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How to Survive a Long-haul Flight


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Unless you’re willing to fork out for a first-class ticket (and as a student, we’re guessing you aren’t), long-haul flights are generally considered tedious, uninteresting, and downright boring. Here are ten top tips for how to survive an arduous journey through the skies...

Swiss Airlines1. Try to sleep – as your mum always said, sleeping through the flight will make time pass a whole lot faster. You don’t have to worry about that screaming child a few seats down, and you don’t have to fret about finding ways to occupy yourself. Pop on your noise-cancelling headphones and escape the real world. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day’s challenge.

2. Reserve a good seat – most airlines allow you to check-in online 24 hours before your flight. There’s less engine noise further forward on the plane, and if you’re a light sleeper then it might be best to avoid seats near the bathrooms. They often attract lengthy queues, especially just before landing, and there’s nothing worse than having someone’s elbow hit you in the nose every couple of minutes. It probably goes without saying, but the smell can sometimes be an issue too. If you get to the check-in desk early, it might be an idea to ask if the exit-row seats are available. These seats are reserved for passengers older than 18 years old, but you must be willing to operate the exit door in an emergency situation. On some aeroplanes, the back rows will also allow you to recline the seat that little bit further.

3. Bring entertainment – whilst they are improving, in-flight systems are generally slow and only offer very small screens. It’s always a good idea to download the latest music, games, and films on the night before you travel. As your fellow passengers struggle with the strange remote-on-a-string, you’ll be able to load a film instantly on your tablet. A good book or MP3 player usually does the trick too.

4. Minimize carry-on luggage – travelling is a lot easier with less luggage; you won’t spend half your time counting bags, and fellow passengers will appreciate the extra room in the overhead bins. Don’t be the person who tries to squeeze an expandable suitcase underneath the seat in front – do yourself a favour and check it in.

5. Eat before the flight – aeroplane food generally isn’t known to be Michelin-star quality. In fact, one passenger, in a letter dubbed “the world’s best passenger complaint letter” describes it as something you’d find in a nature documentary. Our tastebuds aren’t as effective at 30,000ft, so food is often crammed with additives. Take a packed lunch, or eat beforehand.

6. Move around the cabin – most airlines offer simple exercises that passengers can do in their seats. You might feel silly, but nobody will bat an eyelid. After all, I once sat next to a woman who spent ten minutes knelt on the floor, doing some form of exercise with her head resting on the seat. Whilst you can’t exactly have a jog around the cabin, it’s always a good idea to stretch your legs. Not only are you getting a change of scenery, but you’re lowering the risk of deep-vein thrombosis too.

7. Wear comfortable clothing – it’s always nice to dress smartly whilst travelling, but it should never compromise comfort. Considering you’ll be doing quite a bit of walking through the airport, and then sitting down for an extended period of time, it’s always best to wear loose-fitting comfortable clothes. Your feet will swell (to varying degrees) throughout the flight too, so loose-fitting shoes are always best.

8. Set your watch – change to the new time-zone as soon as you board the aircraft. The sooner you begin getting into your new routine, the better – it will help to reduce jet-lag and allow you to begin planning a new sleep pattern.

9. Drink plenty of fluids – dry cabin air means passengers dehydrate quickly. It is recommended that passengers avoid caffeine and alcohol, and instead drink 6-8 ounces of water per hour. Whilst this seems like a lot, it also means you’ll need to use the bathroom frequently, allowing you to stretch your legs. A small tube of moisturiser and some eye-drops would be useful too.

10. Relax – travelling isn’t supposed to be a stressful experience, so make the most of your day. Be proactive – leave yourself plenty of time in the airport, and use your time in the air wisely; regardless of whether it’s sleeping, working, or relaxing.

Enjoy your flight!

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