17 airplane hacks for long flights that will make your journey a lot more pleasant

Theoretically, spending long hours in an aircraft doesn’t seem all that bad. Realistically? It’s emotionally and physically draining, leaving you less than equipped to deal with your day upon landing. 

Unfortunately, they can be an inevitability, especially if it is for work.

Grimacing at the thought of it already? Don’t worry, AVENUE ONE is here to help. Here are 17 best airplane hacks for long flights that will make your journey that much more comfortable:

1. Get a workout in before your flight

Working out is a great way to stave off those pre-flight jitters as well as to expel any pent-up energy you might have. After all, you’re going to be sitting in the same place for hours on end, so it’s probably best that you’re well and truly worn out before boarding the plane.

Plus, if anything, it only increases your chances of falling asleep while you’re on the plane, right?

2. Dress comfortably

It may be tempting to dress fabulously in anticipation of arrival, but if your definition of it involves tight jeans, tops, and or uncomfortable heels, we recommend you revise your plans instead.

Think about it: you’re going to be wearing the same set of clothes for hours on, so it might as well be something that you feel super comfortable in. Our pick? Slouchy tees, loose pants, and flat shoes, of course.

It doesn’t mean you have to look sloppy either, though — simply look on over at the image above to get an idea of how to dress in a way that is both chic and comfy.

3. Layer, layer, layer

This may not apply to you if you’re travelling to countries experiencing warm climates, but if you are going to somewhere cold, we highly recommend layering. Pack a hoodie or thick jacket on board with you, or maybe even a few scarfs if you feel the temperatures start to plunge.

And if you’re back in a warmer climate, you can always peel the layers off. Easy peasy! And definitely one of the best airplane hacks for long flights, really.

4. Cut down on your carry-ons…

You’ll be beyond exhausted upon landing, and grappling with multiple paper bags, a carry-on luggage, and a travel pillow is just going to make you feel worse. If possible, keep it simple and packed into a single, small rolling luggage.

Trust us, future you will thank us for it.

5. …but don’t forget the essentials, either

Yes, it’s best if you can cut down on your things, but that doesn’t mean missing out on your essentials either! If you know you can’t survive without your neck pillow, moisturiser, and or fluffy slippers, find a way to pack them all in to your luggage.

A great packing tip we learnt from the experts? Try packing cubes. They keep loose items organised, and come in a variety of sizes to store all your fave essentials.

packing cubes

Packing cubes are available at S$6 at Shopee, in nine gorgeous shades.

6. Give yourself some lumbar support

Whether it is a back cushion that you use in office or a rolled up jacket, a makeshift support for your back is definitely one of the best airplane hacks for long flights.

This is because your airplane seats are C-shaped, which is a shape that doesn’t support your spine in any way whatsoever. Simply popping a jacket or pillow against your back counteracts this and hence reduces the potential for neck and lower back pain. How nifty!

travel blue neck pillow

One of the best neck pillow brands in the market, Travel Blue has the Tranquillity Memory Foam Travel Pillow, which has a wide fit and help relieve pressure around the head, neck and shoulders, while offering maximum neck support.

After you’re done using it, you can fold it away and store it in the pocket of its built-in pouch.

Travel Blue Tranquillity Memory Foam Travel Pillow retails for S$49.90 at Shopee.

7. Make sure to bring your moisturiser along…

Cabin pressure is notorious for wrecking havoc on skin, so make sure to pack your trusty moisturiser along for long-haul flights. Don’t just bring it out for application whenever your skin is starting to feel tight or uncomfortable, though!

Apply it every few hours or so to maintain your skin’s moisture levels. As they say, prevention is better than cure, right?

8. …and maybe a few sheet masks, too

A great sheet mask packed with serum is definitely going to help soothe dry, irritable skin, so make sure to pack a few in your carry-on. Sure, you might earn a few stares here and there, but considering how your skin is going to look fantastic upon landing, we’ll say it’s well worth it.

If you’re stumped as to what type of sheet masks to go for, just go for anything with hydrating or moisturising properties. Your skin will definitely appreciate the boost of hydration in the dry, humid environment of a plane cabin, that’s for sure!

9. Choose your seat carefully

The seat you choose has potential to make or break your journey, so be sure to choose wisely! Most airlines (such as Singapore Airlines, for instance) permit passengers to choose their seats way in advance, so be sure to get in on that before all of your desired seats are snapped up.

So, what is the secret to picking the best seat? Well, it largely depends on your needs. If you require a place to rest your head, a window seat is a great option to rest your pillow. If you have a small bladder, on the other hand, then the aisle is better for ease of getting to the bathroom.

10. Stay hydrated

According to the Aerospace Medical Association, it is best to drink around 200ml of water every hour. Whoa! Sounds like much, but your body is bound to feel better because of it, as will your skin.

Don’t hesitate to ask your stewardess for refills. You can even opt for liquids containing more electrolytes if water is starting to bore you, such as Gatorade, 100 Plus, or even coconut water.

11. Keep feet elevated (if possible)

Some planes may already come equipped with a foot rest, but for those that don’t, you can always form a makeshift one with a carry-on duffle bag or backpack! Peel off your shoes, put on a pair of warm socks, and rest them against your carry-on bag.

It is at the perfect position to do so, too, considering how carry-ons have to be stowed under the seat before you.

12. Avoid sodium-laden meals

Anything that is high in sodium and salt is a big no-no when it comes to long-haul flights, as it makes staying hydrated impossible. Try to go for anything that is higher in protein, such as lean meats instead.

Chicken and turkey are great options, or even fish. Just make sure to check how they are cooking it, first — anything in too rich, creamy sauces could lead to possible bloating as well.

13. Bring forms of entertainment that doesn’t rely on battery

While there may be power outlets and charging points available in planes these days, you never quite know when something could happen that prevents that from happening.

So, if your entertainment options are limited strictly to your mobile device, we recommend bringing along an non-electrical option to keep yourself busy during those long hours. Whether it is a book, magazine, or even a sketchbook, it is always better to have an alternative prepared.

14. Hang back when everyone else is boarding

We get it: the temptation to flop into your seat to get settled is high, but hear us out. Hanging back and letting everyone else board first gives you an opening to ask the flight attendant if there are any upgrades available.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to score an upgrade to either business or first class!

15. Consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones

You can’t do anything about the screaming baby on your flight, or the guy who won’t stop snoring like a jackhammer. Noise is an inevitable part of any long flight, and the only way to deal with it is to block them out, of course.

The solution? Noise-cancelling headphones. Invest in a good pair so you can plug in and watch videos on your phone to distract yourself, or listen to music, at least. Sometimes just putting them on makes falling asleep easier, too! Definitely consider investing in a good pair if you’re a frequent flier.

16. Move when you can

Keep your circulation going by standing up at regular intervals to walk around on your flight. Whenever the seat belt sign goes off, take it as an opportunity to visit the bathroom.

It is a great excuse to stretch your legs, and also to keep from getting too restless and antsy.

17. Stretch it out

There are numerous stretches you can do, even in the confines of your plane seat.

Here are some we recommend:

  • Lift your feet a few inches off the floor, then rotate them in circles. Then point your toes up and down.
  • Roll your shoulders forward and backwards. Then raise them up and down.
  • Roll your neck and head forward and backward.
  • Twist your torso, looking over each shoulder.
  • Raise your arms and rotate your hands.