29 Ways to Pass the Time on a Long-Haul Flight (when you can’t sleep)
I’ve never been good at sleeping on planes, or on any public transportation for that matter. If I’m on an overnight flight, I’m lucky if I manage to actually fall asleep for more than a couple of minutes. I mean, how does ANYONE sleep on an airplane?
Maybe I’m doing it wrong. Maybe I should be taking sleeping pills & drinking all the free wine (not together, right?).
Since I can’t sleep on airplanes, I have to come up with other ways to spend my 8-, 12-, 14-hour long flights.
Here’s what a long-haul flight usually looks like for me.
- Stare out the window during take-off
- Stare out the window until a flight attendant requests that I shut it “so that others can sleep”
- Read a book
- Read the in-flight magazine
- Read the safety pamphlet
- Read articles I downloaded to my phone
- Listen to music for 2 hours while looking around awkwardly
- Close my eyes for 5 minutes as if I might fall asleep
- Check my phone to see if somehow I received a new text or email
- Calculate how much money I spent on this trip & list all the ways I could have spent less
- Color every page in my “adult meditation coloring book”
- Avoid eye contact with the people next to me (because I’m bored but I definitely don’t want to socialize)
- Watch every episode of whatever decent sitcom is available in the in-flight entertainment
- Read the safety pamphlet again, just in case
- Try to predict the timing of every meal/snack/drink service to the minute
- Make 17 more attempts to take a nap even though I know it won’t work
- Stare at my seatmates with disgust because they ARE sleeping…who do they think they are?
- Stare at my seatmates with disgust because they’re sleeping & I need to use the restroom & I know they said at the beginning of the flight to “just wake them up” if I need to use the restroom, but I KNOW they didn’t mean it
- Hide inside of my hoodie & pretend I’m asleep
- Watch the longest movie available because there is no other situation in life where I can stand to watch a 2+ hour movie
- Get out the snack I prepared even though I have no appetite when flying and won’t actually eat it
- Attempt to crawl past my sleeping seatmates to use the restroom & apologize when they wake up & give me dirty looks
- Try to figure out what the hell the person behind me is doing without turning around to confront them about my shaking seat
- Come up with a new sleeping position to try…but still fail to fall asleep
- Slyly check out my seatmate’s screen to see what they’re watching
- Stop myself from drinking more water because then I will just have to get up to pee again & I’m not trying to interrupt my seatmates again
- Try to read some more, except I can’t because it’s dark & if I turn on my light it will probably wake someone up
- Pray that breakfast time is near & they will turn the lights on so everyone else has to be awake too
- Spend the final 2 hours of the flight counting down the minutes until we land
Another long-haul flight comes to an end, and I’m no closer to figuring out this sleeping on a plane thing. I vow that next time I will reserve an aisle seat and dedicate my time to writing, but I inevitably end up in a window seat and repeat this process.