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Will I ever learn to love long haul?

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

It’s that time of year when all of those boastful annoying ‘insta’ people are jetting off to exotic locations and having the hashtag of all holidays. It’s so cliche and boring, enjoy your holiday by all means but don’t gloat, no one likes a smug dickhead. Let's face it, the airport and the travel is just horrific. The confinement of the airport in particular is enough to make me have an internal meltdown. Just as a reference point, you should know that I haven’t been to the cinema in over 20 years, I do not understand why anyone would pay to sit in the dark with strangers that are more than likely eating loud foods. So can you imagine me at an airport? Not only am I in a confined and contained space with the general public but if I flee at will or get cross with people then I may get shot in the face or deported, it just makes a tough situation even tougher.


I have a real aversion to airports and flying. Let me be clear, I have no fear of flying. If I am going to plummet to the ground then at least I will die with the most important loves of my life (my clothes). I have already seen so many cheery features and articles giving ‘top tips’ for packing which involves phrases such as ‘capsule wardrobe’ and ‘essentials’, largely this involves wearing a vest with a variety of alternative skirts/shorts/trousers that are all linen. I would rather stay at home.

Arrived in LA after 12 hours of flying, this as happy as I get near an airport.

Packing

My advice for packing is ‘go big or go home’. Don’t pack light, don’t take only what you think you will need. Take everything. Take options. Take things that you have never worn in ages but will be perfect for a holiday, seriously, pack the lot. I also need to introduce my ‘life or death bag’ this is the pulley case that NEVER leaves my side. It has in it all my vintage, irreplaceable and ridiculously expensive items. Should the flight take an unexpected turn, such as engine failure for example then this carry on case will have its own life vest and be first in line for the emergency escape slide before me, actually before anyone, not my mother though… actually, sorry, yes my mother. Just typing this is filling me ‘fear’, I cannot discuss this section any further. Here is a selection of my holiday style from one holiday..... as you can see, these options would never fit into a nice little case within the weight limit.


Next comes the ‘big cases’ - yes there are two, sod off, I pay the additional allowance. These are full of everything else, somewhat replaceable but would still be a travesty should they go missing. My cases have been made very distinguishable for a reason. I avoid the obligatory perusal around duty free so that when I am through security, I can sit with nose pressed to the window of the departures to watch my case being loaded, twice I have not seen this happen, needless to say, this has been a very long and uncomfortable flight...for the entire aircraft. Let’s not forget about the time when a poor innocent child had exactly the same distinct suitcase as me…..and took it off the conveyor belt and proceeded to drag it towards his parents. I can only describe my movements similar to that of an NFL player crossed with a charging bull as I parted the crowd and grabbed the case from him screaming ‘what are you doing!!!!!’ turns out that wasn’t my suitcase, he cried, god, kids are such snowflakes.


The flight….. Horrific

I have been very fortunate to spend a lot of time on the West coast of America over the last ten years, I have some great friends there such as Tammy and Angie and I am in love with the Californian lifestyle, you can be in the most beautiful desert, gorgeous mountains, on the Pacific coast or in Downtown LA. As wonderful as it is out there all hair, bones, teeth, boobs and sunshine the travel there is just the worst. From Newcastle it is around 14-15 hours (shortest I have done it is 14.5 hours door to door, longest 20 hours). So here are my tips for surviving the dreaded long haul flight:


Airline and upgrades

I have always flown BA, they have a good loyalty system and they are the only airline to fly from Newcastle and connect all the way through to LAX. I have tried EVERYTHING to get an upgrade, including going to the airport like I am going to a fucking debutante ball, nothing works. At the time I travel airfare is around £1400 a ticket, business comes in at £5500 so it’s not really a manageable jump unless you’re Rockefeller (I am not).

