Where to Sit on a Long Haul Flight

Where to Sit on a Long Haul Flight

I’ve done a bit of international travel in my years, and I’ve learnt a thing or two about various things along the way. One of those things is where to sit when you’re getting a long haul flight (‘long haul’ being at least 10 hours). If you can, choose your seat according to how well you’ll think you’ll travel the distance. A lot of airlines allow you to pick your seats (should there be available seats not yet designated to another passenger). If you can, you should try and pick your own seat.

On long haul flights, you will always take a huge plane. Often the seat structure is 3 seats, aisle, 4 or 5 seats, aisle, 3 seats. There are pros and cos to every seat, but where you should sit depends on a couple of things.

The Window

Choose the window seat if you’re not one to use the bathroom every hour. At the window seat you get…well you get the window. This is great if you’re flying over land and can see out…however it becomes a little pointless if you’re on an overnight flight because it’s dark outside and you have to shut the blind anyway. Sit here if you don’t pee very often, and if you don’t want to be disturbed by other people getting up to use the loo. If you are one to try and sleep, window seats are good because you have something else to lean against, should you need it. I’ve also found that you get a little extra leg room, on the other side of the seat leg in front of you. Bonus.

The Middle

Middle seats, to me, are the worst seats ever. You get the worst of all worlds in a middle seat. You don’t get the window for day-time land looking, you don’t get the aisle to get up to use the toilet, or stretch your legs every so often. If you’re travelling with someone else and they don’t mind you resting your head on their shoulder, then you might get some sleep, and if you need to use the toilet, then there’s (normally) only one person to climb over. So I guess that’s better than two or three people to climb over…right? You decide.

The other con to a middle seat is that no one seems to know arm-rest protocol. If you’re in the middle seat, the worst possible seat in the plane, then you should have both arm-rests. The others have their perks, but you don’t have anything. Make sure you claim these at the beginning of the flight.

The Aisle

Aisle seats are the best if you know you’re going to get up and down a lot. On the aisle you can get up whenever you want (but only when the seat belt sign is off, my friends! Let’s be safety conscious here!), you can wander the aisles up and down the plane if you need a stretch and you don’t even have to climb over any one at all. All positives so far. However, the aisle seat also means you get luggage, elbows and food trolleys in your face at frequent times during the flight. There’s also the chance that other people walking around the aisles have to sort of lean into you if they are stepping to the side to let someone else past. Also, the aisle seat means you’re the ‘pass it along’ guy. All meals and drinks will go through you to get to the other people in your seat.

The Front

The front seats are for those people with super long legs. Like, legs so long they barely have torsos. If this you, you may like one of these ‘front of the cabin’ seats. You get plenty of leg room before you hit the wall between cabins, and the aisle/middle/window seat cons don’t really apply, because there’s room enough for you and your neighbours to come and go as you please without disturbing the others. However! This is where the babies often go. Yup. One time I was on a flight were there were three families with children under 5 in those front seats. If you want the leg room, take super great ear plugs with you, and be prepared to have a child flung in your face by an exasperated parent. Your choice, my friend. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So what?

There are pros and cons to all the seats. Now you’ve got the low-down, the 411, the FYIs, and possibly even the answers to any FAQs you had. In the end, if you can’t decide, just let the airline seat-allocating programme pick your seat for you, or your travel agent. Then you’re stuck with what you’ve got. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be lucky like I was on the way to England. I asked my travel agent for a window seat, which I got, and the seat next to me from Christchurch to Singapore and the seat next to me from Singapore to London was….empty!

Photo by Sofia Sforza on Unsplash

Things To Do On A Long Haul Flight To Cure Boredom

Things To Do On A Long Haul Flight To Cure Boredom

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.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Why Air New Zealand is the Best Airline to Fly With

Image from Air New Zealand website

When I was 18-months old, my parents decided it would be a good idea to move to Asia. Since then, I haven’t stopped travelling. While I’m no where near close to finishing my list of places to visit, I have been blessed enough to have opportunities to travel quite a bit, despite living at the bottom of the world (or is it the top? You decide). Travelling from New Zealand means the only option is flying, unless you pay for a cruise. There are no trains across borders, no busses to just hop on to pop to the neighbouring country for lunch. The only feasible option is flight.

