Sunday, 23 June 2013

Top 5 tips for long haul flights

As an expat I regularly fly between South Africa and the UK. I've also made numerous trips from the UK to the States.

For me flying is something I have to do and flying in economy for up to 11 hours in one trip is just a necessity and not an enjoyable part of the trip.

But it's something I have to do and I've picked up lots of tips from fellow travellers and experience.

So here are my Top 5 Tips for surviving a long haul flight.

1.     Join the airlines loyalty scheme. If you make regular trips you can benefit from using airlines
        lounges. You will benefit from free beverages, not have to convert currency and use the
        showers (towels and toiletries provided.

2.     Travel light. Check the airlines restrictions for hand luggage. Just because a bag is marked 'cabin
        size' doesn't mean it is suitable for all airlines. Check the hand luggage allowance weight. Take
        into consideration the weight of the bag/case you use.

3.     Pack a hand towel, face cloth, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, change of underwear and a
        clean top to freshen up with. If you have a direct flight and have travelled for 11 hours, instead
        of standing in the queue for passports, first visit the bathrooms and freshen up. That way when
        you're met the other side you'll look like you've flown 1st class.

4.    Find your gate. Check where your plane is departing from as soon as you arrive in the departure
       lounge, especially if you have a connecting flight. Flying regularly through Dubai airport
       between South Africa and the UK, there is a minimum of a 3 hour stop over, knowing where
       your departure gate is and the time taken to reach it, does allow you to be more relaxed when
       using the lounges or duty free shopping. Remember to check the boards in case of change to
       departure gate.

5.     Carry all documents, valuables, laptop, cameras, phones and charging cables in your hand
        luggage. There is nothing worse than a delay and dead batteries or worse discovering your case
        on arrival has been tampered with and wasting valuable time filling in police and insurance


  1. Great tips - agree with them all. I would add the importance of staying hydrated by drinking lots of water. I find this makes a huge difference to how I feel on arrival. In most airports it's now possible to buy bottled water airside and take in on board, but there are a few which still take it off you at the gate. My tip would be to always carry an empty drinking bottle and then ask cabin crew to fill it up for you once on board. You need to do this early and mid-flight as sometimes they run out of water on long-haul flights (it's heavy and airlines are always looking to cut weight). The corollary tip is to make sure you have an aisle seat for the inevitable bathroom trips, but getting up and walking around is good for you too ;)

    1. I struggle with the aisle/window seat debate. I'd rather wake someone up once/twice in a flight than risk having them disturb me every hour or so, at least I can get my head down and have the window to rest against.
      Good tip re the water, but I find the inflight drinks are adequate and a good airline will serve you a drink at any point during the flight.