The kid did pretty well on the flight to Japan. [Not as well as last year this time, when she was five months old, and slept 11 of the 14 hour flight in her chair, but still, she was nowhere near the loudest kid on the plane--and on long flights, that's the most important grading scale.]
For starters, we flew from DC to Tokyo via Los Angeles, so we broke the trip up into 4 and 10 hour flights, which helped a lot. We resisted upgrading, because we weren't able to get all three of us up (the kid was on a frequent flyer ticket), so we were in Economy Plus; those extra few inches made a big difference, too.
But the secret weapon, the thing that held the kid's fascination more than anything, was the Fisher-Price Doodle Pro, which my wife picked up at Target in the smaller, clip-on size. Perfect for travel. She'd spaz out and doodle on her own, but what transfixed her were my drawings of the little plane with the trail behind it, copied from the little monitor in front of her. Recognizing the image and staring at it intently was the highlight of her flight.
The Fisher-Price Clip-on Doodle Pro is $5.99 at this random online merchant, but I'd buy it at a store so I could pick the color and avoid licensed characters. [babies travel lite]