Long-Haul Economy Flights

Our Best Advice for a Comfortable Long-Haul Economy Flight

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It’s no secret that Brian and I love a great deal. Oftentimes, we find ourselves flying low-cost carrier flights for the best rock-bottom prices. From transcontinental flights and Hawaiian getaways to European escapes and more, we have largely traveled by way of bare-fare, single-carry-on, compact seats. It’s not always been the most delightful experience, but we’ve certainly learned a few tricks to keep ourselves comfortable! Honestly, it’s a really good thing that neither one of us is 7 feet tall.

Comfort & Convenience

Brian and I have an idea of what we’re in for when we select economy tickets. Some things are within our control, while others are not.

Air travel, especially these days, is all about rolling with the punches. We like to kick off our airport adventures with good energy and thoughtful preparation. Even if we find ourselves in unexpected situations, the hope is that our prep is enough to keep us comfortable and in high spirits.

The following tips have effectively guided us through red-eye departures, a full 24-hour travel day, and an Australian adventure halfway around the world.

Strategize Layovers

Non-stop flights offer the fastest, most direct route to your destination. However, they aren’t always the most affordable. Brian and I will sometimes consider layover options if they better fit our budget and offer an interesting stopover.


Rather than getting too restless on a single flight, we’ve found that we really enjoy breaking up a long-haul trip with a layover in a fun airport or city. Depending on the length of the layover, we might find ourselves roaming city streets. Otherwise, we’ll simply be stretching our legs and relaxing in an airport lounge.

Get a Good Night’s Rest

This one is important for me. While I’m used to a lack of (quality) sleep, I definitely don’t want to skimp on getting decent rest the night before. Some people are all for staying up until their flight so they can crash; I am not one of those people.

Getting a good night’s rest means I don’t have tired energy or anxiety as I head into a long day of travel. It helps me feel rested and ready to deal with crowds, potential disruptions, and all-day stimulation.

Refresh in a Lounge

Our Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card grants complimentary Priority Pass membership. Priority Pass offers access to more than 1,300 airport lounges and experiences across 148 countries. Many of these lounges provide private restrooms, shower facilities, workspaces, refreshments, and an open bar. Some even offer spa treatments and sleep rooms!

Priority Pass members can visit any location with a valid same-day boarding pass – regardless of the class or airline.

Brian and I love visiting a lounge before a departure or during a layover. It’s a great way to unwind away from the crowds. We can quietly enjoy some bites and a drink or two. If we’re feeling a little grimy from an earlier flight, we can take a shower. Visiting a lounge helps us feel more relaxed and comfortable before a long flight.

Seat Selection

If you’re able to choose your own seats, choose them wisely. Dealing with an inconvenient seat for several hours can sometimes make or break the flight itself. If you’re a sleeper, grab a window seat. If you find that you’re more restless and need to move around, make sure you’re in an aisle seat.

When Brian and I can pick our own seats, we tend to select ones near the bathroom, though not so close that we’d feel crowded by others waiting to use it. It all depends on personal preference.

Now, there are many, many times that we don’t get to choose our seats (rock-bottom prices, yeah?). In these cases, we either:

  • Check-in for the flight as soon as it opens (this method seats us together 99% of the time)
  • Speak to an agent at the counter and nicely request seats next to each other

We aren’t terribly picky. As long as we’re seated next to one another, especially on a long flight, we’re pretty happy.

Dress in Layers

Loose-fitting clothes are ideal for long journeys. In-flight temperatures tend to fluctuate from warm to cool and back to warm again. Layer up your look so you can easily add or remove for maximum comfort. I always carry extra layers that can double as a blanket or pillow.

Keep Things Moving

Sitting for long periods of time can be detrimental to your health. Muscles can stiffen and begin to ache, while swelling and discomfort can occur in the legs. In some cases, blood clots can even occur. It’s important to keep your body moving and your blood circulating throughout the day.

Don’t be shy on a long flight. Get up, walk around, and stretch a bit. Movement is important. If you can swing it, booking a flight with a layover can actually be beneficial for a change of pace (and scenery).

Additionally, you can sport a pair of compression socks to help with circulation and keep swelling to a minimum.

Entertain Yourself

Many economy flights now offer complimentary in-flight entertainment. Don’t forget to pack your headphones (or a headphone adapter for you wireless fans…) to tune into music, movies, and shows.

In cases where you supply your own entertainment, don’t forget to download movies, podcasts, and audiobooks onto your devices. Brian and I have gotten lost in a few series and movie marathons along the way. Just be sure to keep a portable charger nearby!

Alternatively, books, travel games, and brain teasers are all great ways to pass the time.

Stay Nourished

For long flights, specifically, it’s best to avoid overconsuming alcohol and soda. You’ll want to hydrate sufficiently. Balance out indulgences with water. In-flight air tends to run dry, so you’ll find yourself more prone to dehydration. Staying hydrated on long flights is at the top of our to-do list. We keep a refillable water bottle on us at all times so that we can fill up and hydrate as needed!

Keeping your stomach happy and satisfied is also important on long travel days. While you might not want to fill yourself up at the closest buffet, you’ll want to be pleasantly satiated to avoid any hangry turbulence. Light meals and snacks are perfect to enjoy and keep on hand.

In-Flight Self-Care

Brian and I like to keep a few self-care essentials handy during long flights. Hand sanitizer, moisturizer, and chapstick are all within reach. We also carry breath mints or gum, Dramamine, Ibuprofen, and other medications, just in case.

Enjoy the Journey

Long-haul flights can be rough. Luckily, that hasn’t been the case for Brian and me…yet. Here’s hoping our long flight travel tricks keep us comfy and flyin’ high. The joy is in the journey, isn’t it?

Do you have any long-haul economy flight tips that you’d like to share?

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