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What can I do to Make a Long Plane Flight Bearable?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A long plane flight can seem unendurable, especially after eight or nine hours of flying has elapsed. Fortunately, many airlines have started to take measures to combat this problem, providing entertainment for their passengers. Seat back mounted entertainment centers featuring movies, games, and music have become standard on many airlines. On luxury airlines, passengers can pay a premium price to have beds for long haul flights. However, it can be useful to come armed with a few diversions of your own to take on the plane.

Reading is a common method of entertainment on a long plane flight. You may find it useful to bring magazines or short story collections, as a long flight can adversely affect your attention span. If you do bring a full length book, you may want to stay away from complex tomes, and stick with “airplane reading” such as simple fiction or mysteries. Make sure to bring backup reading, in case you get restless or bored with the first book.

While music and movies are available on many planes, the airline often charges you for headphones. Be sure to bring a pair along. If you have a personal music player, you may also want to consider bringing that, as the musical selection on most airlines is far from scintillating. Many aircraft also allow the use of laptops on a long plane flight, and you could consider bringing music to listen to or movies to watch on your laptop. If you're feeling particularly motivated, you could also work on the laptop. The most significant drawback to this is that you are nearly always limited by your laptop's battery life, as places to conveniently plug in are very rare.

Another method of whiling away the time on a long flight is the use of puzzles or games. Books of word games are readily available at most bookstores, especially in airports. Physical puzzles, such as a Rubik's Cube, may also be something to consider. Doing something with your hands such as knitting, drawing, or working out a puzzle can be an excellent way of distracting your mind from the flight. Be aware that many airlines restrict the items which you can carry on board, so consider whether or not a hand diversion can be used as a weapon before packing it in your carry-on.

A long plane flight is also very physically demanding. In addition to getting hungry, your body also undergoes physiological changes which can be harmful if they are not addressed. Make sure to pack snacks to keep your hunger sated, and drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration. If you get nauseous on planes, stick to bland foods and carbonated drinks to settle your stomach.

It is also very important to stretch and move around on a long plane flight, to avoid cramps and a condition called deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot which can form when you remain stationary too long. If unidentified, the clot could travel to your heart, potentially killing you. Every hour or so, get out of your seat to move around, bend your limbs, and stretch.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon30079 — On Apr 13, 2009

When going on a plane my family always brings an extra bag (knapsack) with granola bars, portable games and lots of other entertaining activities! Make sure you extra-charge any electrical appliances such as mp3's, i-pods, etc.

By anon3754 — On Sep 15, 2007

Why not try to meditate with the headphone sets on to drown out the passenger noise and engine noise...just focus on your breathing. This can be wonderfully refreshing and mind clearing...takes an hour if you practice. Then the other options are more pleasant.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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