9 Tips for Surviving a Long Flight in Coach

While we all usually try to fly business or first on international flights, once in a while a great coach fare comes along and we have to hop on it and deal with the impending doom that we’ll be packed in like a sardine for a number of hours. However, over the years some tips have been accumulated to maximize the coach experience on long flights. In fact, occasional long-haul trips in coach help us stay grounded and appreciate the fortune of knowing how to maximize the value of us points.

Board relatively rested.
Don’t count on a long-haul flight as a good place to catch up on sleep — it’s not. As attractive and intuitive as it seems to get on a long-haul flight extremely tired, hoping to sleep the whole way, you are in for a world of hurt if you can’t sleep for any reason. You will be on the plane long enough to catch a few winks even if you are somewhat rested, and my advice is to take it when it comes; if your eyes start to droop, get out the eye covers and earplugs, and go with it. If you throw away a solid two-hour nap on a few extra rounds of Angry Birds, you might well be angry at yourself later.

Purchasing/Carrying a Gatorade before boarding.
Drinking electrolyte solutions (Gatorade being the best known) sometimes is a bigger help instead of solely water. Maintaining electrolyte balance is important, and that you don’t want to become completely diluted with water, particularly for anyone with other medical problems.

Choose exit row or premium seats.
Exit rows have miles of extra leg-room and seats towards the front of the plane or in mini-cabins can provide nicer flying conditions (and may also have power outlets, which are a nice perk). While most airlines block them for elites, some (like Delta) will let anyone choose them at purchase (especially for international flights). If you can’t select an exit row seat, call the airline and ask. Tip: if you snag an exit row, pack an extra sweater- it can be freezing in flight.

Make sure you have a great pair of headphones.
This is self-explanatory. And best of all, Beats By Dre headphones isn’t the only quality pair in town (Monster, BOSE, Sol Republic).

Don’t assume your seat assignment is set in stone.
Equipment swaps happen all the time. You can always do a dummy booking on your airline’s website to see if the seat map is still the same, or ask a gate agent/lounge attendant to make sure your seat assignment is good.

Don’t eat airline food.
Airline food (in all classes of service) is loaded with sodium, so combine that with a dry cabin and alcohol and you can end up with a major case of dehydration. There’s nothing wrong with investing in a mega-size bottle of water, because it may be over an hour in the air before you get service from the flight crew.

Don’t drink a ton of alcohol right before or during the flight.
While traveling internationally is exciting and you can’t wait to begin your trip, loading up on happy hour drinks will have negative effects for days. Dehydration can wreak havoc on your body and it can enhance and prolong jet-lag. Save the partying for your destination!

Invest in a portable battery powered mobile charger.
Those headphones only matter if you have the juice on your mobile device to listen to sounds; a portable charger with even just 2600 mAh (iPhone devices are usually 1400-1800 mAh of power; Android devices purchased after 2012 are usually 2000 mAh or more) can do wonders on a flight, as music or video play can drain a device’s battery quick fast.

Have a good attitude.
Even if you get stuck in a garbage seat, be thankful that you have the means to travel and aren’t part of the 75% of the world’s population who will never step foot on an airplane. We take a lot of perks for granted, so sometimes you just need to suck it up and be thankful. Being angry for an entire flight isn’t going to make the time go by any quicker. Having a good attitude will pay off in the long run.