How to Survive Long-haul Flights in Economy Class

Travel is a favourite pastime for many South Africans, but the idea of long-haul flights just isn’t appealing. It is often said that it's about the journey, not the destination, but poor planning can make an 11+ hour flight a nightmare. It doesn't have to be this way.

Here are 10 tips for surviving long-haul flights in economy class.

  • choose the right seat

    1. Choose the right seat

    Check in early and choose your seat. Whether you prefer an aisle seat for moving around, an exit row seat for leg room or a window seat for sleeping, you only have the option to get the seat you want if you check in ahead of time.

  • dress for comfort

    2. Dress for comfort, not looks

    There is no reason to get dressed up in fancy clothes. Stiff jeans or tight-fitting shirts are bad options for long-haul flights. If you want to step off the plane looking stylish, bring along a change of clothes.

  • Pre-flight workout

    3. Get your body prepared

    Fit in a pre-flight workout to counteract the effects of being sedentary. The day before your flight, spend some time at the gym, walking or stretching in preparation for spending hours in a sitting position.

  • drink water

    4. Stay hydrated

    Drink water frequently. The difference between stepping off the plane feeling exhausted and stepping off the flight ready to face the world often comes down to hydration. When you're dehydrated, your mood, energy levels and cognitive function will all drop.

  • stay fresh

    5. Stay fresh

    Pack some mini toiletries. Brushed teeth, a clean face, and a soothing layer of moisturiser do wonders for your sense of wellbeing in the air. Bring a little kit with a comb, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, facial wipes and moisturiser for in-flight freshening.

  • inflight entertainment

    6. Bring back-up entertainment

    Don't depend solely on in-flight entertainment. Load your computer, tablet or phone with additional e-books, music, movies, and TV shows in case you run out of on-board options. Make sure all your electronics are fully charged before you fly, and pack a power bank for in-flight charging if necessary.

  • go-to gear

    7. Bring Your Go-to Gear

    Your total carry-on luggage should be limited, but make sure to consider packing neck pillows, eye masks and noise-cancelling headphones. Your body and brain will thank you for every small comfort you can provide.

  • avoid getting sick

    8. Avoid getting sick

    The seat-back tray table is said to be more germ-infested than the airplane bathroom. Make sure to pack anti-bacterial wipes, vitamin C and a nasal spray. Wipe down the fold down table, take vitamin C to boost your immune system, and use a sinus spray to help fight viruses and bacteria.

  • move around

    9. Move around the plane

    Stretching your legs is not only necessary for your own sanity, but to avoid the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Do some gentle exercises at your seat and get up and walk up and down the aisles every two hours.

  • air hostess

    10. Just relax

    What better time is there to abandon your cares and just do nothing? There is no cellphone coverage, a crew is waiting on your every need and someone else is at the wheel. Use the time to catch up on that book, watch a few movies or get excited about your destination.

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