Jet lag, varicose veins, annoying fellow passengers - being stuck on a plane for hours on end is no picnic. Here’s some expert tips from frequent flyers to make long haul flights more comfortable...
1. Get a good seat
Before you book your flight, be sure to check SeatGuru
to see what other travellers have to say about which seats on the plane are the best value and which ones to avoid. This handy website gives detailed maps of each airline’s plane layouts with real reviews from passengers about which seats might be cramped, loud, cold or too near the bathrooms.
2. Prepare for bed
Certain in-flight comforts are just essential for the perfect in-flight nap. Make sure you invest in a good neck pillow, some sturdy earplugs (or noise-cancelling headphones if you can afford them) and an eye mask.
3. Be secure
If you’re going to be sleeping on the flight – especially if you’re travelling alone – make sure you stash valuables firmly away where it will be too difficult for thieves to reach even if you’re fast asleep.
4. Plan your entertainment
You might think you can work or sleep your way through the entire flight, but it’s never that easy, so be sure to have a back-up plan to wile away the hours. In case you’re not a fan of the in-flight movie, bring your own films/podcasts/playlists.
5. Drink lots
Unfortunately not lots of alcohol or coffee, as these will dehydrate you in an already dehydrating situation. Instead stick to plenty of water, fruit juice and sports drinks to keep up the fluids, salts and sugars you’re losing thanks to the flight.
6. Be DVT aware
If your flight is longer than four hours, your risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis is increased, so make sure you’re doing all you can to combat it. Walk up and down, stretch your legs and wear loose clothing to help keep the blood-flow going. Compression stockings are another good bet, especially if you’re more at risk.
7. Dress loosely – and layer up!
Wear as close to pyjamas as you can get away with to make sure you’re super comfy even on a cramped economy flight – and wear layers so you can regulate according to the aircraft’s fluctuating temperatures.
8. Be charged!
It sounds obvious but for goodness' sake make sure you have enough charge on your electric devices.
9. Bring a mini bag of toiletries
When you fly first class you are provided with essential toiletries, but if you’re not that flash you can create your own bag – pack a toothbrush, cleaning wipes, deodorant and a change of underwear to keep yourself feeling fresh.
10. Be food savvy
Flight food is notoriously hit-and-miss so pack your favourite treats to snack on mid-air. If you’re impatient when it comes to food, ask for a special dietary option such as a gluten free or vegetarian meal as these tend to be served first.
11. When in doubt, upgrade
It really is worth it if you can afford it. Even if you can’t, you might get lucky if you turn up early and dress smartly as you’re more likely to bag a free upgrade – or make the most of those air miles. You deserve it.