Whether you’re a frequent globetrotter or about to board your first flight to a far-flung destination, preparing for your long-haul flight can make the difference between a journey that’s simply a means to an end – or one that’s part of the experience itself.
For most of our customers, flying to countries in Asia takes 10 hours or more, and we think it’s important that time isn’t wasted and that their trips get off to the best start.
So, we asked our team, freshly back from a 14-hour flight from South Korea to London with Asiana Airlines, to share their top tips on how to prepare for a long-haul flight.
Whether you’re flying economy, economy smartium (think economy plus), business, or even first class, here are some ways to make your flight more comfortable – some before you even step on the plane.
- Think about lounge access
Airport lounges can feel like a real treat – you’ll have a comfortable seat away from the general airport chaos, food and drink are often included, and lots of lounges have views of the runways, so you can watch other travellers’ journeys starting while you sip your mimosa.
If you haven’t considered lounge access already, Dragonpass is a great option that covers 1300+ lounges worldwide.
- Pick your seats in advance
It might sound obvious but picking your seat early – either when you check-in online or when you arrive at the counter – can make the difference between being stuck in the middle seat between two strangers, or relaxing at the window enjoying Insta moments.
You’re going to be spending a long time in your seat, so make sure it’s one you’re happy with.
- Consider your options to upgrade
There are often different upgrades available, so think about what’s most important to you. If you often find your knees knocking against the seat in front of you, consider whether it’s worth upgrading for extra legroom. Or, if you want to make a sharp exit on the other end, maybe you’d benefit from a priority baggage service.
Although these upgrades have an initial upfront cost, it’s worth asking yourself how you’ll feel 4 hours into a flight – and making the decision future-you will be thankful for.
- Create your bubble
Long-haul flights mean different things to different people. For some, it’s an opportunity to completely disconnect – free from a working phone or Wi-Fi – and catch up on some well-earned sleep. If that’s you, you’ll benefit from the pillows, blankets, slippers and eye masks that airlines like Asiana include in their fares.
If, on the other hand, you view a 10-hour flight as an unbroken stretch of time to power through podcasts, make a dent in your to-be-read list, or even get some work done, you’ll want to sign up for plane Wi-Fi and pack your devices and headphones in your carry on.
- Get your first taste of your destination’s culture
For our travellers, the plane food offered the first taste of Korean cuisine – a traditional Yeongyang Ssambap. Though not a patch on the street food they’d go on to sample, it was a welcome introduction to the type of meals they could look forward to during their trip.
More than just food, though, long-haul flights can give you an insight into the most popular films, TV and music wherever you’re headed – just check out the in-flight entertainment system, and you’re sure to find some intriguing insights (our team were a big fan of K-dramas).
- Stretch when you land
Something we all know we should do but are often guilty of not doing – remember to move. Doing exercises throughout the journey, getting up to walk around when possible, and stretching when the plane lands can help to ease any muscle cramp or tension that creeps in because you’ve been in one position for a while.
Our team liked that Asiana’s TV screens played a demonstration that guided them all through a light stretching session shortly before landing, which helped wake everyone up and feel ready to jump straight into exploring.
- Keep hold of your boarding pass
Lots of airlines team up with local tourist boards and hotspots to offer discounts and special offers to passengers when they arrive, and your boarding pass is often your ticket to access them.
By keeping it to hand, you can make the most of a range of discounted rates, from hotel stays to restaurants, city tours to theatre trips. It’s worth browsing before boarding so that you can plan ahead.
If South Korea’s your destination, you can find out more about Asiana’s affiliate offers here.
- Improve things for your flight home
Your return flight presents an opportunity to make things even better than they were on the way out. If you felt cramped throughout, couldn’t sleep, or were hungrier than you expected, pre-empt those things and do what you can to change them before you board.
That might mean picking up some noise cancelling headphones, switching to a roomier seat, or just packing extra snacks. For our team, embracing the K-beauty scene was something they happily took advantage of – buying sheet masks and face creams to revive dehydrated 10-hour plane skin.
- Get rid of your luggage as soon as you can
Finally, if you’re flying home in the afternoon or evening but want to make the most of your last few hours in your destination, it’s worth letting go of your baggage as soon as you can. Whether that’s making use of luggage storing services or checking bags in in advance, without lugging your suitcases, you’ll have more hands free to explore the last part of your trip.
If you’re in Seoul, Asiana has a bag checking service that lets you ship your bags off at the station – and they’ll check them in for you, so you don’t have to touch them again. Just remember, though, you won’t have any access – so last-minute purchases will have to come on board with you!