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How I survived a 24 hour flight to Australia in Economy (Part 2)

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This is the second part of my article on how I prepared for my 24 hour flight from London to Sydney ….. in Economy.  Part 1 is here if you missed it yesterday.

When we left off yesterday, I was enjoying myself in the Cathay Pacific lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3.

After a couple drinks I ordered from the made-to-order menu. Here are the dim sim and BBQ meatballs, which were excellent (plus an espresso martini to keep me going!).  I was less impressed by the Singaporean noodles, however.

Cathay Pacific lounge Heathrow dimsum

The Qantas lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3

After a few more cocktails I moved on to the Qantas lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3, just a few seconds away:

Qantas Lounge Heathrow

…… where I was greeted by the front of house staff and asked if I wanted to dine. It was quite a busy evening due to a previous cancellation so I was seated at the bar:

Qantas Lounge Heathrow bar


Qantas Lounge Heathrow dining

Unsurprisingly, Qantas offers a slightly more Western menu in its lounge than Cathay Pacific.  I went for the salt and pepper squid, which is generally regarded as the signature dish in Qantas lounges! It was very good, and the green chilli dip in particular was exceptional:

Qantas Lounge Heathrow dining salt & pepper squid

The Qantas lounge also specialises in a range of gins, and I managed to try quite a few. The bar staff were extremely friendly and a joy to chat too, offering some excellent recommendations. By the time my flight was called I think I had tried virtually every gin on offer!

My recommendation would be the East London gin with tonic, or the Sipsmith Sloe gin on the rocks. The latter went especially well with the excellent apple crumble dessert:

Qantas Lounge Heathrow crumble

Before I got completely sozzled I walked to the gate and made my way to the very rear of the upper deck, where my seat (or should I say row) was awaiting:

Qantas A380 economy

Despite a cancellation the previous day and a fairly full flightload, my strategy of selecting 36F paid off and I was blessed with all three seats to myself.

Each seat came with a decent (for Economy) sized pillow, a classy woven blanket and a small amenity kit containing an eye mask and dental kit. This is how far the armrests lifted, although the seat here are reclined:

Qantas A380 economy

My strategy for the first 12 hour flight to Singapore was to stay awake until the final few hours so that I could go to sleep on the Australian schedule and get ahead of the jetlag. There was a decent selection of recent releases to keep me occupied as well as a variety of TV boxsets including some of HBO’s recent tentpoles. I ended up watching Knives Out, Bombshell, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Ford v Ferrari.

Despite having quite a lot to eat in London I decided to go for the meal service (if nothing else to keep me occupied!), although I have to say I was disappointed. Here is the beef main:

Qantas Economy meal

….. of which a large chunk was a rather unpleasant ball of gristle. It also doesn’t come with a salad, just a stodgy white bread roll and a baked dessert. If I am honest I would much rather have one of BA’s economy meals than this.

Five hours into the flight, however, and I was seriously struggling to keep my eyes open so I changed into my Virgin Atlantic pyjamas and had a short nap. With all three seats reclined and the armrests up it was more comfortable than some business class seats I have slept in.

Two hours before landing I thought it was time to make use of my Garnier Moisture Bomb sheet mask.

DIY amenity kit

This was my first time using a sheet mask, either on land or in the sky, but I must admit I am a convert. It felt really refreshing and I will definitely be doing it again on a long flight.  Quite entertaining given the mask stops you from smiling and looks like something from a horror film.

90 minutes before landing breakfast was offered. This was slightly better than dinner, with a choice between a full(ish) English breakfast and a selection of cut fruit:

Qantas economy breakfast

Before long it was time to de-plane for the 90 minute layover in Singapore. The aircraft undergoes a complete clean, and you are required to take all your stuff with you.

Qantas lounge Singapore

I headed straight for the Qantas Business lounge, and to the showers to freshen up after my 12 hour flight. These are beautifully appointed suites, slightly larger than the Heathrow ones:

Qantas lounge Singapore shower

And here is the shower (no rainfall head this time unfortunately):

Qantas lounge Singapore shower

….  although it took me a while (and the assistance of one of the shower attendants) to figure out how to get any hot water. The 12 hour flight had clearly frazzled my mind.

