21 Ways to Survive a Long-Haul Flight? Not For Me…

 found myself shaking my head while reading this article pertaining to 21 ways to survive a long-haul flight written by Heather Sherry for Extra Pack of Peanuts not because I did not believe that anyone would find them useful; but rather simply because I personally disagree with many of them.

Perhaps I am a strange anomaly and not a typical traveler; so you can judge for yourself.

Without further ado, the list below was written by Heather Sherry with her comments in grey italic type; while my comments are below her comments:


1. Book a Business or First Class Ticket.

If you have a enough miles or enough money to book a business or first class ticket, then this is the time to use it! Having a more comfortable seat will ensure you have a better sleep.

This is not necessarily true. Not all seats in the premium class cabin are comfortable. Some convert to an angled surface instead of truly flat; while others only recline. Other factors which could affect your comfort include such items as the padding of the seat; the length of the footrest; the degree of thickness and softness of the blankets and pillows used; as well as the contents of the amenity kit. You might find yourself spending an excessive amount of money or frequent flier loyalty program miles on a product with which you might not be comfortable anyway.

If you are going to splurge for a seat in the premium class cabin of an aircraft, be sure to first do your research.

These days, flights are rather full of passengers, so the odds are not good these days — but if you happen to be seated in the economy class cabin and are able to secure two or more consecutive empty seats, you could be sleeping on the “poor man’s lie-flat seat”…

2. Book a flight for late afternoon or early evening.

We find this really helpful for getting lots of sleep on a flight and feeling more rested when we arrive at our destination.

I prefer a flight scheduled in the late morning or early afternoon. This way, I do not have to be concerned with fees for checking out late from the hotel property at which I stayed; I do not have to lug my baggage around — although front desk employees are usually more than happy to hold your luggage at no cost until you are ready to retrieve your baggage later in the day; and I usually do not have to be concerned about traffic or rush hour.

Recently, I woke up extremely early for a flight — only to have it switched to a different day; but although they are doable for me, I prefer not to be booked on flights scheduled early in the morning.

3. Have a regular, laid back day the day of your flight. (If possible)

The first leg of our itinerary was a three hour flight to Taiwan with an hour and a half layover. We did not want to sleep on that first flight.

Therefore, the day we left Bali (our flight was at 5pm), we went to the beach, had lunch and sat by the pool. We felt really relaxed by the time we had to leave for the airport.

This way we were not that tired for our first leg of the trip.

This is basically a repeat of number two on this list; but you do not want to be too laid back and therefore sluggish before catching your flight later that day.

4. Have your own entertainment queued up.

You never know what planes are equipped with, or even if the entertainment consoles are working. It is a good idea to have movies, tv shows and books downloaded on your devices before you leave for the airport!

Actually, I had been asking if the days of airplanes equipped with in-flight entertainment are numbered since June 14, 2012 when I reported that “the good people at Cathay Pacific are thinking about doing away with in-flight entertainment”:

…free unlimited in-flight entertainment is not high on my list of priorities anymore these days due to disruptive technology in the form of portable personal electronic devices such as “smartphones”, tablets and .mp3 music players which can do just about anything except wash your clothes and cook your dinner. My portable personal electronic device has my choices of music and games — and, at greater than 27 hours, the 551 songs I currently have available to me on that device is enough to outlast the longest of flights, never mind all of the different types of games to occupy my time at my choosing.

That list of songs had increased a little bit since then…

5. Have an eye mask and ear plugs accessible in your carry on luggage.

Even if the airline provides an eye mask – bring your own.

I  have never worn an eye mask or ear plugs — whether or not I am traveling. That would be uncomfortable to me; and I prefer to carry as little as possible with me whenever I travel.

6. Have a good pair of headphones.

The complimentary headphones are uncomfortable and don’t block any noise.

While this may very well indeed be true, I carry a set of cheap headphones from an airline because the sound quality is good enough for my purposes aboard the airplane; and — once again — I prefer to carry as little as possible with me whenever I travel.

7. Make sure all of your items are easily accessible in your carry on.

We usually grab all of our necessary items and put them in the seat pocket or on the top of our small carry on bag under the seat.

I hope you are not prone to forgetting that your personal items are in the seat pocket and possibly losing them. I also hope that you do not get disgusted with what might have touched that seat pocket before you used it, as evidenced by this photographic example. I further hope that you realize that seat pockets found on the backs of seats aboard commercial aircraft are not approved storage areas for personal items.

As for placing your necessary items on top of a small carry-on bag under the seat in front of you — well, all you need is for the aircraft to undergo one good shot of turbulence for your items to wind up on the floor in a different row aboard the aircraft somewhere…

8. Have a change of clothes.

On a long flight, it is nice to change into comfortable sweats or even pajamas. Then you can change back into your travel clothes once you arrive.

After traveling for such a long time, changing your clothes makes you feel a lot better equipped for the next part of your journey.

Perhaps — but that advice falls under my aversion to carrying more items with me than necessary; and I usually feel just fine after a long flight.

This piece of advice might especially be unnecessary if the next part of your journey is checking into your hotel room for a shower and a good night of sleep.

