Marathon Flying: Survival in the Air

If you’ve been following the blog, you know Steve and I recently returned from our yearly “Trip of a Lifetime” and that it involved a LOT of flights! Nine flights to be exact. On the way home, we spent 39 hours sitting in traffic on Bali, taking four flights, going through what seemed like a dozen security checkpoints, and laying over in three airports before unlocking our door and relaxing at home!

What’s that like? Why would we put ourselves through that? Is it worthwhile? Would we do it again? What did we do to occupy ourselves all that time? Read on and find out!

So what qualifies as marathon flying? I just made that up, so I’ll make up the parameters as well. Marathon flying is any series of three or more flights in a row, and one of those flights is at least six hours. We had two marathon flights on this trip from the Baltics to Bali, and then from Bali back to DC!

Good thing we love each other. That’s a long time to be with someone! 

Let’s start with the easy flights getting to the Baltics:

Series 1 
Route: Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)-Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)-Vilnius, Lithuania (VNO)
Timing: Leave IAD at 5:20pm Thursday; Arrive in VNO at 1:30pm
Total Time: 13 hours, 10 minutes
What did we do? Steve slept, I watched TV and movies, we ate, and when we weren’t doing those things, we were studying our guidebook for the Baltics! We flew business from IAD to FRA, then on Lufthansa (a German airline in the Star Alliance).

Series 2 (Marathon Flight)
Route: Tallinn, Estonia (TLL)-FRA-Singapore (SIN)-Denpasar, Bali (DPS)
Timing: Leave TLL at 2:15pm Thursday; Arrive in DPS at 8:50pm Friday
Total Time: 25 hours, 35 minutes
What did we do? Wow. This one was a doozy! We planned for a 6 hour layover in Frankfurt, so we went into the city for a couple of hours before heading back into the airport. We flew Lufthansa the first two flights, then Singapore Air for the last flight. The best part was flying in business on Lufthansa’s A380 aircraft for 12 hours and 25 minutes–that’s the airplane with two levels the whole length of the plane! It was pretty fancy. And comfortable–even I slept nearly 8 hours!

And just a heads-up, when you have a series of flights like this, you sometimes have to go through security more than once. We went through security three times for this series–once entering the Tallin airport, a second time coming back into the Frankfurt airport from the city, and again at the gate in Singapore!

Series 3 (Marathon Flight)
Route: DPS-Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)-Vienna, Austria (VIE)-FRA-IAD
Timing: Leave DPS at 5:40pm Tuesday; Arrive IAD at 3:10pm Wednesday
Total Time: 33 hours, 30 minutes–WOW!
What did we do? This was actually a pretty exciting day and a half! We left our accommodation in Bali to drive to DPS at just before 1:00pm for our 5:40pm flight, and we went through two full security checks just within the Bali airport alone! Then another full security in Bangkok (where Steve’s deodorant was wrongly taken away and disposed of!), then again in Vienna, and for some reason we didn’t have to go through security in Frankfurt!

But the most delightful thing happened in Bangkok. Our boarding passes scanned red instead of green, and the scanning machine made a terrible noise! So we were told to stand aside and the Austrian Airlines employees would check our reservation. This was an 11 hour flight in economy (and I can’t sleep sitting upright anywhere, especially on a plane), so I was already dreading it before the little setback. But much to our delight–Austrian had oversold their economy seats and they had upgraded us to BUSINESS! We couldn’t believe it!

That was by far the best thing that could have happened for us. I slept so many glorious hours, and an actual chef (in a chef’s uniform, including hat!) took our dinner orders and served our entrees to us!

Have you ever done some Marathon Flying? Ever been unexpectedly upgraded? Comment below with your tale!

4 responses to “Marathon Flying: Survival in the Air”

  1. […] and I experienced an airplane “first” on our recent marathon flights in August. We flew on Lufthansa’s A380 Airbus aircraft–that’s the HUGE plane with […]

  2. […] Free Upgrades I’ll illustrate this with a story: On a marathon flight experience coming home from Bali last summer, my husband and I planned on several Economy Class seats on a […]

  3. […] loyalty. It’s a Complimentary Upgrade! The best unexpected upgrade was definitely on a 14 hour international flight from Bangkok to Vienna, but a domestic upgrade (less than 6 hours in length) is nothing to scoff […]

  4. […] and I experienced anĀ airplane “first” on our recent marathon flights in August. We flew on Lufthansa’s A380 Airbus aircraft–that’s the HUGE plane with […]

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