Tips for long-haul flights - Flightright UK

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Tips for long-haul flights

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The most important facts about “Tips for long-haul flights”

  • Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines are among the top 5 best airlines in the world every year.
  • Various statistics show that flights are cheapest at the beginning of the year.
  • The most expensive months are May and June.
  • Travellers should arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before departure.
  • Advance seat reservations are advisable for long-haul flights.
  • For longer layovers: Pay attention to seat spacing and seat width.
  • Regular fluid intake prevents dehydration during the flight.
  • Food and drink on board are often expensive, so it is advisable to take snacks with you.


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Many passengers will agree. Long-haul flights are usually exhausting and energy-sapping. The lack of legroom, the poor air quality and the many fellow travellers make the time seem like an eternity and passengers can usually hardly wait to finally arrive at their destination.  That’s why good preparation for the flight is all the more important. Find out here about the best tips for a pleasant long-haul flight.

Planning and booking – What do you need to consider for a long-haul flight?

Good planning and booking are essential for a long-haul flight. This often saves a lot of time and, above all, a lot of money. Below we answer the most important questions on these topics, such as the cheapest long-haul flights and when a flight counts as a long-haul flight. 

When is it cheapest to book a long-haul flight?

To book a long-haul flight reasonably cheaply, it is important in which month the flight is booked. Various statistics show that flights are cheapest at the beginning of the year. The most expensive months are May and June, which is why you should compare prices carefully when booking flights there. If you want to book a long-haul flight, it is best to do so in November, December or January.

Which airline is the best for long-haul flights?

Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines are among the top 5 best airlines in the world every year. Especially for long-haul flights, they offer a level of service and comfort that is unrivalled in the aviation industry. The two airlines are also very well positioned in the areas of entertainment and catering. Among European airlines, Lufthansa and Air France are a good alternative for long-haul flights.

When do I have to be at the airport for a long-haul flight?

For long-haul flights, travellers should arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before departure. Whether it is a rush hour or not makes little difference here.  This is because a long-haul flight is almost always an international flight and it takes longer to check passports and other things, for example. There are also usually significantly more travellers on a long-haul flight than on a domestic flight, which can also lead to a delay. You should also check the airline’s recommendation.

How long is a long-haul flight?

The European Union classifies flights of 3,500 km or more as long-haul flights, while the Aviation Handbook classifies flights over 3,000 km and lasting more than 3½ hours as long-haul flights.

How long is the flight to .. ?

Thousands of different long-haul flights connect all continents and thus the entire globe. Whether from Europe to Asia, from South America to Australia or from Africa across to North America. In the globalised world, all destinations are usually only 1-2 two flights away from each other. Since October 2018, the longest flight in the world has been the Singapore to New York route operated by Singapore Airlines, covering 16,700 kilometres and taking around 18 hours and 45 minutes. Below is a list of how long it takes passengers to fly from England to these destinations.

Starting pointnew yorkFlight time (approx.)
England toDubai06.30 h
England toMaldives10.00 h
England toHawaii07.00 h
England tonew York09.00 h
England toLos Angeles12.00 h
England toThailand10.45 h
England toEgypt03.30 h
England toNew Zealand24.00 h
England toCuba10.00 h
England toMauritius11.00 h
England toJapan11.30 h
England toChina12.00 h
England toDominican Republic10.00 h
England toAbu Dhabi06.00 h
England toBahamas10.30 h
England toCanada08.00 h
England toAustralia08:00 h
England toBora Bora25.00 h
England toZanzibar11.00 h
England toSouth Africa10.30 h

Packing hand luggage – What do you need for a long flight?

Long-haul flights can take a toll on the body. This makes it all the more important to know exactly what you need in your hand luggage for a long flight to make your journey as comfortable as possible.

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What do I need in my hand luggage for long-haul flights?

In order not to overload your hand luggage, you need to weigh up what you need during the flight and what can be stowed in your checked baggage before the long-haul flight. To make the decision easier, the following is a list of the items that should go in your hand luggage. 

  • Documents and passport
  • Valuables
  • Headphones and adapters
  • Neck pillow
  • Sleeping mask
  • Earplugs
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Soap or deodorant
  • Cosmetics
  • Thick socks

What is allowed in hand luggage on long-haul flights? 

When it comes to electronic devices in particular, many air travellers are often unsure whether they are allowed to take this or that device in their hand luggage. With a few exceptions, almost all electronic devices are permitted. These include:

  • Smartphone, tablet, laptop
  • Navigation device
  • Electric toothbrush
  • Digital camera
  • Bluetooth loudspeaker
  • Drones
  • Torch

What to wear on a long-haul flight?

For short domestic flights or a city trip to Paris or London, this question may not be particularly important, but it is essential for long-haul flights. What should you wear on a long flight? There are several points to consider when answering this question.

