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How To Make Your (Economy) Long Haul Flights More Comfortable


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Meriel Franz



Long-haul flights can be quite daunting, especially if you’re traveling in economy class. Hours spent crammed in a small seat with limited legroom can leave you feeling exhausted and uncomfortable. However, with a little bit of planning and some smart travel tips, you can make your economy long-haul flights much more comfortable and enjoyable.


Choosing the right airline and cabin class plays a crucial role in enhancing your comfort level during the flight. Some airlines offer more spacious seating options or extra legroom seats at a small additional cost. It’s worth considering these options, especially for longer flights, as they can greatly improve your overall experience.


In addition to choosing the right airline, there are several steps you can take to prepare for your long-haul flight. Start by getting a good night’s sleep before your journey to ensure you’re well-rested. Make sure to pack essentials such as a neck pillow, noise-canceling headphones, and an eye mask to help you relax and block out any distractions during the flight.


Packing smart is essential for comfort during a long-haul flight. Dress in loose-fitting, comfortable clothing and layers that you can easily adjust to accommodate changing temperatures onboard. Don’t forget to pack a pair of cozy socks or slippers to keep your feet warm and comfortable. And remember to bring a small toiletry bag with essentials like a toothbrush, travel-sized toiletries, and moisturizer to freshen up during the flight.


Once you’re onboard, there are several tips and tricks you can use to make your flight more comfortable. Take advantage of any available space to stretch your legs and move around periodically. This can help prevent stiffness and improve circulation. Adjust your seat position to find the most comfortable angle for sleeping or relaxing, and utilize any extra pillows or blankets provided by the airline.


Staying hydrated is crucial during a long flight, as the dry cabin air can quickly lead to dehydration. Drink plenty of water throughout the flight and avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol, as they can further contribute to dehydration. Additionally, make sure to avoid heavy meals before and during the flight to prevent digestion discomfort. Opt for light, healthy snacks instead.


Managing jet lag is another important aspect of making your long-haul flight more comfortable. Adjust your watch to the time zone of your destination as soon as you board the plane, and try to sleep or stay awake according to that schedule. Stay active during layovers by taking short walks or doing gentle exercises to keep your body and mind alert.


Lastly, make use of the entertainment options available to pass the time during the flight. Bring a good book, download movies or TV shows to your device, or listen to your favorite podcasts. Some airlines even offer in-flight entertainment systems with a wide selection of movies, TV shows, and games to keep you entertained.


By following these travel tips, you can transform your economy long-haul flights from a tiresome experience into a comfortable and enjoyable journey. Remember to plan ahead, pack wisely, and take care of your well-being throughout the flight. Bon voyage!


Choosing the Right Airline and Cabin Class

When booking a long-haul flight, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the right airline and the right cabin class. While economy class is the most common option for travelers on a budget, there are often additional choices within this category that can greatly enhance your comfort.


First, research different airlines and their reputation for providing a comfortable flying experience. Some airlines are known for their spacious seating configurations and superior service, while others may have a reputation for cramped conditions and limited amenities.


Next, consider upgrading to an extra legroom seat or a premium economy class. These options offer more space for stretching your legs and often come with additional perks, such as priority boarding, extra baggage allowance, and more attentive service. While they may come at a higher cost, the added comfort and amenities can make a significant difference on long-haul flights.


If you have the budget, consider upgrading to business class or even first class. These classes offer greater personal space, lie-flat seating, gourmet meals, and access to luxurious airport lounges. While this may not be feasible for everyone, it’s worth splurging on occasion for a truly indulgent and comfortable flying experience.


In addition to the cabin class, also consider the seat location when selecting your flight. Choosing a seat near the front of the aircraft can minimize the noise and disruptions from the galley and lavatories. If you prefer a quieter and more peaceful journey, consider booking a seat in the rear section, away from the engines.


Before making your final decision, read reviews and check airline forums to get insights from other travelers about their experiences with different airlines and cabin classes. Pay attention to feedback on seat comfort, legroom, in-flight amenities, and overall service quality. This will help you make an informed choice that aligns with your comfort preferences.


Ultimately, the goal is to find an airline and cabin class that offers the best balance between comfort and affordability for your specific needs. Remember, even in economy class, certain airlines may have better legroom, more comfortable seats, or improved amenities compared to others. So, doing your research and being selective with your airline choice can make a significant difference in your overall flying experience.


Preparing for Your Flight

Proper preparation before your long-haul flight can greatly contribute to your comfort and overall experience. Here are some essential tips to help you prepare:


First and foremost, make sure to check the baggage allowance and restrictions of your airline. Pack smart and light, bringing only the essentials to avoid any unnecessary weight and hassle during your journey.


