Survival Techniques Please (17 hour flight)

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Hugh 22 Jul 2018
at 00:27

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  • AisleSeatTraveller

    I have a contract in Auckland, travelling next week (via Oslo, another short project)……

    anyone done the Doha-Auckland route, fortunately in biz (so I don’t have to endure the terrible Qatar Airways Econ food), survival techniques for 17+ hours in the seat (best seat to choose) please



    I can’t advise on the best seat as I don’t fly QR, but from the days when Europe to Hong Kong was 18 hours with 4 stops I’d suggest the following.
    Break the journey mentally into 4 four hour sections and dedicate various activities to those sections. I’m not sure what the timings are but food and drink and a movie in 2 of the 4 sections. Perhaps a good sleep in between.

    Take reading matter on a tablet* and download a couple of newspapers. Perhaps enjoy a game or three of solitaire or 2 dots. They both while away a good hour or two.
    Finally, choose the moment, but I always take a walk around the plane to stretch the legs and get the circulation going. Be careful not to get trapped by the food and drinks trolley though!

    *Back in the 70’s/80’s there were no tablets of course so it was buy a book and a take a few magazines.


    I have always found the best way to get through a very long flight is asleep. Have a bite to eat, watch a film, then eye shades , ear plugs, mild sleeping tablet and that is normally well over half the flight taken care of.

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    I have always found the best way to get through a very long flight is asleep.

    Depends on the arrival time. If its an early morning departure, I agree, sleep all the way.. If however, it’s going to be a late afternoon early evening arrival, I politely ask the cabin crew to wake me up ‘early’ enough so I don’t ruin the first nights sleep.

    As for sleeping pills – I was hooked on them for 30 years, trying to manage sleep and jetlag… I have been pill free for 5 years now (thanks to a client)…. I wouldn’t recommend using any medication to try and manage a 17 hour flight….

    As for technology, fill a tablet/ipad with sufficient of your favourite from Skygo or similar…



    If you are regularly going to a place that like LA, or Narita from LHR or regularly taking a 17 our flight then agree it is not a good idea, as I definitely wouldn’t recommend taking them on a regular basis. If you do it once in a blue moon or a year then don’t see a problem. I have no solutions for doing it regularly,

    I used to fly to LAX about twice a year and the same for NRT and HKG. For the first night I would always take a sleeping tablet. That is about 6 tablets a year. If I had to do a 17 hour flight I am sure I would , as again this would be a one off. Now that I have retired I went through my work bag and actually threw the bottle out, as they had gone out of date as they were so rarely used.



    I have never taken that long a flight and hope that I don’t need to, so can’t comment on survival techniques. But here’s my two bits on the seat. I understand QR fly a 777LR on this route. These planes don’t have the pods or the Qsuites but the old style 2-2-2 layout in two cabins with four rows in the first and three in the second. Very wide and fully flat beds with a small retractable privacy screen which is helpful when sleeping. The only downside is that you have to climb over a sleeping neighbour if in a window seat, in the sitting position there is enough room to access the aisle without disturbance. This doesn’t bother me so I always choose a window seat. Though, if your handle is any indication, it doesn’t appear to be your preference. My preferred seat is 1K. It is close to the galley but not on the side of the toilets or cockpit door so there is less footfall than the other aisle. Normally, the curtain remains drawn so there isn’t that much noise or light from the galley. I like the fact that there is no seat in front and have a feeling that there is slightly more leg room. Also, the IFE screen is stowed in the armrest so there is no annoying light when it comes on at the time any cabin announcement is made. I can’t stand it when that happens for turbulence announcements in an otherwise dark cabin. The downside with the bulkhead is that there is no stowage below the IFE screen, which is very handy. If row 1 doesn’t suit you, I suggest rows 2 or 3. Row 4 has a window missing next to the seat (although the second window in the row just behind the seat in front is there) This row is also too close to the toilets which are between the two cabins and one gets to hear things in A/B, J/K seats. I have never had occasion to sit in the second cabin for a flight longer than a couple of hours so can’t really comment on the best seat in that one. One tip on getting row 1, it is never available until checkin opens. I usually select row 2 or 3 and then change it to 1K when check in opens. So far I have always managed to get it if I check in online 48 hours before the flight.

    Wishing you a nice journey.


    @handbag – sleeping pills are like cigarettes (to some people) – done ’em both and now reformed on both – we are the worst sort :). They were just too easy and cheap to get..

    You were lucky to be so controlled – some of your former colleagues, including f/d, still manage their jet lag through the use of medication… (without a Dr).

    Whilst the OP was presumably asking the question FOR the actual flight, post flight Survival Techniques are just as important. After a BKK or HKG journey, I generally try to do a work out or go for a run/swim.. and generally stay up as late as possible..


