Ask The Readers: Tips For 12+ Hours On a Long Haul Flight?

Editor Vincent is most likely on a transatlantic flight as we speak. But the thought of being jammed in economy like a pack of sardines does no good for his morale.

Over the years, he's learned that some tricks and tools of the trade from the world's finest, including how to avoid the unfortunately more than common scenario of spending a 15 hour flight jammed in between two burly men, rather than two gorgeous females.

Here's a few things Vincent does during his flights right now; he'd love to know of any other tips you have to make the flight more comfortable:

1. Carry a noise canceling headset, like the Bose Quiet Comfort 3s (or these alternative cheaper noise cancelling ones for £4.99 from HUKD).  Remember to charge up the battery ahead of time.  And bring an airplane audio converter, like this one from memorybits for £2.65.  Much better than the plastic earpieces in case something good pops up on the in-flight entertainment.

2. Load a laptop up with some tasks to do. Obviously this needs to be a long life battery like the Samsung NC10 with it 7 hour battery life.  The 10" screen means when the passenger in front reclines, his laptop won't die in his arms.  A USB powered external HDD is also a good idea, especially in economy, with the seat in front of you reclined. So get some work done. Save the movies and porno for landing.

3. Buy the laptop at the airport. In fact, Vincent picked up his NC10 this morning from the airport directly, after putting in a special request for them to charge it overnight. While he does have to pay a slight premium of £25 over the Dixons website, he gets a 90 day BAA refund/exchange policy coverage versus the standard 14 days just in case for any reason he finds he hates it with a passion.

3. Put everything in the overhead lockers. Vincent has a tendency to shove everything in the space below the seat for the sake of convenience, but has discovered that this not only limits his space on a long haul flight to stretch, but most of the items never get used. He now finds it more convenient to put it in the overhead locker, except for a book and laptop.

4. Take off your shoes. Just make sure NEVER to stick it out in the aisle. The flight attendants don't really care if the trolley hits your foot.  And should that happen, of course it's your fault.

5. Carry your own bottled water. Vincent now always gets a bottle of water before boarding.  This will save a lot of time and dehydration from flight attendants that never appear with your tiny cup of plastic water.  Obviously, buy it after going through security,

6. Walk around. Most of us tend to remain crammed in the economy seat.  But in reality, the flight actually is so much more comfortable if you don't mind getting out and walking around.  There's a reason why there's a mini bar in upper class.  Move your legs to avoid deep vein thrombosis, and kick the toilet walls in to vent out before returning to your tiny economy hole.  You'll be glad you did.

7. Pull a Heath Ledger. That is to say, consider taking sleeping tablets. Don't kill yourself though. Too soon? Vincent's GP nicely gave him an adequate supply of everything under the sun required to make a pleasant journey. So remember that as a last resort, you can always just knock yourself out.

If you have tips/tricks/suggestions for long haul flights, share in the comments below, and Vince will stop talking annoyingly about himself in the third person. We'll also feature some of your best tips in an upcoming post in our travel series.


