Eight hacks to turn your next long-haul flight into a holiday

While there’s a lot of wisdom to the saying ‘it’s the journey, not the destination’, it’s probably a safe assumption that when travelling by air, most people don’t view the flight itself as the highlight.

Eight hacks to turn your next long-haul flight into a holiday
Photo: WOW air/WOW air Instagram

Airline travel is wonderful for getting you where you want to go quickly, but long-haul flights can challenge even the most eager explorers. If you’ve got a big journey coming up, why not break it up with a stopover in one of the most gorgeous places on Earth? With Icelandic low cost carrier WOW air, you can fly to 37 destinations in Europe, North America and Asia – all with a layover (or longer) in majestic Iceland.

Book your next trip with Icelandic low cost carrier WOW air

With that in mind, here are eight flight hacks for achieving the ultimate in-flight comfort:

1. Find the perfect Spotify playlist

Nothing gets you in the mood for, well, pretty much anything, like a great playlist. Kick back and relax on your next WOW air flight with some tunes picked specially for the occasion. 

Need some more inspiration? Check out the playlist below, and there's plenty more where that came from. Simply do a quick search on Spotify to find something that's just right.
Can't find the winning combo? Build your own playlist (and don't forget to include Lenny Kravitz's 'Fly Away' which sounds even better while cruising at 45,000 feet).

2. Stretch your legs with WOW comfy or WOW premium

There’s nothing worse than being packed like sardines on a long flight. That’s why you’ll want to take advantage of Wow air’s large seats that provide extra space between you and your fellow passengers.

With WOW comfy, you’ll be able to reserve an XL seat that gives you plenty of room to really stretch out. XL seats have a 32-33 inch (81cm – 84cm) seat pitch (that’s fancy airline speak for the amount of space between your seat and the one in front of you).

With an XXL spot, you get a seat pitch of at least 35 inches (89cm). If you really want extra legroom – and who doesn’t? – WOW premium is the way to go. A premium ticket features WOW’s BigSeat, the airline’s biggest and most comfortable seat with a seat pitch of 37 to 45 inches (94-114cm).

3. Take your own in-flight entertainment

Icelandic low cost carrier WOW air has two things all travellers love: low prices and comfortable seats.

One of the ways the airline can keep its prices low is by leaving it up to passengers to come up with their own in-flight entertainment. If you can’t imagine a long-distance flight without the classic movie options, fear not. All you need to do is plan ahead a bit and download a few movies to your favourite device.

Prep for your layover with Iceland-themed movies like the Ben Stiller action-drama ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ and ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ (both the classic 1959 version and the 2008 remake).

Photo: Seydisfjordur church in Iceland was one of many Icelandic filming destinations in 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'. Vichie81/Depositphotos

There’s also this little-known show called ‘Game of Thrones’ (perhaps you’ve heard of it?). Its ‘Beyond The Wall’ scenes were all shot in Iceland, so if you’re one of the few last holdouts who hasn’t gotten around to watching the global smash hit, why not start while you can catch a glimpse of its remarkable setting out your window?

There are plenty of acclaimed Iceland-linked films and TV shows to choose from, but of course Iceland isn't the only country that makes binge-worthy offerings. Why not try 'Goliath', from the creator of 'Big Little Lies' and 'Ally McBeal', or Golden Globe winning series 'The Affair'? Whatever you choose to watch, remember that a long-haul flight is practically the one time you can binge an entire series without any of the usual guilt.

4. Go old-school and load up on books

Long-haul flights are perfect for losing yourself in a book. Whether it’s that novel that you swore you’d read but just never seem to get around to, or the latest summer blockbuster, be sure to have some books with you and treat yourself to a needed screen break.

If you’re interested in books from Iceland, a good place to start would be Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s series of crime novels featuring the Icelandic lawyer Thóra Gudmundsdóttir. In a similar vein, Arnaldur Indriðason’s series of crime fiction featuring Detective Erlendur has also received international acclaim.

Once you've torn your way through those Icelandic literary gems, check out these 73 recommendations for summer reading. Whether you fancy sinking your teeth into some true crime with Michelle McNamara's groundbreaking 'I'll be gone in the dark' or kick-starting your adventure with the travel tale 'Couchsurfing in Iran' by Stephan Orth, this list will have you covered.

5. Break up your trip with an Iceland stopover

Photo: TTstudio/Depositphotos

Whether you’re there overnight or you’ve only got a few hours between flights, you’ll have more than enough time to fit in a few sights. Ideas include catching one of the hourly buses to and from the Blue Lagoon or getting in some shopping and drinks along Laugaveger Street, there are plenty of locations worth exploring.

Use your flight to read up on the options, and remember that when you’re flying with Icelandic low cost carrier WOW air, you always have the option of scheduling a stopover in order to better explore Iceland.

6. Find inner peace with these mindfulness apps

Whether you’re flying from Stockholm to San Francisco for a pitch meeting with the newest hot tech company or visiting Copenhagen from Pittsburgh for a green energy conference, you may want to use your in-flight time to relax your mind.

Photo: denisismagilov/Depositphotos

There are no shortage of effective mindfulness and relaxation apps out there, but the ones we like best include Calm, Headspace and Breethe. Open one of these, settle into your extra wide seat and feel the calmness overtake you.

7. Skip the queues by going premium

Photo: WOW air

One of the worst things about flying is the constant queuing. With WOW premium, you can significantly cut down on your waiting time by gaining access to a separate fast-tracked security lane at Keflavík Airport that allows quicker access to the departure hall. Plus, you’ll get priority boarding at all airports, giving you more time to get comfy on board.

8. Take control by customising your flight

Are you a window or an aisle person? With WOW comfy and WOW premium, you can pre-select your seat rather than leaving things up to chance (after all, no one wants to be stuck in a middle seat on a long haul).

Photo: WOW air

Plus, you don’t have to worry about unforeseeable circumstances wreaking havoc on your plans – or your wallet. Both comfy and premium tickets ensure that you will receive a refund if you need to cancel a reservation.

Book your next trip with Icelandic low cost carrier WOW air

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by WOW air.


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IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images