Diary of an eight-hour flight

What to expect on an eight hour flight in economy - Travel for a Living

I fly on a regular basis – now there’s a revelation; who would have thought – but pretty much all of my flights are short haul. Just an hour, two hours tops if I have to get to Central Europe or Nordics. But to actually do a long haul flight? Nah, not on a regular basis. But as I told before, hubby and I are New York bound again this month and as much as we were looking forward to it, it does come with a long flight at the start and end. So what to expect on an eight hour flight?

I am fairly relaxed about it all, I spend so much time sitting around airports for hours at a time that this flight couldn’t be any worse. Just make sure I have a fully charged laptop in front of me and I potter away forever (if I run out of things to write for the blog, I could always catch up on work, if and when I get very desperate). Hubby on the other side? Well that’s a different story.

You all remember that scene in Shrek when they travel to the Kingdom Far Far Away and donkey sits in the back, asking ‘are we there yet?’ every other second? Yep, that’s my other half (nah, he’s not a donkey obviously). He’s fine for the first hour, two tops, after that he gets a little restless.

So, I decided to share the pleasure with you all with my ‘diary of an eight-hour flight’.  To give you a better idea what to expect on an eight hour flight, if you’ve never flown long-haul.

What to expect on an eight hour flight: Hour 0

As if flights weren’t long enough, time in the aircraft starts well before the flight actually takes off. For short-haul boarding begins around 30 minutes before departure, for long-haul it is more like 45-50 minutes. As there are a lot more people to board on the larger aircrafts. Our trip to New York is no exception, although I have to say the aircraft is half full at best. We board fairly early (courtesy of BA silver status priority boarding) and this paired with a delayed departure means we are already on board the aircraft for a good hour before we actually take off. One of the things you should expect on an eight hour flight, I guess.

But this is probably the easiest hour to master, as you don’t really notice it. By the time you reach your seat, store your stuff, settle down, take off your shoes and watch everyone around you do the same, this hour is almost over and it is time to take off.

Although inboard entertainment does already work, there is hardly any point starting a film straight away, as there are constant announcement. Prompting the film to stop every 30 seconds.

Instead we start looking through the menu and since we have the newer screens with joysticks, hubby straight away has to test the games on offer (boys…).

Oh and we obviously have to take that all important ‘ready for take off selfie’. I mean how else can you start a holiday?

What to expect on an eight hour flight: Hour 1

We are finally off, woohoo, just eight hours to go.

So much to do, so little time (well not really), all of sudden it’s decision time… what to do first? Well let’s glance at the clouds (for about 30 seconds), try to take a nap (another 4 minutes gone)… wouldn’t it be handy if you could just close your eyes and sleep through the entire flight? You can? Lucky you… I can’t. Something I will painfully come to realise again on the red eye flight back home next week.

Oh well, as napping isn’t an option, let’s go through that movie selection again. And start film number one.

What to expect on an eight hour flight: Hour 2

Just as we start the second hour staff kicks into action and starts the onboard service. First up the drinks trolley. Spoilt for choices… Soft drink? Wine for lunch? Anything else? Oh and some nibbles to go with it?

OK, yes please, just plain water…. Ok whilst we are at it, might as well take the red wine to go with the lunch… oh you know what? Make that a G&T on top. A girl gotta live after all.

A few more minutes of movie watching, then the food is served. As husband opted for a special dietary meal this time he was served as one of the first. And when the flight attendant caught me hungrily eying his tray she quickly served me my food as well. After all it is more fun eating together than one after the other.

What to expect on an eight hour flight: Hour 3

Still not done with that first movie. Let’s carry on. With service over, the flight eventually starts quietening down. Pretty much everyone is watching movies… or snoozing.

What to expect on an eight hour flight: Hour 4

The landing cards are handed out, for us to fill in. As always is it upon me to fill it in for the two of us (well it does say to be filled in by the responsible family member… is that why it’s never him? Or just because no one would ever be able to decipher his handwriting?).

Quick update here: From 2019, landing cards are no longer required when flying from the UK to the US. 

I finish my first movie. For some variation I now opt for a bit of music. And finally unpack the laptop and start writing blog posts.

Meanwhile the cabin crew starts another round of drinks.


What to expect on an eight hour flight: Hour 5

Not much happening this hour. I actually manage 45 minutes of light snooze, whilst listening to Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York New York’ (ok and a few others).

Woke up just in time for a round of ice-cream. That certainly is a first (not complaining obviously).

What to expect on an eight hour flight: Hour 6

Enough time left to start another movie.

What to expect on an eight hour flight: Hour 7

‘Are we there yet?’… He’s done exceptionally well getting through six hours without mentioning the dreaded sentence once… but it was bound to happen at some point.

Second film finished… not quite worth starting a third one. So let’s stare out of the window for a few minutes.

And to keep us busy, another round of food and drinks. This time sandwiches and tea.

What to expect on an eight hour fight: Hour 8

Final hour.

We are flying along the New England coast and are by now low enough to actually see something other than just clouds.

I suddenly remember that I brought both a crossword (logicals actually, not crosswords) and a new book for the flight. I take both out of my bag and start (first a logical, then some reading).

As soon as the pilot announces that it is approx. 20 minutes until the fasten seat belt sign will be switched on, the last minute rush to the washroom sets in.

And we are here. We’ve survived the eight hours and are touching down at JFK.

What to expect on an eight hour flight: Hours 9 + 10

Now the next wait begins… getting off the plane is quick, getting through border control not quite so quick. The queues are rather long and it takes us the best part of two hours to actually get through border control, pick up our luggage and finally leave the airport.

So time to go and enjoy New York, before we are doing those eight hours again on the way back.

What to expect on an eight hour flight in economy - Travel for a Living

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  1. WonderHereWanderThere

    “Or just because no one would ever be able to decipher his handwriting” Haha sounds just like my husband!! Long haul is tough, I forgot how much so until my recent trip to the States!

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