Heading to Belgium...Flying with KNEES

So, I’m heading to Belgium for 10 days of riding in April, including the sportives for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Needless to say, I’m excited; this is practically a hajj for me.

Practical matters first however…

I’m 6’3" with some rather ugly knee issues. Suffice it to say that RIDING is fine, but STANDING and WALKING can be a problem. I’m working on hip, core, and knee mobility to relieve this, and I’ve lost a LOT of weight with plans to lose more (THANKS, TRAINER ROAD!). BUT…planes are HORRIBLE. I can’t stretch out and move my legs properly to get to all the different positions I want to keep my knees from aching.

I’m currently considering a flight on British Airways. Their business class (Club World) seems pretty comparable to a First Class cabin on a US domestic carrier. Plus, British Airways makes it easier for me, as the connections to my hometown (Tallahassee-TLH) are readily available without having to resort to driving to another city (eg, Jacksonville for Air Brussels). Do any of you have experience with the British Airways business classes for Transatlantic flights?

I CAN do First, but I don’t really need the ludicrous amenities that BA offers, and the cost savings in Business would be just fine by me.

Other suggestions are welcome! I’ve waited 50 years to do this, and it’s my first time; I’m more than willing to do it RIGHT.

Do you have time to arrange a session with a physical therapist? You could ask him/her to outline a series of movements that you can perform regularly during the flight given the space constraints? Without knowing the extent of your mobility problems it is hard to give specific suggestions but I would imagine it would be variations on the pigeon pose. You can even incorporate a stretch band for resistance or a tennis ball to roll your glutes. Both items being easy to pack in carry-on.

I’ve flown BA business transatlantic, there’s a good amount of leg room. The seats recline to a flat bed position. I’m 6’1", I can’t quite fully stretch out when reclined but it’s pretty close (I.e. From toes to headboard must be about 5’6"). Their short haul flights (e.g. London to Brussels) don’t have as much room, it’s more like a Premium Economy seat. I’ve only flown First when I’ve been upgraded, it’s nice but certainly not worth the extra money IMHO.

International business usually equals US domestic first. International first is just better food and a bigger screen.

You should be able to find a cabin with full lie flat seats in the business cabin. Google flights displays the aircraft and seat option in the selected class. Most carriers operate some kind of 777, 747 or A330/340 and they are all equipped with lie flat.

Some carriers offer what they call premium economy. It’s eco with slightly more space and okay food and service, might also be an option to consider.

What’s your destination? Best hubs are Frankfurt, London and Amsterdam. Avoid Paris. Also check out Finnair and SAS. And for east coast departures Icelandic. They don’t have lie flat in business, but the tickets in business usually go for less than a Lufthansa premium eco.

Edit: You’re flying to Belgium, I can’t read. To get there, cologne, Düsseldorf, Paris and Amsterdam are all within driving distance and/or have a high speed train link to Brussels. Also Icelandic operates flight out of Orlando.

business in BA is good flat beds as mentioned above . If it is a 747 try to get a seat on the upper deck next to the emergency exit than you are not limited by a seat in front of you and you can let your legs hang over , i think it is 63K ( by the window ) that you need . short flight from London to Brussels is cramped but the flight is only 45min

Seatguru.com should have all of these answers.

Also, I’m pretty sure Kelly Starrett had videos about how to mobilize during a slight. Might be worth a look on The Steady State website.

“Do you have time to arrange a session with a physical therapist?”

I’ve done just that. He diagnosed atrophy and disuse in my gluteus medius and prescribed mobility exercises for my core and hips. I do that, and a bit of closed-chain weight training, which does make a difference. That said, the issue underlying my knee pain is physical damage; I separated my right knee in 1991 and had meniscus surgery in the left in 2009. Now, I have no cartilage to speak of in either and see some tibial head variforming. I’m just trying to forestall the almost-inevitable TKR.

“…I’m pretty sure Kelly Starrett had videos…”

Great suggestion! I started some of his workouts from Supple Leopard and Steady State a couple of weeks ago!

Have any of you ever put together your own flight plan and connections? I know it used to be something people did, but it’s so easy to rely on the simplicity of the automatic connection ticketing.

A couple inches shorter and 30 years of international travel for work. We vacationed in Europe this summer, different airline and I used United miles to upgrade to business class from SFO to Paris, and upgrade to “front of coach” from Rome to Newark. With the wall between cabins, I had more leg room at the front of coach but seat was narrow, crappy/old screen for entertainment, and basic food. Not an issue, just saying to give you more pros/cons and options. On both flights I stood up and walked around for 5-10 minutes an hour. To save hundreds of bucks, I’d probably do the front of coach again, otherwise business. Flying coach international sucks if you are big and tall.

I’ve flown long haul on BA in business in the A380 and I was certainly comfortable, I’m only 5’09 but I don’t recall thinking it was just big enough. BA have also started upgrading their business class suite on North American routes so worth checking which ones.
The lounge should have showers available which I use before getting on the plane, I just feel a lot more comfortable. Don’t be surprised when you see people get changed into pyjamas or lounge wear almost straight away, it surprised me but it was a smart move so I did the same on the return flight.
Service was top notch and the food was actually good.
Check your seat though as some of them require climbing over the adjacent seat’s feet, if lying flat, to get up and walk around, as above use seatguru to check

Thanks for all the input!

I am in the slanted single seat of business class (aisle/window both) on the upper deck of an A380 for both long flights. Flying British Airways. Still disappointed, after all these years, that the Concorde is out of service. I would’ve done that in a heartbeat.

Will be heading to Belgium on April 1, 2020 for the Trek Travel Spring Classics Ultimate. I’ve been putting together kits and wardrobe for the trip, so that I’m prepared for most anything. Relying on layers for most eventualities. The paradox is wanting and dreading a “great Paris-Roubaix” at the same time.

Until then, I have gravel season and Trainer Road, Trainer Road, Trainer Road…

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Best of luck with your events, hit me up some time before the event and I’ll let you know how the weather is like over here :wink: