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The Long Flight over to Italy

My friend and I are flying coach. I've been told that it is necessary to move around every 3 to 4 hours for body circulation. Has anyone had any problems with long flights?

Posted by
3551 posts

Consider flying Lufthansa as they have much more leg room in coach. But generally it is a good idea to walk stretch, I always do. I have not had probs but do not want them either. So I walk the aisles, do stretches in galley area, flight attendants are ok with it if you do not get in their way. and make cicles with my feet when seated frequently. Req. aisle seat if you want most room.

Posted by
1127 posts

You will probably want to get up and stretch during your flight. My body gets tired of sitting over such a long period of time. Walk the aisles (as long as you're not bumping into people) or stand near the galley. Just avoid doing this while the flight attendants are serving meals or offering drinks. They are trying to do their job so don't get in their way - they will appreciate it!

Posted by
11507 posts

You are west coast, as am I, and so we have long flights to Europe. At least we are not Australians, there flights are twice as long though!!

I always get up and walk around, who can sit for 10 hours, not me, I would get so stiff.

Posted by
1889 posts

Make sure you stretch while in your seat. Extend your legs as long as you can, stretch your feet/toes. Flex feet toes. Lift your knees as high as you can. Turn your head side to side. Raise your arms overhead. In short, move as much as you can in your seat.

Drinks LOTS of water, NOT beer or wine, and get up to use the restroom. Just doing that will help you get through the flight.

it's really not that bad! You will have to get up at some point, and just moving once or twice is great.

If you have medical issues that concern you, make sure you check with your doctor before getting on the flight.

Posted by
36 posts

Thank you everyone for the reassurance and the valuable info. This is my first flight of considerable length, and my first to go over to Europe. I'm flying SFO to Canada, then Canada to Rome. My nephew who is pre-med suggested I take aspirins 2 days before I leave, and 1 day after I arrive in Rome to thin out my blood? Has anyone heard of this? The deep vein throm(?) is exactly what I am concerned about. I have absolutely no medical problems what so ever, but definitely do not want to have such an attack. I'll do the suggested sitting position foot/leg exercises. Thanks, Liz

Posted by
36 posts

Everyone, this is my very first trip to Europe, and my very first big adventure. I have never used a Blog before, but I am receiving so many useful insightful experience observations/hints that I will keep asking until I depart in May 2008. Thank you all.

Posted by
4555 posts

If you have no pre-existing condition, just follow the instructions re: drinking water and exercising your legs, and you won't have any trouble.

Posted by
6898 posts

Ah, Moraga, where, in the late 50's, I used to go to T-Bones and then drag race on the dark and empty road lined with orchards into Orinda. T-Bones and the orchards are long gone and the road is far from empty these days. Oh well...

Oh, your long trip. It is known that blood clots can occur in the legs on long trips where the traveler does not move around. It doesn't happen often but it does happen. As suggested above, get up and move around frequently. A second thought, as mentioned above, is to fly Lufthansa. They have an overnighter that leaves LAX at about 6:00pm and arrives in Frankfurt about 10.5 hrs. later (2:30pm). It's a fabulous flight for one who has to travel to Europe from the West Coast. Once in Frankfurt, you transfer to planes going wherever you wish. We went to Florence. Lufthansa is a United partner so you can fly from Oakland down to LAX to pick up the flight. We flew down from Sacramento. Just a thought.

Posted by
36 posts

Hi Larry and JS

It won't be Luftansa(sp?) but Air Canada from SFO to Toronto, then Toronto to Rome. I was told to upgarde to Business but then some say that I can 'survive' in Coach. I just have to do the exercising in the seat, or walk the aisles as necessary. And, definitely stay out of the way of the stewardess'.

Posted by
85 posts

Hi Liz. We flew SFO to OHare to Rome Dec 1, 2007 for the city tour. I bought NO JET-LAG from Vitamin Shoppe for 10.00 (I think there's one in Oakland). Follow the directions and there's enough for the round trip. It's all natural and safe. We also bought a pair of Traveler's Socks from the Edwards Luggage Co.(most of the big Bay Area Malls have this store). The size Medium fit woman's 8 and men's 8.
These work like medical support hose. They were 25.00 each and worked! (I'm in the medical field and we had no symptoms of DVT.) If you do buy these, bring a regular pair to change into once you hit Rome or you'll sweat from top to bottom. Follow everyone's advice on water and juice before and during the flights. Caffeine and alcohol work against your reset system. If you can't sleep on the flight, do as Rick suggests and stay up as long as you can the first day. But, hey, you're going to Rome. You'll never want to sleep! Safe Travels.
Karen

Posted by
36 posts

Karen - thanks for the tips. Definitely, will check out the socks. Lot's of liquids, water/juices, I do not have a problem with. I hydrate all the time while at work each day. And, yes, I'm so darn excited that I'll probably just totally zonk out at the end of my first day in Rome.

