Due to some strange circumstances, we’ve wound up on a 5-Day Flight. We’re leaving on a Tuesday from Santiago, Chile and arrive to our destination of Christchurch, New Zealand on Saturday. This is the ultimate of long-haul redeye flights. So how do you cope? We’ve developed some tips to survive a long haul flight that we review in the first half of this post before continuing on to elaborate with our insane 5-Day Flight.
10 Tips To Survive A Long Haul Flight
So here’s some tips we’ll pass along to survive a long haul flight.
- Charge, charge, charge: Computers, phones, and kindles can help keep boredom away. Charge them fully beforehand and whenever near an outlet during layovers.
- Back up battery: Ultimately your phone battery will die. You can get a cheap back up battery on Amazon for just a few bucks. Wise investment.
- Jet lag app: When going through multiple times zones, its hard to figure out when we’re supposed to be awake and when to sleep. So we let a jet lag app tell us. The app, Entrain, was developed by some really smart folks from the University of Michigan. And its free! We’re using it for the first time on this journey.
- Head pillow: Yes, the airline may provide you with a tiny foam cushion but don’t rely on it. Besides, the foam pillow won’t do much anyways. We recommend an inflatable neck pillow.
- Headphones & splitter jack: Be sure to pack headphones as flights don’t always offer their own for inflight entertainment. And if watching a movie on your own device with your significant other, a simple little headphone splitter jack will allow you both to watch it together.
- Bring clothes: This may be a no-brainer but its also easy to forget. Be sure to pack changes of clothes in a carry-on to freshen up from time to time.
- Hydrate: Recycled air in the planes and alcohol you may be using to cope can all really dehydrate. Drink lots of water.
- Seat selection: You probably try to pick the best seat possible towards the front of the plane. But so does everyone else. When boarding, scope out to see if there’s full rows of empty seats in the back that you may be able to sprawl out in.
- Move around: When at layovers get some exercise. Walk, stretch, whatever… just move. If time permits, head out and see the sites. The circulation is almost necessary and exercise during the day will help tire you a bit more, only helping to ensure you may be able to sleep once on the flight. (We’ll be trying to site see in both LA and Sydney during the day.)
- Sleep Aid: Seats on planes seem to be getting more compact and uncomfortable. Consider some medication to help knock you out. For us, a stiff drink (or ten) helps do the trick. But if you go that route, be sure to hydrate with water even more so.
- (Bonus) Splurge on the lounge access: As mentioned in this post, the lounge access can be a most worthy investment if your itinerary takes you through multiple airports. A $50 pass will get you a nice shower, wifi, food, and booze across your entire itinerary. Lounge day pass policies do vary by airline, so be sure and check the terms to ensure your pass will cover you across airports & days.
Our 5-Day Flight
If you’re not familiar with the old southern expression “Going around your ass to get to your elbow,” then just take a look at our route to New Zealand which defines it perfectly. We could have opted for a nice 13-hour direct flight across the Pacific Ocean but instead chose to torture ourselves with a flight that spans over the course of 5 days, 4 countries, and 3 continents! That’s no overnight stopovers to break things up. We’ve checked our bags at the Santiago airport on Tuesday and we won’t see them again until we arrive in Christchurch New Zealand on Saturday. (Well, hopefully our bags will make it there when we do.)
Instead of the 6,009 mile direct flight from Santiago to New Zealand, our roundabout itinerary will take us nearly triple that distance: Santiago to Atlanta to LA to Sydney to Christchurch, coming in at a total 15,516 miles.
So why on earth, would we subject ourselves to such an indirect itinerary when there was a perfectly good direct route? It’s all about the Benjamin’s baby. That nice 13-hour flight from Santiago to Christchurch came in at $1,500 per person (or $3,000 for us both) at time of booking.
Yet, instead we opted to finally cash in some of our SkyMiles that we’ve been hoarding. And due to one of the positive changes to Delta’s SkyMiles program beginning this year, they finally accept half the SkyMiles for one-way tickets. The only problem is that Delta nor its partners fly direct from South America to New Zealand. So that leaves us on this wacky route crisscrossing the equator twice.
