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Ultimate Guide to Surviving Long Haul Flights ✈️

Whether your next destination is dreamy Barcelona or exciting Baku, getting there can be quite draining, especially if you’re coming from a different continent. We’re sure you want to reach your destination feeling refreshed, well-rested, and in a good mood, so you must make your long distance flight an enjoyable experience. Check out our travel tips for long haul flights!

How to Select Seats for Best Flying Experience

airplane seats

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One of the most popular tips for long haul flights is to book a comfortable seat. Sitting in an airplane for 6+ hours can be tiring, but even more so if you're sitting in an awkward seat. If you're a newbie to airplane seat selection, check out what kinds of seats exist and what are their pluses and minuses.


  • Window seats: Many passengers love window seats because you can lean against the side of the plane to rest and, of course, enjoy the view. However, if you take a lot of bathroom breaks, avoid them because you'll disturb the people in the seats next to yours every time you get up.
  • Emergency exit row seats: These seats are loved by many travelers because they offer a lot of legroom. Be careful if the row behind you is also an emergency exit row because, if it is, your seat may not be able to recline.
  • Aisle seats: Aisle seats are also preferred by people who appreciate the extra legroom. You can stretch your legs occasionally without standing up and you have easy access to the toilets. 
  • Bulkhead seats: Bulkhead seats are directly behind the bulkhead or the interior dividing wall that separates cabins on larger planes. They offer the largest legroom of any seat on the plane, but an IFE is stored between them and the width of these seats is often reduced.
  • Last row seat: Many people don't like last row seats because they're close to the toilets or the gallery where food is being prepared and they have limited seat recline.

How to Get an Upgrade from Economy Class

Due to very full flights, increased competition for upgrades, and computerized seat assignments, it's much harder to get an upgrade from the economy than it used to be. However, there are a few tactics you could try to get the golden ticket. If you follow these tips, you might get lucky and spend a long haul flight in the first class, for free.


  • Be a loyal customer: If you book your flights with the same airline a lot, your chances of getting a free upgrade rise greatly. High-mileage travelers are the first ones chosen if there is an opportunity for an upgrade.
  • Get an airline credit card: If you use an airline credit card, you can rack up miles that you can use when asking for an upgrade.
  • Check in online as early as possible: To paraphrase an old saying, early bird gets the best chance of taking an available seat in the first class.
  • Show up on time: If you show up late, don't request an upgrade. The chances are agents are just trying to get everyone seated and ready to take off, so, if you're planning to request an upgrade, do it when the agents have plenty of time to spare.
  • Ask directly: A simple "if there is a chance you'll upgrade passengers on this flight, please consider me" will do, trust us.
  • Dress well: If you want to be considered to fly in the first class, you have to look the part.

Long Haul Flight Travel Essentials

long haul flight packing

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Water

The air on the plane can get quite dry, so drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You don't want to rely on small plastic cups — bring a water bottle so that the crew can refill it when needed. Some airports will take away your water container at the security check, so it's best to purchase the water later and take it on board with you.

Snacks

Although airplane food can be tasty, if you're going on a long haul flight, bring snacks in case you want to munch on something in between meals. Experienced travelers say that some of the best airplane snacks are dried fruits, protein bars, popcorn, cheese bites, chocolate, and biscuits. If you're feeling fancy, you might even take a quinoa salad or muffins of your choice. Make sure to avoid fishy foods, eggs, burritos, peanuts, and yogurt.

Noise-canceling headphones

They are essential for anyone who travels, and not just on planes. A high-quality pair of noise-canceling headphones will block the noise from the flying plane and the cabin noise as well. They are a must-have if you want to rest or concentrate on a movie without any disturbance.

Comfortable clothes and shoes

It's simple, comfortable clothes mean you'll feel more comfortable during your flight. Keep in mind that you can wear a comfortable tee and look good at the same time. Regarding the shoes, put on a pair that is not too tight and doesn't have a lot of laces, as it will be easier for you to take them off at the security check or in the cabin.

Music and entertainment

Bring a laptop and some kind of a portable music player (that can work with headphones). Remember to charge them fully before the flight. In case the battery runs out, it's not a bad idea to bring a book and some kind of a small board game.

Sleep aid and sleeping mask

Many travelers say that a traveling pillow is one of the greatest long haul flights essentials. A neck pillow will do just fine, but if you have the room, try to bring a proper one. The best sleeping tips for long flights say to get a combination of a comfy pillow, a sleeping mask that will darken your surroundings, and noise-canceling headphones — and you'll sleep like a baby.

Important medications

It's a good idea to have any vital medication with you at all times. Maybe you won't have to take them during your flight, but in case your luggage gets lost or delayed, you won't miss any doses.

Toiletries

Bring lip balm, roll-on deodorant, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. You'll feel a hundred percent better if you freshen up a bit after long hours of sitting, sleeping, and eating on a plane.

Best Ideas for Long Haul Flights

flight reading

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

Read an interesting book

When it comes to long international flights, you can never have too many entertainment options. Pick a few titles that suit you the most and choose if you want to put them on your Kindle, download an audio-book, or bring a good old book (in which case you don't have to worry that the battery will run out). The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams, The Beach by Alex Garland, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid are some of the most popular titles.

Catch up on your favorite Netflix show

If there's a perfect setting for binge-watching a Netflix show, it's a long haul flight. Some of the best recommendations are White Gold, series one (3-hour flight), The Stranger (6-hour flight), Stranger Things, series one (8-hour flight), The Crown, series one (10-hour flight), and The Sinner, series one and two (12-hour flight).

Read guides for your destination

If you didn't have the time to prepare for your trip fully, your long flight is the perfect chance to get to know your future destination better. You can read about the main attractions, find the best restaurants, read the tips for getting around, learn about the culture, and more.

Learn some basic phrases in a new language

Knowing how to say a word or two in the language of the country you're visiting goes a long way. You can download a free language learning app like Duolingo and learn the basics. Make sure you have your headphones so that you can hear the pronunciation.

Get some well-deserved sleep

Tips for a long haul flight include not only taking the necessary sleeping aids, but also using them. If you're one of those travelers who like to make the most of their trip, wake up early and seize the day, you'll likely have quite a tempo once you land. Your long flight is an opportunity to rest and get ready for all of your planned activities.

Relax with music

If you're not feeling like sleeping but want to rest, put on your headphones and listen to some relaxing music. Apps like Deezer and Spotify have an option of downloading the music so you can listen to it while offline. You can also check out one of their traveling playlists if you're not feeling inspired.

Meet other passengers

Getting to know the person who sits next to you on a long flight can be quite lovely. Make sure that the person feels comfortable and that you don't talk loudly so that you don't disturb other passengers.

Enjoy beautiful views

If you get tired of the books, technology, chatting, and snacking, you might just want to look through the window and enjoy the amazing views. Whether you're traveling during daylight or at nighttime, they can be equally mesmerizing.


Now that you have all the long haul flight tips, it’s time to choose your next destination — and now you don’t have to worry if you have to travel across the world to reach it!

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