Bryan Betty: How to deal with Long Haul flights

Saturday Morning with Jack Tame

10-11-2023 • 5 mins

What issues can arise on a long haul flight?

  • The main complaints tend to be irritating more than anything
  • Becoming dehydrated – can lead to headaches, dry mouth, dry nose
  • Not being able to sleep, ankle swelling
  • Cramped conditions, especially in economy class seats!
  • More serious: deep vein thrombosis – leg clots due to not moving around.

How do we improve comfort?

  • Really important to stay hydrated - plenty of fluid.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes – you want to be comfortable.
  • Carry lip balm or nasal spray to moisten nasal passages if dry - for comfort.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or overdrink alcohol – it can worsen dehydration, headache and interfere with sleep.

Are there issues with food and taste?

  • At 30,000 feet your taste buds don’t’ work as well and food tastes ‘bland’.
  • Also, your nose can dry out which affects taste.
  • Airlines tend to produce stronger flavoured food such as curries to compensate.
  • Up to 30% more sugar and salt in food to add to taste.
  • Don’t overeat as we tend to bloat as gas forms in abdomen, which can cause abdominal discomfort.

And sleep?

  • Carry eye shade and ear plugs, and a neck pillow is a really good idea.
  • Best thing to do is work out the sleep time at your destination before you go and try and sleep at that time on the flight.
  • Some use melatonin, a ‘sleep hormone’

How do we avoid blood clots?

  • Two key things – stay hydrated and get up and move around every 3-4 hours to get blood circulating.
  • Failing that wiggle toes and bend knees in your seat frequently.
  • Some choose to wear compression of flight stockings which encourage blood to circulate.
  • They also reduce ankle swelling!
  • If you have persistent leg swelling, chest pain or SOB in weeks after a long-haul flight – see your GP!

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