AA to Barcelona questions

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#1
southern illinois
170 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
Hello
This is my first time traveling to Europe. Our flight starts in St Louis and goes to Chicago where we have a 2.5 hour layover then we leave Chicago at 10pm arriving in Barcelona at 1:30 pm the next day.

I wondered what type of meals to expect in economy class. I didn't know if they would serve dinner that late and if it was decent food, or if we should spend our layover grabbing a bite.

Any tips on long flights and what to expect would be appreciated. I've flown on American to the Caribbean many times,but never this long of a flight. Hoping to sleep most of the flight so any tips on accomplishing that are welcome as well! We are staying 3 days pre cruise in Barcelona so we don't have to get directly on the ship.

Thanks for any help
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#3
Tacoma, Wa, USA
9,273 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
There is no magic formula to sleeping on a plane. Especially when your adrenaline is pumping due to the excitement of something new.
After you’ve done it a few times and the newness wears off, you may find some things that help you catch a cat nap or 2 but never sleep.

Want to sleep, I recommend First or Business class with lie flat beds and pharmaceuticals.
#4
NJ/NV
3,794 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
If you are leaving at 10pm I would suggest getting a bite to eat before you board. Airline food by and large is pretty bad and even if they are doing a meal service it would be after 11pm before you would see it. Better to eat at a more normal time and then spend your time on the flight reading, watching a movie and trying to get some sleep. We did a 9pm departure to LHR from Newark last month and it worked well for us. We both manged a few hours of sleep so we were not walking dead when we arrived. Once you get to Barcelona head to your hotel. It is will be late enough in the day that you can check in but once you are checked in, head out and walk see some sights and try to stay up until your normal bed time. We find that helps us beat the jet lag. Enjoy Barcelona, it is a great city.
#5
southern illinois
170 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
Thanks so much for the great tips everyone! I'm really looking forward to our trip.
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#6
Chicago, IL
30 Posts
Joined Mar 2018
Originally posted by leslierx
Hello
This is my first time traveling to Europe. Our flight starts in St Louis and goes to Chicago where we have a 2.5 hour layover then we leave Chicago at 10pm arriving in Barcelona at 1:30 pm the next day.

I wondered what type of meals to expect in economy class. I didn't know if they would serve dinner that late and if it was decent food, or if we should spend our layover grabbing a bite.

Any tips on long flights and what to expect would be appreciated. I've flown on American to the Caribbean many times,but never this long of a flight. Hoping to sleep most of the flight so any tips on accomplishing that are welcome as well! We are staying 3 days pre cruise in Barcelona so we don't have to get directly on the ship.

Thanks for any help
O'Hare has been making good strides in improving the quality of its restaurants. Are you flying to Barcelona on an AA plane? If so, I highly recommend the Publican Tavern (https://www.oneoffhospitality.com/publicantavern/). It's closer to the security lines so it may be a hike depending on what gate your first flight arrives into. Tortas Frontera (http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/tortas-frontera/) is solid, too, and even has a location in the International terminal. If you fly out on an Iberia plane, you'll have to transfer terminals from 3 to 5 and that can take some time even if you use the transfer shuttle (thereby bypassing another security check). Terminal 5 also has decent options - Tortas Frontera and Big Bowl are my favorites.

Again, if you eat first, you can try and get to sleep earlier on the plane rather than waiting for the dinner service to wrap up and the lights going down.
#7
South Carolina
680 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Well, I guess I'm a contrarian, but the hustle and bustle of the dinner service (carts in the aisle, stewardess asking for drink/food orders, captain's announcements, etc) tends to keep me from getting to sleep. So I eat the airline food and then settle down for sleep. YMMV.
#8
Charleston SC
2,493 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
assuming you are on a red eye you will be landing in Spain early in the am and it will still be the night before in IL. I'd say just get the hell out of the airport and take a cab to your hotel, drop luggage then go get something to eat walk around then get the lay of the land then go check into your room and get refreshed and try to sleep and get on Spain time. That way you can enjoy the next couple days and not be messed up time wise.
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#9
Southern California by way of Kentucky
22,098 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
Originally posted by klfrodo
There is no magic formula to sleeping on a plane. Especially when your adrenaline is pumping due to the excitement of something new.
After you’ve done it a few times and the newness wears off, you may find some things that help you catch a cat nap or 2 but never sleep.

