How to Survive a Long Airplane Flight

It’s OK. We all know. Flying sucks. But if you want to get out and actually see the world, it is a necessary evil. In my job, I am often the bearer of bad news like “the airline changed your flight. Again.” Recently, a client was asking me how to survive a long airplane flight, and stay entertained. This is, in general, what I told him.

  • Nobody is pleasant when they are hungry. Have a meal before heading to the airport. Don’t wait for a snack on the plane. It is better to not start the airport experience grumpy. Trust me on this one.
  • Plus, being full will make you sleepy. Being sleepy makes it easier to actually fall asleep. Nothing passes the time quite like a good nap. (Take a Benadryl if you need, but trust me on the sleeping thing.)
  • Reading material is essential. If, like me, you are anti-e-reader and prefer a good, old-fashioned book, bring a few. If the Benadryl doesn’t kick in, you will need something to read. On our trip to Vancouver, I finished my book before we landed, and told FKGuy that he needed to hurry up and finish so I could have his book (as I stared at him uncomfortably until he either kept reading or started entertaining me). I had packed the extras. Oops. If you enjoy an e-reader, make sure your books are downloaded before you leave.
  • Bring a sweater. Unless you are in Business Class, don’t expect anyone to bring you a blanket, or pillow for that matter. It is unpleasant to shiver for 6 or 8 hours straight, so your best bet is to wear a couple of layers and be comfortable, regardless of temperature.
  • I never understood why people tell you to dress nicely. Sure, ripped jeans or sweatpants are not a good look, but if you are on an overnight flight, you need to be comfortable. For me that means yoga pants and a long sleeve shirt over a short sleeve. Oh, and no underwire bras. This is the time for a sports bra, people. If you can’t sleep in it, it is no good for a long flight.
  • Bring a deck of cards. It can provide hours of entertainment. Don’t drop the cards, though, or your fellow passengers might grow to hate you as you cruise the aisle looking for your missing playing cards.
  • Make sure all of your devices (including the e-reader) are fully charged. Enough said.
  • Go to the bathroom. It is a good excuse to stretch your legs. It is good for you.
  • Consider an upgrade. This is why people hoard frequent flier miles (by “people” of course I mean “me”). Use your miles to fly first or business class when it counts. Like from New York to Tokyo. or Miami to Tel Aviv. It is much easier to arrive well rested when you are being plied with food, beverages, and of course, blankets.

Whatever you do, make sure to enjoy yourself and relax. How often do you get hours on end uninterrupted? Meditate. Watch movies. Drink wine. Enjoy. You’ll be there soon.