I'm American and live in Australia. I've travelled on over 60 long haul flights.
- •Bring hotel slippersThese are usually thin, lightweight, and allow you to take your shoes off without having to touch the grubby plane floor. I have a stockpile of hotel slippers just for this.
- •Don't accessorizeEverything you put on you're going to have to take off at security. Leave your watch, coins, keys, lucky rabbit's foot, and anklets in your carry on. You can put them on when you're hanging out at the gate.
- •Buy excellent headphonesI have the Bose Quiet Comfort kind and they're worth their weight in gold. I have yet to fly an airline that provides even half decent headphones and these will be your barrier between you and the noise/ruckus of the plane.
- •Set your clockIf you live the time zone you're going to before you get there you'll experience less jet lag. When I fly from Sydney to San Fran I change my watch to Cali time the moment I step on the plan, and then try to go to sleep when it's normal sleeping time in SF. That can be tough because the SYD-SFO flights are in the AM which means having to go to bed shortly after waking up, but it's doable of you sacrifice sleep the night before you fly. Or just use ambien or alcohol.
- •Dump the magazinesAirlines have squeezed more rows of seats into planes than ever these days so every inch counts. Are you really interested in American Way? I didn't think so. Empty out the seat back pocket and you'll give yourself another couple inches of legroom.
- •Don't dilly dallyIf you're on an international flight, don't mess around when you get off the plane and use the restroom or lallygag as you make your way towards the immigration area. There are hundreds of people on the plane and every person you pass while walking towards immigration is a person you don't have to wait behind. This can be the difference between 10 minutes at immigration and an hour.
- •Choose seats wiselyI prefer aisle on shorter flights to stretch my legs and get up and the window on long haul because I can sleep against it and the person next to me doesn't wake me up when they have to pee.
- •Window and Aisle for pairsIf you're traveling with someone and you're choosing your seats, pick one aisle and one window in an empty row. You probably prefer window and middle because you can sit next to each other, but if you do it this way someone has to purposely choose to sit in the middle of two occupied seats. If they do, you can always offer to swap the window for the middle and sit next to your amigo, but about half the time you'll have an empty middle seat.