Staying Comfortable On Long Flights

Long flights, love them or hate then one thing is undeniable, they are uncomfortable, especially in economy class.


Seats are cramped, knees are banged and seat mates are annoying … OK, there is no known cure for an annoying seatmate aside from good noise canceling headsets and pretending to not understand the language you are being spoken to in …  but there are simple ways to stay comfortable on a flight, even while crammed into your seat and watching a movie.


The easiest way to stay comfortable in flight is by staying hydrated. On average an pressurized aircraft cabin’s humidity is less than 25%. The very low humidity levels on board airplanes can cause your throat, nose and eyes to feel dry.  To counter the effects of extremely low humidity levels you should keep yourself properly in flight. Many prefer to drink coffee or liquor on flights, however these drinks are diuretics and actually increase your body’s dehydration.  Rather the turn to coffee and booze, travelers should drink water and juice in flight to stave off the negative effects of dehydration.


In addition to drinking fluids that help with staying hydrated, airline passengers can decrease the physical discomforts of dehydration by using skin moisturizing cream.


Once you have properly hydrated, staying limber in your seat will not only make you more comfortable on board a long flight, it is also good for your health.


Sitting upright and inactive for long periods of time can cause your legs’ central blood vessels to become compressed, making it more difficult for your blood to circulate back to your heart.  The force of gravity coupled with a lack of movement can prevent body’s mechanism for returning fluid back to the heart causing feet to become swollen and your muscles to become tense increasing the sense of significant fatigue, not only during your flight but after your flight as fell.  In some instances it has been shown that extended immobility may cause the formation of blood clots in legs that lead to the potentially fatal deep vein thrombosis (DVT).



What can you do to be healthier in flight and keep your circulation flowing? For starters if you’re flying long flights, consider compression stockings. Yes, compression stockings are not very fashionable and if that is a concern, consider nursing socks found in store that sells scrubs and nursing uniforms. Compression socks aid in reducing swelling in the ankles and feet, improve the body’s circulation by aiding in the blood flow return from your lower legs.


Regardless of whether or not you choose to wear compression stockings or compression socks, every hour in flight you should move your feet ankles and legs for three to four minutes while in your seat and walk around the cabin every two hours to aid in proper circulation.



While getting your circulation flowing in your seat, passing the time exercising in your seat is an excellent way to make yourself feel better. Six easy exercises that can be done from the comfort of your seat will make your flight more enjoyable, make you feel more refreshed and less confined while jammed into a narrow seat for hours on end.


1) Neck Roll – Relax your shoulders and gently drop your ear to your shoulder. Once your head is comfortable positioned at your shoulder, gently roll your neck forward and back, maintaining each position for approximately five second. Repeat this motion ten times.


2) Shoulder Roll – Push your shoulders forward so you are partially hunched over, then roll your shoulders upward, then backward, then downward, in a gentle circular pattern.  Repeat this 10 to 15 times


3) Flex Forward – Firmly place both of your feet on the floor, legs directly against the seat. With your stomach held in, slowly bend forward and place your hands on your legs as far down as possible to reach, then walk your hands up the front of your leg, then back down toward your ankles. Hold your stretch for 20 seconds, and then slowly sit back up.


4) Ankle Swirls – Lift your feet up off the floor and trace an imaginary a circle with your toes. Simultaneously move one foot clockwise and your other foot counterclockwise. After five circles reverse the direction of the circles you are rotating your ankles.


5) Foot Pump – Place both your heels on the floor and point your feet towards the ceiling as high as you can without your ankles leaving the floor, then slowly bring your feet down. Once your feet are down place both of your feet flat on the floor, then left your heels up as high as you can, keeping the balls of your feet on the ground.  Hold each position for 30 seconds.


6) Knee Chest Stretch –  Bend your body at your hips slightly forward, clasp your hands firmly together around your knee, then pull it to your chest, and hold it for 20 seconds then slowly release your leg. Alternate legs and repeat 10 times.



So next time your board a flight and feel like counting the seconds from wheels up to wheels down because you are uncomfortable pay attention to not only your desire to complain about being uncomfortable and focus on was you can make yourself more comfortable.


Next time you board a flight and feel like a piece of cramped self loading cargo; focus on ways you can make yourself more comfortable.


Happy Flying!






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