Tips

10 Tips for Surviving Long Flights in Coach

Not everyone gets to sit back and relax in first class, devouring hors d’oeuvres and caviar while seating next to a unicorn. Yeah I know what goes on there on the other side. I know you guys lounge in Chanel pajama sets while getting a foot rub from a masseuse on standby. I get it, first class is the shizz. But for the rest of us who has to endure the pain of dealing with that guy who’s a sweaty mess and is leaning a bit too close or a kid who won’t stop kicking the back of our seats, we have to fully accept that flying coach SUCKS.

10 Tips for Surviving Long Flights in Coach

Why does it suck?

Aside from being packed like sardines in a can and not having the same amenities compared to first class, other travelers are the main reason why flying coach sucks. You know what really gets to me? The lack of social awareness by people on board. So far, I had to deal with a guy using my shoulder as his pillow, a guy sitting behind me finger punching the life out of the buttons on his tv screen causing my seat to bounce back and forth for half of the flight, a teenager kicking the back of my seat and a lady who felt the need to recline her seat to the point it’s touching my knees…and people wonder why I prefer going on road trips.

10 Tips for Surviving Long Flights in Coach

How to survive long flights in coach?

1. Get enough sleep the day before your flight. 

  • Sleep and flying economy doesn’t really go together. Make sure you get plenty of rest before your flight because you won’t get enough any once you board. Plus you’ll need all the energy to deal with security check and baggage claim.

2. Bring your essentials and make sure they’re handy.

  • Determine what you might need during the flight and make sure you have them close to you. My flight essentials are: lip balm, lotion, face wipes, mouth wash, eye mask, ear plugs, headphones, neck pillow, socks and an oversized scarf that I use as a blanket.

3. Don’t forget your flight entertainment.

  • In-flight entertainment systems are not always reliable. Some flights don’t even have it. Come prepared and have your electronics fully charged and your reading materials ready to go. Some of my favorite flight entertainments are: iPad with movies and books, adult coloring book, travel journal, Spotify for music and playing cards.

4. Wear comfortable clothes.

  • Even if you’re headed to a tropical destination, always wear layers of clothes. Airplanes are notoriously known for having freezing temperatures so it’s always good to have options. My go-to travel wear are: leggings, oversized shirt, cardigan, oversized scarf and running shoes.

5. Protect your health.

  • Don’t forget to take vitamins before your flight. I usually drink Emergen-C before I travel because getting sick is the last thing I want during my vacation. Two things I never forget to bring are hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. I really don’t care if my seat neighbor thinks I’m weird but I always wipe down James and I’s arm rests, seat belts and tray tables before finally settling in. I’d rather be weird than sick. Also don’t forget to stretch, stretch, stretch!

6. Eat before flight or bring your own snacks.

  • Food in economy class sucks. I found that out the hard way a few months ago on our way to the Philippines. I thought why should I buy food when I get a free one on board. Nope! Aside from looking like cat food, the food itself tastes gross and salty. Eat before your flight or bring your own snacks like chips, protein bars, crackers or sandwiches (not tuna pls!).

7. Go to the restroom before you board.

  • Boarding takes awhile – people looking for their seats and placing bags on the overhead bin – so don’t forget to go to the restroom before you board the plane. Chances are there will be other people trying to make a beeline for the restroom right before the seatbelt light comes on.

8. Stay hydrated.

  • As a health care professional, I can’t stress enough the importance of staying hydrated during a long flight. Airplane cabins are exceedingly dry so drink plenty of fluids even if it means you have to go to the restroom a lot. Also avoid alcohol and caffeine, if possible.

9. Arm yourself with lots of patience.

  • Traveling means you have to tackle the inevitable – long lines and annoying people. Try to maintain a positive attitude even when your patience is running thin.

10. Be kind.

  • Don’t be that person who thinks he/she is the only person on board. Make it easier for everyone and keep a stress-free environment. Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.

10 Tips for Surviving Long Flights in Coach

What about you? What are your favorite survival tips for long flights in coach?

Share them in the comment section below!


