A long haul flight is almost unavoidable if you want to fly to New Zealand. But taking a few steps can make your trip much more enjoyable and have you arriving in this part of the world rested and ready to enjoy your time in the land of the long white cloud.
Long haul flights are a part of any travelling New Zealander’s life. If we want to leave New Zealand, we need to be prepared to fly for at least three hours. And a trip to Asia or America is a 12 hour experience. But we understand that long flights can be a daunting prospect. They don’t need to be.
Here are our long haul flight essentials:
Try for an upgrade
A long haul flight to New Zealand is easier to enjoy when you can stretch out flat in a business class seat. Upgrades aren’t as easy to come by as they used to be. But it can’t hurt to dress reasonably tidily and politely ask to be considered for one when you turn up to check in nice and early. (Hint: shouting ‘How about an upgrade’ as you finish packing at the check in while your flight is on final call is unlikely to end up with you being upgraded.)
Pick your seat in advance
An upgrade might not be possible but it always pays to choose your seat in advance after considered what works for you. Where do you prefer to sit? Trust us, a 12 hour flight across the Pacific is eminently more manageable if you can stretch out across three seats. Failing that, a window seat will cut down the chances that you will be woken regularly as fellow passengers clamber over you.
Flying to New Zealand is not a place for fashion statements. Your favourite onesie or oldest most comfortable jumper might be going too far. They definitely won’t help with your upgrade attempt. That said: loose fitting layers are the best bet for flexibility and allowing for the fact that you will be aiming to maximise sleep time on your flight.
Take a little extra comfort on board
You either are a neck pillow person or you’re not. But it is worth trying one if you’re new to flying for up to 12 hours at a stretch. Likewise an eye mask and ear plugs are worth considering – anything you think might help create a peaceful, sleep-inducing, personal space.
Airlines offer all sorts of entertainment choices these days. But making sure you bring your own will ensure that you have something you like to read, watch or listen to when sleep is hard to achieve 11000 metres above Australia.
Noise cancelling headphones
These will ensure you get the full value of your entertainment and help cancel out the noise your fellow passengers might be creating with their own entertainment.
Get as much sleep as you can
This is absolutely key to dealing with long haul flights. Resist that coffee refill unless you are a caffeine any time of day person. The more you sleep the faster the flight will go. How close can you get to your normal bedtime routine on a plane? Brush your teeth and do as much of your usual pre-bed stuff as you can. Take everything you need to facilitate sleep (within reason, lugging your favourite pillow around might get old).
Consider getting some compression gear and do some exercise
Compression socks will help avoid the discomfort and health ramifications of being seated for long periods of time. Not sure about the socks? A walk around the cabin every now and again is a good idea to get your muscles moving.
Apparently its harder to digest food up in the air. All we know is that big meals don’t help with achieving the sleep thing. We think eating little and often works better and you might want to take some snacks with you if airline food isn’t your thing. (Important: declare and dump your food when entering New Zealand. Bio-security is a big thing for a country that relies on agriculture for our well-being as much as we do.)
It is very easy to get dehydrated when spending a long time on a plane. It’s a good idea to take your own water on board rather than rely on cabin crew. As with food, we recommend drinking little and often. The trick is not to drink so much that you are that passenger disturbing everyone with regular trips down the aisle.
Bonus tip, crucial for minimising jet lag:
Get on local time asap
Eat that breakfast that feels wrong as you approach Auckland and try to resist the urge to collapse into bed when you reach your accommodation. Get some fresh air with a walk and try to get on local time by staying up until the local evening.
Long haul flights are part of the New Zealand experience for anyone visiting from the Northern Hemisphere. Following these tips can help you enjoy the trip and minimise the downtime associated with your body adjusting to a very different time zone. Eleven years' of experience tells us that NZ is definitely worth the trip!
- Essential Info
Written by: David Kettle