Thus begins a 46 hour commute home. PEK – SIN – NRT – ORD – ATW.
Friday morning. August 1st. 10am. Beijing, China.
Time to leave the office and head for the airport.
It was actually a pretty nice day; even used my sunglasses as the smog was exceptionally bright that day.
Some wonder how I do it. Here are a few of my secrets….
Rule #1: Seats matter.
Most flights these days have a version of Economy Plus. ~$100 in exchange for 5 extra inches of legroom. Pay this. It is worth it!
I’m only 5’6″ so I can actually fit in regular seats pretty comfortably, but that extra dough usually scares most people away so they end up cramped back in steerage. What this means for me on many flights is all 3 seats to myself. (or atleast that middle one open) And the extra pillows and blankets pad my 2nd class bed decently enough so it’s the cheapest and easiest way to get some actual lay-down sleep on the long haul.
Rule #2: Timing of naps and meals.
As soon as you push back from the gate, set your watch to the time of where you’re going. And start living on that time!
This can help you avoid the craptastic and dreaded jet lag for the most part when switching major time zones.
Example: NRT – ORD departs at 4pm Japan time. Which is actually 2am in Chicago. We should be sleeping; not being served “the chicken or the steak”!
So while the flight attendants seem to think everyone needs to eat immediately, insider tip…. You can go ask for your meal later (say around 7-9am) when it makes more sense for your body to eat. They have warmers too that you can ask to use if it’s not hot anymore. I once had someone tell me that ‘but it won’t be as good when it’s not fresh!’ Uhhhhh…. It’s airplane food. It’s not good to begin with. Get over it or pack your own lunch.
Rule #3: Noise canceling headphones and an eye mask.
This is how you block out the beverage cart and cabin lights at “3am”. Any questions?
I like my Bose QC15s (and they have a new model QC20; also good and more compact); comfy enough to lay on, batteries last forever and worth every penny.
Rule #4: “Larger items should be placed in the overhead bin, and small items under the seat in front of you”
The overhead bag should be for the things you need at the airport but maybe not on the flight; like souvenirs or a change of undies for example. Bird bathing is so much easier in the airport bathroom so if you don’t really need it at 30k ft there’s no need to be “that guy” rummaging around in the overhead bins.
Change into your compressions socks before boarding. Read: make sure you bring compression socks; they help with circulation for when you’re immobile for such a long time.
The small bag under your seat (I have an awesome pack and love it)
Should be for the things your use on the long flight; computer, books, water bottle, headphones, light jacket, healthy snacks and neck pillow. Some favorite TSA allowed snacks include: oranges, grapes, cut up celery or carrots, chocolate dusted almonds, Snack bars of some kind (I like Attain, Simply Fit or Lara Bars), and water enhancers with electrolytes (I like Sustain) or Vitamin C (Again, my preference is Activate).
P.S. Never a bad idea to down extra vitamin C when navigating the giant petri dish that is a public airport.
P.P.S. I don’t recommend ever bringing a full jar of peanut butter through Hong Kong. They’re not a fan. story for another time…..
Rule #5: Plane choice matters. Maybe this should be rule one, since you should note it when booking, but in case you missed this step, be prepared.
Airlines upgrade their fleet just like any other industry. So what kind of plane you get makes a difference. Watch out for the transpacific 747. Some are upgraded to personal entertainment; some still make everyone share that 1 screen up top. Yes, I know….. 1st world problem. But it’s annoying to constantly miss the first 10 minutes of whatever movie they’re playing. If your flight is one of the screen sharing type, be sure to load up on extra batteries for your entertainment device(s).
Rule #6: Plane clothes matter. Wear something comfortable. These pants are my favorite and are absolutely worth it.
I will never understand how or why business men do the suit thing on long flights. The flight attendants don’t care how fancy you look and *how* can that be comfortable to sleep in?!?
Rule #7: Layover timing. Sometimes the 6+ hour layover can be better than the 1 hour one.
1) You don’t chance missing your flight and never have to do the mad dash to your next gate.
2) You can get out of the airport and stretch your legs! Sometimes even see friends in the area.
3) After a week of Chinese food, Chipotle never tasted so good.
And then 46 intentionally planned hours later…
Saturday evening. August 2nd. 7pm. Home Sweet Home, USA!
When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money. ~Susan Heller