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Plane Essentials - How To Survive A Long Haul Flight

Updated on December 30, 2014

You went to bed early last night, you tried and tried to sleep but half of you was too excited for your upcoming holiday and the other half was paranoid that your alarm would decide that today would be the day it wouldn't work for you. You finally doze off an hour before your alarm clock almost sends you into cardiac arrest, you pack the last of your toiletries, make sure you're not wearing a belt and have no paint stripper in your suitcase, and check the door is locked (at least three times). At last! It's still dark out, but the birds are starting to wake up. You hail a cab and make awkward small talk all the way to the airport. He's all hyped up on copious amounts of coffee and you're searching your bag for your passport.

But you make it to the terminal after all that. You managed to get through security without getting arrested, despite reaching at least second base with the TSA. And now you're sitting at the gate twiddling your thumbs, when it suddenly hits you - the flight isn't 9 hours, you forgot the time difference, it's actually 14 hours.

Well, here's how to survive that drag!


  • Bring a book. Obvious, I know, but you'll be surprised by how many people either simply forget theirs, or are too caught up in technology to bother. Added bonus - you can read this before take-off.
  • Make it your mission to watch all of the in-flight movies. So you might think you're not interested in Bridget Jones, or Terminator - but trust me, you'll get at least the tiniest bit sucked in and then that's almost 2 hours gone. 7 films, not bad. Just, maybe don't watch the ones about plane hijacking.
  • Stick to water. If I were you, I would avoid both alcohol and fizzy drinks. Firstly, maybe it's just me, but drinking alcohol on any flight seems pretty pointless, let alone one that's a day and a half long. And! I know how dehydrated you can become whilst flying and you just want something that gives your dying tongue some flavour, but that miniature can of Coke won't do your tummy any good later on. Your body goes a bit loopy when you haven't had sufficient sleep, and you really don't want an upset stomach with that going on.

  • Beforehand, download a crazy amount of games or books onto your phone for flight mode. But, your battery wouldn't last 14 hours with constant gaming, so buy a spare phone battery or 2 from eBay and the hours will fly by!
  • If you're not a frequent flyer, take heed. You have your hand luggage with you, yes. Up in the lockers. BUT please, not only for yourself, but for your fellow passengers, pack a little bag with things you know you will definitely need and have them under the seat in front of you from the word Go (or "cabin crew, seats for take-off"). So in this bag you can have your toothbrush, toothpaste, eyemask, book, games console, headphones, whatever. It'll save you climbing over everybody and rummaging through cameras and passports just to get your purse for that miniature can of Coke you bought anyway.
  • Talk to the person next to you. Only, don't do this if you've recently eaten peanuts, and don't talk so much that the next thing you see is them soaring by the wrong side of the window (to escape your sleep-deprived jibber jabber).
  • Dress appropriately. It doesn't matter whether or not your husband-to-be is waiting for you in Arrivals. He is the other side of the door, and there are toilets for you to change into before then. The skinny jeans and stilettos can wait. Ideally, you should opt for stretchy, not too tight clothing and dress in layers as plane temperatures vary from hour to hour. Especially if you can't sleep.
  • Sleeping tablets. Enough said.

To Wrap It Up

Okay, so just to summarise.


Drink plenty of water, wear loose clothing and layers, watch movies, pack a smaller bag for in-flight, charge up all of your electronics (MP3 players, iPads, mobile phones, laptops, etc.)


Drink alcohol or fizzy drinks, wear anything uncomfortable or annoy people.


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