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If you were in my situation, would you overnight in London?

If you were in my situation, would you overnight in London?

May 18th, 2005, 08:16 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
If you were in my situation, would you overnight in London?

Okay, I am just about ready to buy my economy class air from LAX - London (nonstop) and I have a decision to make.

The original plan was to arrive in London (after a 10.5 hour flight) around 11:30AM, enjoy about a 6 hour custom guided tour (and perhaps an early dinner) and then return for my flight to Joburg (11 hour direct Business Class flight).

Once arriving in Joburg, I have no choice with my frequent flier ticket but to proceed directly to Lusaka. It will be a 2 hour layover followed by a 2 hour flight to Lusaka.

Once in Lusaka it will be a very short layover and then a very short 25 minute light air transfer to Lower Zambezi National Park, followed by a 10 minute road transfer to Kasaka River Lodge.

To put it another way it is like this:

2:30PM - leave home three hours before flight to LAX.

3:30PM - arrive at LAX two hours before flight.

5:30PM - 10.25 hour economy flight to London.

11:45AM - Arrive in London. 8hr 45min stopover, allowing for short daytrip into London.

6:15PM - Arrive back at airport, 2hr 15min before flight to Joburg, allowing time for shower in Business Class lounge.

8:30PM - 11 hour business class flight to Joburg...I am counting on being able to sleep in business class.

9:30AM - Arrive in Joburg. 2hr 10min layover. Just enough time to freshen up in the Business Class lounge.

11:40AM - 2 hour business class flight to Lusaka.

1:40PM - Arrive in Lusaka, Zambia. 50 minute layover.

2:30PM - 25 minute air transfer to Royal Airstrip in Lower Zambezi.

2:55PM - 10 minute road transfer to Kasaka River Lodge

3:05PM - Arrive at Kasaka River Lodge

Total travel time from leaving home to arriving at Kasaka River Lodge = about 38.5 hours.

Is this insane or should I be able to rely on sleeping on each flight?

The best thing would have been to spend the first night in Joburg, but unless I want to pay my own way to Lusaka (about $450 pp in economy rather than business), this is the only way.

The only other option is to overnight in London, but even then I will have traveled for about 18 hours straight by the time I arrive at Kasaka. Plus, I am very worried about my camera equipment in London, and I honestly feel much, much safer with my equipment once I am in Africa. Last year it was in Rome that my satellite phone and portable DVD player were stolen, and to my knowledge I have never had anything stolen while in Africa.

Anyway, the choice is to overnight in London or to go directly to Zambia. I have never started a trip quite like this before. On two of my previous visits I started with at least one night in Joburg, and on last years trip I did go all the way to the Lower Zambezi to start but started from Rome rather than from Los Angeles, about a 9 hour difference by the time you consider that I had to return to London from Rome. I honestly did not feel too bad starting from Rome, and I hated the airport personnel at the Rome Airport, even before I realized they stole my belongings, meaning that it was stressful but I still felt fine once I was in Zambia.

Any advice will be much appreciated.
Roccco is offline  
May 18th, 2005, 08:55 PM
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My experience is that 1 continous trip would be easier to adjust to that breaking it up a bit by spending the night in London.

In '02 we had a 10 hour layover in London (from Toronto) before heading to Nairobi, so we got a room at the Holiday Inn at Heathrow (they had an OK 'day rate'), so 5 or 6 hours of sleep may be more benifitial to enjoying the overall trip than a 6 hour guided tour in London.

TravelMaster is offline  
May 18th, 2005, 09:26 PM
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I am personally not able to sleep worth beans on planes, economy, business or otherwise, so my position is biased.

Frankly, I'd do this: take a domestic redeye to New York, snooze if you can, but in general don't worry about it. Then take one of the morning departures to London (BA, AA, others), all of which get you to LHR around 8-9 PM London time. Get a Priceline hotel at LHR for that night - we always seem to get the Sheraton Skyline (3 stars but actually better than that) for around US$60 per night. Next day, take the tube or bus into London if you want to take your tour (which will also serve to tucker you out for the overnight flight to JNB) - the hotel will store your bags safely in their lockup.

By staying up during the overnight flight to NYC from LA, you'll be ready for bed when you get to London. Plus, the economy seat on the short JFK-LHR flight during the daytime will be way more tolerable than 11 hours at night from LAX to London.

Also, if you're flying business class from London to JNB, be sure to use the LHR lounge to the max. If you're flying on BA, the Molton Brown spa at T4 is absolutely wonderful - massage, steam bath - what's your pleasure? Included with admittance to the BA Terraces lounge at LHR.
Gardyloo is online now  
May 18th, 2005, 11:44 PM
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I'm curious why you are not flying all the way from LA to SA on Business Class.

