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Too long flights/layovers

A group of friends &I signed up for tours of Australia & New Zealand. Original flight schedule with layovers would take 26 hours...a long but do able schedule. A change in times was just announced and our total travel time will be 35 hours. I am 72 y.o. as are my friends. They don't seem to be fazed by this but I don't know if major exhaustion is worth it. I'm ready to cancel. The agency is giving us a small refund but it's not about the money. I haven't gone overseas (London) for several years. Has anyone gone on this long of a journey? Three layovers...2, 6, & 7 hours.

Posted by
8293 posts

Maybe you could pay for access to one of the fancy airport lounges in one or both of your long layovers. You could relax and maybe have a shower, and brace yourself for the rest of the journey. Don’t cancel before having a long think ....... it could be the trip of a lifetime.

Posted by
5228 posts

I’m confused are you going to London or To Australia and New Zealand.

It’s never a short trip to Australia or New Zealand from Europe or the US. Did a tour agent come up with this flight schedule?

Posted by
2360 posts

I second the idea of a lounge with a shower. Just last night my daughter was remembering very enthusiastically the shower she took in the Virgin Atlantic lounge at Heathrow last June when we had to wait all afternoon for our flight to Edinburgh. The last time she was that excited about something routine was when she got back from her first missions trip to Guatamala and said "ice is amazing".

Posted by
3 posts

Just to clarify...my last long airline flight was to London 2012. This trip is Chicago to Australia.

Posted by
2938 posts

What about turning one of those layovers into a night's rest in a hotel? I did this when I flew to Rwanda from Seattle. I stayed at an airport hotel in Amsterdam overnight and then continued on with the journey the next day. Would this be possible? Since the airline is the one requesting the change I think they would work with you.

Otherwise one of you could join an airport lounge system (like priority pass) and then guest the other two into the lounge. Perhaps the three of you could share the cost of the one membership. If you can buy a seat with extra legroom on the flight that might also help.

Posted by
11486 posts

I'll vote Norma and Cala's shower and lounge suggestion too. Plus you and your friends will prop each other up. :O)

Yep, my very first flight to Europe, way back in the 70's, was a hairball. Without going into great detail, what with a bunch of delays we were 18 hours late just getting into the air at O'Hare - which was a longish bus ride from my little Midwest town to begin with - and sat on the tarmac in Amsterdam for some hours for an unscheduled re-routing to Athens. LOL, it was an adventure to be sure AND I couldn't sleep during the flight. Our group was pretty sorry looking when we stumbled off the plane but SO excited to finally be there!

Pretty sure you will be just an excited once you've arrived. :O) Really, think about not canceling, and looking at your layovers as good opportunities for a welcome stretch? Where are your layovers?

Posted by
3 posts

First layover is 6' in LA before the 13' flight. The last is 7' in Brisbabe before the final 2 1/2' flight.

Posted by
8293 posts

If you don’t mind spending somewhat more, you could fly into LA the night before and stay at an airport hotel. Then you would have only two layovers, which isn’t too onerous for such an adventure.

Posted by
1698 posts

Your agent really hasn't done you any favors here.
You don't say when this trip would be, but with sufficient lead time I'd suggest going back to your agent and reworking your proposed itinerary. Although there are no non-stops between Chicago and Sydney, there are plenty of one-stops that are much less than the 36 hr elapsed time you're being quoted, all with reasonable layovers and with a total time enroute of around 20 hrs.
If your final destination is Sydney why they're taking you via Brisbane is beyond me.

Posted by
923 posts

Call the airline and see what they can do for you. Tell them the new timeframe isn’t going to work well for you. I had the same thing happen to me for a flight, twice. Each change was worse. Each time, customer service helped with a better flying schedule.

Posted by
2407 posts

Is this flight schedule set up by the tour company? If so, consider arranging your own flights. From what I understand, often the flights the companies choose are not the best or most direct. Try to arrange your own and meet your friends there if this is the case. Opt out of the tour company’s airfare. I chose my flights carefully to avoid starting out my vacation exhausted.

Posted by
8293 posts

Wray is quite right. When flights are included in the tour price, the itinerary is the least expensive routing possible, and usually very inconvenient, as is the one described by the OP.

Posted by
257 posts

Judging from the final flight time, the final destination is not Sydney. The final flight is 2 and a half hours, so it sounds more like Cairns. I would also suggest an overnight stay (or longer) at LA or Brisbane.

