Life Travel How to survive a long haul flight in comfort
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How to survive a long haul flight in comfort

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Hours in a metal box with 300 other people is an unsavoury thought.

Apart from dreaming about the idyllic destination waiting for you at the arrivals gate, the good news is there are a few ways to survive a long-haul flight in comfort.

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The New Daily set out to discover the best ways to enjoy a flight, regardless of whether or not you’re flying “cattle class”.

Drink water – not alcohol

wine on a plane
Avoid the alcohol on long-haul flights, instead turn to water. Photo: Getty

Climate control has its drawbacks, chief among them the tendency to dehydrate the body.

According to the World Health Organisation, humidity levels in an aircraft are usually about 20 per cent. By comparison, it is about 30 per cent in the home.

This may cause the skin to dry out and discomfort in the eyes, nose and mouth.

Pack some skin moisturiser or a saline nasal spray in your carry-on bag, as well as a bottle of water, and avoid wearing contacts if possible.

According to Professor Morton Rawlin from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, often people get dehydrated on long flights due to constant exposure to air-conditioning or forgetting to drink water.

Consumption of coffee, alcohol or tea, which have diuretic effects, should be limited.

“If you have the opportunity, make sure you are drinking more than you would on average, even if you aren’t feeling thirsty,” he said.

Move around

Sitting still for hours on end is no good, regardless of what age you are.

“Move your calves and your legs to get the circulation moving,” Prof Rawlin said.

“You want to be moving your feet for a few minutes at a time, so it is not just one flick of a calf and that will do you, you actually have to do something.

“If you have the opportunity to walk around in the aircraft, if it is a long flight, that will help.”

Deep-vein thrombosis, although more likely to affect older people, could be suffered at any age, and Prof Rawlin recommended throwing some support socks into your carry-on bag to make sure you get through your flight in comfort.

Following your regular routine in the lead-up to departure, including getting plenty of exercise and sleep, will prevent you going in, and likely coming out, of the plane feeling exhausted.

Sleep unassisted

sleep on a plane
An eye mask or earplugs could help to sleep on a plane. Photo: Getty

It can be tempting to try sleep aids when thinking about sleeping in an upright position, but they could easily do more harm than good, Prof Rawlin said.

Everyone sleeps – or doesn’t sleep – for different reasons and although tables might help you get to sleep, they might not actually keep you asleep.

“If you combine them with alcohol, they can make you quite disorientated. In extreme cases it can result in people not knowing where they are and getting quite agitated, that can be very difficult for the person and the staff on the plane,” Prof Rawlin said.

“Make sure you try to go to sleep for regular intervals of the flight and if you find it hard to sleep with noise bring earplugs and eye shades. Try to make yourself as comfortable as you can.”

Pick the best seats every time

Choosing where to sit on the plane can be stressful, particularly when you are embarking on a long flight – you could be dooming yourself to 10 hours in a busy thoroughfare or with your legs curled practically underneath your body.

Some websites aim to mitigate this problem.

One good option is SeatGuru, a site where you can type in your flight number or destination and see a view of the plane’s layout.

Although it won’t guarantee the quality of your spot, at least it won’t be too much of a surprise when you walk onto the plane.

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