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In-Flight Entertainment: Killing Time On Long Distance and Overseas Flights

British Airways Jet Parked at Hong Kong Airport


Overseas Flights

On October 6, 2012, I made another trip from Thailand back to the United States to visit my brother and sisters. In the past, these transpacific flights have been very long and tiring. After I departed Bangkok at 6:00 A.M., I passed through 12 time zones and relived 12 hours before touching down at Green Bay, Wisconsin Airport at around 4:00 P.M. on the same day I left Thailand. The total travel time with layovers at two airports was about 22 hours. It included a six and one-half hour flight from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport to Tokyo Narita Airport. The longest leg of the flight was about 11 hours from Narita to Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. The shortest and last portion of the trip was a one-hour flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Green Bay Airport.

My flights were especially tiring because I chose to fly economy class. From past experiences, these flights can also be very boring unless one utilizes in-flight entertainment and considers other ways to kill time on overseas flights. In this article, I share with my readers, suggestions for making overseas flights more entertaining and less boring.

Inside an Overseas Airline


Ways to Make Overseas Flights More Entertaining and Less Boring

1. Strike Up Conversations with Passengers

Unless you are shy or unsocial, more than 24 hours can be a long, boring time not having any meaningful conversation with another person. The problem I have found is that the people who are sitting next to you either talk too much or don't like to talk. I have had occasions to run into people, usually fellow ex-patriots, who monopolize the conversation and don't give you a word to get in edgewise. On the other extreme, there are foreign nationals from Thailand or Japan who don't like to converse in English. Since I don't know Japanese and can't speak Thai very fluently, it's hard to have an excellent talk with these people. Just the same, if you can find the correct conversation partner, it will make the flight time more enjoyable and pass more quickly.

2. Do Puzzles

Doing crossword puzzles or Soduku is an excellent way of killing some time during flights. I usually attempt the crossword in the in-flight magazine, and it keeps me occupied for one or two hours until I get frustrated and give up trying to solve it. I have seen some passengers doing Soduku which I haven't attempted. In Soduku the objective is to fill a 9x9 grid with digits so that each column, row, and each of the nine 3x3 sub-grids that compose the grid contain all of the digits 1-9.

3. Make Use of Airlines In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) Systems

I especially like the IEP on the Delta A330-323 airbuses which fly between Bangkok and Narita. Included in this system are personal monitor screens and controls for playing by-demand movies and news programs. You also have the option of activating an in-flight tracker where you can display various maps of the aircraft as it moves through its flight path. You can also display data relevant to flight altitude, speed, wind course and speed, temperature, and distances to and from destinations. In addition to this, you have access to an audio system where you can select channels with different types of music and news reports. In the past, I have found the IEF on Delta flights from Tokyo to the States not as good as those on Bangkok to Tokyo flights. This is because passengers don't have individual monitor screens with access to movies on demand and the in-flight tracker. On previous trips, I have usually watched two films on flights from Bangkok to Tokyo and two to three on flights to the States from Tokyo.

4. Enjoy Meals and Beverage Service

On flights from Bangkok to Tokyo, I always look forward to breakfast which is served one hour after take-off and lunch served one hour before landing. On flights from Japan to Minneapolis, three meals including dinner after takeoff, breakfast, and lunch are served. For all meals, passengers have a choice between Japanese and Western food. Before meals, beer, wine, and mixed drinks are complimentary. In-flight dining and drinking are certainly a welcome break from other activities.

5. Use of Ipads, Smartphones, or Laptops

If you carry an iPad, smartphone, or laptop, you may turn it on and use it when the plane is not taking off or landing. Wi-fi is provided, but it is not free. With your iPad or laptop, you can work on personal files, surf the net, look at pictures, play games, or watch DVDs.

6. Reading

If you enjoy reading, this can be an enjoyable way of passing time. The airlines normally provide newspapers, and every passenger has a copy of the in-flight magazine. I plan on reading "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte and maybe another book by Hemingway.

7. Writing

If one enjoys writing, you will certainly have enough time on long flights to draft articles for Hubpages or any other website you choose.

8. Card Games

In the past, I have played sheepshead, hearts, and blackjack with my family members on long overseas flights. These card games helped to pass the time, and of course, we weren't gambling.

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9. Sleeping

Finally, if you have exhausted all the above activities, sleeping is a great way to make the time pass quickly. The problem is that I have a hard time sleeping on economy flights where the seats are smaller and there isn't much legroom.

Traveling many hours on international or overseas flights can be boring and tiring. These flights need not be boring, though, as long as you plan different activities to occupy your time.

Killing Time on Long Distance Flights

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Paul Richard Kuehn


Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on April 02, 2013:


I really liked reading your experiences on long flights. It is so much easier to kill time today on flights than it was in the 70s when I started doing overseas flights. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on April 01, 2013:

Wow! That was a very long flight Paul. I can relate how boring it might be sometimes on a long flight especially if you are alone. My longest flight from Manila, Philippines to Germany was 16 hours excluding the overnight stop over in Egypt and that was very long long time ago in the 80´s. Nowadays, I tend to bring magazines with me to read, soduku and a writing pad to avoid boredom. I watch the movies too, but usually felt asleep in the middle of the film. Last year I flew with KLM with a ca.45 minutes stop over in Taipei and the safe and sound flight took only 12 hours until Amsterdam airport where my sister picked me up.

