How to Survive a 14 Hour Flight

Well, well, well. You’ve booked a ticket to a faraway land and are now facing the daunting prospect of a flight that defies time. Join us!

These are my tried and true hacks for surviving slightly more comfortably on your long journey.

Masks

As we are in the age of COVID, masks are required on flights. I felt most comfortable in cloth masks and changed at least once to prevent bacteria buildup. I also used a paper surgical mask which worked well, but do bring more than one as their typical wear time is eight hours.

Face

Must haves include chapstick, eye drops, and saline nose spray. A fourteen hour flight with recycled air and no humidifier wreaks havoc on your sinuses. Refresh them with the saline spray and apply eye drops liberally as needed. By the end of my last trip, not even prescription artificial tears could save me. I shudder to think of how shriveled my corneas would be without them at all. I recommend eye drops that have cellulose sodium and glycerin (aka not Visine). Make sure it’s a product that is safe for unlimited use as some eye drops are not.

You may also want to include an unscented, quick drying lotion for your face and hands.

Also, I know you want to look your best when you arrive to Korea, but avoid heavy makeup; you can put on makeup in the last hour of flying. I can’t stop you, but as an advocate for your skin and health, I recommend avoiding it so you can sleep against the window without fear of smudging anything.

*BEST TIP* eye drops, baby

Hair

No one cares. Put on a hat, throw it in braids or a bun or a ponytail, leave it down. Whatever is most comfortable for you. My hair tends to go flat in the extended dryness so I preemptively straighten it or just put it in a ponytail.

Hands

Bring something for sanitizing and something for moisturizing if you tend to dry out easily. Use gel sanitizer for your hands or a sanitizing wipe.

Body

Bring an extra pair of underwear if you have an outfit that allows for easy changing or alternatively, bring and wear pantiliners. These are very thin pads that are typically used as supplementary protection during periods but work well if you can’t change your underwear. Sitting for fourteen hours is not kind to our robust body parts, let alone our more sensitive ones. You may also bring body-safe wet wipes if you want to do a quick clean of your armpits or other areas.

Word of warning: do not put on a pantiliner before you go through security. For reasons due to men creating security scanning machines, I have been pulled aside for a pat down nearly every time I’ve donned one before going through security. I can bring my ice skates in my carry-on but I can’t wear a feminine hygiene product so yeah, I’m blaming male design for this one.

*BEST TIP* pantiliners for freshness

Feet

Please believe me when I say your feet will get nasty. I don’t care if you’re a foot model, no one can withstand this long of a flight without stinking up their shoes.

Wear socks, bring a change of socks, and say yes to the slippers. Your feet will get sweaty so peel off your first pair and go sockless in the slippers (if you do not have row mates) or throw on the new pair and lounge in your slippers knowing your toes get a breather.

Sleeping

I can’t help you out in this one. The attendants will give you a pillow and blanket, it’s up to you to Tetris yourself for maximum comfort.

Entertainment

Unless you’re on a super budget airline your flight will have built in consoles with movies, shows, audiobooks, and music. My one advice is about reading: during the flight, the lights will be dimmed in order to subdue, I mean comfort, passengers and encourage sleep.

If you’re on a crowded flight this makes turning on your personal light a lot more difficult, and disrupts the slumber of other passengers. Or it’s simply too dark. I’d recommend reading on a tablet or other electronic device, assuming you have already downloaded your reading content for offline use. (Special tip: open all your AO3 fics on your phone, click “show all chapters” and voila, as long as you don’t refresh your browser you can view these offline. There of course is also a download option if you have time and memory space.)


Like a recipe blog post, here’s the summarized list version:

  • Sanitizer (gel or wipes)*
  • Body-safe wet wipes
  • Chapstick/lip balm/vaseline
  • Eye drops
  • Saline nose spray
  • Masks (multiple)
  • Quick-drying unscented lotion
  • Extra socks
  • Extra underwear/pantiliners

Happy flying!

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