Tips: Surviving transpacific flights

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A student who is afraid of flying asked me how to survive the fourteen hour flight to Japan. These were my tips:

  • Shorten. Take a direct flight. Connections suck.
  • Reserve. Make sure to get a seat in the forward half of the cabin. Less turbulence and less claustrophobic.
  • Sleep. Don't drink any caffeine on the day of the flight and try to board the plane slightly sleep deprived. If needed, pharmaceuticals can be your friend. Take a (properly prescribed) chill pill or sleeping pill (not both!) and sleep through the entire thing. Alcohol can dehydrate you and make you wake up with a headache, but if a small glass of beer or wine will send you to lala-land, go for it. (I personally can't take either drugs or alcohol, so these last two are based on the advice of seatmates and other travelers).
  • Nest. Get a window seat and bring your own neck pillow and fluffy blanket.
  • Shutout. Get good earplugs, noise isolating or noise cancelling headphones with a good soundtrack or audiobook on your iPhone, and an eye mask and/or wear a baseball cap (it can shade the cabin light quite well).

Any other tips or suggestions?


HowStuffWorks just posted an article on this:

I Have made trans-pacific flights more that I care to remember. Here is what I do:
1. Set your watch for the destination. Helps sync your sleep.
2. Traveling east to west, select a flight that lands in the evening and stay awake the whole flight. You arrive tired but awake "on fire" the next morning - no recovery required.
3. Traveling west to east. Take a late evening flight, sleep after the meal and awake normally. This will be always be the most difficult as it is easier for the body to fly with the sun rather than against it. allow 1 day for recovery.
4. Take 1 Ibuprofen.
5. Your other hints do applu


There is a significant body of evidence that wearing earplugs can significantly reduce fatigue and jetlag on long flights by blocking the high levels of ambient noise and aiding restful sleep. Moulded earplugs are much more comfortable and hygienic when worn for long periods.


[Editors note: Note that "Toby" appears to work for Zen Plugs so take this comment with a grain of salt. KN]

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This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on December 7, 2011 10:05 PM.

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