How to get the most enjoyment out of the long haul flying experience...and no, I don't mean the mile high club!
Regarding the flight, it's not uncommon for apprehension and nerves to creep into the experience. Just remember that when everything shakes and rattles... It's designed to do just that, and air travel is the safest form of transport in existence. Just relax and enjoy - how often do you get to see the world from the sky anyway?!
A window seat is best for nervous fliers, it eliminates some of the effects of claustrophobia and allows some distraction as opposed to a central seat. At the end of the flight, you can always try asking to see the cockpit. Contrary to popular belief you can still visit, subject to the captains decision and providing the engines are shut down. Being able to see the "business end" of the aircraft is quite an eye opener, and nervous fliers find it a great help to see how this flying business really works. Plus it can be a great opportunity for selfies...!
Now if you're on any sort of flight, it's important to stay hydrated. The air inside an aircraft, especially some of the older types, is near enough totally dry.
This means that it will dehydrate you very quickly - the best thing to drink is water. Try to stay away from any alcohol, although I do always have a G&T to help me sleep and put me in the holiday mood! Millie on the other hand like to sample quite a few drinks throughout her flight which I can't totally endorse...
A common myth is that aircraft air conditioning systems breed germs, bacteria and other viruses. The units actually recirculate half the air in the cabin and take the other half as bleed air from the engines. So in fact, you do end up with quite fresh, albeit dry air. Obviously when you get many people crammed into a tight space (for example, I currently have 10 rows in view in front of me, equaling 100 people), the chances of at least one person having a cold is fairly high. To minimise chances of catching anything, if you have an air vent above you, aim it so the air flow is right in front of your face. This will keep any airborne diseases from straying anywhere near your respiratory system.
And onto the topic of jet lag and sleep. As soon as the aircraft pushes back, I switch over to the destination time. This will give you extra hours for your body to readjust.
If you're due to land at night, don't drink any caffeine rich drinks -this will only affect your sleep pattern (usually for the worse). Likewise with sleeping pills.
Move around a bit during the flight, stretch and wander the aisles for a few minutes - you'll feel so much better for it! It will help to reduce the potential for DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), where blood clots form in your leg due to inactivity - quite a common issue for the more mature while flying long distance.
Regarding eating on the flight, the vast majority of people cannot stand airline food. I for one, love it! Your Ryanair and EasyJet I will agree don't have it down, but Emirates for example provide a choice of 3 -5 options for each meal, along with a start and a pudding! I would also recommend that you try and be as organised as possible so you can make good use of the little space you have, it's not easy I know but you can make it work. Remember to keep your arms tucked in so you don't disturb your other passengers too!
A quick note, when the Captain puts on the seatbelt signs.. This is for exceedingly good reason, usually to stop you taking off from your seat in the event of turbulence! Please obey the sign, it makes life easier for everyone! As a pilot myself, I know the risks associated with ignorance of this sign and it's just not worth it.
When it comes to disembarking, again there really is no hurry to leave the aircraft. If you leave first, you'll still end up waiting for your checked luggage anyway. I wait until the majority have left and then take a much more relaxed departure. Don't forget to take everything with you!
Last point of any use - despite all the above tips, nothing will change the fact you're sat inside a tube 6 and a half miles up.. for the best part of a day. Just keep sitting tight and remember it's a means to an end. It will pass and you won't even remember the hardships you endured when you're sat on the beach with a cool drink in your hand!
Thanks Alex for all the tips from this and part one of Help! I've got Long Haul Flight!