A Marathon in the Sky: How UK Travellers Make the Most of their Minutes While Flying

British travellers admit to experiencing around 2-3 hours of idle downtime when flying long haul, potentially leading to a combined 1100 hours to fill in the sky, across all passengers on a flight to Hong Kong. Premium airline, Cathay Pacific, polled the nation to find out what Brits really get up to when flying and encourage travellers to make the minutes count while in the air

Nearly half of Britons (43%) admit to preferring long-haul flights but over a third (37%) struggle to fill their time during the flight. Research released today by Cathay Pacific to encourage passengers to make the minutes count while flying long-haul in 2024.

When thinking of their next trip, nearly half of Britons (43%) admit to preferring long-haul flights over short, however, 40 percent admit to not utilising their time when onboard. Some flyers prefer to not fill their time and are looking for quiet spaces (58%), lack of responsibilities (49%), and quality service (32%) to unlock their ‘me-time’ when travelling.

Watching films (66%), catching up on sleep (54%), and indulging in inflight dining (50%) came out on top with the general population, whereas more women are reaching for their favourite books (55%). The Scots admit to using their time to release their creative spark with over a quarter sketching in the sky (27%). Nearly a third of Mancunians like to challenge their brains with puzzle books (27%) while over 30 percent of Yorkshire respondents love people watching (31%). 

The free time during long haul flights can seem overwhelming as over a third of travellers (37%) admit to feeling frustrated as to how to fill their time. Cathay Pacific is sharing tips for travellers to make the most of their long-haul journey through interesting and unusual methods: 

Walk this way 

One-fifth (19%) prefer to get moving on the plane, and with no external factors limiting flyers they could walk the distance of the London Marathon in under 7 hours by simply walking up and down the aisles 1,169 times. Alternatively, one in five (20%) love to stretch during the flight so Inflight yoga and stretch programs are effective, and the benefits of exercise continue to pay off once you arrive.

Screen queen

Watching films came out on top with more than 3 in 5 Britons (66%) enjoying the time to catch up on old classics or new releases. Film buffs could use the time to polish off the original Lord of The Rings trilogy which runs for 11.2 hours. Football fans could watch just under seven of their team’s matches on the Live Sport 24 platform. Alternatively, flyers can binge-watch over 30 episodes of the comedy series The Simpsons guilt-free on Cathay Pacific’s onboard Disney+.

Page turner

Nearly half (46%) reach for a good book when on a long-haul flight. The average reader can consume up to 238 words per minute or 14,28 per hour, meaning passengers can read the first two Harry Potter books cover to cover in a single flight to Hong Kong.

Woolly wonder

Just under 5 percent (3%) of flyers admitted to being keen-knitters. While up in the clouds they would have enough time to knit one-quarter of a sweater or nearly a complete pair of socks when they arrive in Hong Kong. 

Cleanse the skin or soul

Gen Z uses the flight time to reset in ways that suit them. For one-tenth of Gen Z, it’s face masking to cleanse and cover up the jet lag, while nearly one-fifth (18%) prefer a digital cleanse by ge tting rid of old pictures and deleting old contacts from their phone while up in the air.

Snooze away the stress

Sometimes you just need to rest, and there is nothing wrong with a 12-hour snooze. 80% of those surveyed prioritised comfortable seating, with good cushioning, adjustable headrests and lots of legroom.

So, how do you spend your time in the sky? Planning your own in-aisle marathon? No matter how you fill all those long-haul hours, Cathay Pacific promises the highest standard of comfort.


Sign Up to Our Newsletter

More Travel Inspiration