That being the case, I’ve flown with quite a few different airlines, ranging from Qantas to Singapore Airlines, from Ryan Air to United Airlines, from Emirates to Easy Jet, and yet out of all these airlines, Air New Zealand comes out on top for me every single time. I’m not being biased – okay, perhaps a little – and I feel like I would think this even if I weren’t from NZ. If you’ve had a great experience with Air New Zealand, do let me know about it at the end of this post.

air new zealand in dunedin
Image from my personal Instagram

The Comfort

The worst thing you can have on a long distance flight is uncomfortable seats. Thankfully, Air New Zealand is top notch when it comes to comfort. They are leading the world in new innovative ways to design planes, and it definitely shows, especially in the large planes. On the 777-300 models there are now Economy Skycouch seats, which allows you to buy an extra seat, flip the bottom of all three seats, making a sleeping platform where you and your partner can actually lie down and sleep during the duration of the flight.

“The Skycouch is a trio of three Economy seats that together create a flexible space for whatever you want it to be – to relax and stretch out in, or for the kids to use as a play area.” – from the Air New Zealand website.

I’ve seen couples sleeping, children sitting together on two seats folded up, drawing and playing with toys, and one parent with two children comfortably spending time on the three seats. It is, in my opinion, an incredibly smart way of flying. If you don’t go for a Skycouch seat option, the normal economy seats are very comfortable, and have a lot of room both in width, and in depth, with a good distance between seats.

The Entertainment

In the last few years, the large long-distance planes have really upped their entertainment game. The screens in the back of the chairs are all touch screen these days, with extra fun features like Seat-Chat (talk with someone in another seat, or another part of the plane), more TV shows and movies, more games (which, again, you can play with others), and are beautifully laid out and easy to navigate.

If you have a frequent flyer or Airpoints numbers, and you’ve logged that in prior to getting on the plane, then when you sit down and turn on your screen, it says ‘Welcome Anjali!’ You can then save your preferences, save movies for your next flight, send emails to yourself, and even order food right from your seat. It’s a magical, magical world up in the air.

Image by Murray Douglas, from Stockvault
Image by Murray Douglas, from Stockvault

The Simplicity and Efficiency

Speaking of navigating easily, compared to a lot of other airlines, Air New Zealand makes everything simple. Travel shouldn’t be stressful, and if it is then something or someone isn’t doing their job very well. From booking flights, to asking questions about baggage and dietary requirements, everything is answered for you, and if you can’t for some reason find the answers you’re after then the help desk at the airport is you next go-to place. Simple, easy, uncomplicated.

As well as being incredibly simple, once you start getting into the process of booking flights, and arriving at the airport, everything is so very efficient that you’re in and out of check in and bag-drop in a matter of minutes. Everything is labelled and signed, and it’s very unlikely that you get lost or don’t know what you’re doing. The lines are often short, and if they’re not then they’re fast moving, because of the efficient turn through of people, even off the full international flights.

Air New Zealand
Image by San San on Free Images

The Service

One of the main things you notice when you’re flying is the attitude, the helpfulness and the professionalism of the air-hosts. No matter the time of day, no matter the destination, the start location, the length of flight, the amount of passengers, Air New Zealand hosts are friendly, helpful, professional. They always look like they love what they do, and they carry themselves with air (excuse the pun) of professionalism. They’re not afraid, however, to show their own personalities and to have a laugh with the passengers.

Returning home from living in England for 2 years, we flew various different airlines on the way back, but as soon as we got on our final leg of the journey, as soon as we stepped onto that Air New Zealand aircraft, it was like we were home already. It was incredible how different they were to the rest of the world’s airlines, and while I’m not complaining about the others at all (I have a few favourites out there), there’s a certain je ne sais quoi, a certain something-something about Air NZ.

Image from my personal Instagram

The Welcome Home

My favourite thing about Air New Zealand (and forgive me if your home country’s Airline does this too) is the home welcome. When you step off the plane from an international flight into the very efficient customs line to get back into the country, they make conversation. They look at where you’ve been, they ask about your trip, they stamp your passport, and then smile and say

‘Welcome home’.

And it gets me every time.

There’s something about coming home that makes even the staunchest of people feel that warm fuzzy feeling, and being welcomed home by a stranger wearing the New Zealand smile and the Kiwi can-do attitude is the best feeling, and the best thing about coming home.

Air New Zealand Team
Image from Air New Zealand

So what?

So why am I sharing this with you? Not only am I hoping that you too, one day, can experience the wonders of an Air New Zealander hospitality team in the air and on the ground, but also because I’m proud of my country and the high standard of welcome, of service, of efficiency and of warmth that they pour out into their highly-demanding jobs.

Here’s to you, Air New Zealand. Thank you for being an incredible company that does it’s country proud. Thank you for being one of the great things that puts our country on the map.


Disclaimer: Air New Zealand did not ask me to write this post, nor do they endorse it. It is simply a post about my favourite airline and their great service.