By Jim Hunt
After returning from Tacoma, Washington on a four-and-a-half-hour flight on Alaska Airlines, I had plenty of time to reflect on this column. While it was a long flight, I have had many long flights over my lifetime and a couple that lasted twelve or more hours. I’m often asked, “What do you do during that long of a flight?” The advances in technology have eased a lot of the boredom of long flights, but even with your iPad or iPhone, it is best to have a strategy to endure these long flights.
One thing that you should be sure to do is get up often. As someone who survived a Deep Vein Thrombosis and a Pulmonary Embolism, I get up often and walk the entire distance of the airplane, to keep my blood flowing and not sit in a cramped seat for hours at a time. This is often not easy, with your seatmates sleeping or using a computer, that makes it difficult to get up on a regular basis. This is why it is advisable to get an aisle seat or an exit row, where you can get up without having to crawl over the seats. You can also exercise your legs by “pumping” your feet back and forth. This keeps the blood flowing and helps prevent cramps and swelling. I try to break the long flight up by doing little tasks and then listening to music or resting. If you bring a book or magazine, spend about 30 minutes at a time and then have a beverage or get up and stretch your arms and legs. If the flight has a meal service, time your break to just before they start serving the meal. This way, you can spend twenty minutes or more, eating and then get back to your reading or relaxing. I also like to do some work on these long flights, and this has the added benefit of taking time while accomplishing some work items.
I like using my iPhone to do work tasks instead of a laptop computer for several reasons. One of the best reasons not to use a laptop, is that your seatmate or those behind you, might be reading some sensitive information or seeing account numbers or other information that should be kept private. It is also hard to handle a laptop when being served coffee or drinks and more than one time, have I seen someone’s prized laptop become soaked with an errant coffee cup. It is surprising how much you can do with an iPhone, and I have become skilled at typing and editing on my phone, so I rarely take my laptop on flights anymore.
One thing that I do on long flights is to go through my phone and delete old contacts or clear out messages. This is helpful and it is a job that most of us don’t do when we are on the ground. I also find that editing and deleting pictures can occupy hours in the air. I often take ten pictures of the same shot and they just take up a lot of room on my phone. In two hours or more, you can go through a lot of photos and improve the speed of your phone in the process. While these tips work most of the time for me, I had one flight several years ago that really through me a curve ball. I was going to South Africa and when I got on the plane in Washington, DC, they said it was a fourteen-hour flight to Dakar, and then another flight to Johannesburg. As the plane landed in Dakar for fuel, I figured that we had another hour or two to go. When I got on the plane after an hour break, I asked the flight attendant how long until we arrive in Johannesburg. She smiled and said, “Oh, about ten more hours!” It was then that I learned that South Africa is a really big country! Needless to say, that was one loooooong flight!
Have an Amazing day!