Discover how to make long-haul international flights more comfortable.

February 19, 2023

I have commuted from the US to Asia for over fifteen years, making several trips a year. Most of those trips were over 12 hours and were considered long-haul flights. Because I have flown these trips so many times, I know that long-haul flights do not have to be an unpleasant experience if you prepare in advance. There are many ways to make a long-haul flight a more pleasant experience. Here are a few tips.

Research the airlines. Often the flight prices are competitive, and only a few dollars will separate one airline from another. The service that the airlines provide will often be quite different. Food choices or the number of services offered by the airline will differ. Depending on the airline, services such as pillows, blankets, individual bottled water, face mask, snacks, and alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage choices differ. The aircraft type might be the same, but the airline may be configured differently. Some airlines prefer to prioritize the number of seats over the comfort of the seating. Other airlines will try to fit as many seats as possible and sell them cheaply, while others will have larger seats to sell at a higher price. As a result, your choice of airline can make a difference.

Choose your seats wisely. Traveling on a long-haul flight is often unavoidable, but hundreds of people do it daily. One way to make it more comfortable is the choice of seating. Some seats are better than others, and middle, last-row, or seats that don’t recline can make the trip a miserable experience. One way to check seats on flights is SeatGuru. Using this site, you can find out if the seats are close to the bathroom or the galleys. Seats on the first row of the airplane may have legroom but also are preferred by families, and you may be seated next to or close to small children. Seats near the galleys will have lots of traffic from flight crews and passengers stretching their legs during the flight.

Dress comfortably and in layers. Airplane temperature is centrally controlled, and people tolerate temperatures differently. There’s only so much you can do if you’re overheated, but having a sweatshirt or jacket can help if the plan turns chilly. Conversely, you can remove your sweater or jacket if it gets too warm. Tight clothing can be very uncomfortable in confined seating areas for long periods, but you do not have to wear pajamas to be comfortable. Comfortable leisurewear that is not too tight, compression socks, and slip-on shoes are great options. Try not to wear lots of jewelry or bulky accessories.

Prepare to pass the flight time with your entertainment. Airlines provide entertainment for long-haul flights, but there are times when the entertainment system is inoperable, or your seat system may not work. Do not rely on airline entertainment; have movies, shows, or books downloaded to your device, and make sure devices are fully charged. Prepare with noise-canceling headsets or earplugs to help with airplane noises and other noisy passengers. Other great accessories are eye masks or neck pillows. Sleep is a great way to pass the time, but if you need to take sleep aids, try natural ones like melatonin and those you are familiar with or have used before, so you know how your body will react.

Long-haul flights do not need to be a chore. Enjoy them on the way to your next travel adventure. Please let me know if these tips are helpful in the comment section below.

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