Newbie Guide To Long-Haul Flights

Newbie Guide to Long-Haul Flights.jpg

Traveling to another country sounds exciting. Most of us prepare the things to bring, but only some get ready for the long-haul flight. Just last year, I had my longest flight and layover ever. I booked my ticket from Manila, Philippines to Stockholm, Sweden. At first, I thought it's a good idea to have my flight at nighttime in Manila so that I could sleep on the plane. 

I was wrong. 

I didn't think about my layover in Dubai which is 9 hours. I felt energized from my 9h and 35m flight to Dubai because I was asleep the entire time. But, then, the arrival in Dubai was 23:15 (3:15 in Manila). I felt restless, annoyed, and tired while waiting for my connecting flight. 9 hours in the airport felt like days. 

Good news: I got upgraded to business class to Stockholm! 

When I arrived in Stockholm, I had jet lag; I was exhausted, my stomach was acting up, dehydrated, you name it! On my way back to the Philippines, I had a bad flight experience. Not because of the airlines, but because of the inconsiderate people in the flight. For some reason, they thought that it was a good idea to take pictures with flash. I kid you not; there were dimmed lights already, so people already started sleeping. I had troubles falling asleep because they are too noisy, so I was happy when I was about to sleep. 

I woke up panicky because there were flashing lights, I thought something's happening! It turns out that these people were busy taking pictures of themselves. It went on almost the entire flight.

Anyway, I may only have a few long-haul flights, but as a newbie to it, I'd love to share with you some tips and things I have learned from my previous long-haul flights.

Newbie guide to long-haul flights

1. Get a flight time arriving in the morning in your destination

Plan your sleep and eating schedule on a long-haul flight. Coming from east to west helped me prevent jet lag. Besides, our body can deal with an extended day than a shorter one. To prepare, I made sure to sleep well a day before my flight. I need the energy to keep me awake until it's time to sleep at my destination. 

Here's my second flight schedule from Manila, Philippines to Stockholm, Sweden.

MNL (20:15) → BKK (22:30) - 2H & 40M LAYOVER - BKK (1:10) → ARL (7:00)

MNL BKK BKK ARL
Time in Manila 20:15 23:30 2:10 13:00
Time in Sweden 14:00 17:30 20:10 7:00

My flight to Bangkok is at night, and it's 2 PM in Stockholm by then. Since the travel time from Manila to Bangkok is 3h and 10m, I took a nap in the plane. During my almost 3-hour layover, I didn't sleep. Instead, I washed up and changed my clothes. I didn't drink coffee as well.

I tried to stay awake until my flight to Stockholm. It's already 2:00 in Manila when it was time to board the plane. Good thing Bangkok to Stockholm is almost 11 hours. During the flight, I waited for the food to be served so I could sleep for at least 6 hours or so. I only woke up at around 5 AM (Stockholm time), feeling fully-rested, and had breakfast.

When I arrived at around 7 AM the next day, I didn't feel as exhausted as my previous flight to Stockholm. I even had the energy to go around Stockholm until 5 PM since my apartment will be ready only by then. Although my travel time was around 17 hours, my experience wasn't that bad! 

2. Bring your own bottle or tumbler for water 

Believe it or not, but I always have water. Remember to empty your bottle until past the boarding gate. Otherwise, they will not allow you to bring it. As soon as I passed the boarding gate, I refilled my water. Airports usually have a water station, so don't worry about it. It's more expensive to buy water, so bring your bottle.

In the flight, you could request a flight attendant to fill the bottle for you. I drink a lot of water, and it is advisable to drink more water during the flight, to avoid dehydration. 

3. Avoid food that cause bloating

Feeling bloated while on air is the worst feeling. I had an experience before when I couldn't properly eat because I was bloated. Too many trips to the toilet, but it still didn't help. Somebody also told me that digestion is usually difficult when you're on the air. I learned it the hard way. I was uncomfortable the entire flight.

That's why I really prepared for my next flight and avoided these:

  • Salty food or snacks

  • Coffee or alcohol

  • Carbonated drinks

  • Foods that are rich in protein such as eggs, meat, etc.

If you have time, preorder a vegetarian meal. Trust me, as someone who always has a stomach problem; I didn't have any stomach issues during my flight.

4. Bring a carry-on luggage for flight essentials

Last time, I only used a backpack and put everything I need. It was too heavy; it makes it difficult for me to walk around the airport during my layover. Also, I found it hard to get my documents in my backpack since it's full of other stuff. 

Bring carry-on luggage makes everything a lot easier! You can still use a backpack or any bag that you prefer. So, what should you put in your carry-on luggage? If your flight is super long, you need to have a change of clothes. You'll never know what could happen: delayed flights, lost baggage.

What should you bring in your carry-on luggage?

  • Water bottle

  • Medicines

  • Chargers for your electronics

  • Valuables

  • Toiletries

  • Extra clothes

  • Documents

5. Wear your most comfortable clothes

Wear anything that you want as long as you are comfortable with it. Also, wear shoes that's easy to wear and remove. There are lots of security points in the airport; you don't want to hold up the flight, are you?

Tips to enjoy your long-haul flight

  1. The aisle seat is better than window seats. I love window seats. But, it was an issue for me especially when I have to go to the toilet a lot. Aisle seats are more comfortable and accessible. If you need something, you could easily communicate with a flight attendant when you're on an aisle seat.

  2. Get a 3-4 hours layover. If you cannot get a direct flight, a 3-4 hour layover is a good time. Unless you want to explore the country, then get a more extended layover.

  3. Connecting flight? Book in the same airline.

  4. Entertain yourself. Find an activity that you enjoy doing while you are on a flight. Although you can watch the entire flight, it's still better to have other options.

  5. Book a seat at the back and near the toilet.

I was lucky enough to be upgraded to business class for free. I got lucky again when I got a premium economy class going to Stockholm. I have also tried economy seats from Stockholm to Manila. Nonetheless, these tips can still help you in surviving and enjoying long-haul flights. 

I'm a newbie too, so I hope you find this guide helpful and not make the same mistakes I did.

How about you?
  • Are you used to long-haul flights? How was your experience?
  • Are you planning to go on a trip soon? Did you find this guide relevant?
  • Is there anything that you'd like to add to this list?
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