It's not something you hear every day, but a long-haul flight can be something to look forward to. That's what Will Beck, Flight Centre's head of airfare expertise, believes.
"If you think about it, the flight is the first and last part of your holiday, so it should be part of the fun," he says. When last did you have several unbroken hours to spend selfishly catching up on your new novel, the latest addictive series or simply having a snooze?
In many ways long-haul flying retains the air of romance that short-haul has lost, and the monotony is broken by a regular meal and drinks service (and airline food has improved hugely in recent years). In-flight entertainment, including a good choice of films, is almost always available. If you want to sleep, there's plenty of time for a few solid hours of shuteye.
"If you want to know more about the in-flight meal choices or entertainment options before you go, feel free to ask your Flight Centre consultant," says Will. "In fact, ask us for recommendations of the best airlines for you. We're more than happy for you to test our expertise."
Food and films will help break the journey, and so will a decent stopover. The beauty of flying to Australia is that an exciting layover is easily arranged.
"I would always recommend breaking the journey, for a couple of reasons," says Will. "Firstly no matter how good the airline, flying 24 hours with just a two-hour stop to change planes is exhausting. Even if you only break the journey for a night, it will help you to arrive feeling more refreshed. A stopover will also let you see somewhere completely different, to turn your Australia holiday into something more."
Flight Centre consultants can create an itinerary that allows you to make the most of your time on the ground.
Beyond breaks and stopovers, making the most of a long-haul flight is a matter of planning ahead and packing well. If you're tall, most airlines will let you pay for an emergency exit or extra legroom seat, but you'll need to arrange this well in advance. "It's also worth asking how much the next cabin class up costs – it might be less than you were expecting," says Will.
He suggests that your hand luggage includes a book (in-flight entertainment won't start until after take-off and will end well before landing), decent headphones and, if you hope to sleep, an eye mask and earplugs. Also take a pen, Will advises: "There are often immigration and customs forms to complete, which you don't want to be filling in while queuing up on arrival."
Many long-haul travellers worry about jetlag, but there are easy ways to reduce its impact. "When we take off I always set my watch to the local time at the destination and try and behave accordingly," says Will. "If it's night where I'm going I'll try and get some sleep. This helps me adjust to local time.
"On arrival I try and maintain this. If you tend to have trouble staying awake then choose a flight which lands in Australia in the evening, so you can get to your destination and just sleep."
Stay hydrated and, if jet lag is a real concern, avoid the in-flight alcohol, however tempting it might be. If you land in the morning, try and stay awake till the evening and get a good night's sleep during the Australian night.
If you're concerned about Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a medical condition caused by sitting in the same position for long periods, it's also worth drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol, as well as wearing loose-fitting clothes. DVT is rare, but it's wise to take sensible precautions.
"Where possible it's good to get up regularly and stretch your legs," adds Will. "There is normally space at the back or front of the cabin. Request an aisle seat, so getting out is as easy as possible. There are also exercises you can do in your seat, and most airlines include some useful exercises in the in-flight magazine."
After that, all that's left to say is that it really is possible to enjoy your long-haul flight to Australia, and not just because of the anticipation of the adventure that lies ahead. "If you work with your Flight Centre consultant to choose your airline and ticket carefully then the flight can be more than just a way of getting from A to B," says Will. "It can be an enjoyable start and end of your trip."
Flight Centre's Travel Experts have the in-depth knowledge and experience to put together your dream holiday. With access to in-destination specialists all around the globe, they can tap into the very best tours, activities and travel trends to create your perfect Journey itinerary. With 24-hour customer assistance, ABTA and ATOL protection and an exclusive concierge service called Travel Butler, a Flight Centre Journey is the perfect way to see Australia.
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