A Few Reasons To Love (and Better Deal With) Long-Haul Flights

Finnair A350

Recently I was talking with a friend about flights and commented enjoying a flight over to Europe because it was short and easy. They looked at me and reminded me that for most people 7-8 hours in a plane is considered long-haul, which surprised me. Of course they were right, the technical definition of a long-haul flight is 6-12 hours in the air and ultra long-haul is anything more than 12 hours. Call me crazy, but I much prefer long-haul and certainly ultra long-haul flights when traveling and I don’t think I’m alone. There’s a lot to be said for spending quality time up in the air, free of our earthly bonds as we are flung across the planet in a metal tube. It seems lately that everyone only complains about flying and airlines so today I thought I’d share a few reasons why I personally enjoy spending time up in the air and how I have learned to best deal with that much coveted time.

WHAT TO LOVE

Disconnecting

Although this is quickly changing, I love being totally and completely disconnected. People can’t reach me and it’s forced time to concentrate on something other than work. Of course, as more and more airlines add WiFi connectivity to even their longest flights, this is becoming a relic but I refuse to give in. While I may purchase Internet time on short flights in order to get some things done, unless there’s an emergency I refuse to do so on long-haul flights. I need this time to create a little cocoon of comfort for myself; to read a book or watch a movie or take a nap. When I travel I tend to be busy and active once I arrive, so having this precious time both before and after a trip isn’t just nice, it’s something I actually need.

Entertainment

Even though I love movies, I almost never see them in the theater. It’s not a conscious decision, it’s just not something I think about all that often. That’s why I love having the opportunity to catch up on all of those movies I’ve missed when I fly. Some people may not pay a lot of attention to the various entertainment options and how they vary airline by airline, but for me it’s part of my own decision making process. They are most certainly not all made the same and on many occasions I’ve been sorely disappointed by a complete lack of options whether it’s the new releases from the big screen or television series offered. One of the best I experienced in 2016 was with Cathay Pacific, an airline which has spent a lot of time fine-tuning the ultra long-haul experience for their passengers. They understand that many of their guests spend a lot of time onboard and have gone out of their way to create an in-cabin experience that is both fun and relaxing. In addition to whatever the airline offers though, I always have emergency backups on my iPad just in case.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge Hong Kong

Enjoying that Upgrade

Whenever I fly I do everything in my power to do so from a First or Business Class seat. It’s just how I prefer to travel and for me, the fun really is in the getting there. I love flying and still firmly believe that commercial aviation possesses a special kind of magic. I get excited entering an airport not only for my own trip, but for all the amazing places the other airport patrons will soon be visiting. To best enjoy the total flying experience, doing so in a premium seat is important to me and now that we live in a time when airlines are steadily improving their First and Business Class products, it couldn’t be a better time to fly. Luxury aviation helps set me up for success when I travel in any number of ways. Lounges provide me with areas to rest and recharge, while also grabbing a quick snack in the process. Onboard everything from the lay-flight seats to the amazing food and service nearly guarantees that I’ll arrive feeling better than I would had I flown Economy, which makes the entire trip that much more enjoyable. Plus, how I travel to a new place is as important a part of the total experience as is the destination itself. I know not everyone feels the same way, but it’s near the top of my list of what I look forward to the most whenever I travel.

Cathay Pacific

HOW TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE

Stay hydrated

Hydration is essential for all travelers and it starts before we even board the plane. A day or so before a long flight, drink slightly more water than normal and maintain that until after you’ve arrived to your destination. Flying is a dehydrating experience and it’s that dehydration which is responsible for feeling bad when we arrive and prolonging the effects of jet lag. If you drink alcohol, either skip it while flying or do so in moderation as this only exacerbates the dehydration. During the flight try to have some water every hours or so – most airlines provide plenty of water throughout the course of long-haul flights.

Compartmentalize your time

This is my own personal way of coping with a long-haul or ultra long-haul flight and it might work for you too. Thinking of a flight as one chunk of time is almost too much for our brains to handle. The idea of spending 15 hours next to The Snoring Guy or Miss Likes To Talk is a huge mental weight to bear. Instead, think of the flight in segments. First of all, eating will take a considerable amount of time. On a ten hour flight at least 2 hours will be spent waiting for or consuming meals. That leaves 8 hours. Watching one movie will take another two hours, leaving you with six. Figure on trying to sleep for at least 5 of those hours and you’re left with one hour to read, watch a TV show or stare aimlessly at the seat back in front of you. Or, you could divide your time between: eating, doing work, sleeping, watching a movie and reading equally. No matter how you decide to divide your time, it’s a useful mental exercise and will help make your long flight seem like less of a challenge.

Get up often

Although rare, there are significant health concerns when sitting in the same position for a long period of time, namely Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). DVT is the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein that can develop after sitting on long flights. There are many ways to help mitigate your risk for developing these dangerous blood clots, but one of the most important is getting up often. Every couple of hours, make sure to walk around the cabin and in the forward areas near the bulkhead, be sure to do some simple exercises to help keep your blood flowing. The airlines have done a great job in educating the public about this risk and you can find some sample exercises in most in-flight magazines or on the inflight entertainment units.

Long-haul kit

This is an essential travel item for me and I keep it packed in my carry-on bag no matter where I go. While it’s convenient for any style of trip, the components of my prized kit are key when I’m on a long-haul flight. In the bag I keep: an eye mask, plenty of earplugs, disposable prepasted toothbrushes (like Wisp), hand lotion, compression socks, travel sized deodorant and a few other goodies. You get the concept though; the idea is to pack things that will give you a better chance to rest on that long flight and to deboard the plane looking and feeling refreshed. After spending a night on a plane, there is nothing better than being able to feel slightly human. The toothbrush, deodorant and lotions all help with that. No matter what you pack in your survival kit, it’s a good idea to have one.

How do you deal with long-haul flights?

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

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3 Responses

  1. Garth

    Wow First class!! looks incredible, no wonder you get excited, I would too, maybe one day we’ll get to experience this, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Alison

      Sorry, Icompletely agree with your comments if you are flying business or first class. It looks from your website that this happens often if not all the time. This has not been my experience. I have not gotten a single upgrade in the last year unless I have purchased a business class ticket and have still experienced seats without food at all, no movies, no wifi to download movies, not able to walk around planes for blood circulation due to turbulence or drinks carts blocking etc. I have followed you for awhile now and think you have fallen into a bubble with your biz/1st class seats and Ritz Carlton hotel stays. Stay relevant and don’t forget the rest of us!

      Reply
  2. Cheryl

    Sorry, Matt. I have to agree with the other posters. Very few of us ever have the opportunity/budget to fly business class, much less first class. There’s a reason why those sections are so much smaller than the rest of the plane! I’m sure the flight is much more enjoyable if one has more room and a lay-flat seat to nap while onboard but this just isn’t reality for most of us. I always love all your posts but I’m afraid this one doesn’t hit the mark.

    Reply

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