We have all been on the flight to or from Hell. I was on such a flight just in September to Washington, DC. I ended up with a window seat, since my original seat did not recline. My seat, as it turns out, was “broken” and would not recline. The couple in my row were about as “spread out” as can possibly be in a confined space. I think they brought just about everything they owned, and placed it either under the seat, or on top of themselves! It was just another flight from hell.
Most of the time, the flight from hell (FFH) involves a long international flight, over the ocean, considerable darkness, and very few amenities. And always in coach, always on a terrible airline, and always seated next to the most obnoxious people in the world.
So, what can be done to make these flights a little more tolerable? Especially when First Class is pricey or sold out.
The first suggestion is to pick your seat wisely. On wide bodies, I try to find the middle of the plane, on an aisle with four seats. I choose an aisle seat next to an empty middle seat, for obvious reasons. On my last international coach seat from SFO to Dublin (and Amsterdam) on Aer Lingus, it worked out great. The seat next to me was empty, and the passenger in front was very courteous. My friend Susan sat behind me, most fortunately. It was about as tolerable as 9 hours in coach could be.
Second, I ordered a special meal, a nice salmon or steak dinner, which I had ordered before on previous trips. I was about as happy as anyone can be in coach. Add a glass of wine or bubbly, and I was a happy camper for about half an hour.
Some of these “secrets” are not really very hard to figure out. Just use some common sense or logic.
Dressing comfortably is important, as in dressing in layers. I like to wear a shirt with a light jacket or sweater. Leave the heavy stuff in the overhead! And if the airline does not supply slippers, bring some of your own disposable ones that you stole from a previous airline or hotel.
Bring your own stuff! Like, neck pillows, water, snacks, hand cleaner, moisturizer, sleeping mask, breath mints, and even mouthwash. I am rather particular about my snacking, as I make my own trail mix, and only buy specific items from the airport vendors. The Spam musubi in Hawaii is my all time favorite. But I also like baguette sandwiches (from LePanier), apples and cheese, as well as a gourmet sandwich.
But the all time best item to bring for your own PEACE of mind is noise cancelling headphones. While not perfect, they really help. My Bose headphones have been all over the world. It changes everything, including watching movies, listening to music, or sleeping. Invest in a pair!
I tend to rely on an easy to read book, since the movies are rather inconsistent in quality. My preference is the easy to read novels by John Grisham. And I always bring a travel book for the primary destination of my trip. It really helps pass the time.
Sleep is a very scarce commodity for many of us. Even with the help of prescription sleeping pills, I am lucky to get two to three hours of sleep in coach or First Class. But I highly recommend this for just about everyone.
Once a decade or so, I do find someone interesting to talk with. But I try to be careful, since it creates more noise for those around me. But I have met some really interesting people, like guy named Bob. Turns out he was the famous actor, Robert Duvall, a most gracious and interesting character. And I have met famous photographers, writers, world class athletes, and a whole bunch of just very nice people.
Did I forget anything? Maybe you have some secrets.