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How to Plan for a Long Flight

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When booking a flight, there are three things to pay close attention to: trip duration, connections, and layovers.

Trip duration is the full length of your combined flights plus any layovers. So, a 4 hour flight plus a 2 hour layover plus a second, 8.5 hour flight equates to a 14.5 hour total trip duration. Be careful, because you may see a flight plan for a lot cheaper price but a lot longer trip duration. For example, the itinerary may have an overnight layover or there may be multiple flights and connections. It’s often worth it to pay a little more for a shorter trip and fewer connections.

Speaking of connections, pay close attention to these when booking flights. Once while browsing flights, I selected the flight plan that was cheapest and shortest, thinking it was a great deal. However, on the itinerary I would arrive in the New York-La Guardia airport and then my connection, which left only 1 hour later, would depart from the New York-JFK airport. Be wary of these tricks. Check and double-check everything before you book.

American Airlines

Lastly, avoid a long layover if you can. However, this is not always possible. If your airline and your level of ticket purchased allow you access to an airport lounge, take advantage of these. An airport lounge usually boasts free food and drinks, showers, lounge chairs, quiet areas, work spaces, and more.

If your ticket doesn’t come with a lounge or the airport you are stopping at doesn’t feature one for your airline, there are helpful sites like loungebuddy.com, which sells voucher access to lounges. These are sold based on airport (as in where your layover would be), not whether or not you are flying on a particular airline.

Final tip for booking a long flight: pick an aisle seat. This way it’s easier to stretch your legs out. Plus, whenever you need to get up, you don’t have to bother someone else or, even worse, wake them up.

Packing for the Flight

Long flights lead to restlessness and anxiousness. One good thing to pack is some snacks like chips or pretzels, as snacking can help keep you occupied. Like any flight, you’ll also want to pack items for entertainment such as a iPad or tablet, Kindle, book, or crossword puzzles.

For these longer flights, it’s also a good idea to invest in a portable charger as well. You can find one for $5-10 at a home goods store, or spend a bit more money for better power and charging capacity.

Many people also choose to pack sleep aids to pass the time and to combat any forthcoming jet lag from a significant time change. Check with your doctor first before taking anything, of course. Over-the-counter sleep aids like Advil PM or even a high (10 mg) dose of melatonin will cause drowsiness and help lull you to sleep.

Lastly, for the flight-day outfit, wear loose fitting clothes. Air travel is dehydrating, and loose clothes allow your skin to breathe easier. Also, they’re just more comfortable. Layer this outfit with a light jacket as well, as the inside of planes can get chilly.

Once Onboard

Once you’re onboard, don’t forget to hydrate. The low humidity of the cabin pressure is excessively dehydrating, so be sure to drink more water than normal. Many people (myself included) don’t want to drink too much because they want to avoid the airplane’s restrooms. But staying hydrated helps you fight fatigue, illness, and headaches, among other things.

Also, remember to move around the cabin as well. Don’t worry about bothering other people. It is more important to avoid blood clots accumulating in your legs and joints, and chances are you won’t be the only one doing it.

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