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I’m a long-haul pilot and these are my top tips for surviving flights in coach

From constant stretches to wearing lose-fitting clothing, a pilot who regularly flies one of the longest commercial flights in the world has revealed his top tips around making long-haul in economy bearable. 

Yusri Abu Bakar, who is based in Dubai and works for Emirates, says one of his most grueling trips involves nearly 16 hours in the air, going to and from Auckland, New Zealand. 

He flies this lengthy route two to three times a month, and to make it easier on the mind and body he employs a spread of cunning techniques.

Take a flight down to learn about six of Yusri’s tried and tested methods to surviving long-haul, as shared with Insider.  

1. Get in sync with your destination 

To reduce the symptoms of jet lag as much as possible, Yusri recommends getting in sync with your destination at least two days before flying (stock image)

Flying to a new time zone can really mess with your body clock.

To reduce the symptoms of jet lag as much as possible, Yusri recommends getting in sync with your destination at least two days before flying. 

He does this by changing his eating and sleeping patterns in increments. 

He explains: ‘If I’m flying on a Saturday, I will go to bed two hours earlier on the Thursday, and then four hours earlier on the Friday. It slowly nudges me closer to the new time zone.’

2. Being kind to the crew will improve your experience 

If you make life easier for the flight crew, Yusri says you’re more likely to score points and get things like extra drinks or snacks.

He recommends doing helpful things, like fastening your seatbelt on top of your blanket, so the stewards don’t have to disturb you.

He does not recommend pressing the call bell multiple times and instead he advises stocking up on everything you need before settling in or visiting the galley yourself. 

3. Keep your body moving

Keeping active during a flight is important, Ysuri says. 

He recommends stretching every hour of your flight, for at least five to ten minutes. 

Some of the areas he says are good to concentrate on include your glutes, your hips, and your back. 

‘These are the areas that can get stiff during a flight,’ he adds. So you don’t disturb people while stretching, he advises booking bulkhead or aisle seats.

4. Create a schedule if you’re flying with children

From his observations, Yusri says the children who do best on long haul flights follow some kind of schedule.

This involves playtime, as well as stints for sleep.

He reveals: ‘I’ve seen parents have timed activities for their kids. They’ll bring out different toys or books at set times during the flight, so the child is surprised and entertained.

‘Early in the flight they will let them play games on their tablets, but as they move towards sleep time, they will remove some of the stimulation and give them a traditional board game so they calm down.’

5. Pack an eye mask and noise-canceling headphones

Two of Yusri’s essential carry-on items are noise-canceling headphones and an eye mask. 

He says these two things will vastly improve your long-haul experience and they are worth the investment.

Other passengers might open the window shade or put the lights on, and Yusri says a good pair of eye shades will improve your chances of getting some solid sleep. 

6. Drink plenty of water

The aviator warns: ‘If you feel thirsty, it’s too late as you’re already dehydrated’ (stock image)

Frequent travelers always talk about the benefits of drinking lots of water, and Yusri agrees that it makes a big difference.

He says if you keep hydrated, you will feel much better when you land. 

The aviator warns: ‘If you feel thirsty, it’s too late as you’re already dehydrated.’

7. Dress comfortably

Although many people believe traveling in business attire will increase your chances of a free upgrade, Yusri says this is a myth.

He recommends scrapping smart outfits for something more comfortable. 

On long-haul flights, loose-fitting clothing will help you to feel less claustrophobic and constricted.  

8. Listen to music or audiobooks to fall asleep 

Getting to sleep on a plane while sitting upright can be tricky but Yusri says he has a few methods for successfully drifting off. 

He will always pack a good book with him or download some relaxing music that he can listen to with noise-canceling earbuds instead of the plane’s basic headsets.

Offering some advice on music choices, he says: ‘There are some playlists on Spotify that you can use to induce sleep. I have a playlist filled with classical music and jazz.’

Audiobooks are another of Yusri’s secret sleep weapons as he says they are can also be ‘kind of meditative.’ 

His preferences are ‘self-help books such as ikigai or Ryan Holiday books [on Stoic philosophy].’

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