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 barand

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.

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  1. I would have been sleeping somewhere over Germany/Poland if I had as many drinks as that preflight.

    Good effort!!

  2. Russell Gowers says:

    Yeah, it was definitely the jet lag that meant you couldn’t work the shower in the Singapore lounge and not the fact you were absolutely battered!! 😀

    We will have to call you Rhys S Thompson.

  3. Nathan says:

    Glad to see ‘my’ strategy, and that of my children, for LHR>AKL proven to work for others 👍
    Especially loved the ‘Hannibal Lecter Selfie’ 😁

  4. I’ve yet to visit, but am really impressed by the reviews/etc. of the QF lounge at T3. Especially with the dining, that appears to be touching the standard we get at the MEL/SYD Flounges, and certainly miles better than the J lounges here.

    • mr_jetlag says:

      I personally think it’s better space wise than MEL Flounge. The smaller scale makes it less impersonal. I love the massages though…

  5. I think the success of economy LH travel is mentality. If you are positively minded and optimistic about flying in economy LH, then it will be much better.

    • FFoxSake says:

      Totally agree about the positive mentality aspect of flying in economy LH… I used to travel a fair bit in Business class for a previous job but rarely do so nowadays.

      I have no status with any airline, just an Amex gold credit card and two free lounge passes.
      But I was also one of the lucky few who snagged a Qantas £1 golden fare on the first day of the promotion and recently survived (dare I say enjoyed?) the whole experience.
      I was even mad enough to add on connecting flights to/from NZ to the promo fare!

      Unlike Rhys I refused the offer of paying for reserved seats in advance, opting instead to take my chances in the check-in windows. That initially appeared to have backfired when the Qanatas App showed me allocated to a middle seat on both legs and wouldn’t let me change it!
      But on arrival at LHR I asked if they could allocate me an aisle seat and also check my bags right through to AKL. They couldn’t have been more helpful. To my complete surprise I was moved to 32B, a front row bulkhead aisle seat on the upper deck economy section, right through to Sydney. All for free. Marvellous.

      With a smile on my face I headed to T3 Aspire lounge using one of my free LoungeClub passes from the Amex card. A nice quiet space with a couple of drinks and some light snacks was the perfect way to relax before the big flight ahead.
      The flights themselves were fine. I opted to eat/drink/movie early on the LHR-SIN leg then change into some old Virgin Upper pjs, take a Nytol tablet and use the superb Boots Muffles wax earplugs (the best £1.50 you’ll ever spend, apart from this flight deal of course!). 8 hours of great sleep later I was in SIN making a couple of calls waiting for refuelling. No lounge there for me, I was saving that for SYD on the way back.
      SIN to SYD was equally comfortable in 32B, the crew were great and with a different person in 32A to chat to and a bit of a doze watching movies I was soon in SYD.
      3 hours later I was on another QF plane to Auckland and on landing mid-afternoon I was feeling surprisingly good. I’m always determined to stick to local times on arrival but this time I found it surprisingly easy to adjust. Ankles were a bit swollen after so long in the air but that was my fault for just trainer socks (a mistake I rectified on the way back).

      I won’t bore you with the NZ aspects other than to say I was so, so lucky with dates to always be just ahead of the Covid restrictions. Had a great one-way road trip down to WLG including the Tongariro Alpine Crossing walk and then my return marathon was ready to begin.

      A really early start from WLG meant I would have over 8 hours connection time in SYD. I had originally planned to pop down to Sydney Harbour to kill some time but no such luck with new self-isolation rules atarting to kick-in. Once again I had my bags checked right thru to LHR, but WLG check-in couldn’t move my pre-allocated middle seat for SYD to LHR. They said to ask again at the transfer desk in SYD.

      Once again the travel gods were smiling on me. Not only did I get a middle aisle seat 73G for SYD to SIN (without anyone else in 73F), to cap it all I was give the dream seat…71D, aka “the throne”, for SIN to LHR. What a result! No seat at all in front so plenty of room to stretch out with my cabin bag on the floor as a foot stool. Once again, no payments involved. Some would say very lucky, but I would say “he who dares, Rhys, he who dares…” 😉

      The final hurdle to overcome was what to do for 8 hours airside in SYD. I knew I had one free LoungeClub pass left but that was supposed to be valid only for 3 hours before the flight. I mooched around the airport for an hour or so, then 6 hours pre-flight decided I’d chance my arm. After initially being reminded by The House lounge about their 3-hour rule, they admitted they were really quiet and because of my long connection wait they took pity on me and I gladly paid the $20 supplement for the lounge and settled down to a very relaxed and comfortable afternoon of food and drink. Modest amounts of each of course (nowhere near full-on HfP subscriber standard I’m sure!)

      Both flights home were very comfortable, similar regime of food/drink/movie/sleep on the first leg to SIN, then a longer Nytol-aided sleep in pjs on the final SIN to LHR leg. Wearing walking socks onboard definitely helped the ankles this time, little or no swelling experienced.
      I felt a lttle bit “fluffy headed” on landing back in the UK but once again nothing like as bad as I expected it could be.

      All in all a great trip for so little money – so a HUGE thank you to HfP for all the tips especially the Qantas centenary offer and the Amex Gold card lounge passes.

      Best wishes to everyone over the coming weeks and I hope many more of you get to enjoy the benefits of such travel offers in the future.

    • That and the having an entire row to yourself…

  6. LAUREN hurley says:

    Amazing tip with the seat selection hack! Maybe i need to re-read it to fully understand it, but is this on a specific aircraft or just with this airline? put simply – how the hell do you know this? haha

    • It’s only on the non-refurbed Qantas A380s. Unfortunately they are refurbing their entire fleet this year so the economy mini-cabin on the upper deck is not long for this world!

  7. Nick_C says:

    I did LON to SYD in economy class in 2012 on Malaysian. Found the jet lag not as bad as going to the US. Two overnight flights with an am arrival makes it easy to get on local time. My advice would be plenty of water and no alcohol. Having a 4 hour stopover in KL helped. Got some decent food, had a shower, walked a bit, relaxed in a private lounge.

    Malaysian economy was very good. Comfortable seats. Decent leg room. Wouldn’t want to do it in BA World Traveller though.

    • Nick, was that before MAS let you bid for upgrades? They are very handy when they work out. Vast price difference between their Y and J pricing.

    • Brighton Belle says:

      I took BA economy to Sydney last November. It cost £580 return. It was completely tolerable in an aisle seat as I don’t have giraffe legs or elephantine girth. At £ per flying hour it was astounding value and I was turning away the wine which is better than vin de table in Nice by a sizeable carafe.

  8. Well done Rhys, you have outstripped Rob by miles with his slightly old-school British masculinity and squeamishness. A true millennial (and sensible) approach to travelling! This mask was a bomb too 🙂

  9. Trevor says:

    How do you manage to keep your seat belt fastened if you are using all three seats at once? Or are they not as fussy about that as BA.

  10. Another good review Rhys. A note re your economy meal – Qantas can be a bit health-obsessed even in economy and always offer some type of a main course salad as a “healthy option”. It is usually very good, and often the best choice, and better than BA economy.

  11. But the dish now exists, you can’t say ‘there is no such dish’. You can say it’s not authentic but there are plenty of those in each corner of the world!

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