How do you pass the time on long flights? (Need answer fast-ish)

So I’m jumping on a plane for 13 hours tomorrow. I’m one of those freakish fellows who cannot sleep on airplanes, and I usually just alternate watching myself some movies and reading, but given that the dope contains some pretty creative people, I figured I would ask what other people do to pass the time when stuck in tiny, cramped quarters for extended periods of time?

Crossword puzzles.

I always have grand plans to get reading done, or do bookkeeping, or just do something productive on flights. I always seem to doze off about 15 minutes after takeoff and wake up as the plane pulls into the gate.

I recommend reading though, unless you can do something related to your job.

Probably about a quarter to half of the reading will be job-related: I just started a new school, and since it’s utterly unrelated to my other field I get to be a beginner again-a lot of it’s memorization and new-terminology intensive, so I tend to split that with reading fiction or designing D&D campaigns (which, surprisingly, sucks up an immense amount of time).

I cannot sleep on planes either, and I’ve taken some long flights. I’ll add another vote for crossword puzzles; and also suggest a good book, some work, and some interesting games on your laptop.

Sleeping pills.

I hate sleeping on planes and can’t do it on my own, but if the flight is over 8 hours I double down on sleeping pills immediately upon being seated. I do all my reading, eating, and movie watching in the first 3-4 hours until that horrible “drugged” feeling wins and I fall asleep. It’s not good sleep by any means, but it does help pass the time.

By the way, where you off too?

Visiting some friends in the states from Japan- Tokyo to Chicago’s a killer. ^^

heh, I just did that route last week! Then had to follow it with a crappy domestic flight to my final destination. Are you taking ANA?

I know you said you can’t sleep on planes, but do you not get an initial burst of tiredness? I’ve found–and other folks have mentioned this as well–that if I stay awake long enough to enjoy the beer/tasty first meal, I’m pretty much awake for the trip. When the plane first takes off I invariably fall asleep, but then wake up to the clink-clink of the happy wagon. What if you eat a big lunch before you go, then try allowing yourself to fall asleep and skipping meals altogether?

I love flying so I stay awake and do stuff, but you have my sympathy–the way over is 11 hours, and the way back is 12. WTF eh?

^edit: The earth spinning beneath the plane (along with head/tailwinds to a lesser extent) can explain that phenomenon.

To Omi: tell your doctor of your fear of flying and perhaps he can provide you with something that will ease your anxiety and/or help you sleep. IME its usually little bit of alprazolam (xanax©) or something or that nature.

Oh. Now, considering the time, I don’t know if thats an option- maybe a quick visit in, maybe just a phone call and/or a fax, or at the very least, consider this for next time.

Yup, this is what I do as well.

I actually don’t have a fear of flying at all-if I add up all of the miles I’ve flown in the last 2 years I think I’ve circled the globe something like 7 times. But through a combination of the general noise, activity, and the cramped quarters (I’m 6’5", which is a lot of fun in a plane) even if I’ve been up for a long period and have nothing to do, I can’t manage to fall asleep. I once had a long series of flights that spanned over 57 hours (including layovers of course), and in spite of crushing fatigue didn’t manage to sleep on any of the planes.

I’ve flown Toronto to Tokyo twenty-one times, plus once with a stop in China in between. So, 44 trips of that length, all since 2001. And I too cannot sleep on airplanes.

It was a major reason that I got a laptop with longer battery life (although that’s now moot that Air Canada, the airline I fly, has power plugs available to every seat). When I was flying routinely, I had enough upgrade coupons that I could often get business class, which made things a lot more enjoyable. Still, there’s nothing more soul-crushing than watching four movies and realizing that you’re still not halfway there, yet.

In the end, I just made sure I had a variety of activities to keep me occupied. Books, magazines, work on my laptop and movies all conspire to use up the time. I’ve become a master at killing time on flights. Toronto-Vancouver (a five hour flight)? Pffft. Hardly worth worrying about. Even Europe is a quick hop, skip and a jump away to me these days.

I am pretty much a veteran of long flights. I pass the time with a combination of reading, listening to podcasts, playing games on my DS, knitting, watching movies, and doing crossword puzzles. Sometimes I manage to fall asleep, if I’m lucky.

I once stayed up all night before a morning flight, in the hopes of falling asleep on the plane. No such luck. I was just ten times more tired by the end of the flight.

What I try to do is get a lot of sleep before the trip, so I don’t feel too bad even if I don’t manage to sleep on the plane. Unfortunately this seldom works out, as I’m usually busy packing the night before the trip.

It certainly helps if I have movies or TV shows that I want to see. I usually try to load a few on my laptop and/or my iPod Touch. Also good to have light entertaining books.
By the way, related question for other frequent flyers: do noise-cancelling headphones help with fatigue on long flights?

Podcasts of your favorite radio shows. I find ‘Handel on the law’ (640 KFI AM) and ‘Wait wait don’t tell me’ (NPR) entertaining.

I always like to recommend running up and down the aisle of the plane going “WOOWOOWOOWOOWOO!”:smiley:

On a total sidebar, I have heard of guys riding in the big military cargo planes passing the time by playing soccer or football, if the plane wasn’t hauling cargo. :smiley:

Flights to/from Japan last fall, didn’t sleep at all. I read a bit, also had an iPod loaded with several movies (rent DVD’s, use Handbrake to rip to iPod format). iPod also had several games and tons of music.

I got a prescription for Ambien* last time I went to India and was well rested not only after the flight, but it also quickly acclimated me to the jet lag. Make sure to get up and walk around and drink water every couple hours too.

When I was awake, a book, crossword puzzles were good, but I really got into the Professor Layton games on my DS.

*Beware of side effects


Angry Birds <—There is nothing that can make time fly by more quickly than than this.

Listen to music

Watch comedies (e.g. “The Office.”) on my iPod video.


Puzzle books


Solving World Peace (last time I flew to Hawaii I was THIS close to solving it, but the FA forced me to put away my iPad before I could finish that last equation.)

Getting drunk is the only way to be able to sleep on a coach flight. You can only read for so long in those terrible seats that won’t recline worth shit.