Sure, when most people imagine an airline flight their minds don't typically go to “most interesting place I can think of.” However, long flights can be a great opportunity to relax, be productive or simply pass the time. Here are some suggestions for what to do on a long flight.
Watch a long movie
You must have at least one movie that’s 3+ hours on a streaming service watchlist. Have more than one? Even better. A long flight is a great time to finally tackle a time-consuming movie. New or old, you’ll likely have plenty of titles to choose from.
Read a book
Bring a good book or an e-reader to immerse yourself in a captivating story. Unlike traveling by car, bus or train, most people don't complain about getting a headache when they try to read in the friendly skies. Whether it's stimulating non-fiction or a daunting 500-page novel, relaxing at 38,00 feet can be a great time to nourish your mind through reading.
Listen to a podcast or audiobook
Audiobooks can be a great alternative to reading, and you can multitask while listening.
Get some quality rest
Catching up on rest can be a great way to pass the time and arrive at your destination refreshed. If you're on an overnight flight or can adjust your sleep schedule, use the time to rest and combat jet lag. Neck pillows, eye masks and earplugs can help make sleeping on a plane more comfortable.
Browse the internet
Most social media don’t have an endless scroll feature for nothing. For time immemorial, the web has been a haven for quenching your curiosity and passing time.
Play video games
Bring a handheld gaming device or play games on your smartphone or tablet. Don’t have one? Many airlines offer in-flight entertainment devices, perhaps for a fee.
Plan your trip’s itinerary
Use the time to plan your activities, accommodations and things to do at your destination. Review your itinerary, make a to-do list for when you arrive and organize your travel documents.
Listen to music
Create playlists or download podcasts to keep you entertained. Noise-canceling headphones can make this experience more enjoyable for you and your fellow passengers.
If you enjoy drawing, coloring, knitting or other creative activities, bring along materials to work on your projects. Even if you don’t fancy yourself an artist, when was the last time you doodled to pass the time, grade-school? Have at it.
Walk around the cabin
Do in-seat exercises to prevent muscle stiffness and promote circulation. Strike up a conversation with your seatmate or fellow passengers if they are open to it. Most travelers on long flights might be in the same situation—looking for ways to pass the time.
Catch up on your favorite TV show
Most long-haul flights offer in-flight entertainment systems. You can also preload your device with movies or shows.
Whether you’re traveling with a companion or solo, a card game is a tried-and-true way to pass the time. A long flight may even be a great time to learn a new, lesser-known game—one you’ve always heard about but had no idea how to play. Hearts, bridge, pinochle?
Get some work done
If you have work to do, a long flight can be a productive time. Bring your laptop and use the uninterrupted hours to catch up on emails, work on projects, or brainstorm ideas.
Practice mindfulness or meditation to relax and reduce travel-related stress.
Watch live sports
Wi-Fi is readily available on many flights today. If you subscribe to a service that offers live sports, or the airline has an option to watch them, sports can be an enjoyable way to spend a long flight.
Study a language
Use language learning apps or resources to pick up some phrases in the local language of your destination. There are many apps and online courses available for learning a new language, a skill or a subject. You can start or continue your learning during the flight.
Journal or write
Document your travel experiences, write in a journal or start a travel blog. Writing is a pretty underrated way of passing the time and having something to show for it.
There are plenty of things to do so that your next long flight is a bit more enjoyable, and a little less tedious. Remember to stay comfortable and take care of your well-being during the flight. Get up to stretch your legs, stay hydrated and consider following any exercises suggested by the airline. Ultimately, the key to a successful long flight is to mix up your activities to keep things amusing.