How to Survive a Long Flight from the UK in 2021

Nov 17, 2020


  • Things to Do on a Plane
    • Dress comfortably:
  • Essential Items for a Long Flight
  • Getting Some Sleep on the Plane
  • Make the Most of the Service on Long-Haul Flights
  • Show More

However long your flight is, if it lasts more than a few hours, it can be difficult to be comfortable, entertained, and well-rested. Flying can get even trickier if you are flying with a family. What are the best ways to keep the whole family entertained? What amenities do airlines offer on these long-haul flights to make them more pleasant? And are there any travel essentials you should never fly without? To enjoy your trip to the fullest, consider some of these long-flight survival tips before you head to the airport:

Even if your flight is only an hour or two, there are a few things you can do to ensure that your experience is as pleasant as possible. Be sure to do the following before you begin packing for your trip:

Wear comfortable clothes onto the plane. Something loose-fitting or stretchy that’s made of a breathable material like cotton is usually a safe bet. As a bonus, if you wear your bulky and difficult-to-pack items onto the plane, you can save room in your suitcase and use them if you get cold on the flight.

Reserve a good seat: If you are flying in Economy, reserve your seat of choice. Upgrading from Economy to Premium Economy or Business Class can make the world of difference on long flights, the latter also giving you access to airport lounges with complimentary food and drink. If your budget won’t stretch that far consider reserving an aisle seat with extra leg room in advance.

Bring your own snacks: Food purchased on the plane (if not complimentary) or at the airport is often expensive and unappealing. To save money and ensure you have food that you enjoy, bring your own snacks on your flight. Pack snacks that will help keep you full, particularly on flights that are ten hours or longer. Check CAA restrictions on liquids before packing to see what you can and can’t take on board.

Pack a small carry-on bag: To maximise the legroom available to you, avoid packing too much in your hand luggage. Being able to stretch your legs out under the seat in front of you is a blessing on long-haul flights. If possible, stow all of your belongings in the overhead bin. Pack items you’ll want to use during the flight, such as your snacks or electronics, in easily accessible places.

Of course, there are a few more items you should pack that can help you survive your flight. These long flight essentials can truly make the difference between a bearable or pleasant flight. You may not need to bring all of them with you, but even just a few can keep you entertained and comfortable for the duration of the ride.

Travel neck pillow: A neck pillow can provide much needed support to your neck and head and make sitting for such long periods of time more comfortable. It can also help prevent you from accidentally falling asleep on your neighbour, there different versions you can purchase at the airport or in advance.

Empty water bottle: While you can’t bring a full bottle of water through security, you can bring an empty one to fill up in the terminal afterwards. Flights, and long ones in particular, are dehydrating, so it’s important to drink plenty of water so you arrive at your destination as refreshed as possible.

Entertainment: Don’t forget to bring something to do on the plane to keep yourself busy. While a long flight is a great opportunity to catch up on work or sleep, you likely will need something fun to do for at least part of the ride if you cannot find enough on the in-flight entertainment system to keep you occupied. Books, movies or TV shows, music, podcasts, card games, and puzzle books are all easy, fun ways to entertain yourself and others especially children.

Power supply and USB cables: Be sure to bring along an extra power source and charging cables for all the devices you plan to use during your flight. While many planes are now equipped with USB ports, older aircrafts are not.

Do some research on the resources available on your flight, however sometimes airlines change planes last minute for operational reasons so always be prepared just in case.

One of the best ways to survive a long flight is rather simple, go to sleep straight after take-off. A good nap or full night’s sleep can make even the longest of plane rides fly by. While some people seem to drift off only moments after boarding, others struggle to fall asleep on a plane.

The lights, noise of the cabin crew, people moving around, and cabin temperature can all greatly affect how you sleep, and unfortunately, those factors are difficult to control or change during your flight. Some things that may help despite these challenges include:

Noise cancelling headphones: Block out the noise from the plane and your fellow passengers by using noise-cancelling headphones or buds. You will normally be able to access the inflight system and listen to music and movies too.

