Are Long Flights in Economy Class Really the Worst Thing?

We’ve all been there—hours of sitting in a cramped economy class seat, watching minutes go by on the flight map on the screen in front of you. Should you watch another movie? Stare at puffs of cloud passing by? Another washroom trip?

My recent long haul flight was with Saudi Arabian Airlines from Toronto to Dubai, with a layover in Saudi Arabia. 11 hours from Toronto Pearson Airport to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, where I had a five hour layover. My connecting flight to Dubai was an hour late. Then the final three hour flight to Dubai International Airport. I was exhausted. Fortunately, my in-flight experience was good. I sat in economy class, however I kept myself occupied, brought the right travel essentials in my carry-on and those long flight hours quickly passed.


What if I told you, from my experience, long haul flights don’t have to be unbearable or boring? Incorporate these 10 tips that I used in my own long haul flight and watch your in-flight experience soar:

1. Read

Bring your iPad, Kindle or hard-copy book and immerse yourself in another world.

2. In-flight entertainment

Okay so you’ve watched two movies already, but you can also play on-screen games, watch the flight from the pilot’s perspective, or binge watch a TV series.

3. WiFi

Saudi Arabian Airlines offers free WiFi for a certain time or MB limit. Some planes offer WiFi for a small fee. Easily check your flight’s WiFi status by searching for WiFi while in the air. Once you have access, check your emails and social media, reply to texts or surf the net.

4. Pray or Meditate

How often do you have time to yourself and your thoughts? Think of it as a blessing in disguise. You can use this time to breathe, relax, reflect, practice mindfulness and prepare for the trip ahead of you.

5. Write

On your laptop, in your journal or in the notes app on your phone, write about anything. How your day is going, what you hope to accomplish on your trip, your goals or objectives for the remainder of the year etc.

When I traveled to India and Dubai during the summer of 2011, my best friend and I wrote letters to each other. I wrote about how my trip was going and she wrote about life back home in Toronto. We didn’t mail them due to the possibility of me not receiving her letters on time, but we gave them to each other once I returned to Toronto.

6. Sleep

Nothing makes time go by faster than getting some shut-eye so recline your seat, put on an eye-mask, toss in noise-cancelling earbuds and wake up a few hours closer to your destination. Make sure to bring a neck pillow, a soft blanket scarf and wear loose, breathable clothing.

Extra tip: sleep according to your destination’s time to ease jet lag.

7. Exercise

It's not good for your body to sit for extended periods. Stretch your muscles and do in-seat exercises while being conscious of the people beside you. Stand up and wander the aisles every now and then.

8. Eat

Eating is boring said no one ever. Pack food in your carry-on or personal item and occupy your taste buds. Make sure to stay hydrated to ease the jet lag.

Extra tip: never bring offensive-smelling food on board i.e. eggs or tuna unless you want furious glares from fellow passengers.

9. Stay refreshed

With 5+ hours of sitting in close proximity with other people, make sure to pack travel-sized (up to 100 mL) hygeine essentials in your personal item. This includes deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste (or at least mouthwash), hand sanitizer and wipes.

Extra tip: instead of buying travel-sized products, fill small containers with the products you have at home.

10. Bring a portable charger

Believe it or not, some flights still do not have charging ports. Keep your phone charged and listen to pre-downloaded podcasts or play games. Apps like Sudoku or Scrabble occupy lots of time.

So are long haul flights in economy class really the worst thing? Not if you're prepared and follow these 10 tips. Do you have other methods for getting through a flight? Let me know in the comments below!