22 Awesome Things To Do On A Long Flight

Cazzy Magennis
Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
Last Updated:
October 30, 2023
Get bored when flying long haul? Not anymore!Check out our guide on the best things to do on a long flight for lots of great ideas to keep you entertained.
things to do on a long flight

After many years of awesome travels, we have taken a lot of long haul flights, and I’ll let you in on a secret: I absolutely LOVE flying long haul. 

I've taken hundreds of flights in my years of travel, and about half of those have been long haul!

It’s actually one of my favourite parts of travelling I love flying, I love airplane food and drinks, and that’s all in economy.

I imagine I’d love business class a lot more, but well, business class is expensive! 

So, since I love flying, I’ve got lots of great travel tips on things you can do on a long flight.

I’ve tried and tested all of these tips, and hopefully they’ll help keep you distracted and entertained on your next long haul flight. 

But if you're looking for a super quick answer, here are my top 5 things to do on a long flight: 

  1. Movie time: not just new releases but movies that require extra time, such as the Lord of the rings trilogy, Harry Potters, the Hobbit, etc!
  1. Adult Colouring books: Seriously underrated and such a fun thing to do on a flight whilst listening to some background music
  1. Free drinks: Well, not ALL long haul carriers offer complimentary alcohol, but when they do, I love to grab a drink and just relax!
  1. Work work work: If you've got a remote job, then a long haul flight is a great excuse to catch up on work, especially since lots of airlines have WiFi in the sky!
  1. In flight games: Lots of long haul carriers have games built in on the screens such as quizzes, and you can even join in with other passengers! 
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1. Catch up on long movies 

Life is often busy, and a long haul flight is the perfect time to catch up on those blockbuster movies that are super long and you just can’t find the time for back on the ground!

Some of my favourite movies to watch on a long haul flight include: 

  • Lord Of The Rings 
  • Harry Potter
  • The Hobbit
  • The Bourne Movies
  • The Hunger Games 

And I’m sure there are many more you can think of! 

I absolutely love ordering a drink, a snack and just getting comfortable whilst watching a movie. It’s like my own little cinema experience up in the air. 

And if you’re travelling with a partner or a friend, you can both watch the same movie at the same time. 

airplane entertinament

2. Bring your laptop and do some work 

When you run a business online, a long haul flight is actually the perfect excuse to get some work done! 

Use your free time to catch up on work that you’ve been putting off, or if you’re a university student it’s the perfect time to catch up on reading and essays. 

The majority of long haul carriers provide charging facilities so your laptop will never run out of juice. 

For me, I always have a backlog of past travel photos that need editing, and this is the perfect chance to do just that and get even more excited about the trip ahead.

catch up on work when flying

3. Play cards 

Bradley and I LOVE to play cards, we play cards most evenings when we are travelling, before or after dinner. 

It’s no different on a long haul flight.

If you’re looking to pass the time when flying, then this is a great option. 

There are so many different games you can play, whether you're flying with a toddler, with a friend, or even solo.

My go-to games include:

  • Solitaire - when flying solo
  • Rummy - when flying with friends
  • Snap - when for flying with kids
play cards on long haul flight

4. Bring mini travel games for fun 

Nowadays there are lots of mini travel size versions of games that are absolutely perfect for flights. 

I’ve actually purchased a few of these over the years (I’ll admit I’ve lost many too), but playing these games are perfect if you’ve got a travel companion. 

Some of my favourite mini travel games include: 

Top Trumps is another awesome game to play with a fellow traveller, and they’ve a good game to have whilst travelling in general too. 

5. Walk around the cabin 

Walking around the cabin is not only a great thing to do on a long flight to keep yourself busy, but it’s actually important for your in-flight health. 

You’d be surprised at just how easy it is to get blood clots when travelling long haul, so it’s important you keep your blood circulation flowing by moving your feet. 

Take a wander through the cabin to get some exercise. 

6. Do some colouring 

Colouring isn’t just a fun activity for children on long haul flights, it’s perfect for adults too. Bradley brought me an adult colouring book a few years ago and I love it. 

Colouring is really therapeutic and relaxing, so it’s a perfect activity for a long haul flight. 

You can even do it whilst watching a movie that doesn’t need your full attention. 

7. Read a book

This is another one of my favourite things to do on a long flight! 

I constantly have a list of books that I want to read, but never seem to find the time to read them. 

Well, a long haul flight is the perfect excuse. Even if you don’t want to carry physical books with you (because they do take up space when travelling for longer periods of time), you can download books via the Kindle app. 

There’s no limit on many books you can travel with then. 

