How To Survive a 16 Hour Flight

Since I go to boarding school in New Jersey – I take a lot of ultra long-haul flights. While I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to fly in Premium Economy and Business cabins, I also do a fair bit of flying in Economy, so I thought I’d take a look at some little things that I do that make really long flights suck a little less.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Economy Class

1. Hydrate (or Diedrate)

When I fly, I drink a lot of water to keep myself hydrated during the flight. The aircraft cabin is often very, very dry, meaning it’s easy to get dehydrated. I typically try and ask the flight attendant for bottled water – because of how disgusting tap water on airplanes can be. In Business and First Class, they’ll typically exclusively stock bottled water for passengers, while Premium Economy and Economy passengers are given a limited supply of bottled water. When that runs out, flight attendants typically refill water bottles with tap water – so I’d snag a couple of bottles before they run out.

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2. Pick The Right Seat

People have their own preferences when it comes to airplane seats. I drink a lot of water, so I’ll typically pick an aisle or a bulkhead seat. As a Marco Polo Silver member, I’m allowed to pre-book seats regardless of my class of travel on flights operated by Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, as well as select oneworld partners. However, if you’re not as fortunate as me to have Elite Status, your best bet is to check in as soon as possible online. Most full-service carriers allow all passengers to select seats as soon as check in opens. For Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon – that’s 48 hours before departure. For Finnair, that’s 36 hours before departure. You’ll want to make sure you check in as early as possible in order to snag the seat you want.

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For select products, you can find tried and tested opinions of best seats through our comprehensive product guides.

3. Skincare

As airplane cabins are extremely dry, my skin tends to dry up – and my face feels “groggy” – if that makes sense. To combat that, I use W.Lab’s Honey Lip Balm – which is just really good for making sure that my lips don’t dry out.

Many airlines offer hand and face cream on long-haul flights – even in Economy. Take advantage of that as they really help to keep your skin moisturised. If you’re looking for a little pizzazz – I recommend bringing facial spray in a small bottle to refresh yourself on long flights. I use a Jurlique Rosewater Spray which comes in Cathay’s Business Class amenity kits – which I absolutely love. My friends use Mario Badescu Facial Spray. Really – whatever makes you feel the best.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask

While most airlines have discontinued amenity kits in Economy Class, airlines still offer amenities like toothbrush and toothpaste, eyeshades, socks and earplugs on request – so don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants about some of the amenities that they have on offer aboard.


5. Bring Your Own Slippers/Sweatpants

It sucks to wake up, needing a pee and having to rummage around and look for your shoes, before squeezing your feet into those shoes. By having a handy pair of slippers, you’re able to easily slip them off and head to the loo. Slippers are also just really comfy. While I don’t like walking around an airport in sweatpants, I also absolutely hate wearing a pair of jeans on the plane. So, I usually bring a pair of sweatpants on the plane to change into when I need to get comfy.

6. Entertain Yourself

Make a long-haul flight feel short by watching a movie, or a sitcom, or reading a book, or whatever fits your fancy. Staring into blank space only prolongs a flight. Taking naps or trying to sleep also kills time pretty well. Heck, even grab some snacks and entertain your taste buds.

IMG_0414.JPGFinnair’s Entertainment System 

Bottom Line

So, yeah, that’s it. Here are my tips for how to survive that 16-hour trek from Hong Kong to New York.

1 comment

  1. The key to avoiding a 16-hour flight on aircraft like the 777 is to break it up and detour (if you’ll be on an A350, good luck, you don’t need to detour). I found it extremely infuriating that Cathay was sending the A350 to Vancouver, San Francisco, and Newark but not Toronto (treating customers from YVR, SFO, EWR with respect but treating YYZ customers like a dump with significantly inferior service, seriously?? I find the 777 a significantly inferior aircraft to the A350 overall). This summer I went from Montreal to Hong Kong on BA and Finnair through Heathrow and Helsinki to get their wonderful A350, and best of all, it all costs the same as what a direct flight between Toronto to Hong Kong would have been (I frequently commute between Montreal and Toronto, a 6 hour drive or 1 hour flight). The total time may have been 30 hours including 8 hours at LHR, but I find myself very refreshed at the end of the 30-hour trip largely thanks to the 787 and A350’s lower cabin altitude, mood lighting, large windows, good seats, excellent service, and excellent food (2 years ago when I last took CX Hong Kong to Toronto, I was so tired I couldn’t even open my eyes, and my god were those seats so terrible compared to the 787 and A350). However I look forward to the introduction of the 777X – I’m sure it will deliver an experience similar to the 787 and A350 and certainly much better than the current 777.


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