There was an occasion where I was upgraded, whilst on the aircraft purely by circumstance of other passengers. There was a total drip of a couple that had been (god forbid) separated for the 11 hour flight. His partner was sitting next to me clutching her polyester BA pillow like it was a lifeline (eye-roll). I wasn’t moving, they needed to get a grip, I assured both of them that they would be totally fine, absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that…. Until he mentioned he was NOT in economy, I couldn’t have gotten out of my seat fast enough, see you later provincial economy class losers. I would love to travel business or first regularly, I have looked at selling organs but there just isn't the market at the moment. BA if you read this, for the love of god, please upgrade me (Shameless? Moi? Too right sunshine)


Last call planning

NEVER eat plane food, no matter how desperate, how hungry, how long the flight is, NEVER do this, eat your own limbs first when flying long haul. Either fuel up at the airport on something balanced and nutritious or stock up like I do for the duration. I always go to ‘Pret’ or ‘Eat’ before take off and stock up on salads, sushi, sandwiches, fruit, smoothies and as much water as you can carry. I graze little and often on the flight on fresh food, airplane food is so salty and as it can’t be cooked in the sky it has been reheated beyond an inch of its life, you need nutrients more than ever long haul, keep your energy levels stable with healthy foods and drink as much as you can in water.

Nice 'not reheated' Pret food available from T5 Heathrow

I am not saying don’t have a gin and tonic on the right time zone if that’s your fancy (and I LOVE a G&T) but I rarely if ever have a single drink long haul. You’re going to feel like shit when you arrive so try to reduce this level of shittiness as much as possible.



Seating

Now this is similar to the cinema thing, avoiding people, in a contained flying box it is impossible so it is all about damage control. I always pre-book extra legroom, although I don’t actually need it as I am not that tall, but the other people that pay for this privilege rarely have a child with them as they can’t tackle the ‘exit door’ scenario as they are holding their child, poor them, your choice. I mean, I don’t want to shatter the illusion that I am the Lara Croft of air travel but with my nails, I am not opening the door either, plummet to my death or snap every nail, it’s hardly Sophie’s choice is it.


Duration

I have no tips for this, other than watch the plane map/tracker on the screen. If you are travelling to LAX/SFO from Heathrow, then Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada is the halfway point. I fidget, I try to read, watch movies, play a game, work, blog, I have even tried to write a book in the air, nothing works, it is just so long, I get restless legs and they move involuntary and then that annoys me, I annoy me, the prospect of the vintage on West 3rd is the only thing that keeps me going (sorry Tammy and Angie) you guys keep me going too.


Beauty and clothes

I always change my clothes on the flight, I like to wear clothes to the airport that are comfortable but not ‘Mam on holiday’. Mam’s often wear something from Marks and Spencer that is patterned, loose and drawstring, I still need to look like me. Then once I am in my seat I am in sweatpants, hoodie and my bra has been removed (don’t be shocked by this - as I have mentioned before I could run a marathon in a crop top and I'd be fine). Then the face removal process begins, all makeup comes off, deep cleanse and a mask my favourites to date are; Origins Drink it up (£22) or Caudalie Moisturising Mask (£22). I don’t/can't sleep on the flight, clearly - otherwise why would I write about all this other shit if I could pass the time that way, I am always amazed at how others do, I frequently want to bang pans over their heads due to my jealousy of how fast their flight time is passing. An hour before landing I transform back to Jilly, changed, touch of makeup (okay a vat of makeup so that I resemble my passport) and that fills in around 52-56 minutes of 11 hours, then, I take my position for the next hurdle in the process.


Arrivals

Run like your backside is on fire. As soon as the plane touches the ground, I grab my pulley that holds my loved ones and move at lightning speed. Women, children, elderly, all out the way, I take no prisoners. In the US, if you fly direct from London you need to go through immigration, this is a nightmare unless you have visited regularly, sorry about that, I am OK for this, good luck. I have to get to the luggage belt first. It is a sprint, I feel like one of those people that you read about that have superhuman strength due to adrenaline surges when they have lifted cars to free a trapped pedestrian, I move at a speed that is unlike a human being. I am at the beginning of the belt when my fellow travellers are still faffing on deflating their neck pillows. I am ready, where is my case? Where is it? (that is screaming inside my head) yet to the outsider I am just a prompt efficient traveller, probably airport staff rather than a traveller as no passenger could ever have made it to the luggage carousel that quick, surely.


I know that you have probably read so many ‘top holiday tips’, ‘travelling in style’ or ‘how to be a long haul goddess’, it is all probably amazing advice from those fortunate enough to be flying first and having to split hairs over the fish or beef on a real china plate (for the record I didn’t eat plane food when I was upgraded either). Have a fantastic holiday fashionistas, and if anyone dares tell you “it’s all about the journey not the destination” they are lying to your face, stuff the journey, I look like a wooly dog chewing a wasp the entire time.

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