surviving economy class - JFK to JNB

Apr 5th, 2006, 06:07 PM
Original Poster
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surviving economy class - JFK to JNB

Would appreciate any ideas from Fodorite veterans on ways to prepare and survive the long SAA flight from New York to Joburg - in coach.

Many thanks!
robertsmyth is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 06:31 PM
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I plan to drink a lot.... Actually, any responses you get to this will be interesting to me, since we're coach from LAX to Frankfurt, and then Frankfurt to JNB. 30 hours (including 8 hrs of layover). Brutal, but what can you do? I've considered sleeping pills, but then I hear the dangers of not moving around enuf. Drinking is also probly not much of an option, since alcohol is dehydrating. Any thoughts from frequent flyers in coach?
stamiya is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 07:02 PM
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Xanax, a little wine and a lot of water!!!!!!! And this time I'm bringing a bucky pillow or whatever they're called!

Sorry to not be of much help, robert, but flying in coach .... there's not a lot to make it so great!
cooncat2 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 07:05 PM
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Sorry, this won't really help robertsmyth, but stamiya, during your layover in Frankfurt do try to walk around outside during the daylight hours. You may not get a lot out of your visit, but I have found that it helps with sleeping on the second flight and gets your diurnal clock (?) onto at least close to the same time zone.

Obviously this doesn't work for everyone. It did work for us, though.

Also, I used to have these great over-the-counter French sleeping pills, Donormyl. I think it's the same active ingredient as Unisom.
Leely is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 07:44 PM
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I flew that flight last year and it is HELL! The only plus was the on-demand video selections. I took an Ambien on the first leg, but hardly slept at all. The bad part is when you land in Sal Island for fuel, you can't get off the plane and they want you to remain seated (though noone did). Drink a lot of juice and water, walk around quite often and pick some good movies and before you know it (NOT!) you'll be there. The food going over was pretty good, coming back was damn near inedible!
matnikstym is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 07:53 PM
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Here is a thread that had some good tips too. It really wasn't so bad after all. The video games and movies are great and killed alot of time. I took a travel backgammon board and was also able to sleep with Abien for about 5 hours each way.
CarlaM is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 07:55 PM
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Africa & the Middle East: ATL TO JNB - Economy..any recent experiences?

sorry I always forget to add the thread
CarlaM is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 08:03 PM
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Hey its really not that bad. I did DC-JNB in december with my 6 year old daughter and we survived. Compared with other flights I've taken such as LAX-Tokyo-Bangkok on NW this was fine. A lot of domestic US flights although shorter are considerably worse-try LAX-Miami on AA in a middle seat or LA-Toronto which I did last week in coach. Terrible!
laguna92688 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2006, 04:13 AM
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We also did the JFK/JNB/CPT in coach and survived. If you can get seats on the upper deck (SAA does have coach seats up here, on some of their equipment) and if you're not 6' tall... it was great. Not many passengers up here. However, we flew shortly after 9/ll and with many flights cancelled and schedules changes, we had a fully loaded plane. Only at SAL did those deplaning provide extra seats to spread out.

On the return flight we were in the main cabin which wasn't all that full until the stop at SAL where additional passengers boarded - another full plane for the ongoing to JRK.

We survived and weren't any the worse for it. Managed to sleep on all legs on all flights. On arrival in JNB, we continued to CPT arriving at our hotel at about 10pm. While I went up for a shower, my partner went out to the V&A for an hour or so... and we were both up bright and early for a day of White Shark cage diving which lasted all day.

Just remember to keep yourself hydrated, sleep if you can and walk around every few hours.

In the end, we've found that the flight from JFK via Narita to BKK was worse.

Just remember, once you're at your destination, the flight will be forgotten.
Apr 6th, 2006, 05:59 AM
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Knock yourself out with sleeping pills. The trip is interminable otherwise, even in business class.
thit_cho is offline  
Apr 6th, 2006, 07:10 AM
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Join the mile high club - that will keep your mind off the long journey!
bobinoz is offline  
Apr 6th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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I'm with Cooncat--Xanax, a little red wine, and lots of water does it for me. SAA, by the way, is really good about providing bottles of water. I do this flight twice a year and always manage to survive it.

