Passport Amigo

How to survive long-haul flights in economy

How to survive long-haul flights in economy

Urg.  Long-haul flights in economy.  Exhausting. Boring. Frustrating. 

Long periods of nothing punctuated by bursts of activity and some pretty crappy food and increasingly scuzzy bathrooms.

Like you, I've done my fair share.  I've got my routine down now.  These are my long-haul flight tips and my long-haul travel essentials.

This is what I do to get through it.

Carry-on essentials for a long flight 

Awake Time

Though I am partial to a bit of in-flight meditation, on the whole, I'm looking to be entertained if I'm not trying to sleep.

The in-flight entertainment on the last long haul flight I took was not working in the section of the plane I was in. So what a huge relief it was that you can now download Netflix. 

I spent pretty much the whole of my 12-hour flight chewing my way through the Netflix documentary, Wild Wild Country. Utterly. Fascinating.  If you've watched it please contact me.  I NEED to discuss it with someone. 

My advice is, if you can to load up an iPad/tablet with Netflix. Even if you don’t feel like watching it on a plane I’m sure it won’t go to waste.  

Plus, whilst the entertainment system can sometimes be great on a plane it’s always good to have a backup plan. 

I've written a long list of suggestions on how to entertain yourself on a plane

I always take my own headphones and take an adaptor to use the 3-pin headphone jack that’s available.

I find I can’t read much on a plane any longer and have long ago stopped lugging heavy magazines. I no longer even take my Kindle on board.


Sleep Time 

Neck Pillow: keep it simple and have tried all manner of flight neck pillows with varying degrees of success and I always return to my trusted blow up neck pillow. 

It’s cheap, small and easy to pack and most importantly,  it doesn’t take up heaps of room in my cramped seat and I don’t have to lug it around when not in use.

Eye Mask: I also take a contoured eye mask.  These are great because they give your eyes space to move and seem much less puffy than when using an eye mask that rest directly on your eyes.  I picked one up in Marks & Spencer for £2. Bargain.

Earplugs: I have road tested countless styles of earplugs over the years.  Silicone. Wax. Conical.  The list goes on. 

I can say that these are THE. BEST.  A game changer.  Grab a box of 20 from eBay and be done with it.  Howard Leight Laser Light earplugs are the bomb - though it's probably best not to use that turn of phrase to describe them when on your flight. 

Add a pair of compression socks and I’m good to go.  All these items fit in a small zipped pouch and stay there until my next flight.


  • Neck pillow
  • Contoured eye mask
  • Earplugs
  • Compression Socks
  • Glass of wine

What to wear on a long-haul flight 

Confession time…I am THAT person whose long-haul flight outfit is more suited to laying on the sofa on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

If you’re flying economy I don’t agree with the advice about turning up at the airport looking suitable for business class on the off-chance you'll get an upgrade.  It hardly ever happens especially if you're not already dripping in air miles.  

Although a friend did once happen to ask at check-in if there was any chance of an upgrade and ended up flying business to New York!! So perhaps this is bad advice, in any case, I’d still rather be comfortable.

I always travel with a light cardigan, a cotton scarf and compression socks.  I've been anything from freezing cold to roasting hot on a flight.  You just never know how it's going to be.   

Loose clothing helps keep blood circulating and dealing with bloat.  Plus, sleeping sitting in a chair is hard enough without wearing a pushup bra as well. eh, fellas?


  • I hate to say it, but it's ALL about the elasticated waist pant/trouser
  • Console yourself with a glass of wine

Longhaul flight beauty essentials 

It's time to try and save your skin.

You need to keep hydrated inside and out.  So…lots of water going in and lots of moisture going on.

I’m a big fan of face oils as I feel they give a good coating and don’t ‘evaporate’ in the same way water-based products do.

Skip the heavy harsh clay mud masks and acidic toners, this is not the time for that kinda facial.  Go for hydrating soothing masks and moisturisers and take LIP BALM!

In addition, I take a mini hand cream and apply throughout the flight.

I’ve also been known to deep condition my hair on a flight, with less success than I’d hoped so I shall skip that suggestion.


  • Slather it on like no one is watching
  • Drink lots of water
  • Drink less wine than you do water

Moisturise. Moisturise. Moisturise.

Attempt to make healthy choices

You don’t need me to tell you to drink water on a flight  Although I do struggle with this, particularly if it’s an overnight flight.  I’ve had no problem taking an empty drink bottle through security to fill up ‘airside’ or in-flight. 

Many (probably wise) people say don’t drink any alcohol on a flight, but this isn’t an option for me.  I mean….who doesn’t accept free booze?!


So, you’re not gonna hear me spout a no-booze policy but I would suggest you go easy and don’t combine it with sleeping tablets; I speak from experience and once had to be woken by the air steward to inform me we had actually landed in London and yes, the plane is now empty.  


  • Booze is a yes from me
  • Booze AND sleeping tablets.  Not advisable.

Reduce your chance of catching anything

Look, you’re on a metal & plastic tube full of recycled air and scores of people who have come from all corners of the globe.  It’s a germ-fest, people.

I don’t care if saying this makes me sound a germaphobe but I take some antibacterial hand wipes and wipe down my armrests (including the recline button), screen, table and entertainment console thingy as soon as I sit down.  I sometimes use the hot cloth you get to do this too – once I’ve used it.

A friend was telling me that on a recent business class flight he was sitting next to the former CEO of a large European carrier.  He saw the guy wiping things down and commented to him about it.

The former CEO said that planes aren’t cleaned as regularly as they perhaps should be so it’s a good habit to get into. I suddenly felt vindicated! And that was in business class.  So at the back of the bus where I sit is definitely needing a good deep clean. 

So that’s about it.  Short and sweet but these are the things that get me through a flight.  A bit of entertainment, a bit of comfort, something with an elasticated waist and a wine (or two)!

Before you go, here are some other posts you might like:

Bon voyage. . . and cheers!