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Tips For that Long Flight To The Philippines

You got your ticket and you’re on your way to the Philippines.  Are you looking forward to all that time in the air? My trip took three days! Though, due to the International Date Line, one of those days disappeared mid flight.  That disappearance though is only on the calendar, for your poor body it is three days.  If I recall correctly, I spent about 36 hours of actual time in the air. I changed planes five times so that added some time to the trip.

American Expat In The PhilippinesI was lucky, I slept for a huge part of the trip. I hadn’t had much sleep prior to leaving, either the excitement or there was so much to do before leaving.  It was probably a combination of both of those things.

It took me a couple of weeks to fully recover. For about two weeks, everything kept going black. You know, like when you stand up to fast? Only it was much more severe than normal. It finally went away though.

I don’t consider myself a long haul flying expert but I have some experience which will be more than some. If you’re a seasoned and frequent flyer, then please share your tips!

9 Tips For International Flights To The Philippines

  • Seat Choice — Ask for emergency exit seating if you can get it. You wont be able to get it when you book your flight because of safety concerns. US law prevents someone from reserving that but you might be able to get it when you check in.  Ask, you might get lucky and there is a lot more room if you get one of those seats. These seats are often near the wing though, so it will block your view. Most of your flight is going to be over the ocean though and the view isn’t going to change a lot. I found the monitors showing my location in the world and how much further ahead my destination was much more entertaining.
  • Shoes — Pay special attention to this area. Crocs would probably be a good choice but be sure to have socks in case your feet get cold. My feet really swelled during the flight but I have the same problem on a two hour bus ride to Cebu City. On that long international flight, it was magnified beyond my expectations. I finally gave up and took my shoes off. I was so relieved when I did so. It is also a good idea to get up and walk from time to time. Deep vein thrombosis is a side effect of long haul flight. This is especially true for the elderly and those with health issues. Those with blood circulation issues, such as lupus, diabetes and blood pressure problems are especially at risk. I planned to walk more but I slept through about 16 hours of my flight which was very nice.
  • Prepare For The Heat — I had planned to put on a tie once I arrived in Cebu.  I was so exhausted and worn out that there was just no way I cared any longer.When you step onto the flyway as you exit the plane, you’re likely going to be hit with a massive wall of heat. I was and it was early in the morning. From there, I had a long walk to find immigration in Manila. It was crowded; I was lost and unsure of where to go. The immigration area within Manila lacked air conditioning the times I passed through it. The first time, it was unbearably hot for me. I was not use to that kind of heat. But unbearable or not, I had no choice but to bear it.  If you’re not in the best of shape and hot natured like me, packing a small battery powered fan in your carry on luggage would be a great idea. One of those that squirt water in your face would be even better.
  • Light Carry On Luggage — You’re going to have to lug that around with you on those long walks between terminals. Make sure your luggage has wheels.  Keep it as light as possible. Also, for the international portion of your flight you’ll be allowed to have more carried on luggage. I had to check a bag with three cameras in it for the last leg of my trip  The Philippines Airline Employee that checked in the luggage that the other nice lady wouldn’t let me carry on was memorable. He asked me if there was anything valuable inside and I was reluctant to answer. I was overly cautious about Filipinos then. I didn’t yet know how awesome most Filipino are.When I told him what was in there, his body language was that of concern. I remember him getting some duct tape out and wrapping my bag for me. He made a lasting favorable impression with his simple gesture. I was certain my camera would be gone once I got to Cebu but they were just fine. I also had a connecting flight from Houston to Los Angeles. They too took my luggage which is common on the smaller propeller planes often used on commuting routes. But at the airport in Mainla, you’ll probably see people (mostly Filipinos) with boxes on a handcart. I think you’d be better off sending them over through Johnny Air Cargo myself.
  • Essential Medications and Hygiene –Don’t forget your medications. The problem keeping them in the original containers, at least it is for me. If you don’t have much you need to take, it won’t be as much of a problem but that probably needs to be the most important part of your carry on luggage. It is also a good idea to put your tooth brush in there and some baby wipes. Using those on a long flight can go a long way to helping you feel fresher.
  • First Class If You Can –if you can afford it, take first class. It really pushes up the price though and I certainly didn’t do it and probably wont in the future either. On my last flight from Thailand, there were some delays and I got an upgrade mid flight. Wow, what a difference.  I knew why people paid so much for it after that. I haven’t flown first class since I was a kid and the upgrade wasn’t that dramatic back then. It is now. At the end of the flight, the flight attendants came around with a bowl of water and towels, I had no idea why. As I watched I saw people using them to wipe their faces with. Wow, that too will make a massive difference in how you feel. I think the baby wipes would do the trip too though and not cost you a thousand dollars.  

  • Avoid Manila If You Can — If you can, get a flight direct to the city of your final destination. Some people do this by flying first to another country in Asia.  It is going to become less of a problem though. There is a new “Pocket Open Skies Policy” in the Philippine that allows foreign carries to offer flights to Cebu, Davao and some other areas in the Philippines. It is still in its infancy and I don’t know if other airlines have yet added such routes but you can bet they will. The carriers in the Philippines have really been unhappy over this but it should be a major help for those wishing to travel to the Philippines.
  • A Kindle — I have a Kindle now and at the prices you can get them for, I really think it would be a great idea. You can get a Kindle now for less than $150. I’ve got thousands of books on my Kindle and I’ve never paid for a single one of them. There are so many free books out there for a Kindle, I’m surprised Amazon sells so many Kindle books. I think this will be the best $140 you ever spent. I got the one with Wireless 3G, it is a little more but worth it to me. You will have no problem having books delivered to your kindle wirelessly even in the Philippines and at no additional cost. The Kindle is lighter than a book and you can enlarge the text display, something I find very helpful. You can get you 3G Kindle here.
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones — I have a small website dedicated to noise cancelling headphones. The good ones are expensive and I don’t actually own them. The site was built after I researched them. You can bet I’ll have some before I take my next flight from the Philippines to the USA. The rumble of the jet engines is a major factor in causing fatigue. Based on my research, noise cancelling headphones will greatly reduce that fatigue. If you would like to check out my reviews on noise cancelling headphones follow this link.

That flight to the Philippines from the USA is just long. So whatever you can do to lighten the load and make the trip less of a hardship, you should do. If you have any tips for those long distance flights please improve upon my suggestions.

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