I also took this opportunity to brush my teeth and try out the Kiehl products I had picked up in London. I followed the routine supplied, applying the toner, serum and moisturiser.

Kiehls routine

It was a pleasant way to spend the layover and look after myself, rather than keep on sitting somewhere in the lounge, and I think my skin appreciated it.

After my shower I did have the bao buns on offer as well as a lot of salad. Qantas don’t offer a salad with their economy meal service so I needed to counterbalance all the stodgy meals and snacks.

Qantas lounge Singapore salad

As this was the flight I had ear-marked for sleeping I skipped the meal service entirely and made my bed as soon as the seat belt sign was off. Armed with some melatonin, ear plugs and my British Airways White Company eye mask I managed to sleep for virtually the entire flight, although I did wake up several times needing to turn over without falling off the seats.

The verdict

22 hours later and I stepped into the beautiful Sydney sunshine torrential downpour.  And, I have to admit, feeling remarkably good.  Although long flights typically tend to dry me out like a raisin, focussing on drinking water once I was in-flight made a big difference. Not to mention my frequent showers, which fought against the ‘I have just stepped off a long flight’ greasiness.

If there is a motto to this story, it is that – with careful planning of seating and your well-being regime – you can survive the longest of Economy flights in reasonably good shape.

Comments (68)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Blindman says:

    Well, I’m still here and now have another flight change to get home as Singapore is closed to transit.

    We hopefully will be on the Perth -Sydney-Lhr flight on the 30 th March.

    Let’s hope that goes ahead otherwise I’m here for a few months…….

    • Dawn says:

      Good luck with that! I’ve had 4 filghts cancelled in the last few days (I’m in Brisbane). (First flight was supposed to be on 28th with Emirates. Now having to fly tomorrow to Melbourne and then take the Qatar flight via Doha in Business class for the princely sum of £5K. No other options at all I’ve been told and when we rang the insurance company and asked what we should do they said just get back home regardless of the cost. Hope you get home safely.

      • Shoestring says:

        you’d be better off staying out in Australia

        plus think of the money – hope ins pays up! 🙂

        • Dawn says:

          It’s Nationwide Flex and we spoke to them twice before booking it. They said they would pay up to £5k per person as it’s considered ’emergency situation.’ They said if we chose not to return then the level of cover would reduce drastically to about £1k per person. Keeping our fingers crossed. We’d also rather stay here.

          • Shoestring says:

            OK good luck with your choice

            but seems to me you are leaving one of the very best places in the world to wait out the next 3-5 months in favour of coming back to plague island otherwise known as UK

            all good if you are not in a higher risk group, I guess

          • Blindman says:

            Still unsure why you are paying?

          • Dawn says:

            @Shoestring. Australia are not handling it too well here. They discharged 3 cruise ships with COVID-19 on board and just let everyone off with no advice. Then 2 friends arrived in Sydney a couple of days ago (one from USA and one from UK). Neither were checked, neither were advised to self isolate, nothing said to them at all. The Aussies are also not observing the social distancing as they think it can’t affect them here. Slowly States are closing borders, shops, clubs etc. They don’t have as many cases as UK at all but it’s increasing rapidly now.

          • Shoestring says:

            ah I see, thought they were being more careful

            we have effective PR status for NZ so I did momentarily think of going there for an extended holiday, but obvs kids/ school or online studying/ expense etc made me think a couple of months out here in our place in the sun (Europe) was a better option – plus I think my wife & 2 younger kids will join the 2 of us (got my eldest son here) next month

            NZ really is taking it very seriously from what I can see

          • Lyn says:

            As Dawn says, it turns out that Australia isn’t handling things that well either just at the moment.

            The recent cruise ship passenger fiascos weren’t good and then people were packed tightly together queuing up for hours yesterday to apply for new government benefits after a computer web-site melt down prevented them starting the process online.

            My sister is a school teacher there and she was surprised to find she couldn’t get a virus test despite some early symptoms because she didn’t meet the travel criteria.

      • Blindman says:

        Why are you paying.?

        Mine is a reschedule of the original return flight.

