[Rick Seaney is the CEO and cofounder of FareCompare, and columnist for Investopedia. The views expressed by columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Investopedia.]
If you’ve ever wondered how you’d survive being trapped in a large sardine can with a bunch of strangers for 19 hours, wait until October and fly Singapore Airlines’ Newark to Singapore route. OK, it’s actually only 18 hours and 45 minutes, but that’s still the longest flight in the world.
How to make it through such an ordeal? Small comforts, some tasty treats and a little imagination.
1. Stay Warm
It’s a rare airline that passes out blankets these days, though some will allow you to pay for the privilege. Instead, bring a jacket or sweater or shawl from home and carry it into the cabin. Consider bringing along a pair of compression socks, too. I know plenty of people who don’t wear them because of any doctor’s order; they wear them because they feel so darned good.
2. Special Treats
Do you crave really good chocolate or a superb cheese? Bring it, but dole it out just a couple of times during the flight. Doing so helps make an occasion of the little mini-feast and stretching out the fun helps time pass more quickly. If you’re more of a pâté aficionado, put it in a 3.4 ounce container to be sure of getting it through security (the TSA equates even edible gloppy or gel-like items with liquids, so they must follow the same rules).
3. Don’t Just Sit There
Unfortunately, airlines don’t like passengers getting up and going for a wander, not since 9/11. They also don’t like it because turbulence can sometimes appear without warning, and if you’re not buckled up in your seat, you could get hurt. (See 4 Things Your Pilot Really Wants You to Know.)
Your body will be crying out for some kind of movement on a long flight, but you can only make so many treks to the lavatory. Best bet: in-seat exercises. It’s not yoga, but it’s better than nothing and can also help pass the time. Lifehacker lists some good ones such as the foot pump and shoulder roll. But just Google, you’ll have no trouble finding airplane exercises.
And check out Get a More Comfortable Seat in Coach for ways to maximize your chances of traveling well – see which options your airline offers on the trip you're booking.
4. Go to the Movies
Why not curate a personal entertainment travel experience on your own device? Download a bunch of movies that have to do with travel or feature your destination. Airplane! still makes me laugh, and if you haven’t seen Up in the Air, it's definitely worth a look. And while Casablanca doesn’t really have much to do with travel, there is a plane at the very end and it’s such a perfect movie. Now load up the electronics and keep those charger cords handy.
5. Nap Assists
Sleeping during a long long flight is probably the very best way to pass the time, but this can be hard on a noisy aircraft in a crowded cabin. The experts I surveyed always do the following:
- Use noise-cancelling headphones.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Keep window shades shut.
Some like to wear eyeshades, too. Others, I have heard, enjoy doing things like spritzing their little space with, oh, say, a jasmine-infused essential oil. Maybe it’s lovely, but I can see where it would drive a seatmate crazy so please don’t do that. In return, I will share my pâté with you.