  • Bob
    Try not to get a seat near noisy chavs who applaud when the fucking plane lands intact, presumably they think it's a miracle that the pilot spent all that time getting his license and training to be a pilot (not co-pilot, pilot) only to forget how to land every flight. Crunts.
  • Anon
    When they say the pilots name say 'Oh no not him!'
  • Phil
    I know plenty of people that applaud when a flight lands at its destination - myself included. It's surely just a bit of courtesy?
  • Rob
    I think that the Heath Ledger comment is absolutely disgusting. It was unnecessary and totally unrelated to the subject matter.
  • gidz
    Phil - do you applaud your bus/train driver when you make it to work each day? I doubt it.
  • Mark
    ^ No, but I say thankyou as I get off the bus.
  • Daniel
    A Nintendo DS is always a good idea too for when you are just bored of sitting staring at a screen, you can press some buttons next to one insted.
  • andy y.
    I think the Heath ledger is absolutely wonderful .Made all the better for it's inappropriate use. Let's face it teh guy is SERIOUSLY popular as a stiff. with credit to the GLC 'm gonna lie on my back and you put your fingers down my mouth right, no, no do it right, like aaugh uuuugh! I'm gonna do a Jimi Hendrix, ..eeuuughh....i'm gonna be sick in my sleep, euuugh...aaauugh ugh! I tries to do it proper but kept comin' up a cropper I needs some hype I think I'll ram raid happy shopper Haven't got a car so I use a space hopper Bouncing to the window, cut my head, show stopper I want a hundred fans, 200 teeny boppers I want police protection from 87 coppers I wanna go gold even better platinum If you wanna be a star you gotta kill yourself, man It's the truth step back, take a look around Elvis is dead for being fat - 500 pound Kurt cobain's rich as fuck he's buried in the ground Jimi Hendrix and his amp still ain't makin' no sound Michael Hutchence, he's one of 'em too Made a hundred million quid dying tossing on the loo S U I C I D E might be messy but it's money for free Suicide is painless or so it has been said I could've killed myself but I'd be better off dead So I took a deep breath, put a gun against my head Pulled the trigger, click, should've been eating lead But I wasn't, I was naked in John Frost Square Mothers with pushchairs stopped and stared For this situation I was quite unprepared Tried suicide to be famous but nobody cared Committing suicide to enhance my career It worked for Biggie and Tupac Shakir Jesus was nailed up to some wood 2000 years later and book sales are still good I heard in a song suicide is painless And it's 80% sure to make you famous Wanking with a bag on yer head tied to a door That bloke from INXS he knew the score S U I C I D E might be messy but it's money for free S U I C I D E might be messy but it's money for free I gotta kill myself, I gotta do's it quick John Entwistle sly, he was snorting arsenic I keep taking all this coke to make me die Doin' more drugs than they make in fuckin' ICI It's the best way to go, don't think me dull I'm not gonna fall off the roof like the flid rod hull We want people to sing all our songs And the nuns at Saint Joseph's rappin' on smokin' bongs We wanna be remembered when we're six feet under For hip-hoppin' not robins fuckin' beatings or plunder At the moment I'm not dead like David Kampasey Double platinum means you gotta be pushin' up daisies Dad's army's all dead, every last one But the cunts are still going on BBC1 Yeah that's right I smoke draw from Wales Suicide's a good idea to improve vinyl sales It's useless, it's crap, I'll never be in the sun How can I be a pop star when I can't buy a gun? Jimmy Morrison overdosed in the bath I know, I'll hang myself with my scarf Tied to the stairs, dangling by my neck The cord length I forgot to check Stuck it for a week, unable to shriek The landlord found me and he called me a freak He cut me down and started to laugh 'If you're dead next week gimme your autograph' You know I thanked him, returned to my room The new plan is to go out with a boom To the station, with a petrol can Five pound please, I say to the man All set up and ready to burn The wheel on my lighter just won't turn
  • Alistair
    Yes I cringe horribly when the round of applause goes round. Let's be honest here the plane was likely landed by a computer. Do you applaud when you machine boots up or shuts down at night? A great way of spending time is sitting in front of a kid who plays games on the in-seat console - a game which involves tapping the screen no less. Arrrggghhh. Didn't happen to me but watched the kid play the game for 5 hours straight. I prefer my Archos coupled with the noise cancelling headphones - heaven.
  • SJT
    the guy in front of me asked not to tap the touchscreen so hard when I was playing a game on my last flight. Must admit that I was getting a little carried away in the moment!
  • Robin
    I second the water bottle idea; the dry air in the cabin sucks the moisture right out of your eyeballs. I'd also recommend a snack of some sort as often the hostesses have a funny idea of when mealtimes are. Many airlines now offer the emergency exit seats for a small fee. You get all the leg room of upper class for a fraction of the price. Sure, you still have to put up with the shoddy food, the chav company and the crappy in flight entertainment but it certainly makes these other nightmares more bearable.
  • Robin
    @Alistair: I often say "thank you" to an ATM when withdrawing cash... does that make you cringe too? ;)
  • janaltus
    Being serious for a minute, I've got one of these and - though the website exaggerates a bit -- it makes the flight a bit easier, especially if you are tall! Useful for regular flyers. I also take an inflatable beach ball, only pumped up about halfway, to use as a foot cushion. The cheap noise cancelling headphones work fine but the wires tend to come loose so pop a drop of epoxy glue on the grommet where the wires enter the headphones and you'll find they last a long time. Take your own gum or boiled sweets for the descent (they don't issue the sweets anymore) so your ears don't have to pop when you come in to land! Oh! and avoid flying with Air France (scum of the skies).
  • Gi