Before your flight, get a good night’s sleep and try to be well-rested. Lack of sleep can make the long hours cramped in a plane even more challenging. By starting your journey well-rested, you’ll be better equipped to handle the discomforts of a long flight.


Consider purchasing travel insurance. Long-haul flights can be expensive, and unexpected situations such as flight cancellations or delays can disrupt your plans. Having travel insurance can provide you with peace of mind and financial protection in case of any unforeseen events.


Arrive at the airport well in advance to avoid rushing and reduce stress. Early arrival allows you to go through the check-in and security procedures smoothly, giving you ample time to relax and prepare for your flight.


Utilize online check-in options if available. This will save you time and allow you to choose your seat preference in advance. Selecting a seat that works best for you, whether it’s an aisle seat for easy access or a window seat for a view, can greatly enhance your comfort during the flight.


Make sure to stay hydrated before your flight. Drink plenty of water in the hours leading up to your journey. This will help prevent dehydration during the flight, as the cabin air can be extremely dry.


Pack essential items to keep you comfortable during the flight. Consider bringing a neck pillow for neck support, noise-canceling headphones to drown out any disturbances, and an eye mask to block out light and help you sleep. These small items can make a big difference in ensuring your comfort and relaxation during the flight.


Lastly, dress in comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Opt for layers so you can adjust your body temperature easily, as the cabin temperature can vary. Avoid tight or restrictive clothing that may become uncomfortable during a long flight.


By taking the time to prepare for your long-haul flight, you can start your journey feeling more relaxed and less stressed. From checking your baggage allowance to wearing comfortable clothes, these simple steps can greatly enhance your overall comfort and enjoyment during your flight.


Packing Essentials for Comfort

When it comes to long-haul flights, packing the right essentials can make a world of difference in terms of your comfort during the journey. Here are some key items to consider for a more comfortable flight:


1. Neck Pillow: Investing in a good-quality neck pillow can help support your head and neck, providing much-needed comfort and preventing stiffness. Look for a memory foam or inflatable pillow that can be easily carried in your hand luggage.


2. Noise-Canceling Headphones: Block out the ambient noise of the aircraft and enjoy some peace and quiet with a pair of noise-canceling headphones. These can help create a more serene environment, allowing you to relax and rest better during the flight.


3. Eye Mask: Sleeping on a long flight can be challenging with the constant changes in lighting. An eye mask can help block out any disruptions and create a dark environment, promoting better sleep and relaxation.


4. Compression Socks: Long hours of sitting during a flight can lead to swollen feet and legs. Wearing compression socks can help improve blood circulation and reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). They provide gentle pressure on your legs, keeping them comfortable and preventing any discomfort or swelling.


5. Warm Layers: It’s important to prepare for the temperature fluctuations onboard. Pack a light sweater or hoodie that you can easily layer on or remove depending on the cabin temperature. Dressing in layers gives you more control over your comfort level during the flight.


6. Slip-on Shoes: Opt for comfortable slip-on shoes that are easy to take off and put on, as you may need to remove them during security checks or for extra comfort during the flight. Avoid tight or restrictive footwear that may lead to discomfort during long hours of sitting.


7. Personal Care Items: Pack a small toiletry bag with essentials such as a travel-sized toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes, and moisturizer. Keeping yourself refreshed during the flight can make you feel more comfortable and rejuvenated.


8. Entertainment: Bring a book, magazine, or download movies, TV shows, or podcasts onto your device to keep yourself entertained during the flight. Having something enjoyable to occupy your time can make the hours fly by and help you feel more relaxed.


Remember to pack these essential items in your hand luggage to ensure easy access and convenience during the flight. By taking the time to pack the right essentials, you can greatly enhance your comfort and overall experience during a long-haul flight.


In-Flight Comfort Tips and Tricks

When you’re on a long-haul flight, it’s essential to have some strategies in place to maximize your comfort during the journey. Here are some in-flight comfort tips and tricks to help make your flight more enjoyable:


1. Move and Stretch: Take advantage of any opportunity to move and stretch your muscles. Get up and walk around the cabin periodically to improve circulation and prevent stiffness. Performing simple stretches, such as ankle rotations and shoulder rolls, while seated can also help keep your body relaxed.


2. Adjust Your Seat: Experiment with different seat positions to find the most comfortable angle for resting or sleeping. Utilize any adjustable features your seat may have, such as reclining or adjusting the headrest. Adding an extra pillow or cushion for lumbar support can also improve your comfort.


