6 Ways to Pass the Time on a 15-Hour Flight

Around hour five of our transpacific flight, Sue turned to me and said, “We’re fine until hour six. Anyone can do a six-hour flight. It’s after that that people start to get loopy.”

What would happen then? Would I break out into rhymes? Would I start preaching nonstop about the hidden health benefits of coconut oil?

I was surprised how easy the flight was going, even at five hours in.

Back when I was a kid, the drive up to my family cottage—a mere 2.5 hours away in bad traffic—felt like foreveeeeerrrrr. I knew every marker: Heidi’s trailers, the restaurant shaped like a sundial, Skokey’s burgers, the kayak store. My poor mother would have to entertain me with rounds of I Spy or the alphabet game.

These days, that drive seems like a minute.

But by hour six, almost on cue with Sue’s prediction, I did find my focus—and ability to dig my nose into some writing work—start to wane. So, with a little help from the minds at Cathay Pacific, we had to find more creative ways to pass the time.

Here are six of them:

  1. Sharpen your chess game. Some in-flight systems—including many Cathay Pacific planes—offer games like chess and Battleship. So learn to play chess! Quit when the computer keeps gaming you, or just play with your equally unskilled neighbour.
  2. Edit your photos and prepare albums. Relive your travels by getting a headstart on what I can only assume will be your massive amounts of photos. Alternately, journal things out: I somehow managed to stay awake once for 32 hours coming back from a trip to Asia, journalling much of the time. (I got an extra ice cream bar and a handsome flight attendant’s number for my troubles. #worthit.)
  3. Movie club. Like book club, but with movies. Start a movie with your neighbour at the same time and then discuss it afterward. With an enormous variety, Cathay didn’t let us down here, either: from little-seen documentaries to the latest releases, we got through two before needing to give our eyes a rest.
  4. Airplane stretches. That area by the bathroom has gotta be used for something.
  5. Eat endless noodles. Free noodles? Yup! Cathay Pacific offered us lucky Business Class travellers hot noodle cups as a snack throughout the flight. The proper meals were excellent as well, but it was the delightful surprise of unexpected free deliciousness that won us over.
  6. Pass out on your tray table. At the end of it all, it might be best to simply opt for a glass of free wine (more perks of Cathay Business Class!) and welcome the sleepiness. (Hot tip: those bundt-cake pillows are best positioned over the shoulder or around the front of your neck to prevent you drooling all over yourself.)

Ooh, actually that last one is sounding pretty good right now. Everything is starting to get a little wobbly now at hour seven, so I’m going to go to call it a… night? Morning? I’m not sure what time it is anymore. From Bangkok to Vancouver, and beyond. Tray table, down. Desmond, out.

Wait, scrap that—more noodles are coming.