How To Stay Healthy on Your Long-Haul Flight

healthy flight

Taking a long-haul flight is perhaps not the most healthy of activities. Think about it – there you are sitting in a cramped metal tube with hundreds of other passengers whilst suspended some thirty thousand feet in the air breathing semi-recirculated air. You are exposed to an atmosphere of low oxygen and humidity and are at increased risk from pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.

On top of this you can spend hours not moving at all whilst consuming an unhealthy cocktail of processed food, alcohol, caffeine and sugar. And as you pass through multiple time zones your body clock is turned upside down.

In this article we give some tips to help keep you in better shape when flying long-haul and perhaps reduce your risk of falling ill during travel.

Preparation: Booking your flight

Airliners can cruise at altitudes significantly higher than the summit of Mount Everest. The further you climb the lower the atmospheric air pressure. This means that aircraft cabins need to be pressurised – not to ground level but usually at an altitude equivalent range of between 5,000 and 8,000 feet (1,500-2,400m).

The latest generation of aircraft – Airbus A380, Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 have cabin pressure altitudes at the lower end of that scale. If available on your flight route then consider flying on one of these new aircraft types. They have considerably quieter engines and many passengers feel more comfortable on board.

When searching for flights think about travelling at the most convenient time possible  – 4am departures or arrivals can be very tiring indeed.

If you can afford it or have a stash of frequent flier miles then flying first or business class will give you more comfort and space on a long flight. However some premium travellers have an attitude to gorge on food and alcohol to “maximise” the experience!

Before flying

The key to staying healthy throughout your trip is to support your immune system with a healthy diet, exercise and high quality supplements before you travel. Consider taking a combination such as a multi-supplement + fish oil + immune booster which we have personally had very good results with in helping keep colds at bay on long flights.

Stay well hydrated in the 2 days prior to travel by drinking plenty of water.

Always try to get a good night’s sleep the day before you fly. At bedtime put a drop of lavender oil on your temple or pillow which may help you relax.

You should also get some exercise before a long flight, preferably outdoors rather than in the gym. Go for a walk and get some fresh air and sunshine which will give your vitamin D levels a boost.

In the hours leading up to the flight choose a moment to get your online check-in done and select your seat. You may want to research the best seat options for your class of travel.

Hong Kong to Bangkok: Route Analysis

Hong Kong to Bangkok is an important flight route with many fifth freedom options. There are about 130 non-stop services flying each week on this particular Asian route, with the 1,050 mile flight taking around 3 hours.

The following airlines currently serve the route between Hong Kong airport (HKG) and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport (BKK):

Cathay Pacific – The Hong Kong based airline and Oneworld carrier flies 6x daily between HKG and BKK using a mix of Boeing 777s, Airbus A330s and Boeing 747s.hong kong airport

Thai Airways – The Thai national carrier (Star Alliance) flies 5x daily using its new Airbus A380 and Boeing 747s.

Hong Kong Airlines  – Flies 3x daily with Airbus A330s. Prices tend to be lower than Cathay and Thai.

Hong Kong-Bangkok Fifth Freedom Flights: In addition to Thai and Hong Kong based airlines, there are many other international carriers that have rights to serve the route. These should be considered as they often undercut the national carriers and can offer cheap premium class airfares on wide-body aircraft.

Emirates – The Gulf airline has competitive pricing in all classes for its daily flight between Hong Kong and Bangkok using an Airbus A380. For a business class return ex-HKG expect to pay around £375/US$590 – this often undercuts economy fares from Cathay and Thai. Or experience first class on Emirates A380 for £675/US$1,060 return.

Ethiopian Airlines – The Star Alliance carrier flies 5x weekly using a Boeing 767 aircraft. Offers some of the cheapest economy airfares on the route with returns often around the £190/$295 level.

Royal Jordanian – The Jordan-based Oneworld airline flies 4-x-weekly between Hong Kong and Bangkok using an Airbus A330.

Sri Lankan – Sri Lanka’s national carrier flies non-stop 3x weekly using either Airbus A330s or A340s. Business class returns start at a bargain £225/US$350.

Kenya Airways – The Skyteam carrier flies 3x weekly using a Boeing 777 and offers competitive economy and business fares.

Pakistan International Airlines – PIA flies 2x weekly using an older series Airbus A310.

Air Asia – The budget airline flies twice daily between Hong Kong (HKG) and Bangkok’s old international airport, Don Mueang (DMK). Note, Air Asia uses a narrow body Airbus A320.

Is It Possible To Avoid UK Air Passenger Duty (APD)?

From April 1st 2012/2013, flight departure taxes in the UK are set to rise yet again. Air Passenger Duty (APD) is charged for each passenger departing a UK airport – this cost is included in the ticket price. The UK currently has the highest aviation departure taxes in the world.

Despite aviation being seen as vital to worldwide trade and tourism, one of the UK’s solutions to a £126 billion budget deficit and £1.1 trillion national debt is to squeeze airline passengers further. The airlines themselves are heavily opposed to the tax as are the governments of Australia, New Zealand and various Caribbean countries who are losing significant tourist numbers from UK.

There are 4 APD bands based on flight distance, which bizarrely is calculated as the distance between London and the capital city of the destination country. There are tariffs for economy passengers (known as the “reduced rate”) and for premium economy / business class / first class passengers (known as the “standard rate”). APD will increase again in April 2013.