Making the Most of Downtime on Your Flight

For many people, the toughest part of international business travel is flying there and back. With a flight that is eight hours or more, there is a lot of downtime to fill, and you hardly want to sit there twiddling your thumbs. So what exactly can you do to pass the time? In this blog, we have compiled a list of things you can do during your international flight to maximize your productivity while you’re 30,000 feet in the air.

Write Out a Plan

Before you even set foot on the plane, write out your plan for how you will spend this downtime. Just playing it by ear makes it easy to fall back on watching twelve episodes of CBS reruns instead of being productive. Treat your flight as a meeting, setting out objectives for yourself. Plan out what you will use with this time to make sure you have everything you need to get it done, whether that’s a fully charged laptop, certain documents, or an internet connection. If you don’t want to pay for in-flight wifi, you might download all of the information you need.

Catch Some Zs

That being said, being productive doesn’t necessarily mean doing work. It could be that getting some rest in now helps you to be more efficient once you reach your destination. If you have a long flight, particularly if it is a red eye, this can be the perfect opportunity for you to get sufficient sleep to enter a new time zone seamlessly. The key is to make yourself sleep ready before your flight. Make sure to have a full stomach when you board, and have some music or meditation ready to lull you to sleep. An eye mask, a pillow, and a sleep aid may also be necessary for you. Whatever will send you off to Dreamland, make sure you have prepared.

Practice Strategic Thinking

Alternatively, you can take advantage of this long stretch of uninterrupted time to practice some strategic thinking. This type of free time is great for the type of tasks that require you to really dig in and exercise creativity. If you need to accomplish something that requires your full, uninterrupted attention, such as writing a presentation, simply plug in your noise-canceling headphones, set yourself with a piece of paper and a pen, and use this downtime to write down your thoughts and let your mind wander. Who knows, you may come up with your next big idea.

Think Long-Term

Just as your body hovers thousands of feet above the earth, let your mind look down and observe your life from up above. Take the time to reflect on your goals and accomplishments. This in-between state where you have no specific demands on your time is a great place to do some bigger, long-term thinking about what you want to do with your life. Review what you have already accomplished and use it to motivate you towards your future.


Busy professionals often run out of time to read, whether for business or pleasure. If you have some research studies you have been procrastinating reading, a long flight is the perfect time to catch up. Alternatively, you could read a book you haven’t had time to pick up or something else that will put you in a positive mindset. Just because it isn’t directly related to work, doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit professionally by giving yourself some time to relax.

Listen to Podcasts

If you’re like most Americans, you spend a solid ten hours or more in front of a screen a day. This means that your eyes could probably use a much-needed break. You might take this opportunity to give your eyes a rest by listening to a podcast or audiobook instead. There are many business podcasts out there, so you might benefit from one from your industry. Alternatively, any podcast centered around self-development and personal growth can, in turn, benefit your work.

Organize Your Files and Emails

This might not be the most exciting task on the list, but this is probably something that hasn’t been on the top of your priority list. With the downtime that comes with international flights, those menial tasks that you shove to the backburner can have their day in the sun. Putting this effort into place on the flight can make you more productive once you land.

Talk to Your Team

With such a long flight in front of you, you might not have the time to unplug from the world. In some industries, a day offline is simply unrealistic. In that case, you can keep in touch with in-flight wifi, which may enable you to even have meetings over Skype or Google Hangouts. Just make sure you will be able to opt into internet access on your flight before making any commitments.

Express Gratitude

As much as people will try to tell you otherwise, business IS personal. We want to spend time with people who make us feel appreciated, whether they are our friends or our business associate. One way to make people feel recognized is with thank you cards, which you can easily slip into your carry-on bag to write while in flight. Acknowledge business associates for recent meetings or their dedicated efforts, then you can simply throw them in the mailbox once you land.

Network and Socialize

Your instinct might be to pop on your headphones and pretend like no one else on the flight exists, but this may mean you’re missing out on meeting a business contact who could really help you. Making conversation with other passengers not only makes the time pass faster, it can also introduce you to connections you never would have made otherwise. You never know who is sitting next to you; why not take the time to get to know them?

Travel can often be disruptive to work, but it doesn’t have to be. You can be productive in the air with these tips, and across more than 100 countries with Sapphire mifi. Get wireless internet anywhere you need it with our unique international wifi device. Shop today!