What is a Long-Haul Flight?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A long-haul flight is a flight which is over seven hours in length. Long-haul flights often involve intercontinental travel; flights from Asia to the Americas, for example, are always long-haul flights due to the distance which must be covered by the aircraft. In some cases, a plane may need to stop to refuel during a long-haul flight, especially in the case of smaller aircraft.

Wearing a sleep mask can make a long-haul flight more comfortable.
Wearing a sleep mask can make a long-haul flight more comfortable.

For travelers, a long-haul flight can be grueling. Most people do not enjoy being trapped in a plane for an extended period of time, and they may start to feel bored or restless. Long-haul flights can also create health problems like deep vein thrombosis, which can be caused by sitting still for too long, or they can exaggerate existing health problems as passengers breathe in recycled air and struggle to remain hydrated.

Long-haul flights typically involve traveling across several time zones.
Long-haul flights typically involve traveling across several time zones.

Most airlines recognize that long-haul flights can be rather grueling. In-flight entertainment such as music and movies is often provided, with many airlines having private entertainment stations at each seat which allow passengers to pick from an array of movies, television shows, games, and music. Food is also generally offered on a long-haul flight, along with beverages.

The Boeing 747 was designed for use on long-haul flights.
The Boeing 747 was designed for use on long-haul flights.

A few things can make long-haul flights more bearable for passengers. It is a good idea to dress comfortably, and to pack supplies like books, magazines, a computer, a personal music player, and a sleep mask to cover the eyes while sleeping. Pillows, blankets, and other comfort items can also make the flight more enjoyable, as can familiar snacks. It's also a good idea to get up to stretch periodically.

Some airplane passengers prefer to fly first class on long-haul flights to places like Australia or New Zealand.
Some airplane passengers prefer to fly first class on long-haul flights to places like Australia or New Zealand.

In many cases, a long-haul flight is associated with jet lag at the other end, because the plane has crossed several time zones. A variety of techniques can be used to cope with jet lag; regular travelers often develop their own. Many people recommend setting your watch to the time at your destination when you board the plane, and trying to sleep or rest during the “night,” regardless as to what time it is on the plane.

Noise canceling headphones can make a long-haul flight more bearable.
Noise canceling headphones can make a long-haul flight more bearable.

Cabin crew must also cope with the stresses of a long-haul flight, because in addition to dealing with being trapped in an airline, they must also handle customers. Many airlines provide a space for cabin crew to rest or sleep, and the crew may rotate duties on a long-haul flight so that no one has to work all the way through the flight.

On long-haul flights, most airlines provide meals in addition to in-cabin entertainment options.
On long-haul flights, most airlines provide meals in addition to in-cabin entertainment options.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon302693

Do not take toddlers on long haul flights between Europe and Australia/New Zealand. Period. It will destroy both your sanity and the sanity of other passengers!

Sara007

For those that are traveling with children, how can you best prepare for a long-haul flight?

I know this kind of flight can be uncomfortable for adults at the best of times, but for kids, who normally are a lot more active, how can you keep them occupied and calm for 14 hours?

I have been on flights where a child has cried for nearly the entire flight, and hope to avoid that kind of trauma if possible.

wander

I take several long-haul flights a year, and find it is always difficult to fall asleep on the aircraft. I find that taking some Gravol helps me to get some rest.

In addition, I always get an aisle seat as it makes it easier to walk about and reach the bathroom. On a long-haul flight, the window seat isn't that great, as most of the flight the blinds are closed for the designated sleep period, and much of what you see is clouds anyway.

I really recommend that if you want to drink alcohol that you wait until near the end of the flight. While some feel that it helps them sleep, it also dehydrates you. Combined with the low humidity in the cabin, this just makes you feel more miserable.

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