8. Listen to music 

When it's winding down to the last hour of my flight, I often find myself not in the mood to do much, and this is when I find it’s the perfect time to listen to some music. 

It really wakes me up and gets me excited about the destination I’m arriving too. 

Airplanes often have a vast range of music on offer from all-time classics, movie soundtracks (which I love, but have to stop myself from bursting into song mid-flight), or even radio stations playing a variety of tunes. 

Or, of course you can just listen to your own music that you’ve got on your phone. 

9. Listen to a podcast/audiobook

Bradley is a big fan of audiobooks and podcasts and what better way to spend your time than listening to something new.

Audiobooks are perfect for those who don’t particularly enjoy reading, or find they get tired from doing so, and podcasts are great for learning and engaging with topics that interest you. 

A great place to find inspiration is Audible.

Bradley absolutely loves autobiographies and anything business related.

Here's his top 5 recommendations:

  1. Elon Musk: Unabridged
  2. Richard Branson: Losing My Virginity
  3. 4 Hour Work Week
  4. How To Be Like Walt
  5. Outliers

10. Learn a language 

There are sooo many apps nowadays that teach you new languages, and there are the traditional language handbooks too. 

I always think it’s important to learn a few local phrases of the language that your chosen destination speaks, and when you're on the flight, that’s the perfect time to learn! 

They’ll be fresh in your brain by the time you land, and you’ll be speaking the lingo in no time…..(well, at least a few phrases!). 

11. Play quizzes with your flying friend 

Why not have fun with your flying partner by taking some quizzes. 

There are so many quiz questions online that you’ll run out, or you could get creative and make up your own. 

Even if you’re flying solo, it’s still possible to do quizzes. 

Under the games section on most airplane entertainment systems, there will be quizzes to play. I love to play these on long haul flights. 

12. Crossword and Wordsearch 

These are two very traditional things to do on a long flight, but they're effective. 

These are perfect for passing time and keeping your mind working and active. 

You can’t beat a good word search or puzzle on a flight, and they’re perfect for when you’re lying on the beach too. 

13. Read up on your adventure 

Another great thing you can do whilst flying long haul is to take this as the opportunity to read up your destination and plan more of your trip

Of course you’ll have already done this to a certain extent, but if you’ve bought a guide book, then this is the perfect time to read it. 

And actually, most airline entertainment systems also have little guide books and information about the destination you're visiting too, so you can feel super excited about your adventure.

Companies like Rough Guides & Lonely Planet produce some great guides! 

things to do when flying
Get excited for your location! Taken in The Philippines

14. Have a few drinks

I love to have a couple of drinks on a long haul flight, especially if I’m with a company.

On most long haul carriers, alcohol is complimentary, and on some really great airlines, they serve actual cocktails in economy (Singapore Airlines, I’m looking at you!). 

So why not have a couple of drinks on your flight. 

Just remember that alcohol affects you quicker at higher altitudes, and it will dehydrate you quicker, so drink water in between. 

complimentary drinks on long haul flight

15. Catch up on sleep 

If there is nothing else you want to do, then why not simply catch up on some sleep. 

It’s easier for some people to sleep on airplanes than others, but if you get a good neck pillow and eye mask, they can really help. 

Or, if you can see that there is a row of seats free close to you, then why not make yourself a little bed! 

amenity kit on long haul flight

16. Chat with the air hostess 

I’ve had some great chats with air hostesses on flights, and whilst they don’t have all the time in the world to stand and chat with everyone, there will be points in the flights where they are free and you can have a quick chat. 

This is especially true if you’re on a pretty empty flight! 

17. Play Ipad/tablet games 

Tablets and Ipads are the perfect flying companion because there are lots of games you can play. 

The majority of games you can download are free, or if you’ve got a favourite game, you can purchase it and take advantage of the extra time you have to play. 

One of my favourite games for a long flight is “Candy Crush”. Time seems to fly when I’m playing that game! 

18. Surf the internet 

The internet is becoming more and more accessible when flying. 

Most long haul carriers provide some form of WiFi connection, and they usually give you a little free sample

But, purchasing WiFi can be quite reasonable, and worth it for a very long flight. 

Plus it’s pretty cool messaging someone when you’re flying in the air over different countries! 

It’s a fun novelty. 

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19. Do a bit duty free shopping 

Duty free shopping on board?! Why not! 

Duty free prices are excellent value and actually this is a great place to pick up some presents for yourself, or for family and friends. 

You can get brilliant deals on makeup, perfume, travel gadgets and even alcohol. 

A little bit of in-flight shopping never hurt anyone...

20. Binge watch a TV show 

Seriously one of the best things to do on a long flight. 