Thanks for sharing;-)

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on February 14, 2013:


Thank you very much for your interesting comments. You are correct. On very long flights, it is a good idea to spend some time standing and walking around if possible to exercise your leg muscles.

Mazlan A from Malaysia on February 14, 2013:

I can understand your problem as I recently flew from Kuala Lumpur to Chicago with stopover in Abu Dhabi and Dublin on Etihad and AA. It was a long 26 hours journey including stopover which helped stretch my leg and re-hydrate my system.

Talking to passenger sitting next to me is something I dread to do - in case the conversation goes on non stop, and you don't know how to cut it off politely. In any case, long distance travel is always with my wife, so it wasn't that difficult!

For long haul flight, walking is also recommended esp. if it is on a non stop flight on one of those super boeing planes.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on January 30, 2013:

Bill thanks for reading this hub and your very interesting comments. I have never been able to sleep on long flights even with the help of alcohol. Thanks for the votes and especially for sharing!

Bill Russo from Cape Cod on January 28, 2013:

Hi Paul.

I love this hub and I read it every time I fly or even think about flying. I am soon taking a little jaunt from Providence to West Palm Beach, so here I am again reading your tips for trips ! !

I am going to admit that what I really do to kill time on any flight is........take prescription Xanax ! It has a relaxed, almost hypnotic, effect on me. I chat with the attendants and fellow passengers and the time zooms so fast that it seems that we land barely ten minutes after take off. I don't take it regularly. But before I fly, I call my Doctor and get enough pills for both the 'to' and the 'back' flights. Alcohol might work instead, but I gave that up years ago !

Thanks again for this hub...voted up and sharing.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on January 28, 2013:


Thanks for reading and your nice comments.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on January 28, 2013:


Thanks for reading and your comment. Yes, sleeping is an excellent way of killing time, but most of the time I am not able to sleep when flying economy class.

Michael Kromwyk from Adelaide, South Australia on January 27, 2013:

Paul - I find looking after my kids to be a big distraction on long hauls. But I got to say my favourite is relaxing up the front of the plane with a cold beverage and then falling asleep! Enjoy your flight back from Thailand. Cheers Michael

Boulism from Short Beach, CT on January 27, 2013:


Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on January 19, 2013:

unknown spy,

Thanks for stopping by and your comments! I appreciate them.

DragonBallSuper on January 19, 2013:

Great tips! my firend used to bring book whenver he's travelling overseas..way of killing time.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on January 09, 2013:


Thank you very much for your support and encouragement. I greatly appreciate it.

Bill Russo from Cape Cod on January 08, 2013:

TTA ! ! "Tree Top Airways". I love that. Thanks Paul. Keep on writing and sharing your amazing experiences.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on January 08, 2013:


Thanks for reading this hub and your great comments. Yes, riding on some of the early prop jobs was really an experience which I will always remember. I flew Trans Texas Airways (TTA) one time from El Paso to San Angelo. After that flight I understood why TTA was called "Tree Top Airways."

Bill Russo from Cape Cod on January 07, 2013:

Great article Paul. I can't imagine a flight that takes 22 hours. The longest flights I ever make are Boston or Providence to Florida. You'd barely get through a crossword puzzle on one of those little jaunts. I must say though that I do love these modern jets. Like you, I'm sure; my first flights were on the old four engine prop jobs that used to shake, shudder and regularly drop a thousand feet in about two seconds or so just to keep us awake!

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on January 04, 2013:


Thank you very much for reading and sharing this hub. I really appreciate your comments and agree that making use of computer games will make the time pass quickly.

Danson Wachira from Nairobi, Kenya on January 04, 2013:

Hi Paul,

Overseas flights can be really boring, long hours without some sort of entertainment can be terrible. I make use of computer games, it is the best i have found to waste time on flights. Doing puzzles can be another better option. Voted up, useful and shared.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on December 01, 2012:

Hi Sweetie,

Thanks for reading my hub. I appreciate your comments. If you travel to the United States some day, you will take a long flight!

sweetie1 from India on December 01, 2012:

Hi paul, I have never been on a long flight. Maximum flight I have taken maximum of two hour flight. I used to watch movie on my tablet to kill time.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 31, 2012:


Thanks for stopping by and your good comments. I didn't bring a tablet or laptop with me, but fortunately the in-flight program selections were outstanding.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 31, 2012:


Thanks for reading and your great comments. On my recent flight from Tokyo to Minneapolis, there were TVs in back of every seat with personal in-flight program selections. There were really a lot of old and new movies I could choose from. It certainly made the time pass quickly.

point2make on October 30, 2012:

The hours on a long haul flight can be incredibly difficult to fill if you are not prepared. This hub provides some great ideas to help pass the time. Personally I like to read and nap, with the occasional conversation thrown in, to get through a long flight. I have recently purchased a tablet and it will be coming with me on my next flight for sure. Good hub...voted up.