        • Dawn says:

          Because there were no other flights that they could move us to from our Flight Centre Qantas ticket and as we were on the phone trying to get seats all seats were taken as fast as they were available. They said that we could either take these or wait until the UK Flight Centre opened several hours later and risk losing the seats. They said they would process the refund later for the outstanding 3 legs of our Qantas ticket. All the other 3 flight changes (that were subsequently cancelled) were free of charge. They said they couldn’t ticket it on their system. So we rang the insurance company and after their advice we booked it.

          • Blindman says:


            I booked direct with Qantas so it’s down to them.

          • Mikeact says:

            Another good reason to forget a travel agent, always go direct to the carrier.

  • Keith says:

    No chance

  • Mike says:

    No pictures from IFE? That’s one of the most important things on such a long flight!

    Thanks for the tips, they actually sound great

    • Rhys says:

      Nothing fancy but it does the job – this aircraft will be refurbed this year.

  • Capecam says:

    Enjoyed travelling with you vicariously Rhys . Was waiting for the disaster but clearly you planned well. Congrats of a great article, a very timely bit of entertainment for all us stranded road warriors

  • AJA says:

    Rhys Well done you for surviving that journey.

    I have got to be honest, that is not a distance I would go at the back of the plane, even with 3 seats to myself.

    Sadly, it will be a while before I get the chance to go (Australia is a place I’ve always wanted to visit) as it seems like these ultra long haul flights will be off the menu for a while once the repatriation of people from far flung spots has happened.

  • Paul says:

    This isn’t flying economy as most people understand it.
    Use of lounges, 3 seats to yourself are cheats.

    I would like to see how you’d have coped (and felt) if having paid more for economy than you pay for business ex EU you had gotten just one middle seat between two strangers.

    I did LHR SYD in 1987 in BA economy with stops in the Middle East and Singapore. Had my first ever taste of lychee and I wore a suit!

    Never done it since in anything but J or F with some very dodgy trips on the like of Philippine airlines from Manila and UTA from Singapore to Paris!

    Happy days though.

    • Rhys says:

      Not cheats, travel hacks!

      • Peter K says:

        I don’t consider it a cheat…but getting into business class lounges you can’t get into when flying economy without status is not what I would consider a hack either.

      • Blindman says:

        I got into a lounge at LHR due to the Dragon pass promo.

        I picked a row with empty seats at check in and tried to sleep across them. My fit bit said I got 3 hrs sleep which felt about right.

        Hung around SIN for 5 Hrs in plastic seats

        Then watched 4 films SING to Sydney probably much to the annoyance of everyone else who were trying to sleep!


        Having spent 23 years in the military and flying as “cargo” in the back of a Hercules for 10 hrs this trip was luxury😀

        • flyforfun says:

          My last flight back from oz I had PE on QF. The SIN LHR leg I couldn’t sleep and lighted up the cabin watching the IFE as I was in the front row!! 🙂

        • Lady London says:

          In SIN I would advise paying for a shower at the Plaza Premium lounge if you don’t have llounge access that would give you this.

          I paid more than once long before I had any other lounge access and would thoroughly recommend. Even though I travel very economically and would not normally pay for any extras – the plastic seats you mention @Blindman being my haunt in most aiports! But Ireally, really would recommend putting your hand in your pocket in SIN and getting a shower at Plaza Premium or anywhere you can – an excellent massage was also had there on one trip that my body still remembers.

          There are times not to cheap out… not many, but for me SIN is one.

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        They’re only hacks (eg ‘having status’) in the same way booking into J is!

        Granted most regular flyers will have sapphire or equiv so it’s not entirely unreasonable given the audience

  • Bob says:

    I count about 11 alcoholic drinks including the wine visible with the meal. Good for you – but might have something to do with the dehydration?

  • Mike says:

    Rhys – great article, really enjoyed it. I like hearing about you having fun, although the face mask pic made me spill my coffee.

    • Simon says:

      Agreed. Good article and enjoyed the detail of food and drink. Try the Dan Dan mian next time you’re in the Cathay Lounge. They are great.

      • Cat says:

        My favourite is absolutely the wonton noodle soup. I’m a little bit obsessed with it!

        • Polly says:

          And their Laksa equivalent. Fab.
          Great article, need some light hearted humour these days.
          Cat, how’s the babysitting going at school then?

    • Lady London says:

      I think the facemask pic and his excellent funny write-up is going to win Rhys the Journalist of the Year award.

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