For more than 20 hours you sit on a plane, sneaking gin and tonics, occasionally napping, and watching every Marvel movie ever made.
You fly halfway around the world, thousands of kilometres, constantly crossing the imaginary lines of new time zones. This is long haul at its extreme.
So why, when you then go to check your frequent flyer account, are there no fireworks or confetti? Why have your points - and your status credits - hardly gone up?
Well, because there's a little secret that the airlines don't like to admit: They don't actually care about frequent flyers, in the literal sense of the phrase. They care about big spenders!
Take Qantas, for instance. Even with its recent announcement of "the biggest overhaul to the airline's loyalty program in its 32-year history", there are almost no changes to how you actually earn points or status credits from flying.
So, if you were to fly with Qantas from Sydney to London on a discount economy ticket, for instance, you would earn 6200 points. But if you had a more expensive flexible economy ticket, you would earn 12,400 points. Same flight, same class of travel, but double the points because it cost more.
Perhaps you think this sounds fair - after all, why shouldn't someone who pays more be rewarded more? But it wasn't always this way.
It was only five years ago when Qantas changed its system to give fewer frequent flyer points for its cheaper tickets. Before that, it was based on how far you flew. Everyone in economy would get the same amount, regardless of your ticket type - an acknowledgement that you all suffered through the same meals on plastic trays and near-vertical seats. (Business and first class have always earned more points.)
When it changed the system, Qantas said it was about "creating a fairer, more simplified program". From a commercial point of view, though, it was really about increasing the value of each frequent flyer point, partly because Qantas also sells them to other businesses like banks and supermarkets to use in their own loyalty programs. (Its frequent flyer program earns about $400 million a year and the new changes are designed to make it even more profitable.)
While Qantas still takes into account distance as well as fare class, many international airlines are moving to a system referred to as a "revenue-based". This means the number of frequent flyer points you earn is directly related to the cost of the ticket.
Virgin Australia is an example of this. The airline has a simple formula for how many you earn - you get five Velocity points for each dollar you spend.
That means two passengers could easily be earning a different amount of points even if they're flying on the same plane, in the same cabin, and on the same fare class - just because they booked their flights on different days so the price had changed.
As more airlines move to some kind of revenue-based model, and everywhere from restaurants to clothing stores offer opportunities to earn or redeem, we need to accept that frequent flyer points are becoming just a pseudo-currency with little to do with travel. This is why most airlines have a second metric that, in theory, rewards people who fly a lot.
Both Qantas and Virgin Australia call these ''status credits''. Unlike points, they can't be redeemed for anything - they're just a way to keep track of how much you use the airline. Each year, it looks at how many status credits you've earned and decides your elite status - Silver, Gold, Platinum, for instance.
It may sound like a great solution for acknowledging real frequent flyers - except for one big problem. These status credits are also based on the fare class of your flight.
Remember the example of a Sydney to London flight on Qantas? A traveller on a discount economy ticket will earn just 70 status credits while someone with flexible economy will earn 140 status credits.
To reach Gold status with Qantas - where you get perks like lounge access - you need to earn 700 status credits in a year. That's 10 flights in discount economy between Sydney and London in 12 months! I'd have thought you met the literal definition of a ''frequent flyer'' after your fifth or sixth flight across the world!
It's easy to reach elite status if your company is buying premium tickets. But most people normally choose the cheapest flight. For those people, with either Qantas or Virgin Australia, it would take 70 flights between Sydney and Canberra in a year to reach Gold status - or a whopping 140 flights to reach Platinum!
There is little incentive for regular flyers who can't book the most expensive fares, to stick with the same airline.
Frequent flyer programs were originally designed to encourage loyalty to a particular airline. With the current status credit systems, though, there is little incentive for regular flyers who can't book the most expensive fares to stick with the same airline.
Even the new announcement from Qantas that it will introduce a ''Lifetime Platinum'' status proves this. If you flew discount economy between Sydney and London once a month, it would take you 90 years to reach it!
I am a full-time travel writer and flew more than 220,000 kilometres last year - and I only just got elite status with a single airline. What hope do most of my fellow discount economy passengers have?
With the revenue-model for points now earning so much for the airlines, I can't see a way that side of frequent flyer programs will ever get better for consumers. But a revamp of the status credit system to better reflect loyalty over spend may actually be better for both airlines and travellers in a world where there's so much competition in the skies.
- Michael Turtle is a journalist who has been travelling the world full-time for the past eight years. Follow his travel adventures at timetravelturtle.com