What to wear on long-haul flights?

Firstly, you should remember to wear comfortable clothing for the long-haul flight. In most cases, you will be sitting for over ten hours in a position that is not particularly comfortable and not characterised by much freedom of movement. It is therefore not advisable to wear nice but uncomfortable clothes. You should also consider what the weather will be like in the country of arrival. If you fly back to England from the Caribbean in shorts and a tank top in December, it could be very frosty on arrival and the chances of spending Christmas in bed with a cold would be high. The situation is similar the other way round, namely when you fly from cold England to the warmth. It therefore makes sense to wear comfortable clothing that is appropriate for the region, such as comfortable linen or jogging trousers, leggings and tops that are warm but perhaps not particularly itchy. This could be very uncomfortable on a long flight.

Seat selection for long-haul flights – a comfortable seat is half the battle

Seats on an aircraft can vary considerably in terms of comfort. Especially on a long-haul flight, this can have a major impact on passengers’ well-being. Reserving your favourite seat in advance can be a great advantage. For example, if you prefer to sit by the window to look out and lean your head against the side of the aircraft, it makes sense to reserve this seat in advance. If you prefer to sit in the aisle because your legs are quite long, for example, it is also possible to reserve such a seat in advance. Please note! With some airlines, advance seat reservations at online check-in are free of charge, especially for long-haul flights, but many airlines also charge a surcharge for this. You should therefore find out in advance what the airline in question offers. Find out more about the best seats on the plane here.

Quench your thirst on the plane – where is drinking free on long-haul flights?

On long-haul flights, unlike on many short-haul flights these days, drinking is largely always free of charge. This applies in particular to non-alcoholic drinks. For alcoholic drinks, it can vary from airline to airline, but beer and wine are usually free of charge. Some airlines may charge extra for higher-percentage drinks, even on long-haul flights.

What is there to drink on long-haul flights?

The range of drinks on long-haul flights is usually relatively large. The selection ranges from all non-alcoholic drinks such as water, tea and soft drinks to alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine and spirits. Alcoholic drinks in particular may not be free on certain airlines. It is advisable to simply ask in advance which drinks are included in the price. It is particularly interesting if you are flying with an international airline from another country and can try the local drinks. For example, who has ever drunk Thai cola or Japanese beer before?

Food on board – What is there to eat on long-haul flights?

Airlines have very different approaches to in-flight meals. It ranges from simple reheated pasta to a multi-course meal. We are referring here to basic economy class, as there are no limits to the food served on the aircraft in business and first class. A small meal is included in the price of almost every airline’s long-haul flights. Shortly after take-off, there is usually a hot meal, which usually includes a small salad, a main course and a dessert, and before landing there is usually a breakfast with bread or rolls, spread and egg. Almost every airline also offers vegetarian and vegan meals, which often have to be ordered during online check-in. If you want to eat something more indulgent and more, this is possible with almost every airline for an additional charge. Tip: Many airlines also allow you to order a second meal free of charge. 

What to eat before a long-haul flight?

Before a long-haul flight, it is advisable to eat plenty of fresh food. This is because the food on the plane is not always particularly fresh and you don’t get enough vitamins beforehand. If you have a sensitive stomach when flying, you should eat light food before the flight, as there is a risk of vomiting. You should also avoid eating too greasy food before the flight. So perhaps skip the burger at Condor Airport and go for a fresh smoothie instead. 

How often is there food on a long-haul flight?

There are usually two hot meals on long-haul flights. Once at the beginning and once at the end of the flight. Depending on the airline, there may also be small snacks and fruit in between. With some airlines, only one meal is included in the price and the second must be purchased in addition. A few airlines generally only offer hot meals for an additional charge.

Entertainment against boredom – What can you do on a long-haul flight?

There are various ways to combat boredom on a long-haul flight. Sleeping on long-haul flights is probably the most obvious option to make the time pass more quickly. However, there are a few other things you can do during the flight. 

What can you do to combat boredom on a plane?

We have prepared a list for you with things that should help with boredom on a long-haul flight:

  • sleep
  • watch a film or series
  • Look for a conversation with fellow travellers 
  • Read a book
  • Listen to music or an audio-book
  • eat
  • Track your flight online free of charge (flight tracking)

Healthy to your destination – ear pressure, nausea and co.

A long-haul flight is always associated with a high level of stress for the body. The consequences of long-haul flights can be, for example, nausea or thick legs after a long flight, which is why it is possible to take a thrombosis injection before a long flight. 

Why do I feel nauseous on a long-haul flight?

Travel sickness can be the result of a processing conflict in the brain. This is where the vomiting centre is activated when unusual movements occur due to turbulence, for example. If a passenger then has a fear of flying or is generally rather nervous, the risk of nausea when flying is also increased.

