Surviving Long-Haul Flights

Surviving long-haul flights can be hard sometimes. Multiple layovers, squished in the middle seat with minimal space to spread out, recovering from lack of sleep from the big night out the evening before.

These days, in-flight services have gotten a whole lot better. One of my favorite things is to catch up on all the movies I’ve missed, check out new music, and even discover potential new destinations from the airline’s magazine. Yes, I am one of those nerdy types who actually reads them.

I’ll admit, I actually discovered a classic album on a flight once — Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Square Club from 1963. Not only do you hear his classics live, but his performing chops are on show. The crowd is singing along with him, his voice is raw, and the grittiness of the recording is authentic and true. The album is now one of my staples, thanks to Emirates flight 5010.

And I’ve managed to fit in almost five movies back-to-back (Europe to Australia — northern to southern hemispheres, 500 different time zones — ugh) which possibly did some major retina damage but having your own personal cinema can be a luxury sometimes. Here I can indulge in one of my guilty pleasures — watching musical cartoons like Tangled, Frozen and The Little Mermaid. Believe it or not, it is difficult to find other friends in their 20s and 30s to watch these with me. Getting served drinks and snacks constantly doesn’t hurt either; peanuts and orange juice, sandwiches and chocolate. Netflix plus table service. Not a bad deal.

Finally, it’s also a great opportunity to meet other travelers. They may come from a completely different walk of life, but isn’t that part of the randomness of travel? I met a safari operator from Botswana once, replete in khakis. I’ve played video games with some Emirati kid who could only speak Arabic, and I, English. And some private security employees on their way to Kabul. Getting a glimpse into other worlds doesn’t always have to happen by moving somewhere — it could just be a case of starting a conversation with the person sitting next to you.