As a product of divorced parents who live on different continents, separated by a 12 hour light across the Pacific Ocean, I have sat cramped in economy class for years, at hours on end and thus, learned 8 tips to make long distance flights more comfortable.
- Airplane food. Pre-order your meal. Vegetarian, allergies to nuts, lactose intolerant; whatever. You will get fed first and collect looks of jealousy from fellow passengers. By the time you are finished, the airline staff will be back near your seat handing out everyone else’s meals so you can give them back your tray.
- Seating. Get an aisle seat. The only good part of the light is the 10 minutes during take off and landing anyway and having an aisle seat means you never have to climb over anyone on trips to the bathroom. It also makes it easier to curl up in your seat as you have room to dangle your feet into the aisle.
- Temperature. Airplane cabins. Freezing one minute, hot and stuffy the next. Take a jacket, sarong or even your own blanket. Yes, most lights provide blankets but these are usually scratchy, itchy and never seem to be the right size. Hermes cashmere throws are best.
- Entertainment. Note to self: sometimes, the inbuilt television fails. Cue hours of innate boredom. Bring other stuff to do. Books, journals, magazines, iPods, portable video game units, crosswords and Sudoku puzzles. You will thank me when it eventually happens to you. Another note to self: do not bring nail-polish. Unless you want to endure dirty looks and eventually have an airline hostess tell you to please put it away as the smell is nauseating other passengers.
- Neighboring Passengers. Never assume because you have headphones on or are deeply engrossed in your reading that the person sitting next to you will take that as a ‘do not disturb’ message. At one stage in your travels, you WILL sit next to some obnoxious person who will not shut up. Ever. Aside from faking sleep or telling them to be quiet (in which they will always act deeply offended and then sulk, leaving you with inexplicable guilt)learn how to say ‘I am sorry, I don’t speak English’ in a few other languages.
- The Mile High Club. No matter what maneuvers you and your beloved work out in terms of getting to the bathroom, such as during a movie or meal, everyone still knows what you are trying to do. Airplane bathrooms rarely have enough space for one person, let alone two, and once you add flailing limbs into equation all you get is an uncomfortable, awkward scenario. All that said; go for it if your curiosity takes you. Just be prepared for the smug glances and winks from fellow passengers and light assistants afterwards.
- Avoid stimulants. No matter what the experts say, you will feel like crap after the light NO MATTER what measures you take. I have tried avoiding caffeine and alcohol, slathered my face with moisturizer to avoid my skin drying out and brushed my teeth neatly before settling in with a Valium for a nap. I have also tried drinking miniature sized bottles of wine, getting tipsy as the altitude lowers my tolerance to alcohol before passing out and drooling on my fellow passengers. I never ind my recovery from a light easy.
- Baggage. While waiting for your luggage at the baggage carousel, you will notice just how many black suitcases there are and how alike they all look. To avoid confusion, buy a hot pink suitcase with giant purple polka dots. Or, go crazy with coloured ribbons and strands of glittery sequins and decorate every handle and zipper you can. While your suitcase may look like clown vomit, it will make it impossible to miss.Long distance travels are hassles that have to be dealt with and the aforementioned points are only a few of them which help you through in this matter. Private jet charter flights are the most preferable as you and a few others would be able to travel on it and it is spacious enough for the floor to be occupied.