3. Utilize Blankets and Pillows: Make use of any provided blankets and pillows to enhance your comfort. Use a pillow to support your back, head, or neck, and utilize blankets to keep warm or create a cozy space.


4. Hydrate Regularly: Stay hydrated throughout the flight by drinking plenty of water. The dry cabin air can quickly lead to dehydration, so it’s important to keep sipping water regularly. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, as these can contribute to dehydration.


5. Practice Deep Breathing: Deep breathing exercises can help relax your body and mind during the flight. Take slow, deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. This can help reduce anxiety, relax your muscles, and promote a sense of calmness.


6. Create a Relaxing Atmosphere: Make your surroundings more comfortable by using noise-canceling headphones to block out any disturbing sounds and create a peaceful environment. Listen to soothing music or ambient soundscapes to help you relax.


7. Use a Travel Blanket or Shawl: Carry a lightweight travel blanket or shawl in your hand luggage. It can be used to cover yourself for added warmth, as an extra layer of cushioning for comfort, or even as a makeshift pillow if necessary.


8. Avoid Crossing Your Legs: Crossing your legs for an extended period can restrict blood flow and lead to discomfort. Keep your feet flat on the floor or use a footrest to maintain good posture and improve circulation.


9. Practice Good Posture: Sitting for long periods can put strain on your muscles and spine. Maintain good posture by sitting up straight, keeping your back supported, and aligning your shoulders with your hips. Avoid slouching or hunching over.


10. Stay Occupied: Engage in activities to keep yourself occupied and pass the time. Bring a book, play games on your phone or tablet, listen to podcasts, or watch movies and TV shows. By diverting your attention, you can make the flight feel faster and more enjoyable.


Remember, everyone’s comfort preferences may differ, so feel free to experiment with different techniques to discover what works best for you. By implementing these in-flight comfort tips and tricks, you can make your long-haul flight a more pleasant and relaxing experience.


Staying Hydrated and Healthy

When it comes to long-haul flights, staying hydrated and maintaining good health is crucial for your overall comfort and well-being. Here are some tips to help you stay hydrated and healthy during your journey:


1. Drink Plenty of Water: The dry cabin air can quickly lead to dehydration. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the flight. Opt for water over other beverages like caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, which can further contribute to dehydration. Bring a reusable water bottle and ask the flight attendants to refill it as needed.


2. Avoid Excessive Caffeine and Alcohol: While it may be tempting to indulge in caffeinated drinks or alcoholic beverages during the flight, they can dehydrate your body. Limit your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, as they can make you feel more dehydrated and disrupt your sleep patterns.


3. Moisturize Your Skin: The low humidity in the aircraft cabin can cause your skin to become dry and dehydrated. Apply moisturizer or hydrating lotion to your face and hands throughout the flight to keep your skin moisturized and prevent discomfort.


4. Use Saline Nasal Spray: The dry air can also affect your nasal passages, causing discomfort or congestion. Use a saline nasal spray to keep your nasal passages moisturized and alleviate any dryness or irritation.


5. Avoid Heavy, Greasy Foods: Opt for light, healthy meals and snacks before and during the flight. Heavy, greasy foods can cause digestive discomfort and make you feel sluggish. Choose foods that are easy to digest and provide sustained energy, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.


6. Practice Good Hand Hygiene: The confined space of an airplane cabin makes it easier for germs to spread. Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer and use it regularly to keep your hands clean. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth, to minimize the risk of infection.


7. Rest and Sleep: Adequate rest and sleep are essential for staying healthy during a long flight. Bring a neck pillow, eye mask, and earplugs to create a comfortable sleeping environment. Adjust your watch to the destination’s time zone and try to get some sleep according to the local time to reduce the effects of jet lag.


8. Move and Stretch Regularly: Sitting for long periods can increase the risk of blood clots and contribute to muscle stiffness. Take short walks around the cabin whenever possible and perform simple stretching exercises to keep your blood circulation flowing and your muscles relaxed.


9. Boost Your Immunity: Airplane cabins can be breeding grounds for germs. Strengthen your immune system by taking vitamin C supplements, eating vitamin-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, and staying well-hydrated. Consider using a nasal spray with antiviral properties to help prevent respiratory infections.


10. Rest Your Eyes: Long-haul flights often involve extended periods of screen time, whether it’s watching movies or working on your laptop. Take breaks to rest your eyes and prevent eye strain. Look away from the screen and focus on something in the distance periodically.


By following these tips, you can stay hydrated and maintain good health during your long-haul flight. Prioritizing your well-being will contribute to a more enjoyable and comfortable travel experience.


