Whilst it’s pretty much common knowledge that you can fly across Europe for nothing these days, it’s now also getting increasingly easier to find long flights for cheap – you can easily cross the Atlantic for little over £200 nowadays (and sometimes less if you look hard enough!).
However, for some of us, the prospect of a long-haul flight fills us with the anxiety, and it’s often more than warranted - being stuck for 9 hours in a pressurised tube between two strangers who will, with 100% certainty, claim the entire arm rest can really grind us down a little. With that in mind, I want to share some of my best tips for braving a long-haul flight before reaching your long-awaited destination.
For me, the first stage of a tolerable long-haul flight lies in the booking process. It’s definitely important to use tools such as Google Flights to see what amenities are available on the aircraft itself – I personally always aim to get a USB port to charge my phone (because you really don’t want to brave a long-haul flight with a dead smartphone), a personal TV screen (staring at the back of a seat isn’t even fun for half an hour, let alone nine of them), and at least 79cm of legroom. The legroom tends to average around 79-81cm on long-haul flights, to put that into perspective, Jet2 have 71cm – and you can definitely feel the difference!
Many airlines these days have started introducing wifi on their flights for a fairly high, but not unreasonable, fee (for example, a full flight’s worth of wifi on Qatar Airways will cost you about £20). As you can imagine, wifi makes the time pass a lot quicker, and the novelty of Facetiming someone at 40000 feet for the first time is pretty surreal. ’Where are you?’ ‘Somewhere over the Atlantic! What about you?’
If you end up on a plane without wifi, make sure you’ve got plenty of games on your phone to play offline, as well as some downloaded playlists on Spotify. Also, if you’re like me then you get hungry as soon as you get on the plane, so remember to pack travel snacks!
Whenever I do a long flight, I find it pretty much essential to book an aisle seat – direct accessibility to the aisle will save you the awkward climbing over the sleeping stranger next to you when you have to go to the toilet. Also, sitting for that many hours is sooner or later going to get really uncomfortable. Your aisle seat will allow you to stretch your legs occasionally. I like to go for a quick walk to the galley, maybe talk to the cabin crew for a while. It just breaks up the monotony a bit, you’ll be doing them just as much of a favour as yourself.
Finally, and pretty importantly, if you’re only going for a week or so, take hand baggage only – waiting for half an hour at the carousels whilst jetlagged at 4am is a far from fun experience.