In January, I flew businss class on British Airways from Seattle to Cairo, using Alaska Airlines FFM. There was a plane change in London and I did a 4 day layover in London for no extra charge.

If you can't fly Biz class all the way, I'd take it for the two longest legs is possible. And I agree that renting a room at the airport hotel and sleeping sounds better than going into London for a 6 hour tour and flying to SA. The 6 hours in London will be a faded memory by the end of your trip.

sunshine007 is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 03:15 AM
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Roccco - Since you're flying coach from LAX to LHR, I'd catch a few hours sleep at an airport hotel. Whether you sleep on this flight or not, the body will require sleep just thinking of the hours still ahead, even if flying Business. London will be there for another time when you can spend time, do it justice and enjoy.
May 19th, 2005, 03:46 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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I think the person you should consider is your mom and how she will handle this trip. I would ask her what she would prefer. How traveled is she -- has she ever been to London?

London is in the same time zone of South Africa so if you spend a night there and use it to adjust to the time change that may work well.

I have traveled 30 hours when going to Australia and it was difficult but I was in my 30's then. I just geared up to do it.

But I would ask her and let that be my guide.
mpkp is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 05:48 AM
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Yes. Then we can meet for dinner!
Kavey is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 06:14 AM
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Roccco, get a hotel in London by Heathrow and catch a shower and nap there. It takes a while to get through Heathrow coming in to England, so you would probably only have about 5 hours to tour, not 6. It's just not worth the effort, and your body will thank for giving it a rest! There are lots of hotels right outside the Heathrow gate.

Don't obsess about getting things stolen, just keep a good eye on your belongings. England isn't Italy.
Scout52 is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 06:48 AM
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Another vote for getting a hotel room at LHR. I know I couldn't enjoy or remember much of a 6 hour tour in between 2 long flights. What's the consensus of all of your travel companions?

BTW how did your DVD player and sat phone get stolen at FCO last year?
Patty is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 07:10 AM
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London is one of the world's most interesting cities, and I'm sure many would claim its the most interesting, and I wouldn't argue. I have been there on business and vacation probably 30 times, and it still ranks among my favorite cities to visit.

I would recommend spending one night in London (at one of the great hotels -- Claridges is my favorite, but I haven't checked their rates lately and its likely outrageous based on current exchange rate, but there are plenty of great hotels), so you can relax, go the gym and then walk around -- London is best seen by foot, not from the back of a car during a six-hour tour. Stay in or around Mayfair and you'll be in the center of things and be able to walk everywhere. With an overnight, you'll be able to get two days in London, even if you sleep in a bit on the second day.

thit_cho is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 07:25 AM
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No question in my mind -- overnight in London. Airplanes are not an environment conducive to human life for 38 hours.
Celia is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 09:14 AM
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I have done it both ways and so can only speak to my experience.

I have always found when travelling to Europe that my first night is usually good for sleep because of the exhaustion factor. The second night is often miserable. With that in mind we now get the early flight from SFO-LHR then spend the day visiting family. By the time we have had a couple of drinks and some food and put on our Virgin PJ's, we are out for the count, usually waking somewhere over northern Botswana.

We did the overnight in London about three years ago, and had the usual first night sleep of the exhausted, then a miserable second night on the plane.

In addition we always start our trip at Mala Mala because it does not necessitate a wasted night in Jo'burg at the beginning of the trip. All we usually want to do, is get to the bush. After two meals and a four hour game drive, I always sleep well.

So my two cents is get to the bush as fast as possible, besides who minds a less than perfect night's sleep when the distractions are Hyena calls and Lion roars.
napamatt is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 11:25 AM
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Rocco...I had the same dilemma for my trip to Zambia in September. I fly from San Francisco to London (11 hours); 6 hour layover at Heathrow; then another 11 hours to Jo'burg; then 2 hours to Lusaka. I went to Morocco in April, which is about half the distance than it is to Zambia from San Francisco. Between the long flights and layovers, by the time I got home I was absolutely fried. I immediately called the tour company for my trip to Zambia and arranged to leave a day earlier and stay overnight (both ways) in London. The weird thing was, when I changed my ticket, I saved about $450...
So, I guess this was a long-winded way of saying, get a hotel at Heathrow...
phernska is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 11:35 AM
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Rocco, I have the same problem in Sept, flying from Fla to Heathrow and then have all day in Heathrow, since I have been to London, I opted for an 6-8 hour stay at a Heathrow hotel, even if I do not sleep a shower will be bliss, plus with traffic and such I would be a nervous wreck worrying I would not make it back to the airport in time.
SiestaLinda is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 12:48 PM
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Here's my 2 cents on this issue.

With such a long flight from LAX to London (10.5 hours), sleeping about 6 hours, which I recall is enough for you, but I don't know about your traveling companions, should not be that hard to accomplish. I find the 7-8 hour overnight flights much harder to sleep on because by the time I finally get to sleep, it's time to deplane.