safarilover is offline  
Apr 6th, 2006, 11:27 AM
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First of all, I follow the advice of a friend who flies to New Zealand all the time - I "wrap my head around the fact that it will be a long, grueling flight"! Since I NEVER sleep on planes (I've tried everything and the only way I can sleep is lying down, so there goes that option) I make sure I have enough to keep me occupied. On the flight from Atlanta to Jo'burg last year I read 1 1/2 books, watched 2 1/2 movies, ate whenever something came around, enjoyed a couple of glasses of wonderful South African wine, and got up and walked around whenever I could. Of course the mile high club is also a great option, but that doesn't take up much time on an 18 hour flight ;-)! Just spend the time reminding yourself that the payoff will be well worth the pain.
jcasale is offline  
Apr 6th, 2006, 11:58 AM
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I'm lucky enough to be able to sleep pretty much anywhere, so that's my usual strategy. If I need to stay awake because I'm landing at night and want to be able to sleep when I arrive, I usually bring lots of reading material (there are always several books I've been wanting to read for awhile sitting around here) and keep my journal handy.

jasher is offline  
Apr 6th, 2006, 09:21 PM
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I recently did Oregon/SFO/Frankfurt/JNB. Try to sleep on the first leg to reset your biological clock. You might also try the "No Jet Lag" product. I like the inflatable neck pillow that Magellan's has that goes completely around your drooling in your lap! The Sony "in-ear" noise-cancelling headphones work well and are quite small. If not those, then use earplugs and also an eye mask. My in-flight kit also includes eye drops and saline nasal spray. Finally, use something (drugs!) to help you get to sleep. Have your own water bottle when you wake up with "cotton mouth." I also have an old pair of socks that I slip on after taking off my shoes. Walk around when you are awake to keep the circulation going and to avoid deep-leg thrombosis.

I had a 12-hour layover in Frankfurt. There is the NH Hotel Frankfurt Airport that has a great day-room rate...we paid 54 Euros. You can take a quick nap, shower, watch CNN, check your e-mail and get a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant. They have an airport shuttle, too. Find them on the Web and e-mail them directly to make reservations, as the day-room rate isn't usually listed.
ShayTay is offline  
Apr 7th, 2006, 01:31 AM
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I thin same applies for any long haul.

Get packed and ready several days ahead, pack and arrange evrything and then relax ahead of flight.
Get up early, don't eat too much, arrive at airport in plenty of time. Take along a couple of good books, wear comfortable clothes, for the flight personaly I avoid alcohol but drinks plenty of water.
Don't think about it 'too much', don't stress out or worry about it. Don't forvce yourself to sleep, watch the entertainment, eat light, relax.
JamesA is offline  
Apr 7th, 2006, 05:28 PM
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The only thing I might add to the excellent advice already posted is to be sure you bring lots of reading material. Sometimes the in-flight video screen malfunctions, so it's best not to count on it. Also, you might consider wearing special socks that help to prevent circulatory problems that can arise on long flights. They sell then at most drug stores and are great at preventing your feet from swelling. I swear by the Ambien as well; it can provide 4 to 5 hours of sleep. Finally, we arrange for an hour massage upon arrival at the Grace Hotel. It is absolute heaven and can help your body recover.
girlpolo33 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2006, 07:21 PM
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Thanks for all the great tips! If I really work at it, maybe I can convince myself that the 30-plus hours of travel time are a "mini-vacation" with lots of movies, reading time, crossword puzzle time and maybe even a nap or two (all the things I never have time for at home, and certainly won't be doing in Zambia!).
stamiya is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 11:19 PM
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Thank you all for some great ideas!

Carla - thanks for the other interesting thread.

Stamiya - like your idea of changing mindsets to see it as a form of retreat. Just got a new 5thG ipod to hold photos and look forward to building a multi-hour concert of favorites to help pass the time.
robertsmyth is offline  
Apr 9th, 2006, 08:26 AM
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hi, i did that my first trip in 1999. havent been on a plane in yrs before that. then i had that what like 15/16hr flight haha. back then they didnt have those personal tv screens on the seat-backs like they do now on most planes.that flight was straight through too.
what can you do-not much really.take a couple tylenol pm?
but now it should be pretty have the tv screen, you can bring a lap top, dvd player,cd, almost anything to pass the time.BUT-if you end up sitting next to a pain in the AZZ-then your screwed i guess. not much to do on that one.that would be the biggest issue.if not-feel lucky
have fun
tuskerdave is offline  

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