World’s Worst Jet Lag Flight?

We all have our little tricks to minimize jet lag. Wearing blinders during day-hours en route. Sleep deprivation before a flight, followed by heavy doses of sleeping pills and on-board napping. Serious devotion to hydration. Magic. Sometimes it works, usually it doesn’t. Jet lag is something we sort of have to live with.

But what’s the worst flight for it? Maybe that monster 19-hour Newark-Singapore flight?

No. Any New York to California flight is the world’s worst for jet lag. Seriously. And I can prove it, in a way.

When I fly west from New York, I take the first flight available (eg I fly to San Francisco at 6am this Sunday). Which means I’m usually up at 3am to get to the airport in time (I travel a lot, but I still show up very early — I’m weird that way). That’s midnight on the West Coast.

After landing at 11am (2pm EST) or noon (3pm EST), I meet people and do some talking and joking, get a burrito, a beer, and eventually stay up till midnight, at the minimum. Meaning I don’t crash till after 3am New York time.

That’s at least 24 straight waking hours.

No other flight I’ve ever taken am I up for more consecutive hours — certainly not the Newark-Singapore flight, which I’ve done a couple times. And adjusting to the domestic jet lag of a NYC-SF flight takes me far longer than it should (gramma’s rule: one day per time zone clicked).

Sure, I should sleep on the plane. But I never do. Maybe I should try more magic.

About Robert Reid

Lonely Planet's US Travel Editor. Written 24 LP guidebooks and articles for NY Times, WSJ, ESPN & CNN. Into cereal, Dylan, travel.
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2 Responses to World’s Worst Jet Lag Flight?

  1. Rutila says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Rutila says:

    Agreed! You’ve done a lot more traveling than I have, but NYC to SF was worse than going to and returning from Istanbul.