Managing Jet Lag

Jet lag can significantly impact your comfort and well-being during and after a long-haul flight. However, with some strategic planning and simple techniques, you can minimize its effects and adjust to the new time zone more smoothly. Here are some tips for managing jet lag:


1. Adjust Your Sleep Schedule: Gradually adjust your sleep schedule a few days before your flight. If you’re traveling eastward, try going to bed slightly earlier each night. If you’re traveling westward, try staying up later. This will help your body gradually adapt to the time zone of your destination.


2. Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can worsen the symptoms of jet lag. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight to stay hydrated. It’s a good idea to avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol, as they can contribute to dehydration and disrupt your sleep patterns.


3. Choose Flights Wisely: When possible, opt for flights that arrive at your destination during the daytime. This will allow you to adjust more easily to the new time zone and establish a regular sleep schedule. Avoid arriving late at night, as this can make it more challenging to adjust to the local time.


4. Get Some Sleep: Try to get some sleep on the flight, especially if it aligns with nighttime in your destination. Use a neck pillow, eye mask, and earplugs to create a comfortable sleeping environment. Consider using a natural sleep aid or melatonin supplement to help regulate your sleep patterns.


5. Expose Yourself to Daylight: Upon arrival at your destination, expose yourself to natural daylight as much as possible. This helps reset your body’s internal clock and signals that it’s daytime. Spend time outdoors, go for a walk, or sit by a window to soak in the natural light.


6. Avoid Napping: While it may be tempting to take a nap upon arrival, especially if you’re feeling fatigued, try to resist the urge. Taking a short nap of no more than 20-30 minutes can be helpful to combat sleepiness, but longer naps can disrupt your sleep schedule and make it harder to adjust to the local time.


7. Stay Active: Engage in light physical activity upon arrival to boost your energy levels and help regulate your sleep patterns. Take a walk, do some stretching exercises, or engage in other gentle movements. Staying active can also help combat any stiffness from sitting during the flight.


8. Adjust Your Watch: As soon as you board the plane, set your watch to the local time of your destination. This can help mentally prepare you for the new time zone and make it easier to adjust your activities accordingly.


9. Gradually Adjust Your Routine: Upon arrival, gradually adjust your daily routine to match the local time. This includes meal times, exercise routines, and exposure to light. By gradually aligning your activities with the local schedule, you can reset your body’s internal clock more effectively.


10. Be Patient: It takes time for your body to fully adjust to a new time zone. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself some time to adapt. Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself to immediately adjust to the new time zone, as this can cause unnecessary stress.


By incorporating these strategies into your travel plans, you can effectively manage jet lag and reduce its impact on your comfort and well-being. Remember that everyone’s experience with jet lag may vary, so it’s important to listen to your body and adjust your routines accordingly.


Entertainment Options and Pass Time Activities

Long-haul flights can sometimes feel monotonous, but with the right entertainment options and pass time activities, you can make the journey more enjoyable and pass the time quickly. Here are some ideas to keep yourself entertained during your flight:


1. Bring a Good Book: A long flight is the perfect opportunity to indulge in a captivating novel or an interesting non-fiction book. Choose a book that you’ve been meaning to read and get lost in the pages, allowing the story to transport you to another world.


2. Download Movies or TV Shows: Before your flight, download movies or TV shows onto your tablet, laptop, or smartphone. Many streaming platforms offer offline viewing options. Choose a mix of genres, including comedy, drama, or action, to keep yourself entertained throughout the flight.


3. Listen to Music or Podcasts: Create a customized playlist or download your favorite music albums to your device. Music can help relax or energize you during the flight. Alternatively, podcasts on various topics like true crime, comedy, or educational content can be a great way to pass the time and learn something new.


4. Play Offline Games: If you enjoy gaming, bring a handheld gaming device or download offline games on your smartphone or tablet. Puzzle games, word games, or strategy-based games can provide hours of engaging entertainment during the flight.


5. Engage in Mindfulness or Meditation: Use the flight as an opportunity to relax, unwind, and practice mindfulness or meditation. There are numerous apps and guided meditation recordings available that can help you reduce stress, increase focus, and promote a sense of calmness during the journey.


6. Solve Puzzles or Crosswords: Challenge yourself with puzzles, Sudoku, or crosswords. These activities not only entertain you but also keep your mind engaged and stimulated. Bring a puzzle book or download puzzle apps on your device.


7. Learn a Language: If you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, use the flight time to get started. Download language learning apps or audio lessons and practice basic phrases or vocabulary. It’s a productive way to pass the time and invest in self-improvement.


