I’ve traveled either to or from Chile thirteen times. Each of those times required, at least one 9+ hour flight. I’ve flown through Atlanta (once was enough), Miami (meh), Dallas (nice airport, but I got stuck there), Toronto (I had bronchitis: it was me, not Toronto) and JFK.
My preferred flight route is a direct flight on LAN from SCL to JFK. It is 10 hours and 50 minutes long, but it means that I can avoid layovers by either taking the train from JFK or having my parents pick me up.
Yes, an almost 11 hour flight is a long time, but I do the following things to help me survive. And hey, maybe they will be helpful for you too. 🙂
- Fly LAN. It tends to be a bit more expensive, but I try to get around that by booking through American or booking in advance and getting a good deal. LAN’s seats are more comfy. They recline differently, so that the seat cushion kind of slides forward as the back part moves back. The planes are newer and the most important part: the individual television screen. You can watch movies or TV shows, listen to the radio or play games. Excellent.
- Entertain yourself until dinner comes. I bring my kindle on board and make sure I have a good book to read until dinner comes. Or I watch a TV show or start watching a movie. They key is not to fall asleep and miss dinner because then you’ll be really hungry. I try to bring a small snack with me too, but for me, eating dinner is key. It also helps pass the time. Another reason to fly LAN? The food is better, and there is free wine.
- Wear comfy but not frumpy clothes. This is always a struggle for me because I’m either coming from winter and going to summer or vice versa. I used to not care about what I looked like at the airport and wear sweatpants or pjs, but at some point I just didn’t like feeling frumpy anymore. My favorite thing to wear is a comfy cotton short-sleeved dress with leggings. It’s practically like pajamas but looks cuter. Usually I tend to dress for the colder weather, so this trip I’ll be wearing boots and bringing a sweater to put on over the dress.
- Make an airplane play list. Otherwise known as, music to fall asleep by. In case there are noisy kids (there are always noisy kids!) I have a playlist with gentle music that I can fall asleep to. It includes Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, some instrumental stuff, a little bit of Coldplay. Nothing too crazy that is going to wake me up.
- Take a NyQuil. Or some other sleep aid. I know, you’re probably not technically supposed to do this, but I need my sleep. And I know I won’t sleep without it.
- Be friendly with your seatmate, but establish boundaries. If you want to sleep, there is nothing more annoying than a young Argentinean who wants to practice English with you all night long. In this situation, I suggest showing him the great movie selection and recommending a movie. Oye, che, why don’t you watch Friends with Benefits so I can sleep? Ok great! However, I’ve also sat next to people who I have made no effort to small talk with, and it can be kind of awkward too, especially when you’re sitting in the window seat and have to get up to pee multiple times. It’s better to be friendly so they don’t send you a death stare every time nature calls.
- Get up and go to the bathroom. If you don’t have to go for 11 whole hours, something might be wrong with you. But even if not, it’s a good idea to get up and at least stretch your legs a bit. Flight attendants can get annoyed if it’s when the fasten seat belt sign is on, so try to do it when it’s off. I tend to get up three times: once before dinner, once after dinner before I fall asleep, and once either right before or right after breakfast.
- Relax and be in the moment. You’re not going anywhere, no one can reach you (I’ve never been on a flight with wi-fi, and I never want to be), so I just sit back and try to relax a little bit.