Long-Haul Flight
December 13, 2003 8:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm approaching the longest flight of my life: From Los Angeles to Fiji.

I'm no stranger to intercontinental flights, but this is my first trip across the Pacific. How the heck do I bear it?
posted by o2b to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Those little one ounce alcohol bottles. Works like a charm.
posted by Keyser Soze at 8:27 PM on December 13, 2003

Response by poster: I know I should (and will likely need to) sleep during the 15+ hour flight, but I am always highly unsuccessful in such endeavours. I'm 6' 4", 240lbs, and just can't get comfortable enough to sleep effectively, even if I get the exit row I ask for. Any thoughts? I read a lot normally, but in such a close environment, I can only read so long.

Anyone have any over the counter sleep aids they swear by?
posted by o2b at 8:27 PM on December 13, 2003

I've done 20-plus hour flights many times. It's not really that hard.

Contrary to Keyser Soze's advice, don't drink alcohol, whatever you do. On short flights, it's fine, but if after you start to sober up and dehydrate while still in the air, that's brutal. Also avoid caffeinated drinks, which are diuretic and will have a similar effect.

Getting on the plane tired and getting some sleep during the flight is a good idea, but try to time it so that you wake up at what would be a reasonable local-time awakening. I personally would advise against knockout drugs, but that's your call. When you arrive, make sure you spend time in the sun ASAP, to help reset your body clock.

If the flight isn't full, make nice with the flight attendants and see if you can move after takeoff, if necessary, so somewhere where there are two or three empty seats in a row. The exit row seat request is a good plan, too.

Don't eat excessively. Abdominal gas from digestion can be uncomfortable at altitude.

When you're boarding, gank some of the magazines before the attendants come around to offer. Make sure you have a variety of light, short, reading material.

Get up and walk around frequently during the flight.

LA to Fiji's a doddle, though, really. Relax. ;-)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:48 PM on December 13, 2003

If you have one, a Pocket PC (or similar) device might help -- preload with songs, music, games, etc. And extra battery (or two) if possible.
posted by davidmsc at 9:04 PM on December 13, 2003

Also, maybe pick up a phrase book and learn a little of the lingo on the plane : the occasional vinaka vaka levu goes a long way!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:34 PM on December 13, 2003

To follow up on the wonderous poultry's advice, drink lots of water. If your flight is like the transatlantic ones I've been on, the flight attendants will offer a lot of bottled water: take it. Guzzle it. You'll feel much, much better if you stay as hydrated as humanly possible. And in addition to walking around and stretching regularly, try to avoid sitting with crossed legs or in other circulation-constricting positions. All the better to avoid a DVT problem.

And have fun! Fiji, whoo!
posted by Dreama at 10:02 PM on December 13, 2003

On long haul flights I bring:
some favorite snacks
reading material
bottles of water

Also, I try to get up every hour and do a series of stretching excercises to prevent every muscle in my body from aching. Benedryl works really well to make me sleepy ... otherwise bring an organic chemistry textbook... that also works like a charm
posted by zia at 12:34 AM on December 14, 2003

Little or no alcohol. Lots of water. A good book or three (the advice on reading a language textbook is good, but bring something which isn't too taxing on the old grey matter). Walk around the plane every couple of hours. (You may find it easier to sit in an aisle seat to save bothering your neighbour).

These long flights tend to be a lot easier on the body if you are flying during daylight hours.
posted by plep at 1:54 AM on December 14, 2003

a lot of over the counter sleep aids tend to dehydrate.

Along the lines of what davidsmc said: my game boy advance has been a godsend; it won't last the whole flight if its a long one like yours, but it can eat up a good 3 hours. I don't even play the thing unless I'm going on a flight, but it's worth it's weight in gold cause it makes my relatively frequent sfo< ->yvr flights go by in the blink of an eye.
posted by juv3nal at 1:57 AM on December 14, 2003

A lot of airlines have inflight entertainment nowadays. Kept me sane.
posted by ginz at 7:46 AM on December 14, 2003

Sonata. It's a prescription sleep aid -- a travel clinic prescribed it for me when I went to Vietnam by way of Korea. I had had a long stressful day packing and getting ready, then got on the plane in Atlanta. Ate dinner, took a Sonata, fell asleep in five minutes, woke up an hour before we landed in Seoul.

Did the same on the way back with no problems. Sonata's sedating effects only last one to three hours -- basically enough to let you fall asleep. If you wake up and you're groggy, just take another one.

That, and get exercise right before your flight, and stay hydrated.
posted by Vidiot at 10:12 AM on December 14, 2003

Two words: Nap Strap.

I've actually had good luck with the kind of pillow that wraps around the back of one's neck. That, and headphones. Even if you don't feel like listening to music, wearing headphones will discourage random strangers from striking up a conversation, which is a major plane nuisance for me.
posted by bonheur at 12:20 PM on December 14, 2003

Yeah, the horseshoe-shaped pillows and noise-cancelling headphones are a godsend as well. Pair that with a sleepmask and the aforementioned Sonata, and I'm good.
posted by Vidiot at 5:32 PM on December 14, 2003

Video Games!
posted by The God Complex at 9:16 PM on December 14, 2003

earplugs and an eyemask are a must. and i'll second (or third!) previous snippets of advice to stay hydrated and take plenty of light reading matter. enjoy!
posted by netsirk at 12:20 AM on December 15, 2003

This stuff is pretty amazing, if you ask me. It keeps me very, very, calm while in-flight, and then when I get there, I have no jet lag at all.
posted by pomegranate at 6:16 AM on December 15, 2003

matt got me noise-cancelling headphones, they're the best thing that ever happened to my travelling career. you should ask matt to get you some, too.
posted by anildash at 9:20 AM on December 15, 2003

Ambien is the sleep aid everyone I know uses if that's the way you are going. Quick to sleep and no hangover. If not, pick up a few real page turners, books that will keep you enthralled, not something you "should" be reading.
If you can luck into a row of empty seats to stretch out on, you'll end up more comfy than first class.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:38 AM on December 19, 2003

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