By the time you board your long-haul flight, the chances are that you’ve already been waiting around for a couple of hours in the airport. If your flight is delayed, then you may already have read all the books and magazines you brought along and worn the batteries of your iPod down before you even take off, and the prospect of that 24-hour flight to New Zealand may be beginning to resemble a prison sentence.
Fear not, help is at hand!
The first thing to do is check out the in-flight entertainment. Depending on the quality of your airline and the class of seat you are in, this can vary greatly from fuzzy re-runs of ‘Mork and Mindy’ to a wide selection of the latest moviereleases, including, hopefully, a few you’ve been dying to see.
Most of the major long-haul operators do now have personal TV screens installed for their passengers that enable you to choose what to watch and when - you can even pause the action when dinner’s brought round!
As well as films, the in-flight entertainment may offer games and music. Take your time to explore what’s on offer, there’s no rush.
Try and sleep
If you can, sleep. Dozing can take hours off your flight and ensure you arrive at your destination less frazzled and jet-lagged than if you’ve spent all your time sampling the free booze and playing endless computer games.
To help you sleep, the airline may provide you with an eye mask, but bring one with you if you think they may not. Another useful sleeping aid is an inflatable neck rest, which will be particularly useful for those of us not lucky enough to be sitting in the fully reclining seats in the first or business class areas.
Move your body
Another thing to do, at some point, is to get up and have a stroll up and down the aisle. Not only will this pass a bit of time, but it could help prevent you getting deep vein thrombosis (DVT) from sitting still for too long. There are also some simple exercises you can do while you’re sitting in your seat to prevent DVT and to make yourself feel more comfortable. These range from pointing and curling your toes to lifting your arms in the air. Most airlines will provide details in their in-flight magazine or other in-flight information.
Travelling with children
The main key is to combine all the above ways of passing the time. A couple of hours on each one and you’ll soon be there. And if you are really having a bad time trying to keep yourself occupied, spare a thought for those travelling with small children. Children usually struggle to sit still and stay in one place for more than five minutes, so a long flight can seem like an eternity for children. If you are travelling with kids, here are a few suggestions that may help.
Check with your airline about hand-luggage for children. If they are allowed to have their own bag, let them choose their favourite toys or books to put in it. Don’t rely on these to keep them entertained for too long, however, make sure your bring some reinforcements. Don’t give them everything at once, but save things up for the moments when their patience is running particularly thin and then introduce a new toy or colouring book.
If your child sleeps better with a particular teddy, make sure you bring it. The ultimate achievement for any parent will be to get your children to sleep at some point on the flight, which will give you a chance, finally, to relax yourself.