I hate flying. I’d rather do almost anything than sit in that cold metal tube up in the sky, breathing in that weird recycled air and hoping the plane doesn’t fall to the ground (this was a very real concern for me, considering I left just after the Malaysia Airlines plane mysteriously disappeared and my mother was researching conspiracy theories). Unfortunately, unless I had plans to cruise around the world to New Zealand, which I highly doubt my employer would have been willing to subsidize, I was stuck going via air.
I asked for the absolute shortest flight possible – from Chicago to Auckland, that was 19 hours and 40 minutes, with a short layover in SFO. So I guess it wasn’t necessarily a 20-hour flight, but when you’re in transit for that long, you stop caring about specifics and only care about the fact that your body is refusing to cooperate with the 17-hour time difference, and thanks to sleeping in a terribly awkward position your hair is making you look like your father was Moe from the Three Stooges.
I’ve been on a decent number of lengthy flights and I now know what works best to help get me through them. My 80-year old self is really coming out now, but travel is simply exhausting. While I’m not being steered from security to the gate in a wheelchair yet, I stand by this statement. My mom hates flying with me because I won’t talk to her – I have to sleep almost the whole time to 1. keep myself from passing out once I get to my destination and 2. stop myself from getting airsick because I have no desire to repeat my third grade incident with the barf bag on American Airlines.
Sleep isn’t all that’s key for me – eating is unsurprisingly my second priority. In addition to being a haggard wreck when flying, I’m also ravenous. I ate something like six meals and another 12 snacks in those 20 hours – and still all I could think about when I got off the plane was what I was going to have for breakfast.
Comfort was also critical. I usually wear dresses on planes because jeans hurt my old-lady knees, but I wanted to wear something that wouldn’t be too scandalous if I put my legs up. I cannot believe I am about to admit this, but I wore yoga leggings in public for the very first time on this flight. Normally I am of the opinion that one does not wear workout clothing unless one is actually working out, but given that jeans definitely weren’t going to cut it, I had to break this sacred oath to myself and actually don spandex in front of other people. It was rather horrifying, especially when combined with the fact that I wore said leggings with a pair of leather riding boots that were simply too big to fit in my suitcase.
I removed the boots after takeoff for comfort purposes but failed to consider the fact that my feet and calves would swell to twice their normal size during the flight. Upon landing, it was impossible for me to cram my now ham-sized calves into the boots all the way, and I was forced to wander the airport in yoga pants and boots that only zipped up halfway. (This tale of woe is made worse by the fact that the day before I left, I was unable to remove a pair of jeans thanks to my excessively “muscular” calves and was forced to sit in the tub in my clothing to soak them off.)
Minus the pain that came with trying to put on boots that were far too tight, the flight was not the absolutely dreadful experience I was anticipating. Well, the flight from ORD to SFO was, but that wasn’t shocking, considering my dreadful experiences with domestic airlines. I will forever love my second carrier, Air New Zealand, for having such friendly flight attendants who brought me countless cups of tea, offering flyers the chance to watch Game of Thrones while aboard, and being perfectly willing to change my seat assignments. To the delight of most of the men aboard, Air New Zealand even had a safety video featuring bikini models – a far cry from the emergency demonstrations you can barely hear conducted by the wrinkled old prunes at the front of a United flight. This video was actually removed from Air New Zealand flights just this week – there’s speculation that a petition that found it “offensive” had something to do with it. Point being: Choosing the right airline is key for a brutally long flight. Air NZ may even dethrone Swiss Air, which previously topped my list of favorite airlines purely because the flight attendants spoke about 5 languages each and they gave me warm chocolate croissants for breakfast.
Note: Despite my raving about Air New Zealand, this is not a sponsored post. However, I was so impressed by their service I would probably give my left arm to be their spokeswoman.