Posted by
6109 posts

A 2.5 hr flight from Brisbane could be one that goes to Melbourne.

If the flights and tours are packaged, 'unbundling' them may be a challenge. Certainly would not hurt to contact the airline and see what can be done to get to the ultimate destination more expeditiously, pointing out the new itinerary has added 9 hrs to the trek.

Posted by
3435 posts

Australia is blessed with competitive short-range airlines, particularly Jetstar and Virgin Australia. You can find them at www.skyscanner.com . This tool will help you map out your own itinerary. Trans-Pacific flights out of a gateway such as Chicago are reasonably priced (compared to trans-Atlantic and considering the distance.) You might DIY by flying into Sydney as a gateway, recovering for a few nights -- lots to do in Sydney -- and then making your own way to what appears to be a fairly remote starting point for your tour. If the tour ends in New Zealand, come home from there using a multi-destination search function for the trans-Pacific flights. It may cost more than the tour on offer, but your body will thank you (I'm over 70 and think twice about long-distance routes too.)

Posted by
2701 posts

Get a refund on your original ticket, then buy tickets on Air New Zealand nonstop Chicago to Auckland. Then add Australia on from there.

Qantas starts O’Hare nonstops in 2020, probably too late for you.

You could also consider an Air New Zealand tour that uses the nonstop flights to/from O’Hare and includes an Australia portion.

Air New Zealand offers 2 ways to buy more space in coach: 3 seats together made up like a short bed (“sky couch”) or an empty seat next to you for US $69 (on the 787 only but the O’Hare flight is a 787).

From O’Hare to Sydney check out both United via Houston or American/Qantas flights via Dallas. It can be faster going via Texas than going via California.

Posted by
1839 posts

Tom (last poster) has given you some good advice. You should be able to get a full refund from the airline (which the travel agency should pass on to you, maybe minus their booking cost).

We went from Nashville to LA, then direct on Air New Zealand. It was a pleasant journey. Coming back from Australia we did KLM/Delta combo.

The 7-hour layover will be a killer after the previous two....even in the airline club, it is still along wait. But, going that far, you also do not want too tight of a layover en route to arrive in your far away destination. Our plane was late leaving BNA to LA, and oh my gosh, I will NEVER forget that run at the airport, and we had to change terminal buildings and go thru security again. We made it, but only by truly acting like a track star (along with getting permission from the flight attendant for me to announce to remain in seats until those with tight connections may deplane...three times and people finally remained seated. A bunch of young geologists ran behind us to catch the same connection. You do not want to experience that stress!!

But, to answer your question, I think our combination of flights coming back from Antarctica was about 32 hours, and we were truly beat when we got home.

If you cannot work something out, I think the other posters' recommendations to break it up with a night in LA (or wherever) en route is good advice. Your travel agent should be able to work that out for you without a reticketing fee, due to the change of schedule.

Posted by
991 posts

I'm nowhere near your age, and I'd be thinking twice about that amount of travel time.

I'd see how much it would cost to rebook the flight, BUT if you can't do that because of time/cost constraints, I'd look into the following two options -

1 - How much would it cost to upgrade the longest leg of the flight into a more comfortable class of service?
2 - How much would it cost to use the lounge on the days that you're flying? Some lounges require you to be flying their airline and in a certain class of seat, but there are some lounges which do not.

Posted by
4678 posts

When we went on a Viking River Cruises trip to China, they were offering $299 air for some departures. (Yes, I know "There is no such thing as a free lunch.") We had to fly from Newark, NJ to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Shanghai, all in coach. For $299, we sucked it up. I guess it was 26 hours.

But when you accept a deal like this, it usually says in black and white that they can add layovers and overnights. That is normal, even when the air is not "discounted" by the tour provider. You should not be completely startled that this happened. Do you actually have the option to cancel at no cost? How much was the flight cost for your trip?

One major compensation may be that they guarantee to get you on your tour no matter what happens along the way. Do they?

Posted by
5618 posts

I would never ever accept a tour company’s “included” airfare after all the horror stories I have heard , similar to yours. Flown to multiple cities, long layovers, etc. Plus, I find I can save money on my airfare too.
I don’t mind the long flights, but I make sure I streamline them as much as possible. For over six hours I fly Business Class which makes a huge difference in how I feel the first few days. I flew ORD to LAX to Sydney. Another time 16.5 hours to Hong Kong from DFW. And if on a tour, I always arrive in the first city a minimum of two nights ahead.