I’ve flown hundreds of times and most of those flights were more than four hours long. I’ve done a few back-to-back 14-hour flights. Enduring this means I’ve picked up a few habits that might help you the next time you’re in the special hell of the long-haul flight.
Eating – hold a cup or small bowl under your cutlery as you bring the food to your mouth. You can eat with a lot less stress if you know you’ll arrive at your destination without evidence of past meals across the front of your shirt. Bring a washcloth on the flight and keep it under your drinks. When you hit turbulence, spills won’t cause you problems.
Sleeping – wear a sweatshirt or jumper with a loose hood and a front pocket. When it’s time to sleep, sling the hood over your eyes and shove your hands into the pocket. It’s not a comfortable sleep but it is the best you’ll manage. Bring a set of heavy wool socks to wear on the plane instead of shoes. Rest your feet on top of your shoes when you sleep. For some reason, the vibration of the plane on your feet can be disruptive.
Comfort – People complain that their knees hurt because the seats are too small. Yes and no. The seats are awful. They feel like concrete and they are too small. But also, your joints feel terrible due to the pressurized cabin as much as the cramped space. If medically appropriate for you, take an non-steroidal anti inflammatory medication twenty minutes prior to take off.
Hydration – Some of your discomfort is due to dehydration. I carry sachet packets of electrolyte mixture. Drinking extra water doesn’t really help you if you’re electrolytes are out of whack. One of these packets every six hours will help a lot.
Kids – I got nothin’ man. Remember to take care of yourself and laugh because long-haul flights with children is no joke.