Peter V from At the Beach in Florida on October 30, 2012:

I have lived in Japan for nearly half my life and flown across the pacific ocean more times than I can remember. It is always an interesting and different experience flying for 12 hrs straight. Sometimes the planes I have been on had a tv in the back of every seat which was very entertaining. Other flights only had one tv at the front of the cabin, which made it a much more tedious flight. I have typically read, slept or lsitened to music on these long flights. I also enjoy the food and drinks served, which not everyone does. Good hub and info!

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 30, 2012:


Thank you very much for stopping by and your insightful comments. There were more media devices on my flight from Narita to Minneapolis than there were 3 years ago. I appreciate you sharing, pinning, and tweeting this hub.

Brett C from Asia on October 30, 2012:

Good advice. I think that a tablet, or laptop is vital ... unless you are lucky enough to be sitting next to someone amazingly interesting (which does happen occasionally). The media side of laptops and tablets is also useful when some economy flight 'run out' of media devices (this does happen).

Shared, up, useful, pinned and tweeted.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 26, 2012:

That is really a long, long travel time. My travel time coming back to Thailand from Green Bay, Wisconsin, was almost 25 hours.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 25, 2012:

It was 34 hours of total time including an in transit time of about 9 hours. Really tiring, more so as Mumbai is ahead by 12.5 hours in time.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 25, 2012:


Thanks for reading, sharing, and your good comments. Mumbai to LA seems to be almost as far as from Bangkok to Minneapolis. How long were your trips to LA?

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 24, 2012:


Thanks for reading and your interesting comments. Routing through Narita from Thailand is the fastest way for me to get to the States. It is a difficult and terrible long flight when you are sitting in economy. I couldn't sleep at all on the flight. Unlimited in-flight movies did make the time pass by quicker

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 24, 2012:

I've flown from Mumbai to LA a few times and I agree the journey is very tiring and boring unless you have a few things to do. You give a great list of things to do to pass your time.

Voted up, useful, interesting ans shared.

Tealparadise on October 23, 2012:

The personal monitors with in-flight movies really make it or break it for me. I thought I had it bad going Tokyo to JFK, can't believe you route through Narita from Thailand! That's the longest flight I have ever heard. If you are seated next to a Japanese national, you can both both agree that it's pretty "Tai-hen!" (difficult, terrible, but nothing can be done about it)

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 21, 2012:


Thanks for reading and your great comments. On my 11 hour flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo, I went through four movies which were all very good.

ignugent17 on October 21, 2012:

I always enjoy flying because of the movies and the food. I sometimes talk with the passengers. It is always nice to travel. Dubai to the Philippines is 8 to 9 hours and I can finish 3 movies.

Thanks for the tips. :-)

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 19, 2012:


Thank you very much for reading and your comments! I enjoyed the visit on my sister's dairy farm very much. My sister even put me to work feeding the cattle.

Mary Craig from New York on October 19, 2012:

My longest flight was from the US to Ireland and I thought THAT was long! Wow, I don't know if I could sit still that long! Hope you enjoyed your visit.

Voted up and interesting.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 03, 2012:


I hope you have a great time visiting your sister in Minnesota!

Farhat from Delhi on October 03, 2012:

you are welcome Paul, I'm travelling to New Brighton, Minnesota to see my sister overe there...and thanks for the great advice , i'll try to make it out positively!

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 01, 2012:


Thank you very much for reading and your comments. If you can afford to fly or upgrade to business class, it is much better than flying economy. Where are you travelling in the States next summer? I hope you have a good trip and enjoy the U.S.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 01, 2012:


Thank you very much for reading, your useful comments, and especially sharing. I have never flown British Airways. All of my previous transpacific flights were on either United or old Northwest before they were bought out by Delta. Personally, I think air travel was a lot more enjoyable 30 years ago.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 01, 2012:


Thank you very much for reading and your comments. I would like to sleep some during the flight, however it's really hard to get comfortable in an economy class seat.

Farhat from Delhi on September 30, 2012:

very useful information...long journeys are sometimes really boring, specially when its for quite a new place!...i'm happy, your wonderful advice and ideas are going to help me throughout my journey i'm planning for USA next summer.

Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on September 30, 2012:

I have taken many transatlantic flights over the years, and I think you have compiled a great list. I always take a book with me, but I tend to spend some time browsing the bookstore at the airport to pick out something new and maybe unexpected to read on the flight. I tend to fly on British Airways, and they also have music that passengers can play throught the in flight entertainment system. Having a few things to do does keep it from being too boring. Great hub. Enjoy your upcoming trip! Voted up and sharing.

Phil Plasma from Montreal, Quebec on September 30, 2012:

I've flown Montreal to Vancouver to Sydney and back again, quite the long flights. Fortunately the aircraft used had inflight systems which allowed me to watch many movies to pass the time. The other things from your list I did was sleep and eat.

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