Having never flown long haul myself and also having booked the cheapest flights we could with budget airline Air Europa, I was slightly apprehensive about what to expect - especially when J had read somewhere that there may not be any in-flight entertainment! But the flight from Gatwick to Buenos Aires via Madrid was actually enjoyable - even with a two hour delay and the panic of thinking we had missed the boarding for our 2nd flight (more about that later!)
In anticipation of being bored we prepared by downloading some programs from BBC iplayer to watch, taking a couple of card games, our kindles and spotify playlists to listen to offline. We were of course also planning on sleeping so we made sure that we wore comfy clothing - jeans, t-shirts, fleeces and sports socks - not that we could have done anything else - flips flops, shorts and vests aren't really the best attire for London in late November, even if you are leaving! We also made sure that we had earplugs (essential for screamers/snorers), eye masks and our travel pillows with us. As it turned out the flight did have entertainment after all, with a few decent films and Air Europa even gave us pillows and blankets for the 13 hour flight.
In order to combat jet lag, when we arrived in Madrid we changed our watches to Buenos Aires local time. Adjusting our internal body clocks really seemed to help, apart from feeling a bit worn out after such a long journey and not having the best nights sleep, we didn't really suffer from it - so it's a definite recommended tip!
Having contracted the age old 'aeroplane cold' since the flight I am going to do a few things differently next time though:
- Take some anti-bacterial mouthwash
- Use more anti-bacterial hand gel
- Take a vitamin C boost beforehand
- Get up for a walk/stretch more regularly
- Hydrate more (before & during)
We didn't actually take any water onto the 2nd leg of the flight - very rookie mistake (I'm blaming it on the birthday drinks!). I will also try to make sure I have had lots of sleep before the next long journey - I actually got a fair amount on the plane though, considering how uncomfortable it was to sleep in such a small space, but a combination of leaving drinks and waking up so early with excitement the night before took it's toll. We were very lucky with our in flight neighbours this time, however I did have a trusted back up of sleeping pills with me too which I'm sure will come in handy for future long journeys.
So onto missing our flight, or not as the case was. Having checked the times for boarding and taken into account the fact that we were now on Buenos Aires time, we were enjoying a couple of drinks (it being my birthday and all) in the airport bar. We had been regularly checking the board for updates on delays etc when suddenly our flight was no longer listed! Assuming we had got the times wrong we frantically gathered our belongings, left our barely touched drinks and rushed to the gate which was empty. Panic starting to set in, we found an information desk, only to be casually told - 'oh yeah that flights delayed by two hours'. Thankfully the staff in the bar weren't too hot on clearing tables so our drinks were still where we had left them!
Eventually after tearful goodbyes, birthday drinks, and delays we settled into our 13 hour flight and arrived safe and sound - ready to start our adventure.