Long haul international flights can be a pleasure, a necessary but comfortable evil, or a nightmare of epic proportions.  The experience can be improved by some long haul flight tips, including simple planning steps and actions prior to and during your flight.

Improve the quality of your journey, and step off the plane ready to take on your much-anticipated trip, by following our recommendations below:

Before you get to the Airport


A little bit of planning and organisation prior to getting to the airport can go a very long way in helping you get your trip off on the right foot.

  • If at all possible, upgrade your travel class.
    The more room you have, and the flatter your seat can go, is in direct proportion to how much you will enjoy your flight. If you are a member of an airline points system, book and use your points for an upgrade.  Speak to a reputable travel agent to ensure that you buy a class of ticket that you are able to upgrade on.  The sale fares generally are unable to be upgraded.
  • Get the best seat possible.
    It’s a great idea to go onto a site like SeatGuru, check out the seating map for the flight you will be taking.  Here you can see where the good and bad seats are.  Then go to the website of the airline you are flying with, or speak to your travel agent, and select your preferred seat.  When you are making your choice you should consider whether you want to be woken or interrupted by your row-mates getting up to move around, if you have chosen an aisle seat. Similarly, if you choose a window, you could get trapped by a person who could sleep through a rock concert.
  • Make sure you are aware of what you can and can’t bring in your carry on luggage.
    This will inform your packing decisions and stop you from enduring the embarrassment of the security at the airport confiscating your very expensive, organic, single origin toothpaste because the tube is too big.

At the Airport

  • Get there early.
    Probably the biggest tip for making your airport experience as simple and easy as it can be, is to get there as early as possible.  Check with the airline you are flying with to find out when check in will open.  Aim to get to the airport before that time, there is nothing wrong with standing in a queue if you are at the front!  Getting there as early as possible will also mean that you have ample time to clear customs and security.  Don’t assume that just because last time you travelled it only took 10 minutes to get through, that it will be that way this time.  Any spare time you have can be spent celebrating the beginning of your trip with a glass of champagne.

On the Plane

  • Entertainment on the flight.
    Of course, there are options available to you on the seat back entertainment system, but with this you may not be provided with shows and entertainment that suit your tastes.  As an alternative, load your computer, tablet or phone with additional music, movies, podcasts and e-books, just in case you want other options. Books are also a great way to while away a few hours.
  • It’s all about comfort.
    The idea of looking your best and international travel is certainly something that Hollywood has espoused over the years, but in reality just doesn’t work. Things that look good in an office, restaurant or bar seldom lend themselves to comfort in a plane.  Loose-fitting and breathable clothes are really your best option.  Layers also helps.
  • Snacks and hydration
    There are meals available on the plane and on long haul flights often a few snacks too.  But having your own supply of healthy snacks will help you to quell any hunger pangs.  Good hydration can mean the difference between staggering or striding off the plane.  When you’re dehydrated, your mood and energy levels fall away so keep those fluids topped up.  Unfortunately this is one of those times where alcohol is not your friend.
  • Get some sleep.
    Pretty simple, and probably the most important of the long haul flight tips.   As soon as you get on the plane, set your watch to the current time in your final destination.  Try and sleep when it is the evening there.  This may be difficult if your seat doesn’t recline far, but you can bring along some items that will help with this task.  Bring a scarf or shawl in your carry on. These are handy as an extra blanket or as a pillow.  A travel neck pillow may be one of the ugliest things ever invented, but the support it provides your head and neck can be the difference between snatching a couple of hours and nothing at all.  The main limiting factors to sleep on a plane are light and noise so a good idea is to invest in both an eye mask and some noise cancelling headphones, or ear plugs.  Finally, with all of the other items above taken care of you can consider the various options available for pharmaceutical sleep aids. These range from over the counter natural therapies to doctor prescribed medicines. The biggest tip with any of these would be to try them at home before you fly just to see what effect, if any, that they have.
  • Remember your basic hygiene.
    Not only will those seated around you be thankful, but you’ll feel so much better.  Bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes, deodorant and moisturiser with you on the plane. It’s amazing the difference bringing and using these items can have on your own feelings of comfort and contentment.   Just remember the size limits for liquids in your carry on bag.  Another great thing to bring along is hand sanitiser.  Not everyone will share you ideas of cleanliness and hygiene!

Once you Arrive

  • Try and stay awake until sunset.
    This can be difficult if you haven’t managed to get much sleep on the plane, but the longer you can stay awake the better.  The sooner you can adjust to your new time zone, the less you will suffer from jet lag.  Some scientists believe that getting some sunlight on the back of your knees could shift the circadian clock that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle.  Minimising your caffeine and alcohol consumption, and getting some exercise by walking around your new destination will also help.

Hopefully these long haul flight tips will help you to make the most out of your next long haul flight, and have you arriving at your destination ready to start your vacation as soon as your feet hit the tarmac!