Endless queues, screaming children, inadequate seating, international terrorism, deep vein thrombosis – there are loads of fun reasons to fly economy class, and we all love doing so. That said, an aeroplane cabin is not quite the oasis of pure pleasure we might think it is, especially on long journeys. From pulmonary embolism to basic dehydration, no one likes to suffer discomfort, especially in an 85 tonne metal tube travelling at 1,000km/h 10km above terra firma. However, before you decide to cancel your flight, write a will, or tell your partner about that night in Stockholm, why not have a read through our tips on how to stay fit during a long flight – it could make a big difference to your level of comfort. Honestly, we only do it because we care.
- During your booking, ask for a window seat. Usually people who have motion sickness feel better when looking through the window to the horizon. Make sure to buy your plane ticket early in order to have a choice of seat. Alternatively, arrive at the airport early to see if you can reserve a good one. Window seats also make sure your neighbour doesn’t need to wake you if they want to take a walk.
- If you don’t like turbulence, try a seat above the wings, where the orientation is more steady.
- Avoid using seats with a wall behind or in front of you. Walls in front of you can mean that you cannot stretch your legs enough. A wall behind you can prevent you tilting your chair back far enough.
- Get plenty of sleep before the day of your flight in order to board the plane well rested.
- Drink a lot of water, starting 24 hours before you fly, to prevent dehydration.
During the flight
- Wear loose-fitting clothes to feel as comfortable as possible. Loose clothes will not restrict your movements.
- Avoid uncomfortable footwear such as high-heeled or tight shoes. Pressure differences mean your feet can swell up during the flight, so either take your shoes off and wear slippers or wear shoes that can stretch.
- Don’t forget to take plenty of fluids because the air-conditioning will dehydrate you. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol because these drinks speed up the dehydration process. Preferably take fresh water.
- Try to avoid putting anything under the seat in front of you; it’s better to have this space in which to move your feet and your ankles.
- Try to walk regularly in the cabin of the plane (at least every hour).
- If you suffer from earache don’t forget to chew some chewing gum or try to blow through your nose whilst squeezing it shut with your fingers.
- During the flight, the air on board can be dry because of the altitude, the UV glare on the windows, and the air-conditioning. That is why we advise you to take a moisturizing cream for the face and the hands, to drink enough water, and to wear your glasses instead of contact lenses.
- If you have to wait between two flights, try to go out of the airport in order to enjoy some fresh air.
- Try to take a shower if your connecting flight is going to be a long one.
Sleeping on board
- Take a special pillow with you for sleeping in an upright position. This will prevent neck cramps after waking up.
- Try to stay warm – don’t be afraid to ask for an extra blanket.
- Be sure to always have an eye mask with you, to allow yourself to sleep when it’s light around you.
- Always take earplugs with you. Engines, children, snoring passengers, emergency alarms – there are many disturbances on board.
- Drink enough before you go to sleep in order to avoid dehydration.
- Avoid drinking caffeine if you hope to sleep.
- Keep your seat belt visibly fastened, so the crew won’t need to wake you up during periods of turbulence.
- Try to eat a banana before you go to sleep. A banana contains melatonin, which makes you sleepy, and also magnesium, which relaxes your muscles.
- You needn’t rush to get off the plane (unless you are about to miss a connecting flight); it’s much better to wait calmly in your seat until the crowds have dispersed, and then enjoy the space to retrieve your hand luggage while everyone else is waiting in the bus at the bottom of the steps.
- Stretch when entering the airport to prevent cramps.
- Find a toilet and refresh with some cold fresh water.