How to Survive a Long Flight 20+ Tips and Tricks

4.62min read

Published 4 May 2021

Flight Centre Author


Emese Graham

Content Manager


You've been dreaming about this trip for ages, and it's finally happening! You're about to set off on your first trip to New Zealand or Thailand or the Galapagos Islands...and it's starting to sink in just how long your flight is going to be.

Don't panic! Our travel experts have been all over the world, and we have a few tricks up our sleeves for making the hours fly by. Whether you're travelling for business or to get as far away from business as as possible, here's how to survive a long flight. 

before you fly
before you fly
before you fly

What to do before you fly

You can put some of our best travel tips for long flights into practice before you depart.

  1. A great flying experience starts with choosing an airline you can trust. Look for airlines that have a reputation for top-notch service, especially in the event that something unexpected disrupts your travel plans. 
  2. If you can swing it, book your seats in premium economybusiness class or first class. You'll enjoy perks like priority baggage handling, seats with extra leg room, express airport security lines and priority boarding. Every minute you can save at the airport is more time to enjoy your trip. 
  3. Will your long-haul flight include a layover? Consider investing in the airport business class lounge. You can enjoy quality food in comfortable seats instead of spending your time fighting strangers over electrical outlets and squirming in those uncomfortable benches. 
  4. If you have any digestive issues or special dietary requirements, plan ahead! You don't want to be stuck in a plane feeling sick or hungry. Plan to pack your own food or order your special meal in advance (more often than not, you'll be served first).
what to pack list
what to pack list
what to pack list

What to pack in your carry-on

Our long-distance flight tips also extend to packing. Bring these things in your hand luggage to help make the flight as comfortable as possible

  1. Noise-cancelling headphones. Need we say more? Oh yes, we can: eye mask.
  2. If you can get away with a small personal bag, choose that over a big purse or backpack. By not having to stow away a clunky item under the seat in front of you, it'll make it easier to stretch your legs — even in economy seats. 
  3. Pack plane-friendly healthy snacks, like granola bars, to enjoy between in-flight meals. Just remember not to bring anything that might offend the senses of the other passengers! 
  4. Find out in advance what kind of in-flight entertainment system will be offered on your route. You might choose to bring your own anti-boredom supplies. Don't forget to pack a portable charger! 

For long-haul flights, I download movies, shows, podcasts and books that I don't let myself see until a certain hour of the flight. If you're really wanting to read a certain book and can't start it until hour three, the flight will fly by!
Kate Neufeld, Burlington
  1. Air cabins have low humidity. Remember to pack a travel-size moisturizer to prevent dry, itchy skin during your long flight.
  2. Don't pack basic toiletries in your checked luggage. Keep them in your carry-on along with a change of underwear so you can still go through your bedtime rituals and then wake up feeling fresh — not funky. 
  3. Pack chewing gum to help with ear popping (and to discretely offer to a seatmate who might need it).
  4. An inflatable travel pillow can save on packing space without sacrificing neck support. If space isn't an issue for you, the best neck pillow for a long flight is a memory foam one. Travel blankets are nice to have, too.

Take a memory foam neck pillow, but use it to sit on instead of as a pillow for long-haul flights. Turn it with the opening towards the seat, just like my chiropractor told me!
Corinne Spitznagel, Vancouver
What to wear
What to wear
What to wear

How to dress for a long flight

We consider comfortable clothes like sweaters to be long-haul flight essentials, but there are also a few other things to keep in mind when getting dressed for your journey.

  1. Air cabins can have unpredictable temperatures, so dressing in layers is your best bet. Combining a t-shirt and a cardigan is usually a safe bet.
  2. Dress for comfort, not for style. If you're flying for business reasons, you're better off changing into your work attire towards the end of your flight. Most airlines' business class seats include a coat check so you can keep you suit wrinkle-free. 
  3. Jeans might sound like a good idea. Leggings might sound like a good idea. But anything that's tight on your body can become annoying after the first five hours of your flight. Instead, choose loose-fitting pants, a comfortable sports bra (underwire has no place on a long-haul flight), and slip-on shoes — but not flip flops! 
  4. To help prevent circulation issues and blood clots, wear tall compression socks. 
  5. Wear your glasses and pack your contact lenses (or vice versa) to help prevent dry eyes. 
what to do
what to do
what to do

What to do on long flights

This section of our long-haul flight tips revolves around creating your own entertainment, from the first hour through the twelvth hour.

  1. Switch to your destination's timezone as soon as you board your plane. This can help you adjust easier and ward off jet lag. 
  2. Skip caffeinated and sugary drinks so you can enjoy quality sleep on the plane.

The Timeshifter App I found pretty interesting. It's a personalized app for dealing with jet lag!
Izabella Lusty, Toronto
  1. Stay hydrated! It's okay to ask your flight attendants for two drinks at a time during meal service or fill a reusable water bottle before you board. 
  2. If you're able, take a quick walk through the aisles every two hours or do simple exercises and stretches in your seat to improve circulation. 

Speaking as a former flight attendant, go to the furthest bathroom and find some other insomniacs (including the crew) to stand or sit around with and chat about what brings you to the skies.
Taryn Thomson, Guelph

How to survive a long flight with kids

Guest Blogger (and mommy of two) Amanda Lee shares her top tips for travelling with children on long-haul flights so you can spend less time stressing and more time enjoying the flight.

  1. If only one parent is travelling with their children, be sure to carry a letter of consent from the other parent to leave the country. This is incredibly important. Find out what the letter should contain.
  2. Call the airline and be sure you and your children are seated together. Request children's meals at least 48 hours in advance, along with any special dietary requirements. If you are travelling with babies, request a baby bassinette, usually in the bulkhead area. Your Flight Centre consultant can help take care of these requests with the airline for you
  3. Consider applying for your child's own frequent-flyer number. If you're making regular trips to visit family over the years, the points add up. Some airlines, such as British Airways, allow families to pool their points into one account.
  4. It's a good idea to give your children adequate time to burn off some steam before they settle down on that long-haul flight. The day you're flying out, schedule some pre-flight time to take them to the park, an indoor gym or for a swim.
  5. If your children are old enough, have them pack their own backpack with some of their favourite small toys. Save some room for surprise gifts that will keep them entertained during the course of the flight.
  6. Extensive air travel dehydrates the system and kids (especially babies or toddlers).  Make sure they drink regularly — the best choice is water — or ‘spike' their juice with a top up of water. If you are breastfeeding on a long-haul flight, be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
  7. If you are travelling with babies, bring a baby sling for on-board the plane. Not only is it compact in your carry-on, a sling allows you to be hands free to walk your baby around the plane and lull them to sleep.
  8. With younger children, schedule regular bathroom breaks. With smaller children, the sound of toilet flush on a plane can be scary (reassure them they won't get sucked away!)


Now that you're equipped with these long-distance flight tips, it's time to plan your next epic getaway. Connect with our travel consultants to bring your travel dreams to life. 

Flight Centre Author


Emese Graham

Content Manager


Flight Centre

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