Okay, so you’ve finally booked that dream getaway to that far-flung destination you’ve been eyeing up for as long as you can remember. The only problem is, you now have to face a ridiculously long plane journey. But that long-haul flight needn’t be a nightmarish experience. From bagging better seats to savvy sleep strategies, here are the tips that will help make all those hours holed up in a tin box in the sky, well, fly by.
1. Wear a scarf (even if you’re going somewhere hot)
So you're heading on a trip to somewhere near the equator. A scarf is surely the last thing you’d ever need to think about packing, right? Wrong. Sure, you won’t need it for warmth once you touch down on warmer ground, but on the journey there the piece of clothing can be a godsend.
Not only can it provide an extra layer of warmth if the plane’s air conditioning proves a bit too effective for your liking. But you can also use it as a makeshift pillow, and/or to help cover your eyes if you’re trying to get some shut-eye and have forgotten your sunglasses.
2. Stick to your normal routine when you’re 40,000 feet up
“Don’t forget your toothbrush,” as the saying goes. And that’s not just for hygiene reasons, either. Yes, cleaning your teeth on a long-haul flight will certainly help you feel — and smell — fresher, but it can also help you adjust to a new time zone.
If you’re trying to grab 40 winks, a quick burst of Colgate, Arm and Hammer, or your other toothpaste of choice — along with a face rinse and glug of mouthwash — can help trick the mind into thinking it’s nighttime, even if it’s broad daylight.
3. Be savvy and you might bag yourself an extra seat
You might think that once you’ve paid for your seat there’s no leeway when it comes to switching. But use your savvy streak and you can end up somewhere far more comfortable. If you board the plane last, for example, you can take your pick of any still-available seats left elsewhere.
If you’re one of those who prefers to be a speedy boarder, then wait until the seatbelt lights go off after takeoff and then ask the flight crew whether there are any other spaces free. Other ways of increasing your chances are by avoiding flying at the weekends and on Mondays and Fridays, and by booking flights on major national holidays.
4. Don’t ask, don’t get
Airplanes used to be on a par with hospitals when it came to tasty — or rather, tasteless — grub. But the standard of meals has improved so much lately that you may find yourself echoing Oliver Twist and asking, “Please sir, can I have some more?” That’s not as cheeky a question as you may think.
As a Virgin Atlantic spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, “If a customer requests additional food, be it a bag of pretzels or an ice cream, we will always try to accommodate. If we have some left at the end of service then we can always offer another.”