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How to Enjoy a Long Flight

Updated on January 19, 2010

Flight 101

The lure of travel beckons and you’re raring to get your bags packed to leave for exotic lands, beautiful sceneries and the experience of a lifetime. Then you learn you have an 18-hour flight to endure to reach your destination. Daunted? Don’t be. Here we list the ways and means by which one can actually enjoy a flight on board, regardless of the time and distance required.


How to Prepare for the Long Air Miles Ahead

  • Take half an aspirin thirty (30) minutes before your flight. One major problem of being stuck cramped in a chair for hours is the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) where blood begins to clot in the lower leg area, or in rarer cases, in the pelvic region. The clots can cause redness to occur, as well as some swelling and pain. However, the more dangerous effects of DVT is when the clots break into the body’s circulation (or “embolize”) and cause potentially fatal conditions. Aspirin acts as an anticoagulant, thinning the blood to prevent clotting. Four or five hours into the flight, don’t forget to pop another half to ensure good circulation.
  • Book your seats in advance. One does not need to book a seat in First Class or Business Class to enjoy a long-haul flight. Unless you have the extra frequent flier miles or cash to upgrade to more comfortable seats, it would be wise to research on the type of aircraft you’ll be flying in and choose the best seats It is common knowledge that the seats found on the “exit rows” offer more leg room, however do not book an exit row seat if you are unable to carry-out emergency procedures. The second most popular seat choice is the window seat for the added bonus of extra shoulder room and the ability to see the spectacular sights seen below on a clear day. Check out for a detailed map of every aircraft type and see which seats should be avoided. Aside from the location of the seat, also do consider your personal needs and preference: if you go to the bathroom often, consider a seat closer to the lavatory or if you are traveling with a child, arrange for “special seats” to ensure their comfort and safety as well.

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. In order to enjoy your flight more, wear breathable, loose clothes that do not require a lot of maintenance (i.e. wrinkle-free, stain-resistant garments). Cotton jersey work in layers works well for this and don’t forget to bring a light sweater. Since our feet also expand during long flights, consider wearing sandals instead of tight-fitting shoes and bring socks just in case your feet get cold fast. Also, best to avoid wearing unnecessary jewelry, belts or boots as these can slow you down during security checkpoints prior to boarding your flight.
  • Device a “Sleep Strategy”. While some find a seated-position comfortable enough to catch quality rest, others would prefer to bring with them their own little pillows and blankets. Some also take advantage of a window seat by resting their head against the window. Ear plugs and eye shades can also help block out disturbing noises and light around the aircraft. For early morning departures, it would be best to book a hotel near the airport to ensure you get enough sleep while making sure that you get to the airport to catch your flight on time. In order to combat “jet lag”, it helps to figure out what time it will be in your destination and adjust yourself to it as soon as you can.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Conditions inside an aircraft can be drier than the desert. This is because high altitudes contain very little moisture and long flights can dehydrate our bodies so badly that it can cause a person severe discomfort such as getting dry skin, chapped lips, and the feeling of being run-down and irritated. It would be helpful to drink plenty of water before, during and after the flight. Stay away from alcoholic or caffeinated beverages as this can dehydrate more. Also, slather on some night cream and bring travel-size lotions to make sure that your hands and face stay supple and smooth while on board the plane.
  • Pack all your essentials into your carry-on luggage. Consider packing an “activity pack”, just as you would your child, when going on long flights. Do not forget to pack your travel documents, medicines, extra clothes, extra drink and snacks as well as travel-sized toiletries. Keep in mind though that there are restrictions on liquids, gels, and aerosols in your carry-on baggage. For detailed information, see the website of the Transportation Security Administration at


Useful Tips to Amuse Yourself During a Long Flight

You’ve endured all the hassles of travel: the delays, security checks, rude staff, crying babies and now, you’re seated at 35,000 feet in the air with a lot of time to kill. The stranger next to you is intently reading his paper while you are ill-at-ease with the notion of having to disturb the man. And so you think “How will I survive 18 hours of this?” Hopefully you’ve come prepared with the necessary paraphernalia to make time run faster, but if not, here are other ways of amusing yourself during a long flight without having to bother anyone.

  • Read. Whether it be a book or a magazine, be sure to bring something that really interests you and to bring a selection or two to make sure that you have other choices incase the one you selected turns out to be a snooze-fest.
  • Listen to music. An iPod or any MP3 player can come in handy especially in blocking out the noises inside such as the very talkative lady behind you or the screaming baby at the opposite aisle. Make sure that you have charged it fully and do turn it on only when it is safe to do so. For added listening pleasure, consider getting noise-cancelling headphones to drown out the whirring sound of the plane’s engines.
  • Do small exercises and stretching exercises. Prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) by occasionally getting up from your seat (only do so when the seatbelt sign is off) and taking a short walk along the aisles. Be careful not to disturb anyone while walking up and down the aisles and avoid getting in the way of the flight attendants who may be busy attending to other passengers.
  • Play games. Nothing passes time quickly than having fun, so before your flight, make sure that you have your puzzles, portable gaming consoles, and travel game boards at hand to amuse you or to tire you out and make you sleepy. However, before turning on any electronic gadget, make sure that it is safe to do so and that all wireless functions are turned off so that it would not interfere with the plane’s navigation system.
  • Bring a journal or a notepad. Send a love letter to your special someone or make a diary detailing every adventure you have experienced during your trip. Take the opportunity to write a traditional hand-written letter or take notes on the weather and possible itinerary plans for your days ahead.