Want to sleep, I recommend First or Business class with lie flat beds and pharmaceuticals.
Even flying First/Business...I'll be the one with my reading light on in that dark cabin..I can never sleep and certainly wouldn't take anything to make me...the rest of you can make use of those sleep masks they provide
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#10
South Florida
891 Posts
Joined Jul 2016
Given its a 10pm departure I would just eat at ORD and try to sleep. It looks like they do give a dinner. I will say the last time I had a meal on American in coach MIA-LHR the dinner was ok, not bad. And I did have it because the timing of the flight we did not have dinner before.

On a flight like this I wish they would just focus on breakfast and not dinner and give a small snack before.

Sleeping is never easy on an airplane, especially in coach. The best thing you can do is try to get comfortable and wear something comfortable for the flight. Turn the brightness down on your screen too.

Breakfast on my flight was not bad but very simple. But you will likely sleep some because 2-hours in you will be 12:00 a.m. local time. So try to sleep. Just 3-4 hours of sleep would be great and then stay awake as much as you can the first day in Barcelona and get to sleep around a normal time say 10:00pm.
#11
southern illinois
170 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
We are flying American so I'll look out for the airport restaurants mentioned. We have a 2.5 hour layover in Chicago so should be plenty of time to eat.

I've heard when you arrive you should go outside and get plenty of sun and try to go to bed at a bedtime in the time zone your in instead of taking a nap in the day. I'm sure we will be so excited that won't be a problem.

Thanks again everyone for the great tips.
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#12
1,239 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
There is no magic bullet and you will get lots of conflicting advice. Airplane food is pretty mediocre (even in premium cabins) is I tend to avoid it and just enjoy a meal on the ground so I am not eating on a crowded plane. A 10pm departure is pretty late and I don’t usually eat dinner at 10:30 or 11 at night. When taking overnight flights that leave that late I do all my evening prep before boarding so I can be mentally ready to sleep: make up off, contacts out, glasses on, good moisturizer on face and hands to beat the dry plane air, comfy clothes with sports bra underneath. The cabin won’t be completely dark so I bring eyeshades. Airplanes are super dry and I hate flagging down an FA every time I want a sip of water so I just pay for a large water near the gate to bring onboard my flight.
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#13
Maryland
5,445 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
I would eat in the airport and then try to immediately get to sleep on the plane. As someone already mentioned, you won't get dinner for a while after the plane takes off. By the time you eat, you won't have much time to sleep. A sleeping pill is best; I've tried anti-histamines but they aren't great unless I use more than recommended, which then causes me problems in other ways. I take an inflatable pillow, a mask, and sometimes put the blanket over my head to "hide" a bit. I wear very comfortable clothes, take off my shoes, and sometimes use ear plugs. I fasten seat belt outside my clothing where it can be seen all night. I take a very small bag so I can put my glasses and morning med in there, plus a tiny thing of toothpaste and toothbrush. The latter 2 things may be given to you, but if not, you may want them when you wake up. I keep a bottle of water in the seat pocket in case I want it later and nobody much seems to be stirring.

A 10 PM flight sounds good to me, since

I try not to nap my first day and try to get on Europe time and routine as soon as possible. Of course, dinner in Barcelona usually doesn't start until at least 7 PM, so a large and late lunch might be helpful, then a small dinner and bed as late as you can manage! Of course, if you land at 1:30, you may not even eat lunch in Barcelona, so dinner after 7 PM might be just what you need.

