During 2016, I took more long-haul economy flights than I care to remember. I’ve been on long-haul flights to the U.A.E, Thailand, Japan, Oman, Hong Kong, and most recently, China. Don’t get me wrong, if the only way for me to get to a new destination is my being squished in the middle economy seat, then that’s what I’ll do.
After my most recent 14-hour long-haul economy flight to Shanghai Disneyland China, I realized that I had come up with a strategy that had made it possible to semi-enjoy sitting in economy. I know that’s hard to believe, but I am here today to share my economy survival tips so you too can enjoy your long-haul economy flights.
- Pick the seat at the back of the plane
Most people picking their seats want to sit as close to the front of the plane as possible. They want to make it so when the plan lands they can be one of the first off the plane. If you pick a seat near the back, you have a better chance of having an empty seat next to you.
- Book the aisle seat
When most people pick their seat, they want to be by the window. I completely understand the urge to choose the coveted window seat. You can look out the window during the flight and lean against the window to get some sleep. The only problem with that window seat is, if you want to get up, you have to inconvenience your neighbors. A big part of enjoying your flight is being able to get out of your seat and move around. I always pick the back-aisle seat so I can get up to walk around every hour. Being able to stretch your legs will help you keep from feeling stiff and squashed.
- Portable Power for your Entertainment Devices
14 hours on a plane is an extremely long time. Having a way to entertain yourself for a large portion of that time is crucial. Thanks to a portable power bank, you can now charge your phone and use that for your entertainment. The AmazonBasics Power Bank is only $23.99 and it will charge your phone at least two full times and as many as four full times. That should be enough juice to keep you listening to music or watch movies. You can try and use your laptop, but trust me when I tell you that it will not be a good viewing experience, due to the tight quarters in economy class. You already have your entire life on your phone, so it will bring you the most entertainment and enjoyment. Don’t forget to load up your phone with some new and exciting games, podcasts, audio books, and the latest and great TV shows and movies.
- Check out the provided in-flight entertainment
Depending on the airline you are flying, the in-flight entertainment might actually have some great content. Earlier this year, when I was flying Oman Airlines, they had a full entertainment system at every seat. Their entertainment system had hundreds of moves and games in English for you to choose from. Don’t be afraid to venture away from your phone/tablet and check out what entertainment your airlines have to offer.
- Noise Canceling Headphones
There is nothing worse than trying to watch a movie and instead all you hear is the baby crying next to you. Besides hearing that baby crying, you are also listening to the flush of the toilet and roar of the engines. The best way to solve this is by having a solid pair of noise canceling headphones. My go to pair of noise canceling headphones is the Bose QuietComfort 25. When I turn them on, I can’t hear any of the ambient noise; the crying baby and the flushing toilet are a thing of the past. Just don’t forget a few extra sets of batteries!
- Wet Ones Singles Anti-Bacterial Wipes
Planes are gross, plain and simple; the person sitting in that seat before you probably sneezed on the food tray and wiped their mucus on the armrest. Thanks to the Wet One Singles, you can rip open a wipe and wipe down your seat, armrest, and food tray. This is going to clean up the area a bit and kill some of those nasty airplane germs. I go with the Wet Ones Singles because I never have to worry about leaving the wipe bag open and having them dry up. They are individually sealed and always ready.
- The Sleeping Kit
Trying to get some sleep on the plane is extremely crucial. After you’ve been served your first meal, it’s time to try to sleep. The worst thing for you is if you land at your new destination and you are going on 14+ hours without sleep. To achieve quality sleep on a plane, you’re going to want to pack a quality sleeping mask, ZzzQuil, and pajamas. The sleeping mask will keep all of the unwanted lights out. The ZzzQuil is going to help you fall asleep. The most important thing, for me, is pajamas. You can go into the bathroom and change into comfy pajamas, which will help you be a lot more comfortable while you try to sleep. If you are chilly, you can ask your flight attendant for an extra blanket.
- Neck Doughnut
A neck doughnut or neck pillow is crucial for relaxation on your long-haul economy flight. By sitting in the aisle seat, you won’t have anything to rest your head on, like you would in the window seat. I recommend the ONWEGO Inflatable Neck pillow; it is small and compact, which is always great when traveling. Because it is inflatable, you don’t have to lug it around outside of your carry-on bag. When the flight is over, you can deflate the pillow and put it back in your bag; it won’t take up much space.
- The Plane Recovery Kit
After being on a long-haul flight, your skin is going to be dry, your face will look tired even if you aren’t tired, and your eyes are going to be red. When you’re in economy class, you don’t have access to an in-plane shower, like the first-class passengers do on Emirates Airlines. If you don’t look like a zombie when you get off the plane, you’re going to want some Visine eye drops to remove the red eyes, your favorite hand lotion to re-moisturize your skin, and most importantly, Evian facial spray. The Evian facial spray is going to make your face look like you just got out of a shower. People won’t even be able to tell that you just spend the last 14+ hours inside of a dry airplane.
- Pack Snacks
Depending on where you are flying, the snacks and meals are typically tailored towards your destination’s local cuisine. You are typically going to have some type of a chicken dish, but in economy, the food won’t typically be that enjoyable. Pack some granola bars, dried fruit, squeezable applesauce, and whatever else you might want to snack on during the flight. You don’t want to be hangry when you land.
- Drink Water
Keep drinking fluids during your long-haul economy flight. Since you are already in the aisle seat, you don’t have to be afraid of going to the restroom. You can get up and go to the restroom anytime you need to. Staying hydrated is going to keep your skin hydrated and prevent cramping.
The entire point of picking the aisle seat is so you can get up and move around. To help you stay even more comfortable, don’t be afraid to get up and do some stretching. We’re not talking about doing full yoga positions, but simply bending down to your toes will help keep you muscles nice and relaxed.
- Keep Your Expectations Realistic
If you are following my survival guide to long-haul economy travel, you’re already setting yourself up for success. Make sure that you keep your expectations realistic throughout the flight. You aren’t sitting in first-class or even business class. You’re going to be close to your neighbor. Your new neighbor is going to ask you to move so they can go to the bathroom. Just stay positive and remember that you are only on this flight as a means to get to your final destination. The true experiences of your adventure won’t happen until your final destination. If you’re on your way home from your adventure, then your goal is to be as relaxed as possible during your long-haul flight. Just follow my long-haul economy flight tips and think about all the fantastic adventures that you just had!
If these tips help you to actually enjoy your flight, then you are better off than most people sitting on your long-haul economy flight. If there is something that you think I missed, please let me know in the comments below.
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