    Drink heavily 🙂

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    This reply has been reported for inappropriate content.

    This is interesting as we may be doing AKL to DOH or PER to LHR very soon, but I’ve yet to read or hear about a reasonable way to make such a long flight. 14 hours or so tends to be the maximum so far and that seems to be enough time. Looking forward to picking up some ideas or tips here.


    I have done this flight in J. With great respect to Martyn who has had a very different experience, I’d never seen a sleeping pill until I obtained 2 for this flight and I have not sought one since. It worked for me, slept for 9/10 hours both ways. I find the seats on the 777 quite comfortable, same aircraft to JNB. My o/h who would prefer a drink usually was also persuaded to take the pills and it almost worked as well for him but I think several JD’s and coke also helped! My previous longest flight was SIN/LHR at 14 hrs and I struggled whereas 11 hours to/from SFO has never bothered me.
    An isle seat is obviously a good idea and if you don’t care for the airline’s food bring sufficient of your own but personally never had a problem with QR’s catering. I had a much bigger problem arriving in AKL at 4.30am!!!A day room in the airport Novotel seemed the only practical solution, not cheap. I also find that “going to bed” helps, as in, getting changed into the PJ’s, last drink (Bailies with ice, usually would’t touch the stuff) and eye mask all help.Mind you, on the return from DOH to LHR fell into great company in the J bar at 6am and got very pleasantly sloshed so I have no memory of my connection to BHD!


    In the 1970s and early 1980s (before the 747-400) I did many, many similar-length Europe-Asia (via Anchorage) or USA-Asia (via Los Angeles) return journeys in Y, of course I was younger then, now I regularly do similar-length journeys in J on CX via HKG return. To be honest the time on the plane is never the problem – my problem is always the arrival and in particular, overcoming jetlag. Anyway on the plane my method is – do not attempt to work, relax as much as possible, watch 2 or 3 movies, read, don’t eat heavy meals, no alcohol, and sleep for as long as possible with eyeshades on.

    Wishing you happy travels!

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    As with Martyn i plan my sleep around the flight to try and get on the same time zone on landing, asking the crew to wake me if necessary. I dont take sleeping pills on a flight, rely on a good book to tire my eyes instead but occasionally do on landing after 2 or 3 days if my recovery has been interrupted for some reason and then only for a maximum 2 days. They are more like low strength sleep aids than medication. I spent the first 10 years of my working life doing 3 shift rotations so I guess my mind and body got used to constantly having to adapt the sleep pattern


    I have done quite a number of 17+ hours nonstop flights, all in SQ.
    I felt mostly refreshed and entertained after the journey with following:
    1. Plan all time spent and meals per the destination time.
    2. If the destination is night during takeoff, eat a full dinner at lounge and go to sleep after take off.
    3. Scan the movie list and entertain yourself with movies during destination day time. SQ movie list is extensive, that helps, but Qatar list also good.
    4. If do not like movies/tv sitcoms, take a good book as other posters suggested. The magazines available in flight also provide very good reading materials.
    5. Refresh yourself per destination morning time. In my opinion the main reason one feels bad jet lag as our shitpot habit is disturbed.
    6. Follow standard practice of drinking a lot of water, not too much alcoholic drinks. Qatar Airways serves very good non-alcoholic drinks, juices, smoothies and mocktails.

    I never take any sleeping pills. I enjoy nonstop Long flight, as some of the pending work can be done. The wifi rate for the total flight is not that high, if you want to do work, that is another option.

    Window seats are best at Qatar business class, they have an island in the middle, seat right after that is slightly noisy.

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    My comment on Qatar seat is based on their A350 configuration, I have not taken any of their B777 flight


    Thankfully I rarely do such long flights these days, but when I did, I found the best practice was as suggested by LP, to split the flight into segments and allocate an activity (or non-activity) to each segment, so I’d doze after take-off as was usually tired, specially if early morning start, then I’d have a snack and a doze, wake, watch a film or read, doze again, and it made the flight pass pretty quickly.

    I am a very light drinker anyway but almost entirely avoid alcohol on flights, if only because I usually have to drive on arrival and I don’t believe that alcohol at altitude does you any favours, nor does it taste as good as at ground level.

    I experimented with Melatonin for a while when I was flying a lot across time zones, never saw the benefits so I dropped it. I think it has fallen out of favour anyway.

    When I flew a lot on SAA between ZA and EU (little or no time difference) I remember that they discouraged the use of sleeping medication, although I did use it sometimes and it worked but I always felt a bit disorientated the next day.

    Now most of the flights I do now are daylight flights between EU and ZA and I occupy myself more or less as I would on a normal day without of course being able to get any exercise, although I am sure some people would suggest I took a long walk off a short wing!

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