Posted by
11507 posts

Elizabeth, yes, you will survive in economy on Air Canada, I have, BUT, I have also done business class, and it is way more comfy, so if money is not a problem , then yes upgrade, it costs tons , but it is nice. Food etc is not much better, but , the chairs are more comfy and you do get alot more room.

Posted by
248 posts

My friend (& frequent traveler) always takes aspirin before flying any great lengths and before high altitudes - swears by it.

Posted by
248 posts

Sorry - forgot to mention the main criterion - he's a M. D.

Of course, being my friend & a frequent traveler ain't too shabby ;)

Posted by
56 posts

Hi Elizabeth-

Like a few others have suggested, just remember to get up and move around about every 3 hours and drink lots of water, that should definitely help out. I've flown to Australia and did exactly that and I was fine.

Posted by
359 posts

If you follow the 'drink lots of water' rule, you won't be able to help but walk around - to the bathroom. Just take the long way there and back.

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks everyone. I feel a whole lot better and more relaxed about that deep vein embolism. I drink lots of water anyway. So, I don't think I'll have any issues.

Posted by
51 posts

Hi.I just came back from Europe.Flew Delta and Alitalia on my way back.The legroom betewen seats it'sreally embarrasing,but everybody on both flights survived(just joking).You will too.My advise:no caffeine,no beer or wine(it helps with jetleg effect),deffinitely take off your shoes for the entire flight.A couple of pairs of throwaway socks work for me.I take one tablet of Dramamine(over the counter)for motion sickness and sleep help right after dinner is served.Walk the isles a few times and pray that no child is seating next or behind your seat.Good luck and happy travels.

Posted by
842 posts

We love the 10.5 hr Lufthansa direct flights to Frankfurt, where we transfer for other stops in the EU.

Like everyone else has said, cut out the booze and coffee, the day before, the day of, and the day after, and you will feel much better. Drink all of the water that you can get your hands on, and make sure that you have an aisle seat if you are in steerage.

If you can budget the business class seats for your flight over the pond...go for it! We usually fly steerage for our EU tips, but on our way back this XMas we flew business class. I never felt so good when I got to our destination. All of that room and comfort really helps to make your legs, etc., feel " 'mo better"!

Posted by
1158 posts

For the 1st time last year I had problems in a flight from NYC to Rome, .It was 8 hours long.My feet swollen very bad, and when we landed I couldn't put my shoes on. It will also help if you massage your feet .

Posted by
1158 posts

Karen,

Since I am a believer in non- traditional medicine, I tried NO JET-LAG, but according to the label is more for tireness. I don't believe it will help a lot with the circulation.
Here is a good link about it:
http://www.nojetlag.com/jetlag4.html
I used it and it help me to relax, maybe a bit my feet.
I believe drinking water is the best.

Posted by
36 posts

Kent thanks for the tip. I plan to check in with my dentist and doctor before I go abroad. I'll be 50 in October. However, this is my birthday treat for me in May 2008. I think I'm just going to drink lots of water. Having no shoes on and throw away socks sounds good to me. Possibly take a good pair of sandals when I land in Rome. I won't have an issue with alcohol or caffeine, but I do like a Coke. I guess I'll have to get by without one on the plane and just stick to water. I have very long legs, so I enjoy the aisle seats. And, yes, I hope I don't have 'kid's' anywhere around my seat! The amount of money to upgarde to business class, I could buy too much 'stuff'. I'm going to rough it. Thanks, though, for the info.

Posted by
3580 posts

I almost hate to share this because too many people may follow my advice. There are seats in economy class that have more leg room. The seats right in front of the big movie screen on the 747s and the exit rows on the sides of the planes have more leg room. I've learned to schedule myself for a screen seat when I make my reservation. Beware, sometimes families with small children like this row, too.

Posted by
805 posts

Here are my top tips:

  1. Drink lots of water, avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol as much as possible as they tend to dry the body out.
  2. Eat something, I know plane food is bad but given that you'll get there early in the morning you need to be fresh enough to deal with customs, etc.
  3. Wear something comfortable, sleeping in coach (or anywhere on a plane) is hardly comfortable and you don't need to punish yourself further by dressing in uncomfortable clothes.
  4. Do walk around every once in a while.
  5. Before you get there, act as if it is a normal morning back home in terms of your routine (take any medications, wash yourself up, etc.) to fool your body into thinking a new day is about to start. I did that on my way to Rome this year and I believe it greatly helped my time-shifting.

Have fun!