9. Have a toothbrush.

And toothpaste! For obvious reasons.

I always have my toothbrush and toothpaste with me; but I do not brush my teeth in the lavatory aboard an airplane during a flight. For obvious reasons.

10. Have snacks.

27 hours with only airplane food to look forward to? No thank you!

Have some snacks or even a sandwich that can help tide you over until you land. A bottle of water is also a good idea.

You had me right there, Heather — but you just had to add the bottle of water.

Flight attendants on virtually every long-haul flight on which I have been a passenger have been proactive about ensuring that passengers are hydrated by walking around the cabin with cups of water, which were poured from sealed bottles. Moreover, there is usually a station where you can serve your own water, juice or soft drink if you are willing to go get it.

Carrying a bottle of water past an airport security checkpoint is usually not permitted; so if you want a bottle of water with you, you will usually have to overpay for it in the airport. If you really need that bottle of water with you, you could carry on an empty bottle — permitted through airport security checkpoints — and have it filled once you are aboard the airplane.

As for the snacks, I carry a variety of them with me not only in case I get hungry during a long-haul flight; but also for those times where I am hungry but am not able to get food anywhere else at that moment — such as at an airport after midnight if the conclusion of a flight is delayed, for example…

…oh, and by the way: no extra pack of peanuts for me, please. I would rather have pretzels.


11. Always scope out extra seats and ask to move if they are available.

Trav is obsessed with checking out how many people are boarding and what seats might become available and always asks the attendants if it is a full flight.

As silly as this may seem, it has worked to our advantage when we switch to a whole row all to ourselves.

Well, if you are that successful, you can have the “poor man’s lie-flat seat” to which I referred in item number one on this list and not have to be concerned with securing a seat in the premium class cabin. Besides, you can take this opportunity to be romantic and snuggly with each other.

12. Have reading material.

Movies are great for passing the time. But if you are ready to sleep, reading is a better way to calm your mind and prepare for a better, longer sleep.

I would rather look out the window — whether or not I am simultaneously listening to my music, thank you. I not only find that much more calming and helps to clear my mind; but at other times, it also causes me to think and reflect…

13. Try to sleep at the normal time.

Our flight left Bali at 5pm and landed in Taipei three hours later and we did not sleep on that flight at all on purpose.

This way, we were ready to sleep longer on the 12 hour flight to San Francisco.

I do agree with this advice; but unless I am feeling tired, sleeping on an airplane can be difficult for me.

14. Take medicine.

A sleeping aid will ensure you fall asleep and stay asleep during the flight. Either Nyquil, Lunesta, melatonin will do the trick.

As I have stated many times before — including in this article — I cannot emphasize enough about how I vehemently disagree with this suggestion. Never take any medication unless absolutely necessary.

15. Don’t worry about waking up for meals.

Airplane food is terrible anyway – don’t bother. This is where those snacks come in handy!

Trav’s note:  It’s not soooo bad, but it’s definitely not worth waking up for.  Plus, you could ask for it later if you wanted.

Speak for yourself. I prefer to eat meals aboard an airplane and prefer not to miss meals — even if I am tired.

In fact, a meal helps for me to sleep better — so I completely disagree with this suggestion.

I will save my snacks in the event if and when I truly need them.


It is important to stay hydrated before, during, and after a flight. This will help you recover from jet lag after you land as well (here’s more tips to combat jet lag).

For once, I completely agree — merely reiterating my comments in item number ten on this list.

Why do I suddenly feel like Casey Kasem?

Anyway, the countdown continues — but first, this long-distance dedication…


17. Have lounge access, if possible.

Having a quiet comfortable place to wait during a layover can enhance your airport experience and keep you calm and relaxed.

Also, the free food and booze doesn’t hurt either!

Sure. Lounge access. If you hold a certain credit card or have elite level status in a frequent flier loyalty program, lounge access may be one of the included benefits at no extra charge. If so, enjoy!

Otherwise, be prepared to pay if you want lounge access.

By the way, if you are seeking a quiet place to wait during a layover, there is almost always a corner somewhere in the terminal where you will find little activity — such as a gate being unused at that moment, for example — which will not cost you a penny.

If you want to pay to use an airport lounge, do your homework: as with seats in the premium class cabin aboard airplanes, not all lounges are comfortable, quiet, or have amenities appreciably better than what is available out in the public areas of the terminal.

If the airport lounge costs $50.00 for one-time access, for example, you just might be better off splurging on a nice meal at a restaurant in the terminal — which just might have a comfortable and quiet area where you can enjoy your meal; and usually for less cost than access to an airport lounge.

Note: I removed the link for the free credit card consultation form. To access it, please access the original article under item number 17 on the list.

18. Take advantage of airport amenities.

Airports are getting nicer and nicer each passing year.  SFO has showers and Changi airport (Singapore) has a pool, botanical gardens, and even a complimentary movie theater.

Keep in mind that some of the items mentioned — such as the swimming pool — are available for a nominal extra cost; and while the above statement is indeed true, there are not enough airports yet which have amenities of which you can take advantage.

