Long flights are awful. You're squished into a small chair with no room to stretch, and in much too close proximity to total strangers. However, there are some tips to making long-hauls seem to go by faster without having to splash out money to upgrade your seat. Whether you're flying across the country or taking the longest ever nonstop flight from Delhi to San Francisco (a whopping 14.5 hours!), here are some tricks that will help melt the time away.
1. Booze, Obviously
The TSA allows fliers to pack their own tiny (less than 3 oz) bottles of liquor in your carry-on; however, it's up to the airline whether you're allowed to drink them or not. Flying internationally is your best bet for ordering drinks. If you have a chance to fly Air France, you will be treated to complimentary champagne, even in coach, but they aren't the only airline to offer free drinks.
2. Color Me Busy
Haven't yet hopped on the adult coloring book train? Well, lucky you; now's the perfect opportunity. When you're at home, you may feel like you're wasting time with a box of crayons when there are always more important things to do (like, say, laundry or a binge-watching sesh of The Mindy Project). However, a long flight provides the perfect opportunity to embrace your inner child/artiste. No matter what your flavor, there's bound to be the perfect adult coloring flavor to suit your interests, whether you're into mid-century furniture or sassy unicorns. And, if you're looking for, ahem, some more adult adult coloring books, well, Amazon's got you covered there as well.
3. Chat Your Seatmates Up (the Modern Way)
Don't be that person. You know, the annoying dude (or lady) who starts up a conversation with the person sitting next to him as soon he boards the plane and doesn't seem to get the drift that all the other traveler wants is to be left PEACEFULLY AND QUIETLY ALONE. However, on a long flight, it's natural to try to break up the stretches of time with a little small talk. That's why some geniuses created MileHi, an app that lets you painlessly connect and message with people who are on your flight. You can rest assured knowing that anyone you chat with on MileHi is truly interested in conversing about the current weather in Shanghai.
4. Load Up Your iPhone With Podcasts
Sure, many airplanes now boast in-flight entertainment systems, but, your choices are generally limited to blockbuster movies you didn't want to see in the theater or the last five episodes of a TV show you've never watched. (Seriously, good luck trying to figure out what Portlandia is about.) Instead of trying to fill your time with episodes of 2 Broke Girls or some equally vapid show you would never watch at home, use the four plus hours you're in the air to dive into some cool lady podcasts.
Some recommendations: For personal stories of love and loss, check out NPR's Modern Love, which is based on the New York Times column of the same name and boasts A-list celebrity narrators. For more interesting personal narratives about the "things we think about a lot and need to talk about more," there's Death, Sex & Money. Stuff Mom Never Told You will open your eyes to a range of issues from birth control to workplace topics and everything in between. For wellness talk, hosted by two super-cool LA girls, there's That's So Retrograde. And if you still haven't listened to the first season of the crime/mystery podcast Serial, despite the entire world's recommendation, well, now you have no excuse!
Not only will these podcasts keep your brain occupied, but you can close your eyes while you listen to them and tune out your annoying seatmates. Even better, they may allow you to fall asleep, which leads us to…
There's a reason flight attendants will often pass out blankets to passengers. They want you to fall asleep, so that you'll shut the hell up and make their lives easier. So, whether you need a neck pillow, an Ambien, or for the person next to you to not mind if you accidentally end up leaning on them, getting some shut eye is the best way to make a lengthy flight fly by.
At some point in the near future, we may be able to fly from New York to London in just 11 minutes (seriously, this is a thing that engineers are currently working on). In the meantime, we'll just have to make due on long flights with a cocktail and some coloring books.