January 8, 2020

Claustrophobic seats, crying babies and cold, stale air on an economy flight can render the most patient of passengers hysterical and foaming at the mouth. There are sweaty strangers all around you, obnoxious travellers with poor flying etiquette and smelly feet, and hardly a clear, easy route to the washroom. To add, the excruciating pain of being trapped in a glorified metal container, thousands of feet above ground, for 14 hours, will leave you wishing that you could time travel.

There are tons of in-flight movies and TV shows to distract you from the intense boredom of the journey, but you can’t escape from the fact that all you’re trying to do is kill time—an endeavour that gets increasingly tedious as soon as you become hyper-aware of how you’re spending each hour, down to the minute. It’s moments like these that complicate the allure of travelling to a far-flung paradise, leading you to question if the destination is worth the agony of the journey. Lucky for you, it doesn’t have to be this irksome. Sure you could splurge on a first-class ticket, but here are a few tricks you can employ to survive long-haul economy flights.

First, getting a good seat can drastically alter your in-flight experience. Don’t have to leave it up to the fates. Get to the airport check-in counter early and make sure you’re not stuck with a middle seat (your personal space tends to get compromised more). Better yet, invest a little extra to get more legroom. For longer flights, aisle seats are the best as they provide the easiest access to the bathroom—it can be a hassle to squeeze past strangers or wake sleeping heads just to relieve yourself. 

Hydration is also key during flights, when the air gets dry and putrid. Don’t be afraid to ask for as many cups of water as you need. Alternatively, you could fill your bottle up in the transit lounge, just before you get on the plane. Lip balm and moisturiser are your best friends, so don’t neglect them. What you should avoid is piling on makeup. The best option is to go bare-faced.

Treat your long-haul flight like a giant sleepover—you’ll want to get as comfortable as possible. Skip the heels and tight shoes, and exchange your sartorial garments for loose-fitting clothes. You’ll want to be able to move around easily on your flight, not feel even more stifled by your clothes and environment. And what’s a sleepover without an eye mask and neck pillow? Make sure to pack those into your carry-on.

The last ingredient of a good sleepover is food. Bring your own snacks just in case the hunger pangs hit you. Sometimes aeroplane food can be less-than-satisfactory. It also goes without saying that your devices should be charged up completely before you board the aircraft. Netflix will always save the day when you grow tired of the in-flight entertainment. If that doesn’t work, talk to the person next to you. You might make a new friend and hit it off with a chatty Cathy who will make the next couple of hours fly by.

When all else fails, try getting absolutely hammered on any kind of alcohol that is available—to a point where you pass out. The key is to time it correctly, so that you sober up just before arrival.