More and more airports are offering free Wi-Fi access — such as at the international airport which serves the greater Atlanta metropolitan area — which for many people is enough either work or entertain themselves for hours.

Now, if more and more airports would provide more and more electrical outlets


Again, it is important to stay hydrated.

Did this item really need to be a repeat of item number 16 on this list?!?


20. Stay awake until the normal bedtime at your destination.

This can prove quite difficult, but stay strong!  If you can manage to stay up you will get over your jet lag much more quickly.

Fresh air, exercise and getting out of the house/hotel will keep you awake.

This is another rare piece of advice on this list with which I absolutely agree.

In fact, adjusting myself to local time is one of the reasons why I usually do not suffer from the symptoms of jet lag.

21. Have a reason to get up.

If you just can’t hack it and need to take a nap – then have a friend call or come to your house to make sure you wake up.

The more persistent the friend, the better (thanks Mike!).

If you are at the beginning of your trip, then plan a tour or meeting that forces you to wake up from your nap or even the next morning.

Do this only if you are truly desperate for sleep.


Unlike other articles of lists — or listicles, as they are sometimes called — I did not find the advice imparted in the original article to be silly or ridiculous. While it may work for some people — including Travis and Heather Sherry of Extra Pack of Peanuts — most of that advice simply does not work for me.

I hope that my comments are helpful to you if you also did not agree with the advice from the original article…

…and if neither their advice nor my advice were helpful to you, please feel free to leave your own helpful advice in the Comments section below.

  1. An entire post dedicated to grouchily disagreeing with someone else’s post? Running low on ideas to write about, are we?

    1. Yup, thought the same thing Keith. Kind of childish in my opinion and rubs me the wrong way. Can’t remember the last useful column I found here on TheGate.

  2. Have to say the original article was written for a 6th grader taking their first airplane trip. Obviously it’s just filler that was written to get people to read the useless Peanuts website, and sprinkle in a little credit card pimping, but nonetheless, Mr. Peanuts is supposed to be writing about the “inside scoop” as a supposed master of frequent flying (doesn’t this guy sell some package of expert tips?). He should be called out on this useless data he published on a day he was too lazy to write himself. Belongs in Readers Digest.

  3. This came off grouchy and mean-spirited. A point by point take down of someone else’s reasonably decent blog post? Bitchy worked for Joan Rivers maybe, but not travel blogs.

  4. You seem rather negative. Not everything she brought up is good for everyone but the advice isn’t that bad.

    Oh and try the ear plug trick. I’ve gotten so addicted to them that I wear them doing yard work and at other times. It’s better than you think on airplanes.

  5. Personally I never have trouble on long haul flights and don’t spend a lot of time preparing for them. Building up anticipation, and following the numerous preparedness steps listed above is more exhausting than simply putting up with the experience and getting to the destination. In my mind, it’s only 24 hours on a plane. Just stick it out.

    For an amateur traveler however, who might be intimidated by sitting for long periods of time, I find myself agreeing more than disagreeing with Ms. Sherry’s points. I don’t appreciate this blog’s author finding reasons to disagree with everything she offered. This was an over the top put down.

    1. It was not my intent to put anyone down, Ed, as I am not that type of person. I even mentioned that I did not find the advice imparted in the original article to be silly or ridiculous. It will certainly work for some people. All I wanted to do was to point out that there were alternatives to what was written in the original article in which much of the advice did not apply to me — and if any readers felt similarly that hopefully I could assist with my thoughts and experiences.

      I will be the first to admit that any advice I give will not be for everyone. That is the beauty of having differences in opinions. It would be a boring world if everyone acted the same and felt the same way.

      Still, you and other readers commented that you took the article that way, so apparently I did not do a good job of conveying my thoughts. I greatly appreciate the time you and everyone took to provide feedback.

      Thank you.

      1. Just like a plane, Brian has found a way to hijack.

        I have to say, brilliant move. Take a well-written article you don’t agree with and shit on it so you can outrank them because of domain authority. Why didn’t I think of that?

        Oh right, I’m not a troll (ironic as it seems).

        This comment brought to you by the people who make useful shit on the internet.

  6. Two things.

    1) I really like “Extra pack of peanuts.” Those guys are one of the few people who talk about travel from a “real” perspective. They don’t hawk credit cards as much as most bloggers, and they seem to talk about actual travel more than just flying. They advocate staying in hostels, using airbnb, and using 25k miles on domestic flights if necessary. Anything to just get people out there traveling. (Most boarding area bloggers would cringe at anything other than flying first class and staying at the Grand Hyatt XXX )

    2) This post was mean, and really felt like a personal attack.

  7. I cannot believe how much I hate this article. This person is so obnoxious and grumpy and terrible – I hope I never sit beside them on a plane… EVER. I’m sure they would snobbishly decline the peanuts the kind flight attendant was trying to serve them or freak out if this “water station” was not available. I NEVER comment on stories but this one takes the cake. I hope I never meet this person.

  8. a whole site dedicated to criticizing someones successful blog? should be named *jerk site * :! seriously??? HORRIBLE ARTICLE HATE THIS ARTICLE:~/

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