Airport Lounge Sunrise WM

Surviving the Long Haul Journey: In-Flight Survival Tips (Part 1)

Flying used to be an exciting adventure – rather than just mere survival – especially for long haul flights.    The reality of the airline industry is centered on functionality, as they cut personal space to add more seats, and reduce service in the main cabin.

This has led to a test of endurance – a test that I want to help you pass with “flying” colors.  With some advance planning, your long haul international flight doesn’t have to be a 10+ hour nightmare in a horribly cramped prison-like seat.

In my last post, Surviving the Long Haul Journey: Choosing Your Flight, I shared how your flight selection can have a large impact on your flight experience.  In this post, I share my tried and true In-Flight Survival Tips.

Financial disclosure:  I have no connections with any of the named entities discussed in this article.

Dressing for Success

Wear comfortable clothes, and dress in layers.  Airplanes can be very cold while in-flight, but very warm on the ground before the engines are running.  To be comfortable in both scenarios, dress in layers.

Be prepared for the air conditioning system to not operate as expected.  Your ideal temperature may not be everyone else’s ideal temperature.  We were once on an international flight on a very warm plane.  I had worn a long sleeve shirt as my base layer, and I could not get comfortable the whole flight. Lesson learned.

Your travel outfit should double as pajamas, but still look presentable.  Please do not be that person wearing inappropriate sleepwear on board!  You could change into your pajamas onboard, but that increases your carry-on luggage bulk.

Seat Selections

If you have two people traveling and the airlines have seats configured in rows of 3, see if you can reserve seats 1 and 3, leaving the middle seat empty.  Since middle seats are the last ones to fill, you have a chance at an empty seat between you, with extra room to stretch out.

If you have a child sitting in your lap, this strategy gives you extra room for you and your child.  (Thanks to our friend Ian Ng for this tip!)  Remember to use SeatGuru to scout out your seats before you purchase your tickets!


Settling In Your Seats

We have a whole process for settling in, especially on long haul flights.  This is where you will be living for the next 10-18 hours, so make it as safe and comfortable as you can.

 Take out the magazines in your seat-back pocket.

They have been touched my many people before you, and take up valuable legroom space.  Place them in the overhead bin, or under your seat.  You instantly created another 1-2 inches of legroom.

Wipe down all surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes (see my Five Tips for Healthy Traveling)

When planes are ‘turned over’ between flights, the crews do not have time to wipe down all the surfaces of each seat.  Many people have been in your chair, and some of had virus or bacterial infections.

Take a moment and wipe down these surfaces

  • Headrest
  • Tray table, including release latch or handle for the table
  • Arm rests
  • Audio / visual volume controls
  • Seatback pocket

After wiping down these surfaces, use a clean wipe to clean your hands (or if possible, wash your hands in the lavatory).

Be cautious of airline blankets.

If your blanket is sealed in plastic wrap, it should have been cleaned.  If the blanket is just folded on your seat, it has been used.  The flight attendants were tidying the plane and just folded it on your seat.  If you snuggle up with this blanket, you could be snuggling up to the last person’s viral infection!

Re-use the clean plastic wrap around an airline blanket as a wrap for your purse or bag when you place it on the floor underneath the seat.

Just another layer of germ protection.

Use the airline blanket as lumbar support.

You may not need the airline blanket (and it takes up valuable space around your seat if you don’t want it).  Consider rolling up the blanket and using it as lumbar support.  This makes airline seats fractionally less uncomfortable.

Inflatable Footrests WM

Fill up your Inflatable Footrests after takeoff

Inflatable Footrests are some of the most wonderful inventions!  I am vertically challenged, and standard airline seats really hurt because I do not have anywhere to put my feet.

I actually invented these inflatable footrests (in my head) as a solution for airline travel, then did a Google search to find that other companies already manufacture them.  (There goes my multi-million dollar idea!)

These footrests have made flying significantly more comfortable.  Inflatable pillows are nice, but I do not travel anywhere without my footrests!  While travel pillows are sold everywhere, I have not seen the inflatable footrests available at airports.

They are available online – I purchased my “Go Travel” brand footrests through Bed Bath and Beyond; also available through Go Travel directly

Do you have any tips for surviving your long-haul international flight?  Where are your Bucket List locations?  Would love to hear your comments!  Please share with us below!




If you have a special trip you’ve been dreaming of, we want to help!  We believe that anyone should be able to travel, regardless of medical disabilities.

Please contact us, and we can help you customize the perfect vacation that can accommodate everyone in your family!


The information, including but not limited to, text, images, graphics, links, and other materials contained on this website are for informational and educational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote safer and happier travel by assisting travelers with helpful information.  It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition, new medications – including over the counter medications – and safety for you to travel.  Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional medical care because of information you have read on this website.


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