My Seven Years in the Air: A History of Quirkiest Flights

plane wing over orange hue clouds
credits: Getty Images

A history of my quirkiest flights: with my best friend and travel companion, & the most awesome travel app out there! Here’s looking at you, TripIt 😉

7 years of travel & over half a million km spent in the air.

That amounts to 27 days of continuously sitting in an airplane. Give or take, you know.

While essentially circling Earth over ten times.

While some of my travel may have slipped being logged with TripIt in the last 7 years, it’s been very close to my real stats.

Raluca has traveled 573,792 km to 90 locations including Berlin, Cairo, Auckland and Cape Town.

tripit stats
2016 – a summary of numbers

Which got me thinking: Just how many of these flights got under my skin – And Why? It was a fun walk along the memory lane, and I’m gonna share it with you:

Around the World in Seven Years: Quirkiest Flights

Most Nightmarish Flight:  Vietnam

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I’ll start with the lesser evil: a horrible flight combination, which started with a Brussels > Budapest flight with Ryanair. So far so good. But then:

  • Budapest > Kiev, with Aerosvit
  • 1 night in a Kiev hostel with 10 other snoring people (just my luck)
  • Kiev > Bangkok with Aerosvit
  • Bangkok > Ho Chi Minh, thankfully with Thai Air
  • Ho Chi Mihn > Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines

And on the way back it was even worse, as we left at midnight and had two long layovers:

  • Midnight flight Ho Chi Minh > Beijing, with Air China
  • Painful 7h layover in Beijing
  • Beijing > Moscow with Aeroflot
  • Another painful 5h layover in Moscow
  • Moscow > Budapest with Aeroflot
  • Budapest > home to Brussels

In hindsight, the flight combination wasn’t even the worst part. The thing that stands out in my memory is the poorest service on board in the history of (my) flights.

Here’s why Aerosvit deserves the Golden Raspberry Award:

  • The condensed water from the airco started trickling on my head before we were taking off. The trickle got more and more serious, and I waited for a few minutes before I made a service call. And another. And another. (while slowly getting soaked)
  • The flight attendant eventually did come, but she did not speak English (not joking). And she was apparently oblivious to the water situation – only signaling it’s fine in response. I eventually changed seats on my own.
  • The food was unpassable. I still ate it, which made me more unhappy.
  • There was zero in-flight entertainment for an 11-hour flight  – unless you count my exchanges with the flight attendant.
  • The aircraft was old, and the legroom made sure you knew it.

The whole ordeal wasn’t even that cheap, at 568€..

I know, some of you may say at this point that flying anywhere is a wonder in itself, and modern day people so rarely appreciate its real value. And I agree, I do.

But in the free spirit of #firstworldproblems,  I still have the right to bitch about it. So there.

And just to make sure it’s clear: Once we made it to the other side, it was completely worth it. Vietnam is still one of my favorite trips in these last 7 years.

Highest Number of Legs: Also Vietnam

Vietnam vacay
Blinded by the clouds
  • It took us 4 legs to get there
  • 4 legs to get back
  • And 5 local flights while in Vietnam

With a grand total of 13 legs: Vietnam, ladies and gents!

Longest Flight vs. Shortest Stay: New Zealand

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Blue Lake, Tongariro crossing

A nine-day trip which we recently completed, as a result of Qatar’s Travel Treasure Hunt.

Nine days sounds short, but still decent enough, right?

Right.. Unless you go from Europe to New Zealand, that is!

Between the 6.5 hours to get from Barcelona to Doha, then another 16.5 hours on the longest flight in the world Doha > Auckland, plus the 12 time zones in between, our trip had been significantly shortened. Sliced in half, to be more precise.

We got to New Zealand on a Wednesday AM and left next Monday at noon.

But hey: count your blessings, right? The things we managed to see and do in that short time span made it all worth it! (well, that & the great in-flight service from Qatar Airways, but that’s a different story)

* I must admit, I was debating on how to do the math on this one,  with the runner-up being Brussels to London to Cairo for a 24h marathon in Egypt. But I guess the longest flight in the world had to win.

Most Surprising: New Zealand

Waikato River close up, hike near Taupo
Waikato River

Auckland to Taupo, after the other 23h in the air.

Guess what? There is no security check. None! If you can imagine, they do not – I repeat, do not have security check for internal flights in NZ.  Our flight had been called and I was debating internally when we’ll even have time to go through security… and suddenly, I was walking across the tarmac and boarding the plane. No security.

Apparently, there is no security screening required for propeller flights – only for jet flights. I did not double check this information, but it is pretty obvious something holds true…

Every other airport I’ve been at, with no exception, they do a security check. Regardless of the flight size. Coming from our safari, Hoedspruit to Johannesburg we had a similar size plane – and still got checked. Makes you wonder..

Bonus for the most surprising flight: the amazing aerial views!

Most Unplanned: Thailand

New Year's fireworks in Bangkok central square
New Year’s fireworks in Bangkok central square

This flight we booked the day before.

As a better alternative to the pre-arranged 12 hours on a train. In Third class. For New Year’s Eve!

The most hilarious part was: when we booked the 14-day tour of Thailand we knew about the train. Only I had a more romanticized image of what that would involve.

And it sure didn’t include spending New Year’s – in Thailand – eating Burger King takeaway while crammed with 30 other people, in a third class, open sleeping wagon.

Our tour guide actually advised we buy some Burger King menus before boarding the train.Because you know, they had had cases of food poisoning from train food. No biggie.

So yes: we booked an Air Asia flight to Bangkok instead.

Despite the super bad publicity they were riding when that other flight of theirs went missing just 2 days before (remember that story?)

Most Lavish: South Africa

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Because Qatar Airways Qmiles. And because my dear husband.

Travelling business class was something I could hardly imagine I’d ever do. The hell if I’m gonna spend my money on a business class ticket!

But I never said anything about my husband’s Qmiles. Yeah, those are good to go.

Stretching legs, sipping on champagne, messing around with my readathon books, and munching on Godiva chocolates & ice cream. Yes, please!

And TripIt Was There To See It

TripIt Pro welcome screen

I’m always 5 seconds away from all my travel information. No digging for reservation codes, dates, hours, names, blah blah… All here in my little app.

It always impresses the shit out of people when I do my magic trick!

It helps keep tabs on all my bookings: hotels, tours, flights.

It stores my business travel too.

It connects to Rome2Rio, possibly the easiest to use transportation aggregator .

It saved my New Zealand trip, with flight change notifications!

So why not go even further? I think it’s time I gave TripIt the credit it deserves. I’m going Pro.

Here’s to many more flights together, TripIt!

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