— John & Heather (@RoamingDaWorld) January 1, 2015
We were thrilled to be able to use 60,000 miles per person to get from Santiago to New Zealand over the span of five days. If you’re not familiar with the value of miles, let me help put that into perspective for you: that is less SkyMiles than it would take for a roundtrip ticket from wherever you may live in the US to Des Moines at the Level 5 (formerly “Peak”) rate, which is growing increasing common for domestic flights. That means we’re getting to awesome New Zealand for less than a round trip to Des Moines, Iowa (Not that there’s anything wrong with Des Moines. We do like corn after all.) This was incredible value for our stash of miles that we earned over the past few years, flying for work and earning miles through credit card promotions.
It was a complicated itinerary that wasn’t even bookable using Delta’s online site, but we did some sleuthing and figured out all the connections. Next, we called Delta to book it and even the representative was flabbergasted at how we were getting all the way to New Zealand on such little miles. This made us happy. Hooray, we got a good deal on our miles.
But now we’re left to endure a five-day flight. So how do we cope? Call us sadists, but we’re actually looking forward to the experience. We love to travel and flying is part of the fun. It’s actually kind of ironic though that back in our former “corporate/work” lives we’ve flown much more than this new “travel” life we’ve been living out for the past year or so. Nowadays we do most of our travel by train or bus. Even when we go from one continent to another, we tend to take repositioning cruises, simply because if you can work out the timing, its actually cheaper than a flight across the Atlantic or Pacific. Heck, that’s how we wound up in Santiago in the first place. We actually made it all the way from Spain to Chile using these repositioning cruise deals.
In fact, the longest flight we’ve taken during the past 15 months was only a three-hour journey. But in the past few months while in Argentina, we’ve gone a series of incredibly long bus rides. The longest bus was a total of 40 hours from Iguazu Falls to Mendoza. Ouch! But we survived it and perhaps that’s been a good warm up to prepare for this flight path spanning 5 days.
Here’s what we’re doing to survive this unusually long flight. First of all, we’ve decided to splurge on one day Sky Club Passes for $50 each. Traveling long-term, we’re on a big-time budget. So normally we wouldn’t spend it on frivolous expenditures like this. But in this case, it is soooo worth it, because there’s a bit of a loophole. We’ve found out that a Delta Sky Club One Day Pass is actually good for your entire itinerary if it’s over the course of more than one day. Here’s the small print from the terms & conditions:
Itineraries that include a date change between origin and destination are treated as the same day of travel.”
So our $50 passes will get us all the wonderful amenities of the Sky Club in all of our airports we have layovers in along the way. Perhaps most useful here is that there are showers. Seriously, we’d probably be pretty damn smelly after five days on a plane. (Not to mention we’ve been running around Santiago all day before the flight and it’s been a scorcher.)
But fellow passengers need not to worry about our stinkiness. We plan to take full advantage of the lounge showers. Yet perhaps even better, is that we have complimentary booze for five days! I’m writing this now, content in my comfy seat, charging our electronics, sipping on a nice Chilean white wine. While airport bars can be awesome, they are a land of overpriced cocktails. No thanks! Instead, I think I’ve already recouped the cost of my pass in the way of glass after glass of delicious Sauvignon Blanc. It’s going to be fun drinking our way across this strange itinerary. And perhaps it’ll even make sleeping on those notoriously uncomfortable airplane seats just a little bit easier.
(Sidenote: if there is typos in this post, I blame the wine.)
Anyhow, its about time to catch our next flight! But we’re going to be hash-tagging our journey the entire way using #5DayFlight, so follow along on Twitter to see if we make it. And please chime in with any tips of your own!
— John & Heather (@RoamingDaWorld) March 10, 2015
Also, we’re taking bets on whether or not we’ll wind up in Christchurch with our bags within an hour of our schedule arrival time. What do you think? And to make matters interesting, we’ve checked 4 bottles of wine on this series of four flights. Think they’ll survive the journey?
(Update: we made it to NZ but the bags did not.)