Travel | Your Advice
Long Haul Flights Made Easier

FREQUENT FLYERS’ SECRETS TO SURVIVING FLIGHTS OF 6, 12, AND EVEN 17+ HOURS

When Pennsylvania native Amber van Niekerk married her husband, Gary, she knew she would be making the trek across the world to South Africa, where Gary’s family still resides. Together, they have made the flight from New York to Johannesburg several times. The 15-hour flights are tough, but with these simple recommendations, the van Niekerk’s make their time in the sky a bit more enjoyable.

  1. Pick a good seat. First class is the best way to fly, but most of us can’t splurge on the extra expense. If you’re flying coach, choose an aisle seat if you like getting up and moving around. This gives you a bit more room to stretch and also makes it easier to get to the bathroom. If you plan on sleeping most of the time, pick a window so you won’t be disturbed. It’s also a nice place to lean a sleepy head.

  2. Dress for comfort. You’re going to be wearing your clothing and shoes for a long time, so they should be loose and flexible. Plane temperatures can vary, so wear layers and bring a travel pillow and blanket.

  3. Sleep. Nothing passes the time like a nap. Amber uses a white noise app on her phone to lull herself to sleep. An eye mask helps shut out the harsh cabin lights.

    Being on a long Flight

  4. Entertainment helps. Bring lots of different types of entertainment. Gary packs a few different kinds of handyman magazines. Amber brings crossword puzzles and word search books. They also download plenty of music, books, and movies to their phones and iPads. It’s essential to have a selection of activities to keep your mind off the long trip.

  5. Power up. One of the most important things to do before you travel is to fully charge your devices. Be sure to bring portable chargers and USB adapters along as well.

  6. Pack a variety of snacks. Boredom often leads to hunger, so put plenty of treats in your carry-on. Salty, sweet, tangy, or sour—all of your favorites should make the trip. The couple also brings chewing gum, which helps equalize ear pressure while flying. Avoid bringing fresh produce since this could cause issues when going through customs.

  7. Stretch your legs. Moving around helps to get your blood flowing and to pass the time. Get out of your seat and stretch or walk the aisle when allowed.