Even though you may enjoy some shuteye on the flight, that London tour might be taxing. I've had that day long layover in London after an overnight flight many times and have always preferred to just relax. Once when traveling with friends they insisted on doing some sightseeing and I did, but would have preferred to just recover.

A day room during your layover would offer a nice option. I've done that but have also found that the general public lounges in London are quite conducive to sleeping with long seats to stretch out. There are even special quiet lounges that are available to all, so I usually just rest in the airport to save money on a room.

Using the "rest while you can," strategy I have been ready to go by the time I've reached South Luangwa and have done the the afternoon game drive and night drive.

One note on the Joburg-Lusaka 2 hr 10 min connection. Luggage does not always make this transfer. Mine did not on the last trip and apparently that is not uncommon. I was reunited 3 days later with my checked bags, which were not essential gear, just gifts for a school I was visiting that arrived in time, but just keep that in mind. Those flight times were fairly new when I went 2 years ago, so maybe they've got the luggage transfer down to a science by now.

atravelynn is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 04:49 PM
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Rest is essential, both for enjoying the places you'll visit and for warding off illness. It's unlikely that you'll get much restful sleep on the LAX-LHR flight (much more likely to sleep off and on in economy). With a hotel room, you can relax, shower, and catch at least a few hours of sleep before the flight to JNB. If you're flying BA to JNB, you have a good chance of getting rest then, as BA has the best business class seats for sleeping.

A 6-hour tour of London will show you not a whole lot more than you'd get from a video, and you're likely to just wind up overtired.
DonTopaz is online now  
May 19th, 2005, 10:28 PM
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Thanks for all the feedback.

I do think that adding a night in London may actually make this feel more like a 62 hour transfer rather than a 38 hour transfer, as I have never been a big fan of single night hotel stays. If my time in Africa were shorter than 19 nights, I would not hesitate to stay TWO nights in London, but I just cannot afford to be away for so long, as my businesses are REALLY BUSY right now, and will probably be even moreso three months from now...it will be stressful enough to be away for 19 nights, yet less 21 nights.

I am starting to think that I should just take a cab to a central location where we can do a little bit of walking around, but then just really sit and enjoy a nice meal somewhere where we can eat al fresco and people watch for a couple hours.

I do agree with those of you whom have said that once I arrive in Africa that little else will matter. I do not know how my mother sleeps on flights, but my wife, after taking a motion sickness pill, is usually knocked out for at least 2/3 of the flight, whether it is economy or business class. Although I hate the feeling, I know that if I take a motion sickness pill that I will also be knocked out, but I hate losing control and being drugged to sleep.

There is the option to also shorten the stopover down to as little as 5 hours or extend it to as much as about 11 hours. 5 hours would be fine if I did not intend to leave the airport, and the LHR airport is actually one of the better ones I have visited. Plus, there is never anything wrong with hanging out in the SAA Business Class lounge...I just wish there was somewhere within the airport we could all go get a 1 hour massage!

The good news is that Kasaka River Lodge, my first destination does offer a bush spa, and that may help us get over our jet lag quickly.

Anyway, with this being our fourth trip in as many years, I think we will be able to handle it. As far as my mother goes, she is a ham for things like Business Class air, and I think she will be fine as a result.

I am just happy tonight to look up at the sky and see that a full moon is just a few short days away. This is the way I gauge how far away my trip is, and after this full moon I will have three more full moons to go, and then leave about one week afterward!
Roccco is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 11:23 PM
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I have never liked sleeping pills because of that drugged out feeling, but Ambien is a newer sleeping pill which causes very little, if any, druggy hangover. It warns you that you should only take it if you have 7 - 8 hours to sleep. Try a half or a quarter of the white pill (10 mg. ?)
sunshine007 is offline  
May 22nd, 2005, 02:24 PM
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I recently had to deal with the same...economy from the west coast to London and then business on...in my case to Mumbai last November.

We stayed overnight at LHR at the Sheraton which I booked through Priceline. I arrived after lunch, had a quick rest and my brother came to take us out to dinner at a pub in Windsor. We left the next morning at 6am.

I don't know if you can get a flight arriving into London later in the day as suggested by someone else.

Like Thit cho I love London but I'm not sure chasing around with only a few hours when you're jetlagged is the way to see it. I think running into town will add alot of hours to your travel time...by the time you've made your way to the hotel and come back the next day.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Jun 30th, 2005, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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To get into London quickly, you need the Paddington express... takes 15-20 minutes and costs about £30 one way. Plenty of lovely hotels in London, and it's not as bad as some European cities for theft. I'm British and have worked in London for many years... if you need suggestions on things to do, please ask away

sniper is offline  

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