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks David, that sounds like good advice. Definitely, into the water. And, I'm going to be in sweats, comfortable throw away socks, I seriously doubt 'flip-flop's', but some good sandals, and comfortable Tee-shirt. I want to be able to relax as much as possible. I can't choose where i want to sit, right? Or, can my travel agent assign me a seat now with my girl-friend?

Posted by
525 posts

Elizabeth, Please do NOT wear sweats to Italy. You can wear a nicer pair of pants with elastic waste band. Wear a nice looking sweater or jacket to match your pants and no flip-flops with your outfit. The airlines going overseas usually have a pair of socks and mask in your seat when you board.
Take a scarf. It seemed all Italians - mostly women but lots of men were wearing them. Drink juices and exercise in your seat if you can't get up. Usually there is an informational/instructional video for exercising while in the air.

Posted by
36 posts

Miss B - Not even on the plane just for traveling? I know I'm not supposed to wear sweats in Italy while traveling, but I figured the most comfortable would be on the plane. If that is the case, then I have some light weight cotton pants. I know I've been told 'no jean's'. Are these planes kept 'cool' in temperature with so many aboard? Possibly, a light weight shift/dress? Thanks for the info.

Posted by
3580 posts

I get up and move around at least every two hours unless I am asleep. I wiggle my legs and feet often. Most people seem to feel cold on the long flights; it usually doesn't bother me. Maybe that is because I dress in several layers, including a cotton mock-turtleneck shirt. Those air jets over each seat can be adjusted or turned off entirely; find yours and adjust it to your needs.

Posted by
11507 posts

Planes are cold , mainly because it is minus whatever outside, so the heat they do supply just keeps us from turning into icebergs!

Wear whatever is warm and comfy, but , sweats do take up alot of luggage room, so to wear them and then have to pack them around Europe for the rest of your trip is kind of a pain.
I agree with bringing some throwaway socks,for goodness sake do NOT walk barefoot on the plane, major filthy, ugh, I have seen people walk into those wet floored bathrooms in their own thin socks, now, that, is major gross.

Miss B, most economy seats don't get free socks and free eyemasks, and most people can only fly ecomomy.

Posted by
6 posts

I am an RN and would like to educate all as to why it is adviseable to walk if possible in an airplane or even when driving long distances - the reason is to avoid "travelors pulmonary embolism". It is not that common but happens more times than people know. What happens in a sitting position for extended periods of time is the circulation in the legs begins to pool and pooling blood is not good!! It begins to clot. When your blood clots in your legs and then you begin to move around those clots can travel to your lungs (pulmonary embolism) or even on rare occasions to your brain (stroke).

Posted by
525 posts

I can only fly economy when going to Europe. We have always received a pair of socks and mask. I have taken soccer sandals also to "stay dry" in the bathrooms. NO, do not wear only your thin socks into the bathrooms. The floors are wet!!! Hum, I wonder how that happens! You also have the lightweight blankets on the plane. I am usually cold when flying but can put my jacket on and use the blanket. I have read where if you dress sloppy - you are treated with less respect. My husband and I were dressed "nice" but still, some of the time we were not treated very well. We felt like the locals could care less that we were there when purcashing food. Still Italy appeared to have a feel of being dressed up even with jeans. Scarves were on everyone. Most people had dark clothes on. I stood out like a sore thumb with my light blue waterproof jacket. It's also bad when climbing the towers and ruins. Wear dark attire. Watch the video how to exercise in your seat if you don't get up very often.

Posted by
4555 posts

In the past year, I've flown Continental, US Air, and Delta to Europe and I haven't seen socks and masks.....I wish I knew which airline I should be booking!:)

Posted by
10344 posts

Marvin: Thanks for sharing your professional knowledge of economy long haul deep vein thrombosis (DVT). I can say from personal, frightening experience that sometimes the popular self-help measures of "drinking fluids, getting up every so often, or exercising at your seat" is not enough. If you are predisposed to having the problem, it can develop even if you just fall asleep for a few hours on your overnight flight. For travelers over a certain age or with pre-existing circulatory conditions, there are simple and inexpensive things your physician can tell you about that will prevent you from ever having a problem with DVT. For the story of what can happen when the unexpected happens, as told here last year by another Helpline participant, go here: http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm/rurl/topic/5233/blood-clots.html

Posted by
9106 posts

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic provide socks, eye mask, earplugs and toothbrush/paste to economy passengers.

Posted by
4555 posts

Dang...I guess I'm going to have to stop flying those cheapo U-S airlines!

Posted by
61 posts

Don't cross your legs...cuts off blood circulation...

