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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.