Ten tips for long-haul flights


If you want to discover the faraway, you can reach your dream destination easily and quickly with a long-haul flight. Whether you’re going from Berlin to New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, Peking, Ulan Bator or Singapore – nine to twelve hours on a flight can be a bit of a test of patience if you’re not well-prepared. Our tips will advise you on how to better deal with longer flights and arrive to your destination relaxed. 

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1. Pre-departure: exercise & fresh air!
Since a long flight also means sitting for a long time, you should properly move around before departure. Best would be in fresh air, since a majority of travel time is spent indoors. Eat a healthy, nutritious meal and drink enough water beforehand. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before departure.

2. Check-in & travel documents
It’s best if you check in online with your airline in advance. This is usually possible up to 24 hours in advance and this way you can easily chose your seat – maybe you have a preference between window and aisle seat. You will receive your boarding pass when you check in, either on your smartphone or as a printout to bring to the airport. At Tegel Airport you can then go straight to the specified counter to hand in your luggage. Please take note of the specific travel conditions for your travel destination, and be sure to remember your valid travel documents.

3. Timely arrival to the airport
For long-haul flights, it’s important to arrive to the airport at least two hours before departure. Check with your airline when the counter opens for check-in and luggage drop-off. Also be sure to plan enough time for security check. Hold luggage will be weighed at the counter – you may have to pay extra for excess luggage. Luggage regulations vary from airline to airline and depend on the fare category. Special luggage such as pushchairs and car seats must be handed in at the oversize luggage counter after check-in. You can then go through security checks and wait to board. If you have extra time, you can grab a snack after security.

4. Warm, comfortable clothing
Even if you’re flying to the heat, it can get really cold onboard. It’s best to pack extra layers in your hand luggage or to wear multiple layers. Some airlines give out free pillows and blankets on long-haul flights in Economy Class. But having your own socks, blanket, shawl or generally comfortable clothes wouldn’t hurt. Who wants to get ill right before a holiday? You can also relax and get some sleep if you have a neck pillow.

5. Stay hydrated!
Since the air onboard is very dry, you need to stay hydrated! It’s best to take a water bottle with you that you can fill up after security. Otherwise you can buy water after security from Tetrapack – one Euro for 0.5 litres. Airlines also hand out water and juice during the flight, but it’s best if you bring your own provisions. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks onboard, as they unnecessarily dehydrate the body. Since your skin will also get dry, it’s recommended to pack body lotion (max. 100ml) in your hand luggage, so you can regularly moisturise your face and hands.

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6. Special meal requests?
If you’re vegetarian, have to avoid certain foods such as gluten, or need a specific meal for religious reasons, you can order your special meal from the airline in advance. It is best to do this directly when you book the flight. With some airlines you can reserve special meals up to 24 hours before departure, either online or by telephone. Up to 20 special menus are offered by most airlines in Economy Class on long-haul flights. There are no additional costs for passengers.

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7. Activity and entertainment programme
A lot of time in one go can be either a blessing or mean boredom. There are many ways to spend time onboard. Read an exciting book, listen to podcasts or music, bring along a work project or just play cards. Most passengers are interested in the entertainment programme. You can find out about the film selection in advance of departure on the respective airline’s website. Usually there is a large multilingual selection of films (children’s films too), TV series, documentaries, music and games. You can of course also watch your own films offline on your tablet, if you have downloaded these in advance. A secret tip for travelling with children: depending on their age, wrap a small gift, e.g. a sticker booklet, so that the children can entertain themselves with something new when the next few hours threaten to become long.

8. Stretch and stand up
Be sure to keep standing up during the flight (when the seatbelt sign is off) and move around. Stretch your limbs and do a couple of light stretching exercises. Circle your foot and shoulder joints. Some airlines offer a mini programme which you can either find in the entertainment programme or the onboard magazine. Regular movement is important to reduce the risk of thrombosis on long-haul flights. If you are at risk of thrombosis, consult your doctor before the flight and, if necessary, get a prescription for anti-thrombosis socks.

9. What should go in hand luggage?
You can find out the size and weight limits of your hand luggage on your airline’s website. For security check at the airport, your pouch with liquids, as well as electronic devices like laptops and cameras, must be separately placed on the trays to be checked. Everyone needs different things in their hand luggage, but the most important things are boarding pass, travel documents and any medication needed. You could also pack: water bottle, snacks, chewing gum (for pressure changes on take-off/landing), sleeping mask, warm and comfortable clothes, socks, blankets, e-reader and books, smartphone/tablet, portable charger, headphones, card games, body lotion, lip balm, toothbrush and deodorant.

10. Time change and jetlag
On long-haul flights you are bypassing multiple time zones and landing in a completely different time to at your place of departure. The time difference confuses your sleep-wake cycle and biorhythm, which results in jetlag, tiredness and sleeplessness at your destination. You can go about preventing this by drinking enough water onboard and avoiding caffeine and alcohol. During the flight, set your watch to the time at your destination and mentally get attuned to this time. Try to get used to the new time as soon as possible after arriving. If you arrive in the morning, you should definitely take some rest but not lie down, otherwise you will not be able to fall asleep in the evening. The best way to fight jetlag is with light walks, fresh air, natural light and good food.

Long-haul routes from Tegel

• Doha with Qatar Airways
• Peking with Hainan Airlines
• New York with Delta Air Lines & United Airlines
• Toronto with Air Canada rouge
• Singapore with Scoot
• Philadelphia with American Airlines (from June 2019)
• Ulan Bator with MIAT Mongolian Airlines

We wish you a good flight!

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