I guess this info is pretty much what nolatravel girl and others have said - but just thought I'd post my two cents' worth to confirm!

Just a comment - while 2 1/2 hours seems like a long layover, there will be times in flying to or from Europe that you'll actually want a good cushion for a layover. I've learned over the years that time needed in large airports when traveling overseas can be quite variable.

Good call to go to Barcelona 3 days early! Enjoy. Loved Barcelona.
#14
North County San Diego
1,932 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Originally posted by klfrodo
There is no magic formula to sleeping on a plane. Especially when your adrenaline is pumping due to the excitement of something new.
After you’ve done it a few times and the newness wears off, you may find some things that help you catch a cat nap or 2 but never sleep.

Want to sleep, I recommend First or Business class with lie flat beds and pharmaceuticals.
Perhaps 15-20 years ago I was on a flight from Chicago to Brussels (on AA) and the person next to me was drinking cokes and coffee from takeoff through the meal service. Somewhat worried that this person was going to keep me up all night, I asked if they were going to be able to settle down after all of this. With a smile the person brought out red pills and indicated no problem and also asked whether I wanted some drugs too. I declined and they went out like a light in 10 or so minutes after taking the pills. The person was knocked out until just before we landed. I wondered what would have happened if we had diverted and whether someone would have needed to come on board and drag people off the plane.
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#15
Chicagoland Area
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Joined Aug 2002
I just did an nonstop on AA to Barcelona from Chicago, first time since like 1989 (same flight you're taking). I had asked for tips too. I was told that the arrival in the early afternoon is very helpful - less time to try to stay up. I had 2 glasses of wine prior to boarding, and then after we took off, I had another small one with dinner and then I was out. I had booked the extra legroom in economy so that was very helpful. Added bonus of an empty middle seat. I did manage to sleep quite a bit, and when I landed I was shocked that I didn't experience any jet lag - felt fine and was off exploring. And yes, I know wine is dehydrating, but it calms me to fly, with the added bonus of making me sleepy.

Hopefully your flight won't be full either - a lot of folks were spread out across three seats snoozing.
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#16
At 35,000 feet
9,878 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by roothy123
A sleeping pill is best; I've tried anti-histamines but they aren't great unless I use more than recommended, which then causes me problems in other ways.
I am not a doctor (though I play one on television )....remember that the drowsiness from anithistamines is a side-effect, and is not the primary intended use of the product.

IMO, people use antihistamines as a cheap, and easily available alternative to dedicated sleeping pharmaceuticals. And, again IMO, going "off label" is a bad way to go, especially since designated sleeping aids are not a huge obstacle to obtain. Plus, the actual intended effects of antihistamines may turn out to be bad for your particular situation.
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#17
London
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Originally posted by SelectSys
I wondered what would have happened if we had diverted and whether someone would have needed to come on board and drag people off the plane.
Yes, this sometimes has to happen.

Originally posted by FlyerTalker
I am not a doctor (though I play one on television )....remember that the drowsiness from anithistamines is a side-effect, and is not the primary intended use of the product.

IMO, people use antihistamines as a cheap, and easily available alternative to dedicated sleeping pharmaceuticals. And, again IMO, going "off label" is a bad way to go, especially since designated sleeping aids are not a huge obstacle to obtain.
There are quite a lot of sleeping aids which are basically antihistamines which are being (properly and legally) labelled and sold as sleeping aids.

The brand name "Sominex" comes to mind as one example - this is used to sell promethazine and diphenhydramine, which are both also sold under well-known brands as antihistamines.
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#18
Southlake, Texas
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Joined Sep 2004
I highly recommend noise-cancelling headphones and a comfortable for you eye mask. For a flight that late, I would also eat in the airport, probably take a sleep aid and avoid alcohol. Bring and drink lots of water. In coach, they won't serve you enough to offset the dehydration, so be sure to bring your own. I would eat the second meal served and then stay awake until a normal bedtime at the destination.