Top 10 Award-winning Airlines, 2009

If you cannot be bothered minding your own comfort and enjoyment while onboard a flight, consider flying to your destination at the peak of comfort, luxury and style. Here are the top award-winning airlines that offer excellence in product, ground/airport service, and staff service:

  1. Cathay Pacific Airways
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. Asiana Airlines
  4. Qatar Airways
  5. Emirates
  6. Qantas
  7. Etihad Airways
  8. Air New Zealand
  9. Malaysia Airlines
  10. Thai Airways



It’s easy to enjoy a flight when you’ve come prepared, but it is just as easy to be too self-absorbed that one forgets that he is just one among many other passengers who are trying to survive a long flight. Peace coexistence can exist between fellow passengers with the observance of some guidelines and a little consideration from each individual.

  1. When passing down the aisles, do hold your bag in front of you and held low to avoid hitting passengers’ head, shoulders and arms as you maneuver past their seats.
  2. Store luggage properly. This ensures not only safety but also provides ease in moving in and out of tight cramped seats. Do store your baggage in the luggage compartments near where you are seated. Taking the storage space of other passengers is rude and can cause potential delays when they would have to search for their belongings. If you would require more storage space, seek the assistance of a flight attendant.
  3. To recline or not to recline. While reclining the seat can make one’s flight a bit more comfortable, do consider the person seated behind you as it takes up a considerable amount of leg room. Check to see if the passenger behind you tall or carrying a child on their lap. Also, be polite. Recline your chair slowly and ask if it would be alright to do so. Keep in mind that seats must stay upright upon take-off or landing, so do comply with these safety procedures.
  4. Avoid grabbing the seat backs as you walk up and down the aisle or in your row. The jerking motion can be extremely annoying to your fellow passengers. Instead of holding on to the seat backs for balance, hold on to the overhead storage bins as the flight attendants do in order to balance themselves.
  5. Respect other people’s personal space. In these cramped conditions, a little consideration goes a long way. When the person seated next to you is trying to sleep or get work done, or worse, keeping conversation with you at a minimum, take a hint and let them get on with their business. If you want to watch your own movies or listen to your own music, keep in mind that the screen’s bright lights or the loud audio from your own earphones can easily be seen and heard by the persons seated next to you. Avoid hogging the arm rests, especially when seated next to a person stuck in the middle and has limited space to begin with.
  6. Do not hog nor block the aisle. When trying to maneuver your way through the aisle whether to get something from your carry-on luggage or to make your way to the lavatory, try to make it quick and make sure you’re not in anyone’s way. If you are seated in the middle and would need to get to the aisle, politely request the person seated next to you to get up and make room for you to exit. However, if the person is sleeping, do not wake them up yourself. Instead, request that a flight attendant assist you.
  7. Keep a close eye on your children. Long-haul flights can be just as unbearable to kids which means they can easily get cranky and restless. Don’t forget to bring activity packs for your children to keep them busy during a flight and pack food that they would prefer instead of trying to force-feed them the food served in the plane. Also, mind your children as they move about the plane especially when moving in and out of their seats as they can easily bump, kick or yank the seat in front of them.
  8. Observe proper hygiene and proper decorum while on board. 50% of the air onboard is recycled which increases the risk of colds or flu. Keep germs and viruses at bay by bringing a hand sanitizer or better yet, washing your hands frequently. If you have a cough or cold, observe proper etiquette and cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth during the duration of the flight to lessen the risk of catching a virus. Do stay away from strong, overpowering smells like smoke, perfumes or colognes that can cause discomfort to other passengers, or worse, trigger allergies. Lastly, before you remove your shoes when you feel discomfort and swelling, it would be best to ask if this would be alright as others might take offense or find it rude to do so.
  9. Watch what you say. Do not make any jokes or remarks about terrorists, bombs, or any other threatening situations. Enhanced security measures are in place and to use those words loosely will definitely get the attention of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and can cause you to miss your flight. Try to talk in low, hushed tones to avoid disturbing your neighbors and abstain from using profanity and rude language. In addition, aside from being polite to the persons next to you, extend courtesy to all flight attendants and airline personnel as well.
  10. Be considerate of other passengers when exiting the plane. The flight is almost over and everyone is readying to leave. Resist the urge to push your way through to the exits and patiently wait for your turn to take down your luggage from the overhead storage compartment. Be very careful when retrieving your baggage as it could easily drop and hit you, or someone else in the process. If you have a luggage that is bulky or heavy, be sure to wait for other people to pass as they may have other flights to catch.


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