A long-haul (long distance) flight may last anywhere from six to twelve or more hours. Airlines usually use wide-body aircraft to service such, often non-stop flights that span over multiple time zones. It is essential to know how to prepare for long journeys on an airplane. In 5 easy-to-follow steps you'll learn how to manage long-haul flights.
Step 1: Prepare for the flight in advance
Pack the day before, if not several days in advance. Don’t pack at the last minute or on the day of your travel. Give yourself extra time to think what you really do and don’t need.
Excessive, heavier then permitted luggage may lead to fees at check-in. As regulations change often, you must check your airline baggage policy and allowance depending on your booking class before you start packing. Weight your suitcases and carry-on at home.
Depending on your destination most full service airlines for Economy class would allow you to check-in one bag not exceeding 23 kg. or 50 lb. and bring on-board one carry-on not heavier then 8 kg. or 17 lb. including a smaller personal item.
Have a good night sleep the day before the flight. Being well rested would help you manage the long-haul flight much easier.
Step 2: The carry-on: dos and don’ts
Make copies of all travel documents including passports and IDs. Carry the copies on you and the personal identification documents such as ID’s or passports in you carry-on. Having copies of your personal ID documents may prove invaluable in case you lose your originals or they get stolen while abroad.
Small electronic devices including external batteries that you plan to take with you on-board have to be fully charged before the flight.
Medications, an extra sweater, pair of socks, spare underwear, tooth brush, small deodorant, and wet wipes are some of the essentials you’d like to have handy during your flight along with your personal electronics.
Don’t put valuables in checked-in luggage; they have be in your carry-on. Don’t take items not allowed to be taken on-board or you risk them to be confiscated at security checkpoints.
Liquids and sharp object are of particular concern. Check out your local airport security agency website (i.e TSA) or call up your airline to learn what you're allowed to take on-board in case you have any doubts.
Step 3: Check your flight booking 24 hours prior to the flight
It is important to check your flight status and reservation 24 hours in advance. On the airline’s website confirm that your flight is still departing on the set date and time, and that it is not rescheduled due to bad weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
Be informed of the weather forecast on the day of your trip for all destinations you’re going to. If you notice any changes to your flight, best yet is to contact the airline directly.
If options on the airline website allow you to enter your cellphone number to receive flight SMS alerts, don’t hesitate. For international flights many airlines now give you the option to submit your travel documents information directly on their websites via your booking. It is a wise idea as it can save you time at the airport.
You might also want to check out the food menu offered by the airline during your flight. If you have any dietary restrictions or food allergies, make sure you notify the airline in your booking. Best yet is to enter this information at the time of the booking of your flight. Airlines most likely will not be able to offer you special meals no-board, if not requested in advance.
Consider upgrading to a better seating class, particularly for a long-haul flight. Checking-in online 24 hours in advance, may give you an option to choose or reserve a seat, or change it to a better one at a fee. Read our article 10 ways to travel comfortably and stress free for more information.
Step 4: Get to the airport 3 hours in advance
Consider what transportation you have to take to the airport to get there on time. Driving to the airport might seem the easiest way but take into account running into unexpected or peak traffic.
Keep in mind that long-term airport parking, where available, may not come cheap, if you plan to leave your car at the airport. If you have direct and convenient way of getting to the airport via public transportation, most likely metro rail may proof to be your best option to beat the traffic on the freeway. If your departure time is very early in the morning or very late at night, you might want to look into booking an airport shuttle or using shared ride services such as Uber or Lyft, if available.
You’ll need this extra arrival time at a the airport as you have to check-in for your flight, go through security check points, and get to your gate all of which require this extra time. Look up the airports you are traveling to, if you’re transferring flights.
Step 5: On-board necessities
Noise on the airplane can be irritating, especially if you're seated near the jet engines or at the back of the plane. Carrying earplugs or noise-reduction headphones to block noise is always advisable.
There are a few important things you don’t have to miss for you long-haul flight. Take a memory foam neck pillow to help you sleep more comfortably.
Dress with relaxed clothes as you have to spend hours in your seat. If you like, take your shoes off but because of safety don't take them off before you hear that chime sound when the plane reaches cruising altitude and the flight crew announces that you're now free to get up in the cabin. During takeoff and landing you always have to wear your shoes on in case you have to leave the plane in an emergency.
Wipe off your armrest and tray table with wet wipes as you are getting comfortable in your seat.
Stay hydrated and stretch anytime you can. Drink water and avoid coffee and consumption of too much alcohol.
Stand up to stretch and move around the cabin as often as you can. However, observe all light signs. When the belt sign is turned on, sit down and buckle up. In fact, you have to have your seat belt on at all times as unaccepted turbulence can occur at any time. If turbulence occurs a plane can suddenly drop hundreds of meters and you may be thrown into the air and suffer from injuries as a result.
We hope these 5 steps can help you to be more prepared for your next long-haul flight. Travel with more confidence, read our Travel Blog ans stay informed. We wish you happy traveling.