Anyone can bear a small seat, no snacks, and little entertainment for the 2 hour commuter flights along the east coast or Europe-hopping with RyanAir. Many are even fine with minimal perks on discounted transatlantic flights. But don't underestimate the tenacity needed to survive 12+ hours on the wrong airline without being properly prepared.
Here are a few tips for plane travel to the other side of the world:
- The airline DOES MATTER: The first thing you and your travel companions need to do is set proper priorities. Is cost the greatest factor or are you willing to spend a hundred dollars or so for extra comfort? It's not a rule that the cheapest flight option will always be a lower quality airline (sometimes it's the opposite...but more on flight searching later) but you will often find that there is a correlation. Just make sure that you are doing your research before booking by utilizing crowdsourced review sites that will often give you a snapshot of worst and best experiences to let you average out what you are in for (eg. unidentified food, knees in your back, glitchy entertainment consoles *cough* China Southern *cough*). Here are a couple useful sites to start with: www.airlinequality.com and www.tripadvisor.com/Airlines.
- PLAN accordingly: Once the flight and airline have been decided on, try to supplement your carry-on with whatever your airline is lacking in. If food seems to be the issue, fill your bag with snacks or packed meals. Poor entertainment? Load up your computer or tablet with movies or books. And no matter how comfortable the seats claim to be, load up on rest enhancing meds, sleep mask, and ear plugs.
- Use this time to REDUCE JETLAG: Do not underestimate the power of drinking lots of water! Ease off the booze and try to focus on keeping your body as hydrated as possible. The plane will already dry you out and your system needs those fluids to help your body adjust. Trust me, it's worth the extra trip to the bathroom. While you're up, use this time to stretch and get blood flowing. Taking turns to walk loops around the plane will keep you a bit more comfortable and help reduce that lethargic feeling once you land. Finally, try to set your sleeping schedule to your final destination. It's not that important to get through the entire list of available movies from 2010. Use your Benadryl or sleeping aid wisely to match your resting and then force yourself to stay awake once you land (no naps!) until an acceptable bedtime. One day of coffee and discomfort will ensure that you are able to enjoy the rest of your trip as much as possible without the haze of sleepiness.
A 35 hour journey doesn't have to damper your trip around the world. Just plan accordingly, take in the views, and get yourself pumped up for your arrival!!