United States some day, you will take a long flight!


dwachira profile image

dwachira 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Hi Paul,

Overseas flights can be really boring, long hours without some sort of entertainment can be terrible. I make use of computer games, it is the best i have found to waste time on flights. Doing puzzles can be another better option. Voted up, useful and shared.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

dwachira,

Thank you very much for reading and sharing this hub. I really appreciate your comments and agree that making use of computer games will make the time pass quickly.


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 3 years ago from Cape Cod

Great article Paul. I can't imagine a flight that takes 22 hours. The longest flights I ever make are Boston or Providence to Florida. You'd barely get through a crossword puzzle on one of those little jaunts. I must say though that I do love these modern jets. Like you, I'm sure; my first flights were on the old four engine prop jobs that used to shake, shudder and regularly drop a thousand feet in about two seconds or so just to keep us awake!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Bill,

Thanks for reading this hub and your great comments. Yes, riding on some of the early prop jobs was really an experience which I will always remember. I flew Trans Texas Airways (TTA) one time from El Paso to San Angelo. After that flight I understood why TTA was called "Tree Top Airways."


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 3 years ago from Cape Cod

TTA ! ! "Tree Top Airways". I love that. Thanks Paul. Keep on writing and sharing your amazing experiences.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Bill,

Thank you very much for your support and encouragement. I greatly appreciate it.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 3 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

Great tips! my firend used to bring book whenver he's travelling overseas..way of killing time.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

unknown spy,

Thanks for stopping by and your comments! I appreciate them.


Boulism profile image

Boulism 3 years ago from Short Beach, CT

Sleep!


charmike4 profile image

charmike4 3 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

Paul - I find looking after my kids to be a big distraction on long hauls. But I got to say my favourite is relaxing up the front of the plane with a cold beverage and then falling asleep! Enjoy your flight back from Thailand. Cheers Michael


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Boulism,

Thanks for reading and your comment. Yes, sleeping is an excellent way of killing time, but most of the time I am not able to sleep when flying economy class.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Michael,

Thanks for reading and your nice comments.


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 3 years ago from Cape Cod

Hi Paul.

I love this hub and I read it every time I fly or even think about flying. I am soon taking a little jaunt from Providence to West Palm Beach, so here I am again reading your tips for trips ! !

I am going to admit that what I really do to kill time on any flight is........take prescription Xanax ! It has a relaxed, almost hypnotic, effect on me. I chat with the attendants and fellow passengers and the time zooms so fast that it seems that we land barely ten minutes after take off. I don't take it regularly. But before I fly, I call my Doctor and get enough pills for both the 'to' and the 'back' flights. Alcohol might work instead, but I gave that up years ago !

Thanks again for this hub...voted up and sharing.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Bill thanks for reading this hub and your very interesting comments. I have never been able to sleep on long flights even with the help of alcohol. Thanks for the votes and especially for sharing!


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 3 years ago from Malaysia

I can understand your problem as I recently flew from Kuala Lumpur to Chicago with stopover in Abu Dhabi and Dublin on Etihad and AA. It was a long 26 hours journey including stopover which helped stretch my leg and re-hydrate my system.

Talking to passenger sitting next to me is something I dread to do - in case the conversation goes on non stop, and you don't know how to cut it off politely. In any case, long distance travel is always with my wife, so it wasn't that difficult!

For long haul flight, walking is also recommended esp. if it is on a non stop flight on one of those super boeing planes.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Greatstuff,

Thank you very much for your interesting comments. You are correct. On very long flights, it is a good idea to spend some time standing and walking around if possible to exercise your leg muscles.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

Wow! That was a very long flight Paul. I can relate how boring it might be sometimes on a long flight especially if you are alone. My longest flight from Manila, Philippines to Germany was 16 hours excluding the overnight stop over in Egypt and that was very long long time ago in the 80´s. Nowadays, I tend to bring magazines with me to read, soduku and a writing pad to avoid boredom. I watch the movies too, but usually felt asleep in the middle of the film. Last year I flew with KLM with a ca.45 minutes stop over in Taipei and the safe and sound flight took only 12 hours until Amsterdam airport where my sister picked me up.

Thanks for sharing;-)


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Thelma,

I really liked reading your experiences on long flights. It is so much easier to kill time today on flights than it was in the 70s when I started doing overseas flights. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences.

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