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Air Transat is the World’s Best Leisure Airline offering affordable flights to Canada, but how do you get to sleep on an eight-hour transatlantic trip? Here are ten tips to set you snoozing, from the best travel pillows for long-haul flights to travel essentials like noise-cancelling headphones.
Book a window seat
If you’re planning on getting any sleep at all, it’s probably best to avoid an aisle seat. Yes, it’s handy if you need to get up to go to the loo, but it also means you’ll have passengers and crew walking up and down the aisle right next to you. A window seat, on the other hand, offers a handy wall to slump against.
Ask to move next to an empty seat
If the flight isn’t fully booked, keep an eye out for two empty seats next to each other. On Air Transat flight attendants try their very best to accommodate your requests – so if you ask, they may very well let you switch seats. Then you’ll have the luxury of a whole empty seat next to you, perfect for some leg stretching and diagonal sleeping. Make sure to get in quick with your seat-switch request though, as the other passengers will all be having the same idea.
Get a travel pillow
We’ve all seen those U-shaped inflatable pillows, but there’s a huge range of travel pillows on the market now. You can generally choose between inflatable ones or soft pillows made out of materials like microbeads or memory foam: the soft ones tend to be comfier but take up more baggage space. The J-Pillow is a handy innovation that supports the side of your head and curves under your chin, giving great neck support but with the downside that it’s quite a chunky fellow. And if having an inflatable bag around your neck makes you feel a bit self-conscious, there’s always the TRTL travel pillow – which is essentially a pillow disguised as a scarf. BUT, if you book yourself an Air Transat Option Plus Economy ticket or travel on Air Transat Club Class then fret not – you’ll get a comfort pack featuring a neck pillow, blanket, eye mask and in-ear headphones.
Invest in noise-cancelling headphones
Noise is one of the biggest barriers to sleep on a plane. If you’re lucky enough to be on a flight without some poor soul coughing all night or a toddler erupting in tantrums every five minutes, there’s still the constant drone of the engines to deal with. Noise-cancelling headphones are an absolute godsend for long-haul sleep – they pick up ambient noise via a microphone and generate a sound wave that is the exact negative of it, effectively muting the sound. And of course, you can listen to music to help you drift off to sleep. The downside is that they’re not cheap: you’re probably looking at about £75 for a fairly decent set of headphones, and generally the more you pay, the better they get, with the most expensive costing hundreds of pounds. Also they need power to work, so make sure to charge them up before the flight. If all else fails, a cheap set of foam earplugs is a handy backup.
You’ll want to get as comfy as possible to have the best chance of getting some shut-eye, so that means snuggling up underneath a nice soft blanket. If you’re flying on Air Transat Club Class or Option Plus then you’ll get a blanket as part of your comfort pack – but if you’re looking to buy one, ideally you’ll need a big, lightweight blanket that will protect you from the draughts of the air conditioning system yet is still small enough to pack. It’s best to avoid 100% synthetic blankets, which can be scratchy – a blanket with a mixture of natural and synthetic fibres is likely to be soft as well as durable. Some blankets also double up as a pillow, like the Travelrest 4-in-1, and others pack down to a tiny size, like the Cocoon blankets. Or you could just throw practicality to the wind and express yourself by dressing up in an animal blanket.
The last thing you want is to be woken up by a flight attendant asking you to put on your seat belt. Even though you generally don’t need to wear your seat belt except for takeoff and landing, the pilot might switch on the seat belt sign if the plane encounters turbulence, so it’s a good idea to keep your seat belt on while you sleep to avoid being woken up. Make sure it’s buckled over your blanket so the flight crew can see you’ve got it done up.
Negotiate the seat-recline minefield
On short-haul flights, you may get some stink-eye from the passenger behind when dumping your seat backwards, but on long-haul flights it’s generally accepted that everyone will recline their seat to get some sleep. Usually this happens almost simultaneously, with seat backs swooshing backwards in a staggered Mexican wave as everyone decides it’s snoozy time. But remember that people who recline their seats during mealtimes are monsters – don’t be one of them. Luckily, there’s a bit more wiggle room on Air Transat flights these days – they recently redesigned their aircraft cabins to provide more legroom in both Economy and Club Class, and there are leather seats throughout.
Block out the light
Although Air Transat’s cabin mood lighting is comforting, you might want to invest in an eye mask to block out the light. Unless you book yourself Option Plus or Club Class, then your comfort kit includes an eye mask alongside the neck pillow, blanket, and in-ear headphones.
Relax – but avoid the booze
Catching a flight can be stressful – after you’ve dashed to the airport, negotiated check-in and security, and stowed your baggage while a line of people waits to get past you, you’ll probably be feeling a bit too wired to get to sleep. Do anything you can to help you relax – whether that’s reading, puzzles, meditation or something else. One thing though: you may be tempted by the huge array of alcoholic drinks available onboard an Air Transat flight, not least the welcome cocktail in Club Class, but we recommend sticking to something non-alcoholic. Booze may make you drowsy and fall asleep quicker, but it results in much poorer quality sleep. It blocks REM sleep, can interrupt your circadian rhythm, and also relaxes the muscles in your throat so you’re more prone to snore – which will certainly make you very unpopular with the people around you.
Upgrade to Club Class
OK, so not everyone is going to be able to afford an upgrade. But if you’ve got the cash to splash, getting a comfy seat in Club Class is probably the best way to get a good night’s sleep while flying. On Air Transat you get a nice big seat with comfy pillows and loads of legroom, not to mention a comfort kit with a blanket, blow-up neck pillow and eye mask. Still, if buying a Club Class ticket isn’t even in the realm of possibility, you could always try to blag an upgrade for free: here are ten ways to go about it.
More on Air Transat:
Air Transat is Canada’s number one holiday airline. It was named World’s Best Leisure Airline at the 2018 Skytrax World Airline Awards. Every year, it carries some 5 million passengers to approximately 60 destinations in more than 25 countries. This Canadian airline has provided a much-loved service across the pond for more than 30 years, to various Canadian cities from London, Glasgow, Manchester and Dublin. Find out more about the award-winning airline that’s making transatlantic flights more affordable.
Published March 2019. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.