I didn’t notice the duration until after I booked my airfare.
Total flight time from Salt Lake City to Durban, South Africa: an intimidating 22 hours—just under a full day. And that doesn’t include the 7-hour layover at two different airports. Nor the three additional hours of airtime on the return flight (because trade winds).
The longest nonstop I will take on this trip—New York to Johannesburg—lasts 16 hours and 27 minutes. It won’t be as long as the record-setting 18-hour-and-50-minute doozy from Singapore to New York, but it’s close. And it may make you wonder, why would anyone do that to themselves?
If I’m going to go on a life-changing safari, I’ve gotta get my hands dirty, right!? So I do it—I book the flight. After processing the sheer amount of time I’ll spend in the air, however, I mistakenly think my past experience on 10-plus hour flights will make this long-hauler a piece of cake.
I am wrong. Hour 12, I learn, is like hitting “the wall” in a marathon, and at that point I’ll still have five more hours to go. Someone get me outta here! In fact, the latter half of the flight will feel like a slow-motion time warp. Zombie-land in a flying metal tube, and I’m the zombie.
Sounds nice, right? For anyone planning on taking a similar “ultra long-haul”—any flight greater than 16 hours—here’s a psychological run-down of what to expect, plus tips and tricks to maintain your sanity. Continue reading…