Long haul flights are…well, guys, they’re long. You can be flying up to 17 hours now on a plane with hundreds of other people equally as tired and grumpy and uncomfortable as you are. If you have the attention span of gold fish, then you’re going to need things to do.
Whether your flight is 8 hours, 10 hours, or the longest flight yet – 17 hours between Auckland and Doha – things need to be happening. Right? Right. Unfortunately, and perhaps obviously, you’re very confined to the plane. Please do not try and exit the plane. It’s for the good of world that you remain inside the plane at all times. I don’t want to see you on the news. You’ve been warned.
A list of things that you can do should you become bored
- Challenge seat A1 to a game of Battle Ships. After winning against them, move on to A2. Try to conquer the entire plane.
- Steal as many sick bags as you can without disturbing too many people. Draw pictures on them. Return to seat pockets.
- Offer to help the stewards by handing out sweets. Throw the sweets around the cabin instead.
- Try to sneak into First Class unnoticed to get a glimpse of the elite.
- Ask for a bag of Maltesers. Drop them in the aisle when landing. They’ll be sure to roll the length of plane.
- Pull faces at a nearby child
- Build a castle using only plastic knives and forks
- Watch as many movies as you can without having to clip your eye lids open
- Collect as many blankets and pillows as you can. Build a fort at the back of the plane.
- Make origami animals out of the serviettes.
- Make up a story about your serviette animals and share it with you neighbour. Or the entire cabin.
- Preform stand-up comedy at the front of your cabin. Gladly receive tips.
- Visit someone in another cabin and greet them like an old friend. Leave them confused and dazed.
- Invent a story about the people around you. Share it with your neighbour. Or write a novel on the serviettes.
- Talk to your neighbour constantly. Maybe they’ll ask to be moved (if the flight’s not full) and then you’ll get two seats to yourself.
- If you’re super organised, bring a bouncy ball and play bounce the ball down the aisle with the kid 10 rows ahead of you.
- Grab your phone (on flight mode, obviously) and make it your mission to take a selfie with everyone on the plane.
- Document your every second by speaking into a Dictaphone.
- Take a book of kids’ puzzles. Ask your neighbour to help you out on every page. Inwardly laugh at their responses.
- Take a real puzzle with you, preferably one with more than 500 pieces. Find a space of floor. Sit and complete the puzzle…or try to complete the puzzle before the hosts move you back to your seat.
- Collect the plastic water cups throughout the flight until you have enough to make a tower in the aisle.
- Ask ‘are we there yet?’ to the stewards.
- Walk around a talk to different people. Tell them a different story each time about yourself. (Bob-Contractor. Jane-Architect. Fred-Magnolia Grower. etc)
- Alternatively, tell everyone they same, elaborate story. People will start talking about you. See how big the story gets. Like airplane Chinese whispers.
- Start singing a song quietly, gradually getting louder…and hope someone joins in. Make it your mission to have the entire cabin singing along.
- For a more exciting, entertaining result, choose a song with actions.
- Read the in-flight magazine. Then go back through turning all the faces into aliens. Leave it in the seat pocket when you leave.
- Write a list of things that would love do to, had you the confidence and courage (and assurance that you wouldn’t get arrested), on a long-haul flight when you’re bored.
Heading out on a long haul flight adventure? Now you won’t be bored on the plane. You’re welcome.
I’ve been on long haul flights* since before I was walking, and since then have ventured on many an international trip. I’ve learnt a lot over the years about how to survive a long haul flight in Economy class. Note that these things might not all feature in your typical ‘how to fly’ sort of post, but for your entertainment, here are 6 tips.
*‘Long haul’ in this post means at least 10 hours.
Accept the fact you won’t get much sleep
Even if you’re like me and can ‘sleep anywhere’, ‘anywhere’ is slightly different on a plane. But I’ve found that if you just accept that fact that you will not be getting a full night’s sleep on your flight, then it’s okay when you don’t. If you’re expecting to sleep the entire way, and then don’t, it’s a lot harder to take. If you do get more than a few hours of sleep, then it’s an amazing accomplishment and you’ll feel great about the whole situation. It’s one of those ‘expect the worst and you won’t be disappointed’ situations.
Watch as many movies as you can
Okay, maybe don’t watch all of them, but definitely watch the ones you want to see. If you watch them first thing when you get on the plane, then you’ll get more and more tired as the flight goes one, increasing your chance of getting a little bit of sleep. However! Prepare to get a little frustrated at movies that are darkly lit. In a darkened plane (apparently other people are getting their sleep, or at least pretending to, and all the lights are out), it’s very hard to see dark-lit scenes, even with the brightness of the screen turned right up to nearly white.
Make friends with the stewards
Smile sweetly, talk to them as they pass by. You’ve got at least 10 hours, you might as well make new friends. I’ve discovered that if you’re nice to the stewards, you might get free stuff.
We were in Economy (as always) and a steward took a liking to us because we were from New Zealand. Near the end of the flight he came to our seats, gave us Quick Passes to get out of the lines faster so we had more time in Sydney (we were just spending the day there before getting an evening flight to NZ), and he gave as Business class packs…just because. All because we talked to him, said ‘thank you very much’ when we gave us food and drink. Being nice gets you free stuff, my friends! (Also, and more importantly, you should be nice anyway…not because you’re getting free stuff, but because you’re a nice person.)
If you’re not a sleeper, find someone else who isn’t either
That guy/girl over there fidgeting? Yeah, they can’t sleep either. Challenge them to a game on the in-flight entertainment. Yup! You can do that! You just pop in their seat number, and boom. Endless competition with a stranger on a plane. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll become friends and not game enemies. Then you actually speak to each and not destroy each other’s battle ships. The possibilities from there on in are almost endless. Some suggestions of things to do: try to sneak into business and/or first class. First person in wins.
See who can make it from one end of Economy class to the other without running). If you’re really ambitious, try drawing a moustache on a sleeping passenger…without getting caught by those other people who aren’t sleeping. Offer to help the stewards by throwing sweets around the cabin for the people. People love sweets. Grab as many sick bags as possible. Draw faces on them and pop them back into the seat pockets. All of these things are great bonding activities for you and your newly found friend.
Free drinks? Drink them
Long haul flights provide food and drink. It’s a part of your ticket. Sure you’ve previously paid for it…but at the time it feels like it’s free. If you can stomach it, eat all the free food, drink all the free drinks. If you are getting tired, but know you won’t sleep, drink coffee. This of course, may make you a little bit crazy, but then it would be prime time to find a stranger to play games with.
Also, on a more serious note, if you’re feeling a bit queasy and blergh, drink fizzy drinks. They settle your stomach. Coke, Sprite, etc. Just note, drinking lots will make you need to pee, so if you’re in a window seat then keep in mind that you’re going to be doing a lot of climbing over people and probably angering them.
Remember that your destination awaits
If all else fails, just keep in mind that you’ll be off the plane shortly (ish) and can put your feet on solid ground once again.
Photo by Omar Prestwich on Unsplash
Everyone has a bucket list, right? A list of things that want to do on this earth, a list of places to go, events to attend, cities to explore. If you don’t have such a list, I highly recommend it, even if it’s for the satisfaction of ticking something off.
As a lover of travel, my longest bucket list is my ‘to visit’ list. While technically the list only has one thing on it (“all the countries in the world”), even I recognise that’s probably a stretch. So I’ve narrowed it down a little bit to some of the countries I’d really love to head to one.
You can also find this list on the Travel Bucket List page, and see where I’ve already been and any links to blog posts I’ve written about.
- Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
What’s on your travel bucket list?