I've read a few blog posts about coping with long flights but they have all been about your fancy pants airlines where you get luxuries like leg room and power plugs for all your electronic devices and... I dunno, foot massages and free food.
That's fine, if you can afford it but some of us don't have the money to splurge on those kind of things. I am a cheapskate so I fly on budget airlines like Jetstar and Air Asia. We have to rough it in conditions worse than the pets down in the cargo hold.
I'm a terrible flier. I don't get scared, I get grumpy, and bored and pretty much annoying to everyone around me. I'm going to try to fix that though and learn to survive the hard times.
These are my handy survival tips:
1. Pack your own amusements.
The airline isn't going to supply them for you, not without charging you a pretty penny -- and what's the point of flying Cheapo-Air if you spend all your dollars on this kind of crap. Make sure your ipod is charged and full of your favourite videos to watch.
The flight is probably going to last longer than your battery though so use it only when essential (ie. when the baby behind you starts screaming or the drunks down the back start singing Nickelback).
Pack a book to read but make it a good one (unlike the time when the only book I had was Twilight... I thought it couldn't be that bad - I was so WRONG!)
If you are going to a non-English speaking country, practice your language skills by translating the in-flight magazine.
If all else fails, you can play my favourite in-flight game: "Who would you eat first if the plane crashes?"
2. Pack your own food also.
It's very tempting to break up the boredom of the flight by ordering an array of delicious snacks from the hostie but that'll just get you pepped up on sugar with no way of working off your excess energy. Not good. Also you will feel sick in the belly. Save money and your sanity by packing your own food.
3. Don't drink.
Not advice I often give but drinking in the air is expensive and makes you look and feel like crap. Don't get to your destination with a hangover and ruin your holiday. Drink after you land - in a nice bar.
This can be hard on a cheapo airline - but, with minimal leg space at your seat, even more important. The aisles are tiny full of people's legs and other body parts. You might wake them up with all your walking but screw 'em. I think it could actually be illegal not to have clear aisles on a flight and you don't want to get DVT or any other nasties.
Also, if you take your shoes off during the flight, your feet can swell up and you can't get them back on! I know that from personal experience.
I do laps of the plane then go to the toilet area where there is more space and stretch loads. I might look like a dick but who cares? I need to be able to wear my shoes when I land.
5. Drink water.
Lots and lots of water. You get awfully dehyrated in the air. You don't want to land looking like a prune. This also helps with the walking - you're getting up to get water then getting up to go to the loo!
6. Establish your boundaries early.
There's no need to be a princess but it's so much better to death-scare the kid behind you early rather than exploding after hours of seat-kicking torture. If your neighbour wants to make friends and you don't, tell them you want to listen to your music rather than endure hours of chit-chat.
7. Get over yourself.
It can be annoying being squished into a tiny space with a screaming baby across the aisle but everyone on the flight is in the same boat (so to speak). Have a bit of empathy. If the screaming baby annoys you, imagine how much worse it is for the mum who has to deal with that plus death stares from fellow passengers. Offer a hand instead of bitching.
This might sound like it's contradicting the advice in #6 but realise there are some things you can't change (babies cry - deal with it) and some you can.
Being nice never hurts - smile and chat to people in the toilet queue. Offer a snack to the person sitting next to you. And especially, be nice to the hosties. It's a tough job and you don't want to be the horrible, demanding passenger (even though I'm sure you never would be).
8. Think how much money you are saving.
Better to have a shit flight and a great holiday than spend up big on a fancy airline and have to cut back on the important stuff -- like food and shoe shopping -- at your destination. You don't really need an in-flight movie that much!
I'm going to be very zen and calm when I fly on Sunday. I might even enjoy it. Well apart from the bit where I find out someone has done the sukudo in my in-flight magazine (always happens to me!)