Sitting in one place for hours is never fun, especially on long-haul flights. When that seat is in the front of the plane—in business class, for example—it makes things much more manageable. But with a little planning, even an economy class seat can be a great place to spend your time in the air.
Check out these tips to help make your next long-distance flight more comfortable.
1. Choose the right airline. Not all airlines are created equal, especially when it comes to long-haul flights. Do a little research on the amenities that are most important to you, like extra legroom or a varied menu. Business Insider put Emirates at the top of its list of long-haul carriers, a rating that frequent flyer Gira Desai gives a thumbs up.
“It’s the little things at Emirates,” says Desai, a member at WeWork Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. “The seats are a little bit larger, the entertainment selection is a little better, the drink selection is nicer (and it’s complimentary), and they do this cute thing on the ceiling at night where it’s like little stars.”
2. Use your time productively. Long flights are a great time to catch up on emails or finish that spreadsheet. Look for an airline that provides outlets for all your digital devices and ample Wi-Fi. (The Wi-Fi connections on Emirates also got high marks from Desai.) And when you’re hard at work, picking the right seat is very important. Sitting by the window means you won’t be jostled by flight attendants or other passengers as they make their way down the aisle.
3. Carry the right card. Travel experts like Brian Kelly of The Points Guy say that the right credit card can make your flight much more enjoyable. Depending on which one you choose, the member of New York City’s WeWork 379 W Broadway says you can rack up perks like free checked bags, early boarding, or even access to airport lounges.
4. Skip the checked luggage. According to luxury travel expert Jeff Ward of Savvy Navigator, “a checked bag is a lost bag.” The WeWork 175 Varick St member recommends that for short trips you should take just carry-on luggage. Look for airlines that allow two carry-ons, a regular bag as well as a personal item like a purse or small backpack. Then you can pack your clothes in one and pack what you’ll need during your flight in the other.
5. Reset your internal clock. Once you board your flight, change the settings on your phone to match the time zone of your destination. Then eat and sleep accordingly. It will help you get adjusted to your new time zone and help you beat jet lag before you even land.
6. Dress in layers. The temperature is one of those things you just don’t have much control over on a flight. Those little fans over your head often don’t make much of a difference, so dress accordingly. Wear several layers so you will always be warm enough. A bonus: those extra layers that you’re not using can be great pillow supplements.
7. Be smart about what you eat and drink. Bringing your own water bottle means you won’t have to depend on the flight attendants bringing around those tiny cups. And pack some of your favorite healthy snacks — that way you can eat on your own schedule. And a special vegetarian meal (or one of the others offered by your airline) is often the best choice. You’ll be served before everyone else, so you can get some shuteye when everyone else is still waiting for their trays.
8. Get some exercise. You’re going to be sitting for a while, so you might as well kick off your journey with a pre-flight workout. Exercise will not only help you reduce stress—it will also help you get better rest in the air. So before you head to the airport, hit the gym, go for a run, or get in one more class at your favorite workout studio.
9. Move around and stretch. When the captain turns off the seatbelt sign, make sure to walk up and down the aisles a bit or at least stand up and stretch out. Sitting still for too long can make you antsy and is not great for circulation (deep vein thrombosis is a real danger), so move around to keep the blood flowing.