I’m sure this is a controversial and widely unpopular view, but I actually don’t mind international long haul flights. Within reason, of course. I don’t like the lack of sleep (and when you’re someone who can’t sleep upright, lack of sleep is a MAJOR issue), and the food isn’t usually fantastic, but there’s something about being forced to spend several hours in the one place that I find incredibly relaxing. I tend to get work done whilst also managing to really relax and enjoy myself, which for me is highly desirable.
My flight from Adelaide to London was approximately 33.5 hours, broken up into three different flights with two different stop overs. Then of course there was the wait in Heathrow and the flight up to Edinburgh. So, basically, 4 flights in 36 or so hours.
I did a lot of research before booking my flights over. Last time I was in the UK (July last year), I flew with Singapore airlines and, if I’m honest, it was pretty miserable. Combine the cramped conditions of economy with 48 hours without sleep, a couple next to me at one point fooling around under their blanket, and ridiculously uncomfortable carpeted seats and you’re left with several deeply unpleasant flights.
This time, I decided to fly with Air New Zealand, and even managed to find relatively cheap premium economy seats. This was quite possibly the best decision I have ever made!
Not only were the Air New Zealand staff so ridiculously polite and friendly I wanted to hug them (even sitting in Economy for the first part of my flight), the food was actually delicious, the entertainment was good, the plane felt refreshed and modern, and Air New Zealand policies make flying such an enjoyable experience I was almost sad to get off the plane!
They also have a Hobbit themed safety video, which I’ll be honest was the first reason I wanted to fly with them in the first place.
Premium Economy was definitely worth the extra cash. Air New Zealand no longer has ‘first class’, instead their Business is like First Class, and so their Premium Economy is similar to Business. The spaceseat was amazingly comfortable, and the fact it reclines into your own space means you can relax without worrying about inconveniencing the person behind you! I was even lucky enough that on my flight from LAX to Heathrow the seat next to me was also free, meaning I could essentially make up a bed and lie down flat. 6 hours of sleep later I was amazingly refreshed and in a ridiculously good mood. An added bonus was the two checked in bags allowance, which was perfect for an exchange student like me (or really anyone who needs a lot of stuff). Business looked VERY fancy (lie flat bed etc), but Premium Economy was perfect for what I wanted – a long haul experience with an added assurance of at least some additional comforts. Air New Zealand even offer a new ‘skycouch’ in Economy for couples or families, in which three seats can form what is basically a couch. I’m sure that even basic economy would have been pretty damn good as far as economy goes!
Basically, I definitely recommend Air New Zealand for both short or long haul flights. The staff are amazingly helpful and polite, the food is good, they bring you lollies (sweets), the entertainment could keep even the fussiest person captivated for hours, and you can watch Elijah Wood and Peter Jackson inform you about air safety!
As far as Virgin Atlantic goes, the flight experience from London to Edinburgh was pretty comparable with Virgin Australia back home (surprise, surprise). Again, I would definitely recommend. They even offered me soft drink and alcohol (but that could have been the time of the flight).
As an added bonus, I’ve now reached Gold membership with Virgin Australia. Helloooo lounge access and reward holiday seats!
How do you find long haul flights? Love them? Hate them? Favourite airlines? Any tips?