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33 Comments

  1. Voyager

    May 30, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Oh! yes, a long distance flight can really be harrowing and tiresome, it requires a lot of patience, and maybe a book to transport you out of the confines of the coach into another world of your imagination.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 7, 2016 at 10:49 pm

      I totally agree with the book! I usually bring a book or two during long flights to pass time and you’re right, it totally transports you to a different place and time….away from the stress of flying coach I hope. 😀

  2. Soraya

    May 30, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Spot on Janna – coach sucks! And I have yet…in all my years of travelling… to find a way to make coach comfortable. Thanks for sharing these tips, they are great.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 7, 2016 at 10:48 pm

      Me too Soraya! If you do find out pls let me know! Maybe if we wont the lottery? We can all fly business/first class and sit beside unicorns? lol and no problem. Glad you liked them!

  3. JEFF TAYLOR

    May 31, 2016 at 1:10 am

    Last 2 times (on overseas flights) I copped out and took Advil PM right before the flight. The stuff knocks me right out and 8 hours later I woke up just in time for the flight to end and felt great! I know this isn;t an option for everyone though but it works great for the solo traveller

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 7, 2016 at 10:44 pm

      I’ve heard some people take Advil PM too when they fly. I don’t know if that would work for me personally since I don’t want to wake up groggy but I might try taking melatonin as an alternative. I’m glad it works for you though. Anything to make the flight easier!

  4. Gina

    May 31, 2016 at 3:44 am

    A million times yes! Other passengers are what make long flights more miserable! People should always be courteous and think of others before doing anything. I especially hate children and crying babies on flights. Living in Asia, I always wear my surgeon mask to avoid all the nasty germs too.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 7, 2016 at 10:41 pm

      It does suck when there are children and babies crying during flights but sometimes it’s out of our control and I do feel bad for the parents who are trying to keep their kids calm but couldn’t do much in a confined space. I think we just need to be understanding too and have patience. I’ve actually seen a lot of people wear the surgeon mask when I visited Asia a few months ago. I dont know if that’s possible to do here in the US though.

  5. Svetoslav Dimitrov

    May 31, 2016 at 3:44 am

    I certainly agree with most tips, and they are great indeed. However, some carriers (especially Middle Eastern, such as QA, Etihad, Emirates) offer amazing food even in their economy classes. So, give them a try. Besides, their flights are ridiculously expensive compared to other companies’ prices and/or quality/service.

    The smelly guy/lady (yes, there are “fragrant” ladies too) are a bummer, though. Sometimes even worse than the crazy kid trying to remove your kidney from behind.

    Happy travels, Janna!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 7, 2016 at 10:38 pm

      Oh wow I didn’t know that. I hope to experience flying with the airlines you listed. That sounds amazing! And haha yes of course there are smelly ladies as well. Sucks to endure that for a 12 hr flight. Happy travels too Svetoslav!

  6. Amanda Williams

    May 31, 2016 at 4:06 am

    There are some great tips here. Staying hydrated is particularly important (and the bit about being patient of course)!!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 7, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      Thanks Amanda! Yeah definitely. Hydration is very important especially since the cabin gets very dry. It just sucks if you get seated in the middle row haha

  7. Cass

    May 31, 2016 at 11:12 am

    These are great tips – I always fly coach (or in Europe the budget airlines are even worse than coach!) and fuelling up before hand and keeping the essentials close are definite musts! And don’t forget to charge the electronics (and bring a back up if you have one!)

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 7, 2016 at 10:34 pm

      Thanks Cass! I totally agree with charging electronics. I just bought myself a portable battery recently and it’s amazing. I can go on all day without having to worry about my phone dying.

  8. Suma Jain

    June 8, 2016 at 6:26 am

    Very helpful tips to all the travellers who hate long haul flights. So far I have managed to sleep through entire journey whenever I travelled long distance. Nevertheless, going to bookmark this post for future reference :). And totally agree with the flight food being inedible most of the time but certain airways like Qatar, Etihad and Emirates offer delicious food.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 12, 2016 at 12:31 am

      Lucky you! I can never get a full sleep whenever I fly. I think the most I’ve gotten is 2 hrs. That’s what I’ve heard actually. Hopefully I get to try and fly with those airlines you mentioned!