Has someone constantly been telling you to watch a certain series, but you don’t have the time? Well, now you do! 

There is often lots of choice on airplane entertainment systems, or you can download the series to your phone before you fly via Netflix. 

Some binge-worthy TV shows I can recommend include: 

  • You (Netflix original) 
  • Ozark (Netflix original)
  • Game of Thrones 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Friends 
  • Breaking Bad 

And I’m sure there are many more you can think of! 

21. Play the onboard games 

Most airline entertainment systems not only have music, TV shows and movies, but they actually have a whole section on games! 

I actually love this, and a lot of them are two players, so you can play with the person next to you. 

The games vary with each airline, but I love playing quiz games, such as “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”.

22. Relax and rejuvenate with facemasks 

Flying long haul dehydrates your skin quite badly, so I sometimes take this as an excuse to perform a little skin TLC. 

If you’re in business, they provide you with a range of face products and creams, but if you’re in economy, you can simply bring your own face mask on board. 

Pop it on mid-way during your flight (perhaps before you plan on taking a nap) and relax! 

I’ve actually only started recently doing this on flights, and I feel like it makes a great difference to my flying experience and for when I land. 

Tips for travelling on a plane

Below I take you through some useful and generic tips for travelling on a plane that I’ve learnt over the last few years. 

1. Wear flight socks 

Flight socks are not only recommended for people who have circulation issues, but for all travellers who are flying long haul. 

Lots of airlines provide you with flight socks in your little economy amenity pack, but since they’re cutting costs, I wouldn’t rely on that. 

Instead, purchase your own which you can reuse on every long haul flight you take. 

2. Pack snacks 

I love checking out the menu on my flight before I fly but sometimes it’s not possible to get the meal you really want, and sometimes it might not taste as good as you hoped. 

On a long haul flight, you don’t want to go hungry, so pack some snacks with you that you know you love! 

inflight meal
This meal was delicious!

3. Keep drinking water 

Water helps you keep hydrated on the flight. 

There are so many elements to flying that dehydrate your body including the altitude, the air system and more, so if you want to avoid landing with a headache and a pretty tired body, then stay hydrated throughout your flight with water (especially if you’re drinking alcohol too).

Remember you can request water at any time by asking an air hostess, or walk to the galley and ask for yourself if you want to get some exercise too. 

4. Plan your flight schedule before you go 

It’s always a good idea to look at what time you're landing and how to plan your flight with that. So you can work out when is the best time to have a sleep, when you’re food times are, and when is a good time to play games, watch movies and anything else you’ve got planned. 

Once you plan your flight, you’ll suddenly realise time will go quicker and you’ll be less worried about going bored when flying long haul. 

5. Freshen up before you land 

When I know there is around 1 hour left of my flight time, I take this as the opportunity to freshen up and get ready for landing. 

I typically do a face mask, or put moisturizer on my skin, do my teeth, and apply some new makeup for landing. 

This makes me feel better so that I’m ready for my adventure once I’ve landed. 

I actually limit my toilet breaks when flying long haul (because I like to sit at the window and that's just inconvenient for everyone involved haha), but I always head to the toilet at the end of the flight so I can freshen up too!

6. Bring a small light jacket on board

A lot of long haul carriers provide blankets on board the aircraft, but sometimes you don’t want a blanket, and they’re just awkward if you’re trying to keep warm and eat at the same time. 

Planes can get cold with the air system in action, so I always suggest having a light jacket with you that you can pop on when it gets chilly. 

Then you can use your blanket for sleeping. 

Long Flights Essential Packing List 

Use this long haul packing list to ensure you have a fuss-free flight and make sure you don’t forget anything important in your hand luggage. 

  • Facemask and/or face moisturizer 
  • Flight socks 
  • Snacks 
  • Ipad/Tablet/Phone 
  • Chargers 
  • Magazine/book/something to read 
  • Travel Games 
  • Playing Cards 
  • Pen (for filling in immigration forms or flight landing cards!) 
  • Earphones (in case the ones on the plane are bad) 
  • Paracetamol (perfect for if you’ve got a headache) 
  • Mini hairbrush: seriously, the hair goes bad quickly!
  • Essential medication (if you’re a type 1 diabetic, like me, you need your important medication with you!) 
  • Hand sanitizer: this means you won’t need to queue for the toilet before eating your food
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste: they really help you to feel fresher after a long flight 

So there we have it, my guide on the best things to do on a long flight including some extra flying tips that you might find useful.

If you’ve got any other tips to add to the list, then drop a comment below to share with other travelers!

Here's a couple of other posts you may find useful for making the most of your trip away ...

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