I was going to do this big thing about getting through airport security and suchlike, but Mighty Girl has already done a great essay on the topic so I won’t bother. She also has great tips on traveling with kiddies. Here are three links to her suggestions:
Other things I might mention about my own experience for flights over 4 hours:
Plan wisely and well with your electronic battery life. If you use it up in the gate area waiting to board, you will not have enough juice left to power that DVD on the flight. Ditto your iPod. I am spoiled and have an iPod Shuffle and an iPod Classic with video capability, so on our next flight I am loading music on the Shuffle and videos on the Classic. That combined with the laptop (normally I don’t carry it, but I will need it for my sister’s wedding as I’m photographing–gulp) and the portable DVD player we plan to purchase should get us through our next long flight: Honolulu to Newark to Boston (gulp squared). With a six-month-old (gulp cubed).
Bring vitamins! Propel Fitness Mix comes in handy singles; I keep them at work because I’m not overly fond of plain water. In the last hour of the flight, down an Emergen-C packet to help you transition to whatever you need to do next. It will keep you awake if you’re on the red-eye, though. Consistent hydration is incredibly important on planes if only because you will regularly need to empty your bladder, which will force you out of your seat and get you moving.
The only other tip that hasn’t been covered is: don’t travel in jeans if you can help it. For short flights it’s fine; for longer than four hours, wear something with a lot of give. No reason to look like a slob in sweats, but non-restrictive clothing is a must for getting comfortable on the flight.