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How to survive an ultra long-haul flight on your next holiday

SINGAPORE: How does 19 hours on a flight from New York to Sydney sound? That’s the amount of time it will take to watch Titanic almost six times.

Qantas is set to launch the world's longest nonstop flight this weekend. It will be the first of three “ultra long-haul” test flights from the Big Apple to Down Under.

Singapore Airlines previously held the record for the longest nonstop commercial flight - about 18 hours from Singapore to New York

If you're planning to travel across the globe for your next vacation, here are some tips to keep you sane.


There are (unspoken) rules midair. The passenger on the aisle seat gets the legroom, the passenger in the middle gets most of the armrests, and the one by the window seats gets the luxury of leaning against the wall for a comfortable nap.

So decide what would make you most at ease throughout the flight – more leg room, support for your arms or a surface to lean on for some sleep. Bear in mind, the first two seats would also require you to move in case someone needs the toilet.

On an ultra long-haul flight, the window seat might be your best option if you want to catch a few winks. Check in ahead of time to guarantee the seat of your choice.

A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Qantas Airways is seen on the tarmac of LAX Los Angeles airport on May 11, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Daniel Slim)

READ: Qantas to launch world's longest nonstop flight from New York to Sydney


Now that you have the best seat in the house, you need a good night's sleep. Sleep accessories could help you get a decent rest, ward off an aching neck and make wailing toddlers more bearable.

Pack ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones to ensure you get some peace and quiet. Qantas found in a study of almost 500 passengers travelling longer than nine hours that more than half of long-haul flight passengers use these to aid them in their sleep.

An eye-mask may help as well if you need the dark to get some shuteye. And finally, your neck muscles will thank you for that extra support with a travel neck pillow. With that, sleep tight.


Taking a flight can dehydrate your body so you will need to hydrate – but not with the alcohol variety even if they are free flow inflight. Qantas found that 38 per cent of passengers on long-haul flights drink alcohol to aid them in their sleep.

Specialist sleep researcher Dr Yu Sun Bin, who was part of the Qantas study, said alcohol makes jet lag worse.

“Drinking more than a few glasses of alcohol will make jet lag worse. It might make us fall asleep faster but beyond a certain point, it also disrupts the quality of sleep and causes dehydration,” he said.

So instead of alcohol, hydrate your body with more water than you might normally drink, even if you feel like you don’t need it.

READ: How to deal with jet lag when you’re on holiday


Imagine sitting in an upright (or slightly inclined position at best) with tight jeans digging into your waist and a thin top that’s hardly a match for the glacial cabin settings.

Be comfortable with several loose layers, Skyscanner suggested. This could mean leggings, sweatpants, T-shirts, jumpers, sweaters and perhaps a shawl in case it gets really cold.

READ: Singapore Airlines’ world’s longest flight: What it’s like to fly 18 hours in the back of the plane


There will be a change of time zones with ultra long-haul flights, so your meal timings might become haywire. While you eagerly anticipate the smell of bread rolls wafting through the cabin during meal times, packing a few of your own snacks might be useful as well, Skyscanner said.

The travel website suggests slow-energy release snacks like cereal bars, nuts or dried fruit.


Premium Economy passengers on board the inaugural SQ22 flight to New York. (Photo: Hidayah Salamat)

The last thing you want when you reach your destination is deep vein thrombosis – a condition associated with long-haul flights.

Qantas recommends moving your legs and feet for three to four minutes per hour while seated, and moving about the cabin occasionally.

Other simple exercises that can be done while seated include drawing circles with your ankles for a few seconds, flexing your heels, lifting your knees to your chest and rolling your neck forward and back.


(Photo: Hidayah Salamat)

This is the one time you have a reason not check your work emails because you have no mobile data.

Exhaust all the movie options in the inflight entertainment system, pack books you’ve been meaning to read but never got around to, curate special Spotify playlists to carry you through the flight or, as Skyscanner suggested, read the inflight magazines on your destination to hype you up.


Here’s a bonus tip to ensure you’re fresh for your holiday even after you’ve stepped off the flight.

Assuming you’ve not landed in the dead of the night, catch some rays to combat the jet lag, Dr Yu said.

Fewer than half the passengers in the Qantas study did it, but it is “one of the most important strategies for syncing the body clock”.

Bon voyage!

Source: CNA/aa(gs)


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