Noise cancelling headphones
This one I was sceptical about at first and in truth I had always been under the impression that noise cancelling headphones were a crazy expensive and unnecessary extravagance. However, after a quick demo from a Skull Candy representative at Heathrow before boarding a long-haul flight to New Zealand; I was sold. When staring down the barrel of 25 hours on a plane the thought of being able to block out the persistent drone of the plane, crying children and general chat of other passengers is pretty appealing. Anything that helps you get some much sought-after rest is a good thing!
I opted for the Skull Candy model reasonably priced at £95. They have a noise cancelling function so you can turn it on and off. They are easy to use and can be plugged into the ports on the in-flight entertainment. You can also use them with Bluetooth connection to your device. It is safe to say I am a huge convert and won’t dream of hitting the skies without my noise cancelling headphones.
Book a lounge
Long haul travel on occasion comes with hours sat in transit waiting for connecting flights. If this is the case and you don’t feel like you have time to venture into the city then I would recommend booking a lounge.
There are lots of options which can be pre-booked and you don’t have to be a member of a rewards scheme or group to get a space. If you need a shower, somewhere comfortable to sit, catch up on work or a lie down then booking a lounge is a perfect choice.
If you have to sit on a plane for any length of time you need to be comfortable; that includes your footwear. Don’t forget that during the flight your feet are likely to swell a little due to the altitude – there is nothing worse than trying to squeeze your feet back into shoes at the end of the flight only to find they are much too tight. One little tip I can always recommend is packing a pair of warm slipper socks in your hand luggage particularly if you want to travel in sandals or flip-flops.
You might be heading off to sunnier climes however the high-powered air con on the flight is going to leave you feeling chilly so make sure you pack a jumper or a longer layer even if it is just for the flight.
Reserve your seat
On most flights, you can reserve your seat prior to the date of departure. If you are a nervous passenger then I would recommend snagging a seat over a wing as this is the most stable part of the plane and if turbulence does strike then you might be spared a few bumps. If you are someone who likes to be up and down be sure to get an aisle seat – I am definitely one of these people and like to have the freedom to get up and move around.
For those of you who have a little more time to research your seat options then check out Seat Guru or Sky Trax as they give a full comparison of different airlines and their seat provision.
In addition to reduced feelings of turbulence, the emergency exit seats on the wing come with a little extra leg room and trust me – when you have to sit there for 12 hours straight every inch counts!
At least you get fed on long haul flights….right? Yes, you do but often you end up eating ice-cream and noodles in the middle of the night or a roast dinner for breakfast. Whilst my body generally tends to go with the flow there are certainly times when I have declined the meal to try and sleep only to wake up two hours later completely starving! So, to prevent any mid-flight cravings make sure you pack a few slow energy release snacks in your hand luggage. Nuts, seeds or dried fruit are a great way to go. Alternatively, if you are in the mood for a mid-flight midnight snack, I can thoroughly recommend the Cathay Pacific midnight noodles, delicious!
Pick your airline
When choosing an airline, you have a huge amount of choice. Whilst timings or location may narrow down your suitable options you still have a decision to make on which airline to travel with. When flying long haul your choice of airline can really make the difference in your travelling experience. I would recommend choosing an airline with a seat width of 17.2+, you can compare this information on Seat Guru. Consistently good airlines for long haul travel are Singapore Airlines (Winner of the Telegraph Travel Award for Best Long Haul Airline) Emirates, Qatar Airways and Air New Zealand who were also crowned best airline 2018 by AirlineRatings.com. This was a fifth consecutive win for Air New Zealand so it’s safe to say they are doing something right!
Moving around seems like one of those things you’re told to do, know you should but in
reality, you have just got comfy, don’t want to disturb the person next to you or you are simply too engrossed in a ‘Friends’ marathon to get up and walk up and down. However; if I can stress one thing about long haul travel is that you should get up and move about. If getting up isn’t possible then try a few simple exercises in your seat – that way you don’t have to pause your movie! Try some ankle circles, knee lifts or foot lifts just to get the blood moving.
Our bodies weren’t designed to sit still and vegetate for 12+ hours so even if it’s just every few hours have a little wander up and down or even just stand and stretch out and get your legs moving.
If you are a member of a reward scheme such as Avios you might be able to use your points to upgrade for a more comfortable flight. Upgrading not only gives you the benefit of more room, better food and the option to lie flat in some cases but, you also get access to the lounge before departure. Lounge access before boarding your long-haul flight can really help ease you into your journey. Be sure to check out offers and deals when you are booking as it might be possible to upgrade to for a small fee.
Finally, if you choose to fly off-peak; avoiding school holidays, weekends and Mondays (the busiest travel day!) then you might be able to use those additional pennies to upgrade to premium economy, business or first class.
Plan your in-flight entertainment
Prior to your flight, you can check out your in-flight entertainment options online. The majority of airlines will publish their movie and TV schedule a month or two in advance so you can fully plan your in-flight TV binge with relative ease. Whilst the entertainment options on most airlines are pretty wide and varied these days, I make sure that my Kindle is fully loaded with new books to read and I always keep a paperback in my hand luggage if technology fails.
If you are using a smartphone to access E-books, audiobooks or music it is also worth have a portable charger to keep your battery topped up throughout the flight.
70% of our body weight is water based – this is huge! It is a well-accepted fact that flying can significantly increase your risk dehydration. Dehydration can make you feel miserable with headaches, increased lethargy and dry eyes just to name a few symptoms. If you are on a long-haul flight, not getting brilliant sleep you don’t want to throw dehydration into the mix as well. Whilst you are flying make sure you are constantly sipping on water to keep your liquids topped up. Remaining fully hydrated will have you stepping off the plane feeling fresh!