5 Simple Steps to Survive Long Plane Flights!

So you MUST take that five-hour long haul flight to get from that meeting to see Aunt Bessie for the holidays ?

Don't be beaten before the festivities start- take steps to survive the flight!
Don't be beaten before the festivities start- take steps to survive the flight!

And you are dreading the day - - - three hours early for security, is my bag 49 or 51 pounds, TSA gropers gloved and ready, confiscated water bottles, and all the rest of it. The flight itself? Five hours in an over-stuffed aluminum cigar tube, breathing air thinner than in Denver, and drier than a desert!

Well, I can't really help with those facets of you flight, but here are five, proactive steps you can take to minimize the discomfort, germs, and intrusions that seem to be part of modern air travel. Please don't comment that I've excluded safety issues- those are up to your flight crew. Or the hints about walking around and drinking plenty of water- no fizzy or caffeine-filled ones- just water: that should be a given for flyers these days. These are merely five simple steps you can take- and which are often overlooked- to make the situation a little more bearable. Happy Landings!


Sanitize your area

This may NOT happen between flights, so, DIY with disposable wipes.
This may NOT happen between flights, so, DIY with disposable wipes.

Let’s face it: despite any attempt at cleanliness, airplanes are still test tubes of grossness! In fact, tray tables alone were found to have an average of over 2,000 germs per square inch, as tested by microbiologists. And that is only part of the battle. . . . . .

Pack some individual sanitizing wipes and use them to clean your tray table, armrests, seatback TV, seatbelt latch, remote control, air vent - every hard surface you touch during your flight!

And don’t forget to bring a couple when you use the plane’s closet, er, I mean washroom.


Position your air vent - AWAY from your face

Position the air vent to blow germs AWAY from you.
Position the air vent to blow germs AWAY from you.

If you have traveled by plane before, then, you know how tight the flight cabin is, and how high your chances are to catch a cold or other contagious disease from your fellow passengers! Improve your odds of not getting sick from recycled air by using the air vent above your head in order to blow the germs away from you! Make sure you set the vent to low or medium and then aim it in front of your head until you feel the airflow on your lap!


Chew some gum

Handle air pressure changes- and have better breath too- by chewing some gum.
Handle air pressure changes- and have better breath too- by chewing some gum.

Chewing some gum during take-offs and landings will help your ears better handle the air pressure changes during these times of rapid altitude change.

Gather in-flight essentials from your carry-on BEFORE you settle in

Gather what you will need for the flight, BEFORE the flight!
Gather what you will need for the flight, BEFORE the flight!

To avoid constantly getting up and down during the flight, make sure that you take out all your in-flight essentials from your carry-on bag before you stash it in the overhead compartment. Or, simply carry these items in your “personal bag” most airlines allow you carry at your seat.


Put on your headphones

Ok- you are all settled in! Swabbed the area? Check. Air vent is blowing germs away from you? Yup. Chewing some gum? Good. All your essentials ready? Check and double ch------ WAIT! ! ! ! All this planning is at risk if a noisy/nosy neighbor is the type who wants to have a five-hour chat as you fly over the Continental Divide.

Whether playing or silent, headphones can be a friendly sign to leave you alone!
Whether playing or silent, headphones can be a friendly sign to leave you alone!

If you hate starting conversations with strangers and prefer to have a calm flight experience, then, the best way to gently alert fellow flyers that you enjoy your peace is by donning your headphones and turning on the music or inflight TV (or even just enjoy the silence) before the flight even takes off.


Have a good flight! Give our best to Aunt Bessie!


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Most Helpful Girls

  • I wouldn't call 5 hours a long flight at all haha, anyways, I'm sorry to tell you this but turning the fan away or sanitising the area you're seated in won't protect you from the germs circulating through the air in the plane. If there's someone sick and you're breathing the same air they are coughing and sneezing into for a solid 5 hours, chances are you will get sick too, no matter how many wipes you've got.

