To sit in a plane for several hours can be very tiring and uncomfortable. That is way it is good to prepare beforehand and keep some tips in mind. My Korean friend Minji was joining me on the flight which made things for me easier, but also sometimes a little difficult. The flight from Germany to Korea took about 10 hours – most of the time you just fly over Russia – and depending on the airline they offer you already sufficient entertainment.
Use the on-board entertainment
My last long distance flight was ages ago, so I was quite surprised by all the little monitors in front of every (!) seat. There was a wide range of different movies, TV series, cartoons, Hollywood movies, K-dramas or crime series and documentaries one could choose from. All in English with Korean subtitles. Of course there are several radio programs or other audio entertainment which can make the time pass quickly. Furthermore, they have simple computer games with which you can keep your mind busy.
I would always recommend to take a light read, magazine or newspaper in your carry-on. If your eyes ache because of the screen in front of you or you just want to drift off into a different world, books may help you. And you can just leave it behind if finished reading.
Usually the crew will turn off the light soon to accommodate passengers to time change (+7 hours, summer time). Most of the Koreans around me, fell asleep at once and didn’t wake up until the next meal. If you are too excited, sleeping might be difficult first, but catching up with some sleep is never wrong, I’d say.
Eat and drink
Thanks to Minji I realized that eating is a very efficient way to pass the time (although I regretted it after landing, my stomach was bursting) – and also a hobby of Koreans. As the air in airplanes is rather dry, drinking is necessary. Luckily (?), our airline provided us with so many extra food and drinks that we could not suffer from thirst or hunger. Except for our two fixed meals (breakfast and lunch) we could always go to the back of the airplane and get cake, ramyeon, prezels and nuts, water, coke, juice, beer and Sikhye (a traditional Korean rice drink – you’ll have to try, but don’t be surprised about the rice inside) from the stewardess. If your airline doesn’t provide you with extra food or drinks, you can take an empty bottle through the security check and refill it at your gate. This is cheaper than any duty free product. I took some sandwiches with me from home (left-overs), just in case I didn’t get enough to eat on board – hahaha. If you don’t mind the pricy airport groceries, you can of course purchase something there. In any case I would always ask a stewardess if she can provide you with something to drink.
On my flight it was funny to observe that after most Koreans were done sleeping (early in the morning), suddenly they all rushed get their ramyeon and Kimchi. They almost seemed like zombies drawn by the mighty ramyeon-power to the back of the plane. As if being a true Korean by missing out this ritual, Minji was one of the first to go and get her ramyeon, while I stayed behind.
Move your body
Get up from your chair, go up and down the alley (if the seatbelt sign is off), walk to the toilet, go back. Find a space where you can do some exercises. Sounds weird at first, but everybody will understand. Koreans at least are used to massaging, stretching and other healthy measurements. Minji and I had a little space at the back and we were joined quickly by other Koreans who were moving their body awkwardly 😀
This might be tricky on a flight like mine, because most passengers (~98%) who choose a direct flight to Korea are Koreans. Koreans are shy when talking to strangers and usually avoid conversation although they’d like to. If you are learing Korean it might be a nice way to practise your language skills a little. Speaking English usually scares Koreans too as they are not confident in their English-speaking skills. If you have a friend accompanying you – like I had – it might be a good solution. To me, however, it wasn’t always an easy task. Minji has difficulties sleeping on planes and get’s bored quickly, so she kept me awake and away from any entertainment, only talking and eating with me for 10 hours. Because I was really sleepy and wanted to rest, I persuaded her to sleep for at least 2 hours.
Make yourself comfortable, don’t wear fancy clothes, contacts or (heavy) make-up. It is a long flight and it gets even more exhausting if feeling uncomfortable.
- Wear comfy clothes and always take a sweater or jumper as the plane is well airconed,
- Put off your shoes, store them in the locker above and put on some sleeping socks,
- Take an extra cushion with you if the airplane one is not enough for you,
- If don’t want to look like rubbish or smell after your flight, pack a little bag with first-aid-make-up, a deodorant, wet tissue, a tooth-brush and a perfume dispenser. Mind the airplane safety restrictions, though. Some airline will provide you with these supplements anyway.
- If you have difficulties sleeping, pack a sleeping mask in advance
- Chew a chewing gum or yawn while departure and landing, it helps to get rid of the pressure on your ears. Pain in your ears while flying is caused by the changing air pressure and effects some passengers more, others less. It can be helped by using nasal spray before the flight to empty the nose; which is usually the main reason for the pain. If it is an anatomic problem and your ears have trouble maintaining yourequilibrioception than you can buy special earplugs in your pharmacy.
- Keep important documents in your carry-on. To enter Korea you will reviece an immigration and customform which you’ll have tofill out.