8. Engage in Creative Activities: Pack a journal, sketchbook, or coloring book along with some colored pencils or pens. Engaging in creative activities like writing, drawing, or coloring can be relaxing and provide a creative outlet during the flight.


9. Strike Up a Conversation: If you’re comfortable with it, strike up a conversation with your fellow passengers. You might meet interesting people, share stories, and make the journey more enjoyable. Just be mindful of the other person’s boundaries and ensure that they are open to conversation.


10. Plan Your Itinerary: Use the flight time to plan your itinerary for your destination. Research and make a list of places to visit, restaurants to try, and activities to do. This not only keeps you occupied but also gets you excited about your upcoming adventures.


Remember to check with the airline regarding any restrictions on electronic devices and usage during the flight. By incorporating these entertainment options and engaging in pass time activities, you can make your long-haul flight feel shorter and more enjoyable.


Making the Most of Your Meals

Meals on long-haul flights not only provide sustenance but can also be a way to break up the journey and make it more enjoyable. Here are some tips to make the most of your in-flight meals:


1. Pre-Order Special Meals: Many airlines offer the option to pre-order special meals, such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or low-sodium meals. If you have specific dietary restrictions or preferences, take advantage of this service to ensure you have a meal that suits your needs.


2. Stay Hydrated: Drink water or other non-caffeinated beverages during your meal to stay hydrated. The dry cabin air can cause dehydration, so it’s important to drink plenty of fluids. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, as they can increase the risk of dehydration.


3. Eat Mindfully: Take your time to savor each bite and eat mindfully. Pay attention to the flavors, textures, and aromas of the food. Eating mindfully can help enhance your dining experience and make the meal more enjoyable.


4. Request Condiments: If the meal comes without condiments or you have specific preferences, don’t hesitate to ask the flight attendant for extras. Simple additions like salt, pepper, or a squeeze of lemon can enhance the taste of your food.


5. Pack Snacks: In addition to the provided meals, it’s always a good idea to pack some light snacks for the flight. This can include fresh fruit, trail mix, granola bars, or other small, easily portable snacks. Having snacks on hand can help curb hunger between meals or if you’re not satisfied with the provided options.


6. Be Considerate of Other Passengers: If you have a strong-smelling or pungent meal, be mindful of your fellow passengers. Avoid eating foods with strong odors that may disturb others in the confined space of the aircraft.


7. Make Dietary Adjustments: If you have specific dietary restrictions, feel free to make adjustments to the provided meal. For example, you can request to omit certain ingredients or ask for alternative options if available. The airline staff will often accommodate reasonable requests.


8. Bring Your Own Utensils: If you prefer eating with your own utensils or find the plastic cutlery provided by the airline less comfortable, consider bringing your own reusable utensils. This can give you a more pleasant dining experience and reduce waste.


9. Stay Away from Heavy, Spicy Foods: Heavy, spicy foods can leave you feeling uncomfortable and bloated during a flight. Opt for lighter meals that are easier to digest and less likely to cause discomfort. Choose meals that are balanced and contain a good mix of protein, carbs, and vegetables.


10. Indulge in a Treat: Enjoy a little indulgence by treating yourself to a special dessert or a small treat during the flight. It can be a delightful way to break up the journey and make the in-flight experience more enjoyable.


By following these tips, you can make your in-flight meals more pleasant and satisfying. Remember, eating well and enjoying your meals can positively contribute to your overall comfort and well-being during a long-haul flight.



Long-haul flights in economy class can be challenging, but with the right strategies and preparations, you can make your journey more comfortable and enjoyable. Choosing the right airline and cabin class, preparing for the flight, packing essentials for comfort, and utilizing in-flight comfort tips are all key elements to consider.


Staying hydrated and healthy throughout the flight is crucial, so remember to drink plenty of water, avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol, and take care of your personal well-being. Managing jet lag requires adjusting your sleep schedule, staying active, and gradually acclimating to the local time at your destination.


Entertainment options and pass time activities, such as reading, watching movies, or engaging in creative pursuits, can help make the flight more enjoyable. Making the most of your meals, eating mindfully, and staying hydrated during mealtime can further enhance your comfort and dining experience.


In conclusion, a successful and comfortable long-haul flight in economy class requires a combination of proper planning, packing essentials, self-care, and strategic use of available resources. By implementing these travel tips and tricks, you can transform a tiresome flight into a more pleasant and enjoyable journey.


Remember, everyone’s preferences and needs may vary, so feel free to adapt these suggestions to suit your individual comfort level and travel style. Bon voyage and enjoy your next long-haul adventure with newfound comfort!