    The rest of these was pretty commonsensical. I was expecting some more time-killing ideas. I usually download some movies and bring a book so I won't get to bored for instance. Once I was on an 11 hour flight that actually had a sky bar so that was pretty lit though, I was just chilling it with my whiskey & walking up and down the airplane haha

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    • 5 hours is a long flight if there are crying kids. That was an arbitrary length but should cover most of the US. I just bring crossword puzzles to kill time or watch a movie. Thanks for reading.

Most Helpful Guys

  • Trans pacific fights suck.

    Things I’d add:
    - if you’re tall be prepared to defend your leg room as best you can.
    - buy water once you get through security. Don’t rely on them providing you enough/when you want it.
    - get up and stretch occasionally.

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    • I agree. About 45 years ago, I was on a PanAm ("The Sardine Can of the Pacific") to Hawaii. Even as a young adult, that seat was like shoving a hot dog through a soda straw and that only out to Oahu where we island hopped on 727's.

  • My longest flight was 12 hours.
    Chewing gum doesn't help handle the pressure change. Maybe for you it does but it doesn't for me.

    You forgot 2 things.

    1) always carry earplugs with you. There are inevitably screaming little children irritating everyone on the airplane. Do your part of muting those by plugging in some earplugs.

    2) bored? Carry or buy a new phablet or tablet to watch movies you always wanted to watch during the flight. This is where earbuds will be of great service. Don't forget a SD card with it to hold those movies. Download them ahead and watch those.

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    • Thank you for reading. Headphones can act as earplugs - just don't put the music on.

    • My experience is that earplugs are the best earplugs, that were literally designed to isolate your ears. Earbuds in my experience have rarely reached that level of isolation.

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What Girls Said 14

  • 5 hours is long? Boo hoo. Try 13 hours plus 5 hours in the airport for your connecting flight which is 5 more hours to go... and another hour the next day to get to your final destination. My steps would be:
    1. take a nice long shower the night before or hours before your long ass flight.
    2. shave or pamper yourself for a relaxing feeling. Dress casually and comfortably. Bring a pair of socks, eye sleeping mask, cardigan/light jacket and neck pillow as it gets chilly in the plane
    3. check in online to avoid those long queues.
    4. make sure all your bags are packed, docs and essentials are all taken care of.
    5. nap before the flight if you can or go to bed early.
    6. have a light meal before leaving your house.
    7. use the toilet as long as you want (nothing beats your own toilet at home. those airplane washrooms are nasty af)
    8. leave early for the airport so you don't get stuck in traffic or wait longer for checking in if you haven't yet)
    9. once you've settled in your seat, make use of the in flight entertainment and the mini comforts long flights usually provide (slippers, blankets, pillow, earphones)
    10. long flights usually give you options online to pre order your meals and provide them instructions if you want to be waken up only during meals and be not disturbed the whole flight. so do that as well
    11. If you get seasick, make sure you take Gravol an hour before the flight or ask for ginger ale mid flight or have some Mentos at hand any time you feel like throwing up. Mints help a lot.
    12. Relax and sleep as much as you can. Stop looking at the flight show.
    13. Stretch every few hours by getting up and walking to the nasty washroom and wash your face before landing and brushing your teeth so you feel refreshed and not look like a zombie lol.
    14. If you're lucky to sit with friendly seatmate, you might just meet a new friend or your soulmate lol. It makes the flight hours fly faster
    The airplane is dirty regardless what you do. Can't avoid breathing these hazards. Just pray for a safe flight and enjoy the experience.
    But your steps are good too! Thank you

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  • Long haul flights are not one of my favourite things. They are tiring and the accompanying jet-lag is such a downer.
    From Singapore to Los Angeles, it's around 19 to 20 hours flight, with a 2-3 hr transit in between. I gladly wished for the day when teleportation is available. My only consolation is that I managed to get aisle seats to and fro.

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  • Soon as you are settled in get those head phones on, tune in to your favorite music, close your eyes, dream and sleep.

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  • I never traveled outside of Asia so my longest flight was only 4 hours so far. But when it comes to overall flying from one place to another then it took us a whole day to reach somewhere because of the long transits in-between.

