Research by The London Sleep Centre has recently suggested that seats at least 18 inches wide improve passenger sleep quality by 53%, compared to the standard of 17 inches wide from the 1950s. Supposedly Airbus has made the call to make all seats on long-haul flights meet the 18-inch minimum but as other manufacturers or carriers continue to shrink seat sizes in order to squeeze a couple more bucks from their passengers, it’s still every man for himself on those long flights from London to Bangkok or Seattle to Sydney. Passengers are flying long flights more and more – though the world’s longest flight just got shorter after the record flight from Newark International to Singapore’s Changi Airport – 19 hours – was canceled in November 2013. (Now Australia’s Qantas airline boasts the world’s longest commercial flight between Sydney and Dallas at a mere 15 hours 25 minutes.) With long flight times being more common, as well as small seats, what are fliers to do?
Here are some clever tips to keep in mind while you’re stuck at cruising altitude:
Consider cashing in those frequent flier miles
Long, international flights are the best time to use those miles you’ve been saving to get deals on ticket and seat upgrades. Flying first class for a couple hours isn’t really worth the trouble (or crazy cost), but sipping champagne in your own personal seat pod sure makes a 16 hour flight more comfortable.
Don’t drink the alcohol
Unfortunately, you shouldn’t drink too much of that first class champagne as alcohol dehydrates you – not good in an already dry airplane cabin – and will interrupt your already messed up sleep cycle even more.
Hydrate & moisturize
Instead of the champs, drink plenty of H20 and non-caffeinated beverages to keep yourself hydrated. Also slather on some body lotion to help keep the cabin’s dryness at bay. Nothing’s worse than arriving at your destination feeling worn out, restless and sucked dry.
…as much as you can. Sure, it’s difficult to really get the blood pumping when you’re sitting in a cramped seat for hours on end, but even simple legs lifts and arm stretches can help keep your circulation flowing minimizing the risk of cramps and blood clots. Take a quick stroll down the aisles when you can and stretch before and after the flight.
Change your attitude
Instead of viewing a long flight as a necessary evil, think of it as a set, uninterrupted amount of “you” time. Get some work done, read, watch a movie, listen to music, meditate…do what you’d like to do but don’t normally have time for. Patience is key.