collaborative post | Flying long-haul for the first time this summer? Maybe this year is the time you’ve finally decided on the trip-of-a-lifetime to the USA, or perhaps you’re visiting relatives who’ve moved Down Under. With long-haul travel reaching 70% of pre-pandemic levels by 2022, there’s no reason to delay booking your flight now.

Whatever the reason for your big trip, the prospect of a long-haul flight might feel daunting if you’re a first-time flyer or if you’ve only ever been to European destinations. We’ve got a good idea what your burning questions might be, so we’ve answered some to help you travel with confidence and get your adventure off to a flying start.

Getting ready to fly long-haul: First-time passenger FAQs

– Is flying safe?

Flying is one of the safest ways to travel.

In the UK, security checks at airports are thorough and extensive, and the commercial aircraft used for leisure and travel flights are incredibly well maintained. With years of innovation and specialist engineering behind each jet, the process is safe from take-off to landing.

Anxious flyers can be concerned by noises and pressure changes in the cabin, but it’s important to remember that pilots are amongst the most highly trained professionals in the world.

Even turbulence – a feeling of shaking movement that can occur as the plane passes through thick cloud – can be uncomfortable but is never dangerous. One of the most reputable airlines in the world, British Airways, offers courses to help passengers overcome their fear of flying.

– How early should you arrive at the airport?

If you’re departing from a major UK airport, it’s a sensible idea to arrive at least three hours before your gate is scheduled to close for long-haul flights. You can find this information on your boarding pass, which should be digitally available via email or app, depending on your airline.

You’ll need to factor in traffic and anything else that could delay you on your way.

If you’re taking the train to the airport, you should check that your train is on time and that your journey won’t be affected by industrial action. If possible, you could choose an Anytime ticket to benefit from flexibility on the day – if one train is cancelled, you can take the next.

– How can I get to sleep on a long-haul flight?

If you’re nervous about flying, one of the best ways to pass the time in the air is to fall asleep. However, given that you’re likely to have some adrenaline in your system, that might be easier said than done.

To encourage sleepiness on the flight, make sure you pack essentials to help you relax and settle down. You’ll be in the air for some time, so there’s plenty of opportunities to listen to your favourite ambient music or get stuck into a book.

Comfortable clothes and eye masks, neck pillows and headphones could also help you to relax. You might even want to try to adjust your Circadian rhythm in the days before your flight to help you adjust to the next time zone and reduce jet lag once you’ve arrived.

– How can I keep occupied on a long flight?

When you’re not sleeping, you’ll want to find some useful ways to keep your mind occupied. Even though most long-haul jets offer some form of in-flight entertainment – like screens showing movies and TV shows – try not to make all of your activities screen-based. Bring along a book, some puzzles, or a magazine to get stuck into instead.

You should also think about eating a meal if you’re going to be in the air for a long time. It’s extra important to keep hydrated, so make sure you’re drinking regular but small sips of water while you’re awake.


Flying can feel daunting, but with the right preparations it’s easy to see the priceless value of this safe and innovative travel solution. Your own safety and wellbeing is paramount, so just make sure that you’ve done everything possible to improve your experience.

If you’re feeling worried, nervous, or unwell on the flight, make sure to let a member of cabin crew know about it – they’re there to help and support you.

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