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  • Great take! But I'm terrible with flying, I don't know why, I've just a phobia but I'm slowly overcoming it

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    • Glad to hear you're working through it. Stay tuned for a possible follow up on aviophobia.

  • Great take thanks. I'm a very nervous flyer, would probably be panicking too much to do any of this stuff

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  • Really appreciate this, thank you.

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  • 11 hours and 55 minutes?

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  • Good mytake. Thanks for the info!

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  • Awesome ty

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  • Good take

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  • Ugh 3 hours is more than enough for me

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  • I’ve done two 10 hour flights and it went pretty fast for me. The airplane was brand new so it had these super cool new features on the little television screen that kept me entertained haha. They also held drawing competitions and all the kids could personally show the pilot their drawing before we left the plane. Plus the second flight was mainly during the night so a lot of people just slept.

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    • My longest was over the Atlantic to Switzerland (12- hours or so) with a "hop" to Greece and back to the states. I was an overnighter. Coming back, the time change was worse than going out, at least for me.

  • Wouldn’t call 5 hours long haul at all 😂

    5 hours is easy. Try Melbourne to London with two connecting flights and hours of layover.

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    • A friend of ours routinely goes hiking in Australia and New Zealand, so he's used to 19 hours of flight time- usually splits it with one stop somewhere. This was more for the novice traveler for whom 5 hours might be getting a bit long. T hanks for reading.

What Guys Said 17

  • Regular movement is a very important one, to avoid "deep vein trombosis", blood clots from sitting in the same position for too long.
    For me it's a little less hard, I love flying :D

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    • Very important point which I mentioned in the intro. I tried to hit some of the lesser known hints (although the gum should be fairly universal too.) Thanks for reading.

  • This seems good, but it's a couple days late, haha. I'll try it on the way back, thanks and good take.

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  • as somone who have for the majority of times flown for longer than 8 hours I do none of these... Like chewing gum for the change in air pressure? HAHA are you a novice? I don't feel a difference anymore and it doesn't hurt either.. Well I do have my earphoens on me so I guess I got that?

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  • What about International flights? Landing can be the worst process of all. After a sixteen hour flight you want a warm bath/shower and a soft bed. Instead you get to wait in a long line at immigration and then customs, and have to deal with bureaucrats.

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  • I don't bother with any of them , , a neck ring , ear plugs. .. Don't sleep at the airport before boarding , always get a window seat. When the plane has taken off and have through the safety bits , settle down close eyes and sleep.
    I fly regular to south Africa Singapore , Sidney , no problems , not nice when they come round with the bug spray. but what the heck that's flying...

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  • 5 hours is nothing. I have been through several 17 to 19 hour flights and with going through customs and everything else it can turn to a 20 hour plus ordeal. Avoiding total boredom on a long flight is the biggest challenge.

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  • If anyone puts headphones on next to me, I always do the take off headphones gesture to them and start making annoying small talk for the whole flight.

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  • Hah! I tried 18 + 3 hours flight. All I did was music which I have 200+ on my phone, hand held games, fapping and food. 😴

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  • Just a five-hours-flight? Stop whining! This isn't even long! :)

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    • The post was aimed at more occasional flyers for trans-cont USA than pro flyers going ocean hopping. Thanks for reading.

  • Easy just sleep

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    • After a few crossword puzzles, that is what usually happens to me too.

  • Five hours is not bad; try 16 or 19 hours

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    • I've done up to 12 and that was enough. This was aimed at the occasional flyer for whom 5 hours can be a push.

  • I just read a book.

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  • 6) stop being a pussy and chill out for a bit

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  • a 5 hour flight ain't shit.

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  • Awesome❤️

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  • Bose noise cancelling headphones are a must.

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    • I agree Bose has great stuff. If the occasional flyer can pony up a few hundred for them, they are great and the technology really works.

  • Make one for me surviving as a pilot for 9+ hour flight in the flight deck haha. This is what I do in my free time maybe there is something better to do.

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