The more exotic the destination, the longer the trip, of course. Those who travel to distant countries to experience new adventures sometimes have to cover thousands of kilometres and spend several hours in an airplane. If you don't know what to look out for and how best to prepare for a long flight, arriving by plane can be a torture.
With these tips and tricks you can arrive at your holiday destination relaxed and stress-free despite the long flight duration and start your adventure in the right way.
1. Choose your seat wisely
In order to get your desired seat, you should check in as early as possible before you start your journey. Many airlines offer online check-in 72 hours before departure. Not only can you reserve a seat to your liking in advance, you can also save a lot of time at the airport by simply downloading your e-ticket onto your smartphone or tablet.
The choice of seat for a long-haul flight, which can last up to 20 hours in extreme cases, should be carefully considered. Whether you prefer to sit by the window or in the aisle depends on your personal preference. The clear advantage of a window seat is the possibility of leaning against the aircraft wall and thus the better chance of finding sleep while travelling. And if that doesn't work, you can at least observe the outside world.
However, if you have to go to the washrooms more often or want to stretch your legs occasionally (highly recommended for long-haul flights), you will definitely find yourself sat best in the corridor and won’t have to climb over your sleeping neighbours every time.
However, you should refrain from sitting in the middle seat, as you can't enjoy any of the advantages presented by the other options. With a little bit of luck, the seat will remain free and you’ll additional space on your long journey!
2. Comfortable travel clothes
Comfortable clothing is a must during long-haul flights. Avoid being sat in your tight jeans on a plane for hours. We’ve been there, and it’s unbearable. Loose and stretchy trousers prove themselves in any sitting position and you don't have any ugly bulges on your knees after the flight. Since the temperatures on board can often vary from much too warm to icy cold, it helps to count on several layers.
In order to avoid a stiff neck or a nasty sore throat, you should definitely take a scarf with you, as the air conditioning systems are sometimes much too strongly adjusted. And last but not least: get out of your shoes and into your warm cuddly socks for even more comfort.
3. Stay hydrated! Aircraft tend to be very dry
Because the air in the aeroplane is very dry and our mucous membranes suffer strongly from it, one should always consume plenty of water especially when scheduled to take part in a long-distance flight. It is better to restrain from coffee and alcoholic beverages during the flight, as they will only dehydrate you further.
Extra tip: Don't throw away your bottle at the hand luggage check, just empty it and refill it after the check. Many airports now have special taps for drinking water. Otherwise you can also buy water after the security checkpoint. This is often overpriced, but still better than hours without water. Most airlines, however, provide you with free drinks on board long-haul flights.
However, since the rise of long-haul low-cost flights (looking at you Norwegian), it is very plausible that you’ll find yourself in a 7+ hour flight in which you’ll have to pay even for water.
4. Take your own provisions and snacks with you on board
Check beforehand whether the catering is included in the price. With most low-cost airlines, you either have to order the food in advance or, as with easyJet, Ryanair and Co, you buy it directly on board.
Starved to death, one should in any case not get on a plane and hope that one is pampered there with enough culinary delights. To be on the safe side, take snacks and treat yourself to some light nibbles.
If you have a vegetarian or vegan diet, or if you are unable to eat certain foods, you can pre-order food from the airline's website. Parents can also request special baby and children's menus for their kids. Since the special menus are usually handed out first, you get your food even before all the other passengers!
5. Sleep a lot during the flight
Try to sleep as much as possible during your long distance flight, your body will thank you! However, to counteract a nasty jetlag, you should adjust your sleeping and eating rhythm to the time at your destination on the plane and observe some other tactics.
Even if the airplane seats don't invite you to fall into Hypnos’ arms, it's always preferable to arrive at your destination reasonably fit. Also, be prepared for disturbances like noise and bright light, it's best to pack earplugs or good headphones and a sleeping mask. Also think of a neck pillow to avoid waking up on the shoulders of your seat neighbour. Oh the neck pillow! We do realise that it looks a tad ridiculous but we do swear by its ability to make your flight exponentially more comfortable.
6. Enough entertainment on board
Excuse the pun, but do not give any chance to aboredom. You can't fall asleep on the plane at all? It is best to find out before you start your journey whether or which entertainment programs are offered by the airline. Avoid getting bored at all costs as all you will do is suffer! Download your own series or movies from Netflix and Co. onto your smartphone or tablet and watch them in airplane mode.
With a podcast, you can also lean back, close your eyes and continue your education or just listen to someone chatting. Of course, you can also use the long flight time to finally get the postponed work done or to plan and organize appointments.
In addition, a long-haul flight is the perfect place to finally get back to reading. Whether it's your neglected night table reading or the travel guide with useful information about your destination.
7. Remember that delays and cancellations on long-haul flights entitle you to compensation
A long-haul flight always takes a lot of time. However, if the duration of the journey increases even further due to a flight’s delay or cancellation, you may be entitled to compensation between 250 and 600 euros.
If your flight has been delayed, cancelled or overbooked, you have the right to claim compensation. The amount of compensation depends exclusively on your flight’s distance, which is why you are entitled to 600 euros per person for a long-haul flight of 3,500 km or more! The only caveat, your delay (when arriving at your final destination) must be greater than three hours.
Missed connection? You are also entitled!
Yes! It’s true. If you’ve missed your connecting flight due to delay or cancellation (even if your original delay was briefer than stipulated) and you’ve arrived at your final destination with a delay greater than three hours, you can claim compensation. Even if you’ve missed your flight outside the EU. We know everything sounds a tad complicated so you can check your flight for free here:
If you wish to submit your claim with Flight-Delayed, we’ll take care of the whole ordeal. Best of all, our 25% win fee will only apply if we claim your compensation successfully and it covers any possible legal costs we might incur in.
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