The thought of flying from North America to Australia can be overwhelming–and for good reason. Spending 21 hours in the air and adjusting to a 14-hour time difference is not easy! On the blog I shared tips for surviving a long-haul flight. And now our family has just put them to the test on our longest ever trip. Did we follow our own advice? See how we fared, as we answer the question, “How painful is it to fly in Economy to Australia?”
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We have done it! We just survived the journey from Washington, D.C. to Sydney, Australia.
Here is how our experience stacked up agains the tips we shared:
1. Start with the destination in mind
Score: 8 out of 10. We were all pretty darn excited and made a real effort to remember what would be awaiting us at the end of our long journey.
2. Build in a break
Score: 9 out of 10. We planned a 13-hour layover in San Francisco to break up the trip and allow us to spend some time in the city. The boys LOVED our day in the Golden Gate City. Our 11:00 p.m. departure time from SFO to SYD turned out to be a bit late (especially since our East Coast bodies thought it was 2:00 a.m. and our flight was delayed an hour).
3. Snacks and showers
Score: 9 out of 10. When we arrived back at SFO for our Sydney flight, we stopped by Freshen Up to shower and change into comfy clothes. This felt great after touring all day. It also helped us mentally transition into bedtime mode.
With still some time to kill before our flight, we used our two passes to the United Club to relax before the flight. We purchased a third pass for $59, but there will ultimately be no cost to us, as that fee will be credited (the Hilton Honors Aspire Card refunds up to $250 per year in incidental fees on your designated airline.)
We could also have used the KLM/Air France lounge through our Priority Pass, but its location was not convenient to our gate.
4. Compression socks
10 out of 10. Since I started wearing compression socks on all my flights, I no longer have any ankle swelling. Also, I love the peace of mind that comes from knowing they are helping with circulation during long flights. The socks were a success!
5 . Sleeping discipline
Score 5 out of 10. I don’t know about you, but I find that my body can’t even adjust to daylight savings time anymore (what the heck is up with THAT?). So, I was a bit nervous to see how I would handle a 14-hour time change. I was hoping to start off on the right foot by getting some good sleep on the plane, courtesy of some ear plugs, comfy clothes, an eye mask, and melatonin.
In the end, we all took our melatonin, used our ear plugs, and wore comfy clothes, but we still didn’t sleep well. I had packed masks, which I couldn’t locate in my backpack at bedtime. Also, the boys seemed to have difficulty finding a position where they wouldn’t constantly be waking themselves up with a start each time their head fell. Neck pillows would have been a good idea.
6. Face mask
Score: 10 out of 10. After showering and removing my make-up, I tried the Jet Lag Mask by Summer Fridays. It went on like a thick moisturizer and kept my skin feeling hydrated and great throughout the flight. I love this product.
7. Food and water
Score: 7 out of 10. We brought water and a ton of snacks on board. This was a very smart move, as the meals served during the flight were terrible—the worst I can remember. We had plenty of our own food, but could have earned higher marks with more healthy options.
Score 8 out of 10. We all did a great job getting up and moving around about once a hour. We did not, however, do many foot/ankle exercises in our seats.
Score: 8 out of 10. I had saved up a bunch of podcasts but found that the time went much more quickly when I watched movies instead.
Overall, we scored an 8. By and large, we did what we were supposed to do. Following our own advice made the trip much less difficult than we were anticipating.
How painful was it to fly in economy? Honestly, it wasn’t bad and was much easier than I was expecting. If I had had enough points to book business class, I certainly would have. Instead, I paid $102.30 (and redeemed 120,000 Chase Ultimate rewards points) to fly three people to Australia. Not too shabby!
Was 21 hours in the air worth it? Absolutely! Waiting for me at the end of the flight was not only a new country to explore, but also a dear friend.
We’ll be posting a lot of content about our Australia trip when we are back.