5 Tips for Your Next Long Flight

Illustration by Kendra Wilson

Traveling by air may be the quickest way to your dream destination, but it’s no secret that lengthy flights can result in aches, pains, and jet lag for passengers.

Flying for more than four consecutive hours puts travelers at a higher risk for blood clots, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention info page. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization’s travel considerations say aircraft cabin humidity can drop from a comfortable 30 percent to less than 20 percent at 40,000 feet—causing passengers to experience a number of dehydration symptoms.

With those discomforts in mind, we reached out to IU’s frequent flyers—flight attendant alums—who are experts at making those tiresome travel days as pain-free as possible.

Stay hydrated.

“[I recommend] bringing a large, refillable water bottle and powdered electrolytes. Brushing your teeth [is also] an easy way to refresh yourself at the end of a long flight.”

—Hannah Orme, BS’15, major airline

Prevent poor circulation.

“To avoid blood clots on long flights, [I recommend] tracing the alphabet with your feet.”

—Regan Reidel Laviolette, BA’98, United Airlines

Bundle up.

“Dress in layers, even if you’re going somewhere warm. People expect airplanes to be hot, but the plane always stays pretty cool, just like a restaurant.”

—Gabrielle Harvey, BA’14, Alaska Airlines

Keep calm.

“When booking flights, I would highly recommend looking at the layover time. A lot of people get really flustered with us because they’re not going to make their connection. I always recommend at least an hour [for a layover], because you never know when we’re going to have delays.”

—China Ford, ’18, American Airlines

Skip the power nap.

“When you arrive to your destination, go to bed when they go to bed, regardless of how hard that is. Don’t take a nap, just stay up. That will get you on the right schedule and really eliminate jet lag.”

—Joseph Henley, ’14, United Airlines

Long flights are trying for everyone—even your flight crew. In an effort to “step into their galleys,” we asked our flight attendant alums to share some of their onboard deal breakers.

  • “My number one pet peeve is when people go to the bathroom without shoes or socks on. It happens a lot.” –Orme
  • “We get paid $2.25 an hour to sit with people on the plane during a delay. It’s only when we have pushed back from the gate that I get paid my regular hourly fee. I wish people knew that—maybe they wouldn’t complain to us as much.” —Reidel Laviolette
  • “One thing that drives me insane is when people just stand in the galleys. There are plenty of times when I’m eating back there and somebody’s bending over and doing yoga right beside me.” —Harvey
  • “Please pack accordingly. A lot of parents will get on the plane with their kids and not have the things they need. They come to the back and complain that we don’t have snacks or toys for their children.” —Ford
  • “The use of headphones during any type of safety briefing is my biggest pet peeve. It’s a pretty large concern that folks live in their own world and don’t pay attention to what’s going on around them. [More often than not] I’m relaying important information that might be very useful if an emergency were to happen.” —Henley

Want more information about IU Travels trips? Visit alumni.iu.edu/travel.

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Written By
Samantha Stutsman
Samantha Stutsman, BAJ'14, is a Bloomington, Ind., native and a senior content specialist at the IU Alumni Association.