11 Tips for Surviving a Long-Haul Flight in Economy

I have been flying for 20 years and have taken several long-haul flights. I loved being stationed in San Francisco however the sole issue I scorned was my flight back home to India.

As far as possible, I always plan to break my journey even if it means 5-8 additional hours of travel. I remember when I first started flying, I was so excited to be on a plane. I would sit by the window and look out as we took off.

But now, after years of flying, I dread long-haul flights. I hate being cooped up in a small space for hours on end. And the food is always terrible. The only good thing about long-haul flights is that you can watch a lot of movies. But even that gets old after a while.

Sometimes you just have to endure a long-haul flight, you don’t have an option.

It’s no secret that long-haul flights can be brutal. With cramped seats, limited legroom, and recycled air, it’s hard to relax and get comfortable. But with a few simple tips, you can make your flight a lot more bearable. Here are 11 tips for surviving a long-haul flight in economy class.

11 Tips for Surviving a Long-Haul Flight in Economy

1. Drink plenty of water

This is the most important thing you can do to stay healthy on a long-haul flight. The air in airplane cabins is very dry, which can dehydrate your body quickly. To avoid getting sick, make sure to drink lots of water throughout the flight. And avoid alcohol and caffeine, which will only dehydrate you more.

2. Eat light and healthy snacks

Another way to avoid getting sick on a long-haul flight is to eat light and healthy snacks. Heavy meals will only make you feel sluggish and tired. Stick to fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to keep your energy levels up.

3. Get up, walk around and stretch yourself every few hours

To avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT), it’s important to get up and walk around every few hours. DVT is a serious condition that can occur when you sit in one position for too long. It can cause blood clots to form in your legs, which can be dangerous if they travel to your lungs. Stretching your legs and doing some simple exercises will keep your blood flowing. It will also help avoid stiffness and soreness.

4. Bring a travel pillow, eye mask and earplugs

Traveling on long-haul flights can be exhausting as you will be crossing multiple time zones. Getting some rest onboard will help you make the most of your flight and arrive at your destination less stressed. One of the best ways to do this is to bring a travel pillow, eye mask and earplugs with you. A travel pillow can help support your head and neck, making it easier to sleep in an upright position. An eye mask will block out any excess light, helping you to relax and drift off to sleep. Earplugs will help to reduce any noise on board, making it easier to get a good night’s rest.

Bring a travel pillow, eye mask and earplugs

5. Dress comfortably

I’ll never forget the time I took my first 16-hour flight from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi. I had made a major mistake in what I was wearing. I had chosen to wear a pair of tight jeans and a constricting T-shirt. Not only did I feel uncomfortable the whole flight, but I also ended up with a severe case of leg cramps. Since then, I’ve learned my lesson and now I always make sure to dress for comfort when I’m flying. That means loose-fitting clothes that won’t restrict my movement, and layers that I can take on and off as the temperature in the cabin changes.

I also recommend investing in a pair of compression socks. They are a must-have for anyone taking a long-haul flight. Not only do they improve circulation and prevent DVT, but they’re also helpful in relieving swelling and fatigue.

6. Choose your seat wisely even if you have to pay for it

When booking a long-haul flight, it pays to choose your seat wisely. If you’re tall, an aisle seat will give you more space to stretch out. A window seat will help if you’re prone to motion sickness. If you want to enjoy a relatively peaceful flight, pick a seat that’s as far away from the toilets as possible. And if you want to improve your chances of a comfortable journey, splurge on extra legroom or an emergency exit seat. While these seats may cost a little more upfront, they’ll be well worth it when you’re halfway through a 16-hour flight.

7. Use lotion or moisturizer to avoid dry skin – DON’T wear makeup

You might be tempted to put your best face forward and pile on the makeup. However, this can be one of the worst things you can do for your skin. The recycled air in airplane cabins can be very drying, and wearing makeup will only make matters worse. Instead, take the opportunity to give your skin a break. Apply a generous layer of lotion or moisturizer before the flight and throughout the journey. You might not look like a movie star when you land, but your skin will certainly thank you for it.

Use lotion or moisturizer to avoid dry skin - DON'T wear makeup

8. Be mindful of your food and drink choices

What’s the one thing that everyone dreads about long-haul flights? The food, of course! Let’s face it, airplane food is notoriously bad. Heavy meals keep you awake and are more difficult to digest, so it’s best to avoid foods and drinks high in sugar, salt, or caffeine. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating, so it’s best to limit your intake or avoid it altogether. Green or black tea can be a good choice, as they are hydrating and have less caffeine than coffee.

9. Bring your own food

If you’re someone who gets hungry often or struggles to sleep on long-haul flights, bringing your own food can be a game-changer. Not only will you have the luxury of deciding when to eat, but you’ll also be able to control how much you eat. By eating small portions frequently, you can help stave off hunger and avoid overeating when the lights are out and hunger pangs strike. And if you’re worried about disturbing your fellow passengers, pack foods that are easy to eat quietly, such as granola bars or dry fruit.

10. Board as early as possible

One of the best pieces of advice for boarding a long-haul flight is to get on the plane as early as possible. This will allow you to find a place for your carry-on before the overhead bins are flooded by other passengers. In addition, you won’t have to go far to look for an empty overhead bin. Additionally, you will not have to stow your bag under the seat in front of you if the overhead bins are full.

Board as early as possible

11. Treat your seatmate with respect and courtesy

If you’ve ever been on a long-haul flight, you know that it can be a tight squeeze. You’re confined to a small space for hours on end, and it’s not always easy to keep your cool. That’s why it’s important to show respect and courtesy to your seatmate. Remember that they’re in the same position as you and that a little kindness can go a long way. Make sure no one will be disrupted before reclining your chair. If you need to get up, try to do so without disturbing your seatmate. And if things do get tense, try to be forgiving and courteous. A little understanding can go a long way when you’re stuck in close quarters.


Long-haul flights can be tough, but if you follow these 11 tips, you’ll be able to survive the journey. From choosing the right seat to packing your own food, a little planning can go a long way. So next time you have a long flight ahead of you, remember these tips and make the most of your trip.

Happy travels!

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