  9. carla

    June 8, 2016 at 6:41 am

    Great tips! Call me weird but I love long haul flights though, its the only time I can catch up on old movies hahaha

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 12, 2016 at 12:33 am

      Hah! True that. My last two flights I watched The Revenant, How to be single, Sicario and The Martian. The only perk in my opinion! :p

  10. Nina

    June 8, 2016 at 6:48 am

    Hydrating is number one for me. I am lucky as the pressure on the plane makes me sooo sleepy, i sleep no matter how long the flight is once the plane takes off. I am basically like dead person, i dont eat, wake up to drink water, moisturise my face and back to sleep:)

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 12, 2016 at 12:34 am

      So awesome! I’m jealous!! I wish I could be the same. I wanna just knock out and wake up in a new destination haha

  11. Sally

    June 8, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    It’s does suck hey but there are things you can do to make it slightly better 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 12, 2016 at 12:35 am

      Got any advice Sally? I need new ideas!! 🙂

  12. Megan Indoe

    June 8, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    These are great tips for long flights. I am usually pretty happy unless you have one of those people you mentioned who have little to no awareness that others are around them. I could never do a long flight without movies or audiobooks to listen/watch! I didn’t used to mind the food on airplanes until a recent trip from Hawaii to Korea where the food tasted like garbage then the second meal was just a cup of ramen. We felt ripped off, haha! A cup of this ramen only costs like $.60 and they tried to pull that off as a meal?! Thanks again for sharing!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 12, 2016 at 12:39 am

      A cup of ramen?? Such a travesty! I can’t believe they did that. What airline is that so I know which one to avoid? haha!

  13. Kerri

    June 9, 2016 at 12:30 am

    The majority of my flying is seriously long haul 24hours + so all of these are my survival tips, plus a few more. I was so pleased recently that the flight I took had hand held ipads for everyone instead of the ones behind the seats so that they didn’t tap into my head all the time, but then they didn’t put their ear phones in so everyone could hear what they were watching ! Thank goodness for my noise cancelling headphones.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 12, 2016 at 12:40 am

      Oh lord 24 hrs+?? Idk how I can do that. Hand held ipads?? What airline? That’s pretty cool! And LOL that’s exactly what I was saying about people and their lack of social awareness.

  14. What's Katie Doing?

    June 9, 2016 at 3:02 am

    All great tips – I hate overnight flights in economy, but I have my own flight kit and I’m used to packing exactly what I need onboard, which makes it much easier!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 12, 2016 at 12:42 am

      Thanks Katie! That’s good to hear! I love packing my flight kit as well although last time I flew, I left one or two items at home which sucked a bit. 🙁

  15. Danielle Des

    June 10, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    I also used to think that I could save money by eating at on the flight instead of at the airport and you’re right, it’s a terrible idea. Just enjoy a meal of your choice at the airport or before your flight. Don’t cant on the cat food =)

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 12, 2016 at 12:43 am

      Right?? I hated it! Idk why I thought that for so long. It is a terrible idea. I’d rather have a full meal before the flight so I dont get cranky for that 12+hr flight.

  16. Veronika

    June 17, 2016 at 4:35 am

    Thanks Janna! Every suggestion is stellar. The best suggestion is to be kind and considerate. I know crying, wailing babies can be really hard to take, but I always feel sorry for them and their parents. It is, like you point out, the inconsiderate adults that are so annoying. Having said that I hope you don’t find me annoying! I really like your engaging,smart style of writing and I typically never bother to do this but I’m going to make a grammar suggestion. “…I always wipe down James’s and my armrests” Tip: break the phrase down. For example if I say, Sally and me are going to the store, try saying me am going to the store. That doesn’t sound right, but if you say I am going to the store it does. Sally and I are going to the store. Conversely if I say, they gave the bonus to Bob and I and I break the phrase down to, they gave the bonus to I then I know that’s not right. The correct pronoun would be ‘me’. They gave the bonus to Bob. They gave the bonus to me. Both sound right, so now we know that the sentence is correct, they gave the bonus to Bob and me. Educational experts have downgraded the importance of grammar instruction since the 70’s. So teachers in the system only teach what they know, which is very little. I’m hoping you don’t mind!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 17, 2016 at 11:17 pm

      No problem Veronika! And thanks for your suggestion. I’ll keep that in mind next time!

  17. Nina

    August 25, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Cant agree more with your tips, my routine is identical, specially when it comes to food on economy flights. I think with regimen like this one in the post ,we screw a little bit our body, but after the flightImake sure i get plenty of rest or good sleep and hydrate. Probiotics pills turned out very well too.

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