Sydney – NYC 1: Airlines (and legroom), customs, transfers and hotels

What's Up?

Seems like a lifetime ago but it all started with this post.

The thought of spending Christmas in 2 cities in different parts of the world sounded wonderful. Even romantic in an adventurous, globe-trotting sense.

But If your thinking about spending 2 events in 2 time zones, here’s a tip: make sure you schedule your flights perfectly.

In hindsight leaving late afternoon Sydney time meant that NYC arrival was late on Christmas Day. We didn’t reach our NYC hotel til 10.30 pm and by that time, it was too late to say to look around (factoring jet lag and all).

It can be done but do consider leaving a little bit earlier when organising a trip of that kind.

PC Xmas
Err, it sounded like a good idea at the time


Airlines and Leg room

Leg room equals comfort. If you can afford it then I would highly recommend it particularly on long flights.

I’ve been on a few airlines before and I must say there’s just not lot of legroom with United cattle class. Catching some zzz’s with the rest of the herd on a long flight is challenging at best. I must have dozed off for a total of 30 mins through the night. The red eyes did not help my case with customs (below).

Another thing with United Economy is that they only have  small number of screens which made watching movies difficult.

In stark contrast, I had enough sense (and fortunately, money) to upgrade the LA to NYC leg to United’s Economy +. What does the $170 domestic upgrade give you? Leg room, movies and time (you’re served 1st entering and leaving the plane). But that same Economy + on an international leg will only give you leg room and time (no movies).

Now of course this is just how United operates. Other airlines have legroom and screens already fitted in their planes, as expressed in their price. I’m sure some standard economy airfares are close to parity with United’s Economy + if you factor in the upgrade.

What goes down at Customs 

When travelling to LA, factor in the long queues at customs particularly if you have a connecting flight. The queues are looooooong and it can leave you panicking.

Here’s a tip for any males with tattoos: hide them.

I am almost certain that my customs officer gave me an extra special serving of ‘finger-printing attention’ due to my tattoos. Experience now says to change the t-shirt to a long sleeve before you hit customs. This is LA, and they are known gangland activity in certain areas. The problem here is that your friendly customs officer will have their gang-lens on when probing travelers. Better to hide than miss your connection.

In addition to this, get ready to take your shoes off, hats/beanies off and get probed. It’s the post 9/11 way in airports these days.

Coach, cab or other?

Grabbed the coach service which I would recommend only if you don’t mind a service that takes you and other passengers from the airport to your hotels (and vice versa). The key consideration here of course is your time and comfort level (sharing a service with others).

I didn’t mind it too much but if I had to do it all over again I would consider a direct ride.

Downtown, Midtown or Uptown.

It’s basically a good idea to base yourself close to the areas you’ll be visiting. Since we wanted to check out a fair few things around NYC, it made sense to book a hotel dead smack in the center: Midtown.

To be exact, we stayed at the Affinia Shelburne, on Lexington and 38th. It’s a great quiet place in a residential looking area, not too far from Grand Central, Times Square and Empire State. I recommend these guys for the rooms, service and good diner / bar (dinner still being served at around 11 pm down there).

Up next..

Out and about in NYC. You can read about it here.

Take care out there guys.

4 thoughts on “Sydney – NYC 1: Airlines (and legroom), customs, transfers and hotels

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