Must-Haves and Don’t-Needs for Flying Long-Haul

Three of each. Lots of people have an opinion on this. Here is mine, slightly different to the norm.


Gadgets and Tech

It’s only the last few years that you’ve been allowed to use electronics in-flight anyway, but this is the highest on my list of stuff you don’t need on a long-haul flight, whatever anyone says.

For starters, aeroplanes have fabulous in-flight entertainment systems these days. Gone are the days of a pair of head-phones so you can join in the rest of the ‘plane watching the same Mr Bean movie repeatedly on a screen in the corridor you have to crane to see. You have far more movies, TV episodes, and music albums than you will ever need, several reasonably decent games, and if all that isn’t enough for you, there’s always the Flightpath channel.

And for something else, even if you think you’ve got some sort of work to do on a laptop which you think your eleven hours of dead air-travel time would be great for, consider how much space you have between you and the seat in front of you. Yeah, not enough space for a lap-top, unless you like the skewed colours which come from a screen that can’t be opened fully. (In the same vein, any sort of book-work isn’t going to fit on the table).

Yes, I do take my laptop in carry-on, but that’s entirely to do with not wanting it in my suitcase, being thrown about by baggage handlers. I’m not going to get it out until I’m in the transit lounge.


I have one, from the time quite a few years ago when I bent to popular opinion that they were the best thing ever for flying long-haul. They’re not. When I take it, I usually fold it in half and use it like a normal pillow. Think about it. If you’re leaning back into the seat, you don’t need pillow around the sides. If you’re leaning on the wall, you need something cushioning your head, not your neck. There isn’t enough room to turn around or wriggle without waking up, anyway.

Personally, if you want to take an extra pillow, take a self-inflating camp pillow. It’s more compact than a neck-pillow, and a more useful shape (you know, pillow-shaped). But airline pillows aren’t usually as bad as they’re made out to be (considering how terrible the seats are in the first place), and there are usually some spares stashed at regular intervals in the overheads.


No ear-plug or head-phone, no matter how “noise-cancelling” it claims to be, is going to block out the sound of those massive engines which are keeping you from crashing to the ground. Just suck it up and sleep through the noise. It’ll be more comfortable.



Aeroplane air is dehydrating. Enough said.

Bottle of Water

Again, aeroplane air is dehydrating. And sure, you can ask the air hostesses to bring you cups of water whenever you want, although I’d advise against doing it too much unless you want to be internally blacklisted. But plastic cups can be easily tipped, spilt, and squished, even if you can find some sort of cup-holder for them. And then you’re stuck with half a dozen broken plastic cups you don’t know what to do with until rubbish is collected after the next meal or prior to descent.

And of course you know that you can’t take bottled water through security. I know some people take empty drink bottles to fill up in the departure lounge, but just remember that my main port of departure is Adelaide. Have you had Adelaide tapwater at any point in your life? Yeah, thanks, but I’d rather splash out an exorbitant $5.75 for a bottle of water.

Large Coat

The last time I flew long-haul, it was with British Airways. Now, that’s never a good start to any story. But I’m convinced that the internal furnishings people sat down and said to themselves, “Now, what is the most inconvenient, useless shape we can create for a blanket? Let’s do it that way.” I’m convinced of this because the blanket was, quite literally, eighty centimetres wide and two and a half metres long.

Now, not all airlines have such awkwardly-shaped blankets, but they’re probably not going to be the best, and while I don’t mind airline pillows, I’m neurotic about having a decent blanket or sheet. Therefore, it pays to have a large coat or poncho to wear over your head, shoulders, and upper torso while you use the awkwardly-shaped and slightly musty blanket to cover, as best as possible, the rest of your body.



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