7 Ways To Pass The Time On A Long-Haul Flight

How to beat the boredom and get some shut-eye.

Brought to you by Qantas

This feature is brought to you by Qantas, who are proud to play a part in bringing travellers together with the people they love from around Australia and across the globe.

Australians are hardcore, expert travellers. It’s basically a guarantee that no matter what hostel or hotel you check into anywhere around the world there will be at least one other Aussie somewhere in the building. That becomes even more impressive when you consider our small population and the vast distances we have to travel to escape our own gigantic country. In fact, most foreigners think Australians are tough not because of our laid-back attitudes towards sharks, snakes and spiders but because of our zen acceptance of 14-hour flights and 8-hour layovers. There are tricks, however, to making those long transits more pleasurable through the right mindset and activities, so take on board a couple of these tips and you’ll find yourself enjoying the ride almost as much as your destination.

#1 Put some podcasts in your ears


Podcasts are the ultimate low-energy entertainment. Shut your eyes to drift off into a world of information, comedy and conversations. Now, instead of having to frantically pre-stock your smartphone with podcasts, Qantas have gone and made that part even simpler and added podcasts to their already loaded entertainment systems. Right now there are more than 40 different podcasts pre-loaded and ready for your earholes through Q Entertainment – everything from BBC Drama and Comedy highlights to the award winning WNYC Freakonomics podcast. Sit back, relax and listen – you won’t even notice the hours fly by.

#2 Take full advantage of the Inflight Entertainment System

Long-haul flights are an incredible opportunity to catch up on all the new release movies and TV shows you might have missed, without the guilt that you’re somehow wasting a day of your life with a binge watching marathon. Your housemates can’t make you change the channel, your parents can’t tell you to get up and empty the dishwasher and on Qantas flights there are literally hundreds of choices. It’s not just movies and TV either – there are games to play and albums to listen to as well as curated radio channels to keep you entertained for hours. For super keen beans head here to plan exactly which movies you’ll be saving to watch on your trip.

#3 Snooze, dudes

Three words here, guys: Noise. Cancelling. Headphones. These babies are worth their weight in gold on long haul flights for blocking out the general aircraft cabin hubbub and engine sounds. If you’ve been saving your pennies for the trip instead, even packing a pair of foam earbuds will make a world of difference to your chances of a decent snooze. Plaster on some facial moisturiser (trust us, you’ll wake up feeling SO MUCH better) put on a light blocking eyemask and slam a glass of water pre-snooze. Trouble getting to sleep? Try the simple breath control trick of inhaling over a slow count to seven, holding for seven and then exhaling for seven – it slows your heart rate right down and should have you counting sheep in no time.

#4 Chat to your neighbours


The number one rule here is ‘don’t be *that* guy,’ and yes, you know exactly what we mean. Use your social skills and if the person next to you isn’t particularly responsive to your highly original opening line of ‘how you going’/’are you also going to Madrid?’ then back right off. Some people just want to sleep or listen to podcasts and that is totally their call. However, some other folks are perfectly content to have a chat with their seat neighbour on a longer flight – you might just make a new friend or learn something super interesting about your destination. Just remember – these are the people who will be deciding when/how to climb over you to get to the bathroom. Annoy them at your peril.

#5 Centre yourself with some in-flight yoga

Sitting in a chair for a long period of time can be tough on your body, so getting the blood flowing to your extremities is a pretty solid plan. While sitting, straighten up with the crown of your head stretching to the roof of the plane – now gently and slowly roll your neck from side-to-side and around in circles. Next, stretch your arms up to the plane ceiling and try and release any tension from your shoulders. Cross your legs one at a time and slowly rotate each ankle in small circles for about a minute each. Next, find an empty space at the back of the plane or near the doors (don’t do this during food service or you’ll annoy *everyone*) and bring one foot at a time backwards and up to your bum, hold with your hands and stretch out your thighs – hold for 30 seconds for each foot. Then, with both feet planted firmly on the ground, slowly lean as far forward as you can, stretching out your back and arms. All better!


#6 Invent some passenger back stories

People-watching on flights is a seriously underrated activity. You have a captive crowd to examine and then practice your skills for fiction on – the more elaborate the back story you create for them the better. If you’re feeling really inspired you could even try your hand at writing a short story. The guy sitting in 14K? Definitely a spy – no one reads The Da Vinci Code anymore so it has got to be a disguised code book, and the way he keeps scratching his nose clearly indicates he’s signally to someone else on the flight. The couple in 22C and 22D? They met on Tinder and she’s coming home to meet his family for the first time. 19A? He’s got a job interview in a country where he doesn’t speak the language and is frantically trying to learn what ‘programmatic specificity’ is in German. This game is also fun if you have a travelling companion, as you can compare notes when you get to the destination – just don’t stare too much and never point.

#7 Get some trip-planning done!


It’s time to get excited about your destination. After months of planning the actual logistics of the trip, you now have some time to read guide books or magazines and suss out exactly how to order two beers in the local lingo and figure out which part of the city has the best nightlife. If you’re the organised type you can make a list of all the things you want to see and do, or if you’re a little more casual about trip-planning then just read about the culture, food and scenery you’re likely to encounter. Maybe download a couple of city apps or maps before you board to get a feel for where you’re headed. Then just switch your inflight screen over to maps and watch that little plane as it creeps slowly towards your final destination, and feel that bubble of awesome adventure anticipation build.

Book your next long-haul flight with Qantas.