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How To Survive a 17 Hour Flight In Economy Class

How To Survive a 17 Hour Flight In Economy Class

BY DANIEL REN Published on May 01, 2024 0 COMMENTS

Traditional wisdom says to avoid the middle seat in economy on long flights such as those lasting 17 or more hours. However, this situation is not always avoidable, especially if one is looking to book a cheaper fare that does not allow for seat selection or if one books relatively last minute. If you are stuck in the middle seat in economy class on an ultra-long-haul flight, there are still ways to make yourself more comfortable.


A Singapore Airlines A350-900ULR, which typically flies flights of longer than 12 hours | Photo: Daniel Mena, AeroXplorer


Wear Comfortable Clothes

Yes, it might be nice to dress up for an occasion like an ultra-long haul international flight. However, if you are in economy class, your primary focus is to try and remain as comfortable as possible rather than impressing other passengers. Wearing loose-fitting clothing such as sweatpants or a comfortable pair of jeans can make a huge difference when sitting for long periods of time. 


Bringing a hoodie, sweater, or blanket is wise, especially for those who get cold easily. In the air, circulation is poorer especially while sitting down, so make sure to buy compressions socks to improve leg circulation. 




Dental Hygiene

On most ultra long haul flights, that is, flights longer than 12 to 13 hours, passengers in economy class are typically provided with a basic toiletries kit, which usually includes things such as earplugs, masks, and toothbrushes. 


Sometime throughout your flight, it is highly recommended to brush and floss at least once, as extremely long flights are long enough to develop cavities. Besides preventing cavity development, your mouth will feel more fresh, especially while in the air. 


Tire Yourself Out

If you have a difficult time sleeping on planes, this may be harder advice to follow. However, as someone who cannot sleep well on flights, here are some tricks that have worked for me. 




The day or morning before your flight, do an intense workout, such as a brutal weight-lifting session combined with a long jog or run. This may make you tired enough to the point where you can sleep for at least a few hours on the plane. Besides intense exercise, bring a neck pillow. It makes sleeping upright much more comfortable. If this advice won't work for you, you could always try melatonin pills or gummies. 



Stand up and Stretch

Unfortunately, this may be a bit tougher to do if you are in the middle seat. However, it is imperative to get out of your seat and walk around the plane periodically throughout a long flight to avoid any circulation or blood flow issues. You could also utilized this stretch as an opportune time to use the restroom, as it requires fewer trips to avoid disrupting your seatmates. 


If you are small and fit enough, you could also try and step over your seatmate by using the armrests. Although it may be seen as strange or unconventional behavior, it can work depending on your overall health levels. For example, if you are fat, do NOT do this, as it will most likely cause further disruption to your seat mate if you try and step over them using the seat arm rests.




Entertain Yourself

Although most long-haul flights will have a TV, sometimes they may not work well or have limited entertainment options. Consider bringing a few books or magazines to read, especially if you are a big reader. Besides that, you could download some offline games on your personal device in situations where Wi-Fi does not work properly or is not available on the plane. 

These are some general tips to help you survive ultra-long haul flights. It's best to figure out what works for you to try and get through the flight. Good luck!

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