Posted by
41 posts

I would recommend something like a Nike pant for comfort and convenience - they sell alot of very comfortable "casual" pants that are like sweat pants but I've seen people dress them up such that I didn't even realize they were a workout type pant. They can be pricey (>$50) but can be found on sale and they are dri-fit, so very light, dry quickly when you wash them and come in black.

I've flown overseas in Coach on the cheapest tickets I could find 6 times, and have always been given the eyemask and the socks. The last time was 2 years ago, the socks where just a very thin layer, as compared to the comfy ones on previous trips - but I really think it depends on the airline. If you think you are going to want to walk around on the plane (as you should) I would agree it's not a good idea to do it in your own socks - slip your shoes back on if they don't give you socks.

Have fun!

Posted by
36 posts

JUlie - thanks for the 'head's-up' and the info about wearing comfortable pants over. I'm pretty sure that I can handle Coach. The sleep masks, are they really necessary? It seems that they would be uncomfortable. I think I can sleep without them. I am looking forward to this trip. It's 5 months away, and I want to start packing now!

Posted by
1056 posts

Elizabeth, one strategy for getting more room on planes that I haven't seen mentioned is seat selection. Ninety days before your flight the airline will assign seats. If you go online just at that time or sometimes just before that time, you can choose your own seat. Try for exit rows or bulkhead. My hubby and I usually fly business class (frequent flier miles) to Europe from Oregon but this year couldn't get any seats so travelled tourist. But we got bulkhead seats with scads of room, which made it easy to stretch out and to move around.

Posted by
808 posts

Elizabeth, wise choice to fly with Air Canada!
AC is voted by passengers as Canada's best Airline for a reason.
They have some really excellent In Charge/Flight Attendants!
Just don't sit in the back of the bus. The more Senior F/A's like to hold those positions b/c it involves the least amount of work and is furthest away from the In Charge!

And whoever said to stay out of the way of the F/A's...Good advise but I hope they meant that in a good way!
Some people like to walk the aisles from time to time, which is fine. Just try not to do it during service times so you won't be blocked by one of our trolleys!

Google in seat in flight exercises. You might like to try a couple of these exercises!
Stay hydrated with non-caffeinated/non-alcoholic beverages. Bring an empty Sports drink bottle and ask Crew to refill it for you. We can't distribute our 1.5 liter bottled water to each passenger but we can refill your own bottle so do bring one...

Posted by
808 posts

cont'd...

The in flight toiletry kit is descent but don't wear the socks. I wish they didn't give out socks. They are not going to protect your feet from hazzards on the floor in an emergency. Bring slippers or wear tie up shoes and loosen the laces.

Visit aircanada.com. There is some helpful information posted there. I always tell passengers to start there!

Have a great flight, Elizabeth. I'm sure you will!

AC YYZ Toronto Crew are the best!! I am proud of my team!

Safe Skies,
F/A

Posted by
36 posts

Flight Attendant - excellent information. I'm passing yours and everyone's information and suggestions onto my traveling companion. Between the two of us, we're going to be all set. We both like to 'shop', so I told her today that we're not upgrading to Business Class this time around. If everything works out okay, we'll be back again for another 'European' country. Maybe, Business Class at that time. But, this time we 'rough it'.
This is so great that there are a lot of 'traveler's' that read this BLOG and are able to comment. I need all the information I can get my hands on.
I'm going to start practicing my Italian with some auto cassette tapes.
Thank you everyone.

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks Lois for the information. I've been watching all the Rick Steve's video's and most if not all the women are wearing some sort of nice jeans. Of course, nothing that is ripped or with holes in them, but still they are comfy and nice looking. I won't be wearing sweats on the plane over, but something nice and cottony. Appreciate the input.

Posted by
14 posts

Don't worry about wearing comfy clothes on the plane. You'll want them for hanging out in your room at night anyway. I agonized over how to dress for a month-long trip. Many people do wear jeans but Italians tend to dress a little nicer. I'd say dressing for the weather is the most important.

Posted by
359 posts

With all the great advice, Elizabeth, you and your compadre will do fine. Doesn't get better than Air Canada for overseas and I've used them all. My 'tricks' over the years when travelling the back end overseas is aisle seat, bulkhead/emergency row if possible, inflatable neck pillow, decent book, get up and walk around from time to time, nothing under the seat in front of you, loosen (or remove) shoes, lots of water, comfortable clothes, pillow (for lumbar support rather than head), blanket (or two) and -as important as all the above- when you've just about had enough, walk to the galley area with an exterior window, look out towards the front of the plane and see if you can catch the sun coming up; it's glorious. Have fun, ciao

Posted by
9429 posts

Elizabeth, wear whatever you want to on the plane and flip-flops are FINE! I've always heard a person should get up and walk around the plane every hour on a long flight, that's what I do.