Cramped quarters, chatty seatmates, and lots of sitting are some of the *ahem* charms of long flights. Mix in unknown variables like crying babies, cabin temperatures, and bad food, and you could have an unpredictable long haul ahead of you. What if you’re sitting next to a snoring passenger and you can’t find your headphones because you packed too much? The good news is that long flights don’t have to be stressful or irritating. With airlines continuously decreasing legroom and seat space while increasing capacity, being prepared for your long haul flight is the most important thing you can do to ensure that you avoid the most common long flight mistakes.

Without further ado, here’s what not to do on a long flight abroad, so you can get to your destination rested and content.


what not to do on a long flight is overpacking

Packing light means packing smart. Do you really need two hoodies or five books? Pack clothes that can be layered, multi-use, and look good in all settings. You’ll also want to make your packing list ahead of time; don’t wait too long to start prepping once your cheap one way flights are booked. Another mistake to avoid is bringing so much on the plane that you can’t find what you’re looking for when you need it. Also, pack anything you need for your flight in your bag and store it in the overhead bin. Make sure all the supplies you’ll need for your under the seat in front of you for easy access. Climbing over your sleeping neighbor and rummaging through the overhead bin is something you’ll want to avoid.

Spilling Your Drink

what not to do on a long flight spilling

This tip is pretty self-explanatory. If you think you’re going to flip over that flimsy cup on your tray, don’t accept the complimentary beverage. And if you do, just know that you’re risking sitting in a cold wet puddle of soda for several hours.

Forgetting the Essentials

what not to do on a long flight forgetting the essentials

If you’re a light sleeper, bring earplugs. If you know you want to read, bring a book. Bring snacks, water, gum, and something to lean on. Bring whatever you need to be comfortable. Even if you think this is the opportunity to show off the ease with which you travel or your light packing skills, it’s not. Bring something warm to cover yourself up with once you’re airborne. It can be pretty cold up there and blankets are quite the coveted item, especially when several of them can be used to create a buffer between the soda soaked seat and your backside (see above).

Sleeping Through Your Meals

long flight mistakes - missing meals

It’s hard not to fall asleep while comfortably sitting in a soaking wet seat. But, if offered a complimentary meal, you must power through and wait to decide if you want beef or chicken. If you think you’re not hungry and drift off to sleep, you’ll regret it later when you wake up starving and everyone else is comfortably snoozing with satisfied appetites.

Related: 6 Expensive Travel Mistakes You’re Probably Making

Making Friends With Your Seat Neighbor (Or Not)

long flight mistakes like talking to your seat neighbor

This is a tricky one. While becoming friendly with your neighbor is unavoidable for many of us, you may regret it during hour three when you know the activities and whereabouts of your seat neighbor’s 15 grandchildren in (way too much) detail. However, this individual can be an important ally when needing someone to make sure you don’t miss your meal, or when you’re in the market for extra blankets and pillows.

Forgetting to Check the Floor Before You Leave

If you’re wondering what not to do on a long flight, forgetting to double-check under your seat and the area around you before you exit the plane is high up on the list. Losing something on an airplane is second only on the scale of “lost forever” to losing something in a taxi. If you’ve dropped something, unless you check the floor and your seat repeatedly, it’s unlikely you’ll realize it’s gone until you’re home and can never retrieve or confirm ownership over your precious lost item. The exhaustion and stress of travelling makes you all the more susceptible to losing something important.

Not Drinking Enough Water

forgetting to drink water on your flight is one of the most common long flight mistakes

Not drinking enough water is one of the most common long flight mistakes. Airplanes have really high levels of humidity and will dry you out quicker than when you’re at home. It’s important for your comfort and health that you drink water before and during your flight. Not being able to take liquids through airport security, not wanting to haul our bags through the airport gift shop to get water, or fear of being stuck in a long line for the airplane bathroom are some reasons that you may consider drinking less on your flight. You should board the plane already hydrated and continue drinking water throughout the flight. We know those airplane bathrooms aren’t ideal places to do your business, but would you rather feel icky throughout the flight and after? We think not.

Not Dressing Appropriately

long flight mistakes are to not dress inappropriately

Brrrr… your seatmate cranked up the air, and you’re freezing. And you forgot to bring a sweater! Don’t make the mistake of over or under-dressing for your flight. Be sure to wear something comfortable that you’ll be able to wear comfortably and happily for a long period of time. Remember: you might be sleeping in this outfit until you get to your destination.

Assuming Your Plane’s Wifi/Inflight Entertainment Will Work

long flight mistakes include assuming there is working wifi

Ah, technology. You gotta love it – when it works. Sometimes airplane WiFi or in-flight entertainment is down, and you’re stuck without entertainment if you don’t have a backup plan. Make sure you download shows ahead of time onto your device or bring materials that you can read without WiFi. You’ll be glad you did!

What other mistakes did you learn from the last time you flew? We want to hear about it in the comments!

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