Surviving Long Hours Air-Travel in Economy Class

Surviving Long Hours Air-Travel in Economy Class

Many kids want to be pilots when they grow up. Then after growing up, they change their minds and decide they will do business and travel the world. When that does not work out, going on a honeymoon in a land far away becomes the ultimate dream.

Well, either way, travelling to faraway places is just an interest to many and a lifestyle to some. It is until you board the airplane in an economy class seat that you begin rethinking your life decisions and wondering how it slipped your mind to plan for the 20hrs up there.

I like campaigning for first-class seats because you get to have a better time than in economy class seats. If you can get them, we are done here, for now, go have a good time. Otherwise, let us get down to business fellow economists.

Before Boarding

You should prepare thoroughly. Start by booking your flight early for you to get a variety of seats to choose from. Also, if you have air miles, please use them. It could just be the chance to secure you a first-class seat.

It should be in your habit to check-in early for long air travels. This will help you relax, and cancel out any chance of you missing that flight. It is a nightmare to be seated in the metallic cabin in the air for 22hrs, but topping that up with more hours awaiting the next flight to your destination? A nightmare with horrible toppings!

You can also try relaxing better. I am usually more committed to my yoga schedule all week before I travel. The stretching and continuous hydration will keep your body relaxed when seated.

Before boarding in a plane

About the Seats

Airlines maximize their profits and have as many seats in the airplane as possible. Common seat configurations are 3-3-3, 2-4-2 and 3-4-3. If you can, be in the middle row when in a 3-3-3 and 3-4-3 configuration. That way, you can easily access the aisle whenever you need to move around.

airline seats

For the lovers of window seats, that is an advantage. This is especially so if you are in a 2-4-2 configuration or do not mind moving past several legs to get to the aisle. Whenever you want to sleep, you can always rest your head on the window bulkhead and nap the flight away. My love for window seats, however, grows more if the flight is short and I need not keep moving.

In case you are not in a position to book an early flight, you still have a good chance of getting the best seat at the back. Most people like booking front seats and eventually leave an extra seat or two at the back. That could just be your lucky chance to sleep comfortably and read our novels in a less strained sitting position.


15hrs on board from to was my first long flight and I thought it best to deprive myself of sleep the night before. I wanted to sleep on the plane for all those hours and wake up magically in Canada. I ended up sleeping for only 30 minutes and cursing for most of the remaining hours. The irritation, boredom, headache; I wished I had just slept!

Rest well the night before, and do not be so stressed about adjusting to the time zone of your destination. You can sleep for fewer hours than normal and extend the sleep on the plane, but do not stay up all night. Once onboard, adjust your time settings to those of your destination country and relax. Your brain will adjust eventually and the jet lag will not be that bad.

Sleeping in an airplane

Pack for the sleeping phase. A travel blanket, eye masks, neck pillow, and comfortable socks are exactly what you need in your carry bag. The limited legroom in the economy class seats is uncomfortable enough; do no top that up with your tight clothes. Dress up like you want to relax for 18hrs. Change clothes when you feel uncomfortable.

You can also have some sleeping pills with you. Ensure that your doctor approves them for your personal use. In case you cannot naturally sleep, Melatonin, Unisom or Ambien are sleeping aids to back you up. If sleeping pills have nothing on you, o my!

Feeding You

In the anxiety or excitement of flying out of the country, you could fill up your tummy with butterflies and forget to eat solid . Well, that is not an entirely bad thing to do, but really, do not starve yourself. Three days before your flight henceforth, eat healthily and eat light foods. Alright, you can ignore this and recall it when in the washrooms above the clouds.

Remember to carry a few snacks to supplement the food served by the cabin crew. It is good food, but you have personal preferences too. You cannot seriously depend on one meal in that 22hrs flight from to ; at least think about all the vegetation and edible animals you are flying over and eat something…

Being busy inside an airplane food

I never touch alcohol and caffeinated beverages when travelling. They dehydrate you, and that is something you want to avoid by all means. Also, a hangover up there with only one sitting position for me? No thanks! Take some water every hour or so and stay refreshed all the way. You will be less exhausted by the end of the flight.

Be Busy

So, on that horrible flight, I had that I could not sleep, I thought to myself “I got this!”, and got my headphones to watch movies on my tablet. This was a very good idea! But then, I had two movies only, and that sorted 5 hours of the journey. Stock up enough movies and series on your fully charged devices.

I made friends. The person next to me was friendly and we talked about many things; we are friends to date. I also ensured to know two of the cabin crew and had a good time talking to them. You can try that out too, but do remember to have sensible stuff to talk about so that you do not bore people to sleep. Boring them to sleep is helping them too though.

Novels, inspirational books, and historical books can make time fly. Carry one if you are into reading, or use kindle paper-white. You can also carry on with your knitting hobby if they allow you to do it on board, as you think about anything that could be on your mind.

As you keep busy, do not ignore your body. If you feel like using the washrooms, do so. The best time to go there is immediately after eating before your trays are collected and when people are settled; it saves you from queuing and smelly loos. You should also stretch from time to time to relax your body as well as avoid numbing your muscles.

Final Thoughts

Economy class seats are not the best when on board, but they are bearable. If you board that plane well prepared, it is a guarantee that your trip shall be hassle-free. Ensure to book your tickets early in advance to get a variety of seats to choose from, dress appropriately for the flight and stay hydrated.

Besides, what could possibly go wrong when you have a carry-on with the right luggage? It simply takes a good book, interesting series to watch and good music to relax and forget about where you really are. When sleepy, sleep like a baby buddy. Economy class seats just got worth it, relax and fly away to you faraway land.


About The Author

Eve Kimori

I am a travel writer and planner with a free spirit and based in Nairobi, Kenya. I love exploring cultures around the globe, interacting with Mother Nature and conducting random research. When I am not working on travel projects, I am travelling.....

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