A blanket: Bring a blanket to help keep yourself warm on your flight and sometimes a plane can feel chilly. It can be difficult to find room to pack an actual blanket, sometimes blankets are provided but best to bring something just in case.

Sleeping mask: Light from the window, other passengers, and the plane itself can be distracting and make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. A sleeping mask that covers your eyes is a simple way to block any unwanted light so you can try and get some sleep.

How to Entertain Your Kids on a Long Flight

Preparing for a long flight on your own can take some preparation let alone when travelling with children — how are you supposed to do it with your children? Many parents may choose to avoid this altogether because it seems out of the question, but it is possible to keep kids happy on a flight, no matter how long it is.

Bring extra snacks: Always pack extra snacks when traveling with kids. Be sure to include an extra special treat to help make the flight more enjoyable for them – children may not always like the food served on board.

Pack extra nappies: If your little ones are still in nappies, be sure to pack some extra ones just for the flight and final destination. You never know exactly how many you’ll need, and nappies are not something you want to run out of.

Load up a tablet with fun: If they are allowed screen time, download your kids’ favourite games, TV shows, apps, and movies onto a tablet, phone, or computer — this can easily provide hours of entertainment. Don’t forget headphones or a charger!

Traditional games and books: In addition to electronic games, be sure to bring ones that don’t require a screen. Puzzle books, card games, picture books or colouring books can provide a welcome break from screens. Be sure to bring a game you can all play together!

Be prepared for sickness: Air travel can bring on headaches, stomach aches, and other minor ailments. Bring along a small kit full of sick bags, kid-safe painkillers, earplugs, and whatever else you may need — just in case.

In addition, for long flights try to travel overnight and time their naps to take place an hour or two after taking off. Food and drink service typically occurs shortly after the flight begins, but it can be noisy and disruptive, making it more difficult to sleep. Set them up with a short movie or game, have a snack, then it’ll be nap time.

Staying Active and Hydrated

On long flights it can it can be tricky to stay as fresh as possible for when you arrive at your destination. Here are a few tips.

Staying clean and fresh: After sitting on a plane for 10 hours or more, it’s difficult to feel fresh after such time. Bring a change of clothes and your essential toiletries so you can keep yourself feeling fresh throughout the flight and don’t forget your toothbrush or some refreshing wipes.

Avoid alcohol: While many people enjoy a few drinks on a flight, it’s better to avoid alcohol on a long flight. It may help you fall asleep, but that sleep may be lacking in quality, and you’ll likely feel even worse when you wake up and possibly dehydrated.

Moving around and stretching: One of the best things you can do is to walk around, stretch, and move as much as possible. When you are permitted to walk about the cabin, try to get up and walk the length of the plane once or twice every hour. When you get back to your seat, stretch as much as your space allows.

Many long-haul flights provide free amenities and in-flight services that would cost money on shorter intra-European flights. Though there are variations between different airlines (and even different flights from the same airline), some of the most common services include:

In-flight meals: Many international flights will provide a meal for passengers on-board. They usually provide several options and are providing more and more options for dietary restrictions. Often, you can select which meal option you’d like at the beginning of the flight or reserve in advance, if travelling with children remember to order their meals in advance.

On-demand entertainment: Whether it’s built into the seat in front of you or on a tablet handed out by flight attendants, many international flights offer on-demand entertainment. There will typically be 100s of movies, TV shows, and other media for passengers to enjoy during the flight, in addition to in-flight WiFi which may be charged by the hour. It is also worth to do a little research to manage as this may impact what you take on board.

Pillows and blankets: Many long flights have built-in quiet hours with dimming of lights, closing of windows to allow passengers to sleep, and airlines will often (but not always) provide pillows and blankets for you to sleep during the flight. It isn’t the same as sleeping in your own bed, but these simple comforts can make your flight more pleasant.

With some planning and preparation you will arrive at your destinations as refreshed as possible after your long flight, ready to enjoy your holiday of a lifetime, catching up with friends and relatives or heading straight into your business meeting.

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