Thanks to modern technology, new passenger aircraft generally fly very smoothly these days. For this reason, symptoms such as fear of flying, nausea and vomiting primarily occur during take-off and landing.

What to do about ear pressure after a flight?

Ear pressure after a flight is an unpleasant feeling. There are a few simple ways to get rid of the pressure:

  • Yawn 
  • Suck on a sweet
  • Chew chewing gum for longer
  • Frequent drinking helps due to the swallowing motion
  • Eat frequently 
  • Move your jaw slowly back and forth
  • Use earplugs

How do I get rid of the pressure on my ears?

If air travellers feel pressure in their ears during a flight, there are a few simple tips on how to relieve the pressure. Repeated yawning, chewing, swallowing and moving your jaw back and forth can help, especially before take-off and landing.

When do I need to wear compression stockings on a long-haul flight?

If knee-high compression stockings are worn at least two hours before a long flight and during the entire flight, the risk of swollen legs and thrombosis is demonstrably lower, as compression stockings promote the return flow of blood from the legs back to the heart. The stockings are particularly effective in combination with leg movements.

Flying long-haul with bronchitis and antibiotics?

If you suffer from bronchitis, you can often still fly. The prerequisite is that you do not feel short of breath or have a lack of oxygen. You should not fly if you have a serious lung disease, such as pneumonia. In an emergency, you should always contact a doctor first. Antibiotics are also permitted in hand luggage and aspirin for long flights

Fear of flying – How do I survive a long-haul flight?

Many people suffer from a fear of flying for a variety of reasons. Claustrophobia in the aircraft, the feeling of being trapped and the flight itself are just some of the reasons. Of course, it is not easy to relieve passengers of this fear so easily, but below we have compiled a list of things that can alleviate the feeling of fear of flying. 

Is a long-haul flight dangerous?

Long-haul flights have never been as safe as they are today. Millions of people fly by plane every year. In addition, safety and assistance systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated and safety regulations must also fulfil extremely high standards. The probability of being killed in an aircraft crash is now around one in 130 million, which is significantly lower than in the 1970s, for example. The risk of being struck by lightning is significantly higher than an aircraft crash. 

Are long-haul flights quieter?

Long-haul flights can often be quieter than short-haul flights, as long-haul aircraft are often more comfortable than short-haul aircraft. In addition, there are many hours between take-off and landing when the aircraft is high up in the air, which contributes to a quiet flight. Of course, turbulence can also occur on longer flights and can never be completely ruled out. However, it is important to know that this is completely normal and that long-haul flights in particular are well-equipped to deal with such turbulence. 

What can you do about the fear of flying?

Several tips and tricks can help overcome a fear of flying. It depends on the person which measures are successful and which are not. Measures that should be tried out are

  • Talking about your fear of flying before travelling
  • Avoid general stress before the flight
  • Do not fly on an empty stomach
  • choose the right seat
  • Dress properly for the flight
  • carry out relaxation exercises
  • fasten your seat belt 

Where is the best place to sit if you have a fear of flying?

Passengers who suffer from a fear of flying should reserve a seat directly above the wings. This is where turbulence is felt the least. If these seats are no longer available and have already been reserved by other passengers, it is advisable to look for a seat at the front of the aircraft. It is usually much quieter there than at the back of the aircraft.

Long-haul flight with a baby and as a family

A long-haul flight as a family, especially with babies or small children, can be very stressful and time-consuming for everyone involved. That’s why it’s important to think carefully about what needs to be considered and organised before a long flight. To make this a little easier, we have put together a checklist for long-haul flights with babies and as a family, which will help you not to forget anything when planning:

  • Choose a good time to fly
  • Carry out a health check and vaccinations before travelling
  • Apply for a child’s passport if necessary
  • find out about baggage regulations (pushchairs etc.)
  • Reserve suitable seats
  • Carry out online check-in, if possible
  • Put suitable children’s clothing, drink, food and nappies in your hand luggage
  • Ask the crew for help if you have any problems

You might also be interested in this: Everything you need to know about the world’s largest aeroplanes

If something goes wrong – how much reimbursement for flight delays or cancellations?

Have you encountered problems while travelling? Is your flight overbooked, delayed or cancelled? Then you are entitled to compensation of up to 520 pounds (less success commission) for a long-haul flight (over 3500 kilometres).

As experts in the field of air passenger law, we will enforce your right to compensation against the airline!

How can we help you?

Everything is fine with your hand luggage, but the airline is standing in the way of your holiday happiness. Your flight is overbooked, delayed or cancelled? Has your baggage been delayed or lost?

Tip: Flightright can help you enforce your passenger rights! You can check your claims with us free of charge.

As experts in the field of air passenger rights, we enforce your right to compensation against the airline!

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