    The Japanese will often bow to receive money from an ATM.
  • matt
    last couple of times i flew longhail havefound power sockets under the armrests so could run lappy psp etc from mains :)
  • Noghar
    I took a British Midland flight from London to Belfast a few years ago. Noticed as I was getting on board the flight crew looked a bit solemn. Then I remembered it was the day after the Kegworth air disaster when a BM plane crashed onto the M6. I don't applaud when the pilot lands the plane properly but I don't blame people who do, because you should take nothing for granted, and takeoff and landing are the most dangerous parts of the flight - they are most certainly not done by the computer. I also thank my wife when she drives me and/or the kids home when I am too pissed to walk. It's just good manners. My hint for getting by on a flight: don't try to be cool and let the queue disappear before you board. By that time every overhead locker will be crammed with the ridiculously huge suitcases that some people think count as hand baggage.
  • Mike H.
    My prefered method of passing the timeis to try prising the nails from my fingers with the shitty plastic kniffe offered during meals, this may be so excruciatingly painful that you may indeed pass out, then be taken from the plane first on a wheel chair, super. I often thank the bus driver for being a miserable fuck, pulling out infront of me without warning and cutting me up on roundabouts, I usually give thanks by using the internationale signal by cupping my hand and shaking it like I'm "shaking a polaroid picture" as Andre 3000 once stipulated, this also works on the numerous BMW/Audi drivers that try to emmulate bus drivers. Lets all give thanks to these wan... BMW/Audi drivers using the signal.
  • MB
    Noghar - By that time every overhead locker will be crammed with the ridiculously huge suitcases that some people think count as hand baggage. The alternative is to get on first and put your bag into the overhead locker. Then it gets crushed by the people that are allowed on with the huge suitcases as they ram them into the overhead locker as there is not much space. Not only does your stuff get crushed, you cannot get to it easily during the flight.
  • Tom T.
    I find having a swift wank midway through the flight breaks the boredom. kicking the seat of the annoying kid stabbing his ds screen wildly in front also brings me childish pleasure ;)
  • Bob
    Noghar, surely Kegworth was a case of engine malfunction combined with pilot error (not neccesarily the pilot's fault due to poor training), either way I fail to see what bearing it has on applauding someone for doing something they're paid to do. Do you applaud a bus driver when you get off the bus? And yes, before you ask, I do say thank you to the bus driver when getting off the bus, I also say thank you to the staff when getting off the plane (unelss they've been crap) but at no point do I get a 5 minute round of applause going when I get off the fecking thing, as I said, chavs.
  • Mark
    Applause is just a sign of appreciation, as is a thankyou. Some take it too far with 'woo'ing and shouting, but for the most part it's a harmless expression.
  • Pete
    Well Mark I have just given a rousing applause to the spotty teenager who served me my whopper meal in Burger King. Unsurprisingly he looked at me like I was a right cunt and asked why I had done so. So much for a 'harmless expression' more like a clueless expression
  • Anna
    I find that because the air is so dry on the plane, I get nosebleeds for a few days afterwards. I now try and use a nasal spray to keep the membranes moist while travelling.
  • Artemis
    Noghar "and takeoff and landing are the most dangerous parts of the flight - they are most certainly not done by the computer. " You think the most dangerous parts of the flight are the bits done by real humans and not computers? Wow.
  • Bitterwallet B.
    [...] 4. Good Airlines Does Not = Comfort: The most common routes from the UK are with BMI via Manchester, and Virgin Atlantic via London Gatwick. Las Vegas from London is no short trip, and it was only in hindsight that I discovered that Virgin’s fleets from LGW are not the most comfortable, something to bear in mind for those planning to fly with one of the world’s ‘best’ airlines.  Virgin initially had plans to upgrade their fleets by early 2009, but due to the recession, this probably won’t be happening anytime soon. So prepare to be packed in like a pack of sardines. So make sure you have your flight essentials- entertainment, pillow, and blankets, and check out some tips we posted on long haul flights. [...]
  • Bitterwallet B.
    [...] trip ticket from LON to Seattle with Delta Airways starts around £350.  Remember to read our How to survive a 12+ hour flight, with the stopover adding 1-2 hours making the entire trip over 15+ hours, you may want to be ready [...]
  • Alma
    I need some advice from you guys: WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF IN A 12 HOUR FLIGHT... -A nagging kid is kicking the back of your seat, even If you told his mom, she denies her little "angel" does that (Of course he stops when you turn to tell her), but after some time he does it again? - You couldnt change seat and you are in the window: and when you want to go to the toilet, the person next to you doesnt want to stand up and wants you tu "jump" him? When you come bavk from the toilet that person in sleeping and -Still in the window sit. The person next to you is sleeping with his mouth open and the smell is terrible?! WHAT TO DO?!
  • Alma
    one more thing: That "lovely" kid I mentioned in my previous post is punching your seat, because in the back of your seat there is the touch screen...
  • Bulah S.
    Some of these work better than others, but it should leave you the full tweleve hours of relief.
  • target v.
    Thank you for blogging this post. It's an awesome blog post.
  • Long T.
    Vegetarian meals often get served first on a plane - worth booking the veggie option if you don't like the wait!
  • marissa
    Artemis. My dad and brother are both pilots for commercial airlines. takeoff and landing is most definitely done by the pilots. not the computer. come on

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