In a rare behind-the-scenes look at long distance air travel, documentary ‘Secrets Of The Long Haul Flight’ follows a Qantas voyage from London to Sydney, revealing the extensive unseen efforts required to safely transport passengers to their destination.
It's also a reminder that defying the laws of nature while hundreds of people are trapped in an airborne death-rocket creates an extensive array of stressful problems. Fortunately, with some simple tips, passengers can ensure they arrive at their destination with their health and sanity safely packed away.
When flying long haul, minor inconveniences have the capacity to turn into major issues, with access to baggage space a key contributor to tension – sometimes even resulting in physical violence.
We have all witnessed that passenger inexplicably trying to pack all of their worldly belongings into the overhead compartment, but before losing your temper and committing a vicious assault, remember the cabin crew has access to further storage. No need for that fist fight.
General Health Tips
As well as increasing your chances of being involved in a plane crash, flying increases the risk of other conditions such as dehydration and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – caused by a lack of blood circulation. With regard to DVT, experts recommend the use of compression socks, the intermittent contraction of leg muscles, and wandering around every so often to increase blood flow.
In the case of dehydration, drinking one or two cups of water per hour (rather than caffeine or alcohol) is recommended. Naturally, this will increase the necessity of bathroom visits and the awkward ballet of manoeuvering past fellow passengers in close confines. Unfortunately, there is no delicate method of doing so without forcing others to stand. As such, if your neighbours choose to remain seated, as the (slightly) lesser of two evils, turn your backside towards the person you are passing and try not to make contact with anyone’s face unnecessarily.
A long flight is a great opportunity to catch up on movies, books or sit back and listen to music. But whatever you do, plan something! If your seat neighbour is up for a chat, fine, but do not be the annoying passenger relying on conversation to get you through the duration of the flight, as 12 hours of small-talk is often 11 hours and 57 minutes too much.
There are few more maligned targets in the world than airline food, but a meal every few hours to break up the monotony of long haul flying can be fun and stimulating in itself. Plan your sleep and activities around meal times to ensure you don’t miss the joy of peeling back the foil to discover the secrets within. You may consider it garbage, but as the show reveals, feeding 400 people at 38,000 feet is not simple. Accordingly, stop whining about it and eat your mystery meal, being grateful that you haven’t dropped out of the sky. Alternatively, bring some snacks of your own and shut up.
Getting to sleep on a plane is easier said than done but some simple tips include the use of noise cancelling headphones, bringing a comfy pillow, sitting near the back of the plane to avoid commotion, and the answer to many of life’s problems: drugs (as recommended by a doctor, of course)!
Other helpful tips include being polite to cabin crew, not complaining about crying babies who don’t understand what the heck is going on, and not making jokes about anything remotely terrorism-related unless you want to find yourself getting tasered by an air marshal.
‘Secrets Of The Long Haul Flight’ is a reminder of how much work and skill goes into making the miracle of flight seem mundane, providing a fascinating insight into the inner-workings of a world few get to see. As such, next time you fly long-haul, remember the best way to ensure good health is to come prepared and listen to the staff and crew who make an incredibly complex activity seem ordinary. (And keeping fist fights to a minimum couldn’t hurt either.)
Catch 'Secrets Of The Long Haul Flight' this Saturday at 7:30pm on SBS. You will be able to watch it afterwards at SBS On Demand.