Long Haul Flight Entertainment : Four Ways To Keep Your Sanity

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12/04/2008 – Long Haul Flight Entertainment : Four Ways To Keep Your Sanity

I have received many e-mails over the past year asking me how to stay entertained on long haul flights. Having responded to dozens of these e-mails I thought it appropriate to start my short series on handling your sanity during long haul travel at the start of my 11 hour flight from Tokyo to Chicago. This is the last long haul flight on my 20,000 mile, 3.5 day journey around the world shooting projects in four cities, in four countries and on three continents.

Some Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 aircraft have the slogan “”4 Engines 4 Long Haul.” I have my own version of this “4 Sanity Options 4 Long Haul.” Not as catchy as the Virgin Atlantic slogan, but it works for me.

1) Music
2) Movies
3) Reading
4) Sleep

Music is the easiest. Everyone has an iPod, MP3 player, phone that plays MP3s or something that plays music. Music is ideal to keep your mind occupied on a flight of any length. I have been on a 13 hour flight with no in-seat power and an aircraft with a broken in-flight entertainment. 13 hours on a packed 777-300 with no in-flight movie and no in-seat audio. For those who had in-seat AVOD (Audio Visual On Demand), all they had were black screens. My sanity was kept intact by my iPod.

2) Movies will keep you going. A sleeve of 10 DVDs is compact and can be slipped in anywhere without taking up space. The only problem with movies is the need for power, extra laptop batteries, in-seat power, portable DVD player with extra batteries, iPod Video with auxiliary batteries (I’ll be writing up the Sony PSP in a few days). There is nothing I prefer more than movies on a long haul journey. I watch TV shows, movies, documentaries, you name it. A few movies can make an 11 hour flight go by in the blink of an eye.

3) Reading is an easy way to pass the time. If you’re on this site chances are you can read, if you can read you can learn, be entertained, and while away the mindless hours. Best thing about reading? You can pick it up on any corner and it requires no power or batteries.

4) Sleep. I think sleep is fairy self evident. If you plan your body clock properly you can sleep half the night away then read and listen to music for the rest of the flight. I often try and board planes nearly exhausted, this allows me to maximize my sleep. If I can sleep my flight away I tend to arrive as a happy flyer!

Happy Flying!


  1. I practice your 4 rs, but with a twist.

    For recreational reading, I always store 8 or 10 audiobooks on my iPod. Advantage: You can listen/read with your eyes closed. It is very relaxing. Also, on trips I save the bulk of carrying all those books. With the iPod in my purse, I am always ready to read: on the Metro, while waiting for an appointment etc.

  2. can you please suggest where to get dvd sleeves like the one you use from? i’ve tried all sorts of places but have only found the bulky ‘book’ style cd/dvd holders. thanks !

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