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How to Sleep on a Plane and other Long Haul Travel Tips

Children’s stories often talk about the magic above the clouds; unicorns, giants, golden harps and the like. Seasoned flyers know the truth though, it’s just recycled air and bad food. Flying is a large part of our busy lives, whether it’s holidays with Grandma or closing the big deal. The following tips will help you get through it without turning into a troll.

Before booking your ticket.

If you are flying economy you want to visit www.seatguru.com. This terrific website allows you to type in your airline and get a list of the best and worst seats in their entire fleet of planes. It is up to you to decide if being too close to the bathroom is worth the trade off of having extra legroom.

Booking your ticket.

Most tickets are bought on-line now and you always have the option of choosing your own seat. If you are travelling alone, always look for group of seats where the aisle or window seat is already taken. You then take the other aisle or window seat, leaving the middle free. These middle seats fill up last so you have a greater chance of having that valuable free seat buffer between you and the other passenger. If you are travelling as a couple, choose both the window and the aisle leaving the middle open. If the seat gets taken, no one will mind changing from the middle seat so you can sit together and if it is not taken, it’s a much more pleasant flight.

Booking your meal.

When you book your ticket you can also choose from a variety of meals (low fat, vegetarian, kosher, etc). If you order one of these meals you get served first (more sleep time) and often they are fresher.

Before you leave for the airport.

A lot of people will tell you to check in on-line. They say it’s quicker and you don’t have to get to the airport as early. It might be quicker if you have no luggage but if you have bags to check, that line is often just as long as the check-in line. Also, if you check-in you have the opportunity to ask for an upgrade. Don’t be a jerk about it, dress well and ask nicely. I always say “if the flight is booked and you need to bump someone to business I’d be willing to change seats”. They usually smile at you and tell you they will see what they can do. Quite often you won’t know until boarding, when they take your boarding pass and issue you a new one (in business!). It is surprising how often you are upgraded just by asking politely. If you are pregnant, tell them this when you ask for the upgrade, a polite, well dressed pregnant woman usually will get bumped up.

At the airport.

Arrive early and bring a book. Try hard not to work when travelling on long haul flights. If you can relax at the airport beforehand you are more likely to sleep on the plane.


As soon as they call your plane boarding, use the restroom. This reduces the amount of airplane washroom trips. tthen just relax until the line is finished. Why rush to get on the plane and sit in those cramped seats before you have to? Stay in the boarding lounge and watch the line and get up when you see half a dozen people left to go through. There is no need to rush, everyone gets there at the same time.

On the plane.

Before you even sit down get out everything you want for the flight and put it within your grasp. Book and bottle of water can go in the pocket in front of you. Laptop,if you must work, can go under the seat in front of you.

Dinner service.

Hopefully you pre-ordered your special meal and you will eat first. This is perfect if the middle seat is free. You can finish your meal; put the tray in the middle seat and watch a movie and drift off to sleep.


Put on your headphones even if you aren’t watching the movie, to ensure that people won’t talk to you. Put your seat back as far as possible. Don’t worry about the guy behind you; the guy in front of you isn’t worried about you. Pull out the foot bar from under the seat in front of you. Find a comfy position, pull the blanket up to your chin and head off to dreamland before the fellow beside you starts snoring.


Here it pays to get off the plane quickly. If you can walk fast – do it! You have to get ahead of all those passengers or you will be stuck behind them at passport control/customs. Use the moving sidewalks and walk on them.

Passport Control/Customs.

Your journey is almost over. You have made it this far. You are well rested, well fed and just got some great exercise racing to customs. All you need to do here is have your documentation ready, be courteous and be polite.

The next time you have an overseas or other long haul flight try these little tips and maybe you can find a little of the magic that just may exist above the clouds.