Survival is the method of making the best of an arduous or dangerous situation, like flying commercial for extended periods of time.
Flight survival begins before the actual flying. Arrive to check-in with at least 2.5 hours before departure. Having plenty of time to get your boarding pass, go through security, get to the gate and finally find your seat on the plane will decrease the chance of potential problems, give you time to relax and reduce unnecessary stress.
Some airlines don’t offer free food, even for long-haul flights. So it’s good to always have a bit of cash on your person to buy meals, snacks and drinks. If they accept credit cards, a high minimum purchase is often required. Accepted currency will almost always be Euros and American dollars but rarely not anything that isn’t the departing or arriving country’s money.
The clothes you wear is vital to your comfort while on a long flight. Don’t dress like your going to a fashion show or business meeting. Do dress casual with sleepability in mind. No one cares how you look on a plane. Have a long sleeve shirt / light jacket or sweater with your carry-on as it can get unusually and unpredictably cold during flights.
Uninterrupted sleep is the holy grail of long-haul flight survival. Ironically, it’s more difficult to achieve this when you get on the plane exhausted and deprived of sleep. So try to be relatively well rested and relaxed before flying. Try to time your sleep with the rest of the plane (when all the lights are off and in quiet mode), not when everyone is awake with the lights on and the window shades wide open.
If you have gadgets and electronics, make sure they are all fully charged before leaving for the airport or use an outlet while at the airport. USB sockets are extremely rare in-flight and many can’t handle devices larger than a smartphone. So the power you have in your tablet or laptop is all you’ll have unless you carry a spare battery.
For true long-haul flights, a small toiletry kit with just the essentials is ideal to be part of your carry-on. When your in a flying metal tube packed with many other people for hours and hours, washing your face, brushing your teach or even just using mouthwash will make you feel fresh and renewed.
Although its not always possible to choose or change, your seat can go along way in flight survival. In regards to turbulence, seats under the wing are the most stable. Seats on the emergency exit rows have the most legroom but luggage under the seats are usually not allowed. Areas near the lavatories may seem convenient but the smell and constant traffic offsets that.
Your mental state can go a long way in making a long flight more comfortable, rather than just having to endure it. Like that saying “don’t go to bed angry”, the same goes for flying. Not everyone likes flying and some fear it, in these cases, think of the destination and how great it will be once you finally arrive. Just chill, relax and enjoy the ride through the clouds.
Drinking more water than you think you need during flights (due to the dry air at those altitudes) is one of the most effective things you can do to feel normal / better and physically level. You don’t have to keep asking the flight attendant for water but always take it when it’s offered, even if you’re not feeling thirsty.
Any physical movement and stretching can be considered “exercise” while on long flights. Get out of your seat and walk the aisle every hour or two, move your limbs, curl your toes, flex your back and roll your neck. Anything to get muscles and joints moving to get the blood flowing. This will increase comfort and alleviate stiffness.
Airline food may not be the tastiest or the healthiest but it’s far better than starving yourself through a long flight like some travelers suggests. Sustenance is key to survival, everyone knows this. Beyond that, the mind and body work better, is better and feel better. So during meal times, take the tray and don’t worry about wasting the bits you don’t eat because all unused leftovers are thrown out anyways.
If you’re checking luggage, make sure your carry-on isn’t too heavy or bulky, even if it meets the airline’s requirements. Remember that you’ll be lugging the carry-on bags through security, across the airport and through the tight confines of an airplane. Pack the most important and valuable gear with your carry-on as well as an your own long-haul flight survival kit.
Assuming you can get some sleep, it can only kill so much time so entertainment is the next best thing. If you’re packing a smartphone, tablet or laptop, have a few movies or TV shows ready. Don’t forget the headphones as not all airlines offer them. Books, magazines and MP3 players should also be within reach. Not all flights have movies and the seat magazines are only good for taxiing.
If it helps to ease your fear of flying, then have a few drinks before and during the flight. But don’t get completely drunk. Other than the extremely high cost, dehydration and alcohol sickness is significantly more likely while in the air. There’s also the constant toilet breaks and the harsh combination of jet-lag and a hangover.
– Long-Haul Flight Survival Guide