Inspirational travel and backpacking ideas , including tips and advice on round-the-world holidays.

How To Survive Long Haul Flights

Ask for a better seat assignment 10-15 minutes prior to boarding

Unlike domestic flights, international flights are rarely full. I’m often able to grab an empty row of seats to lounge on or at least get an empty seat next to me. Just ask the gate agent if there are any open seats and if you can move. Do this 10-15 minutes prior to boarding, when all passengers have been assigned seats and if (only if) the gate agent isn’t busy.

Pro tip: Some airline apps show you a live seat map. When I fly United, I find the seat I want and simply ask the agent, “Can you reassign me to 33G?” This is much less work on the agent’s end.


You will want to have a rock-solid plan for frittering away several hours of your flight, and I don’t mean working; staring at spreadsheets and writing proposals may burn up hours, but it does not make them vanish. You want these hours to disappear almost without a trace. Think headphones and Hollywood blockbusters. Getting a lot of work done is fine,rarely do you have 15 consecutive hours without phone calls or texts to disrupt you, so I encourage bringing some work, but work will fail you when you get to the brutal middle hours of this ordeal. Headphones and Hollywood; don’t stray from this.

Fun things to do on a long flight include watching every movie, playing the games on your seatback TV, binging on your favorite shows, or listening to music or podcasts (download them onto your phone in advance.

Sleeping  pills

The key to surviving a long flight is being able to get some shut-eye. I personally don’t take any kind of pills (including melatonin) since I want to be fully aware in case of an emergency. But I know many people who swear by them. Usually, the drug of choice is Ambien but consult your doctor first before taking anything and test it out before getting on the plane.


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