Travelling long-haul for the first time? Arrive in style by following my top ten travel tips for long flights.
Sitting on the runway in Dublin airport waiting for our flight to take off, I couldn’t help but notice some nervous passengers in front of me. They asked the air hostess if they could get off the plane first, they only had ninety minutes before their connecting flight to Bangkok took off from Heathrow’s Terminal 5. I was in a similar situation but was quietly confident I would make it. That is until the captain announced that they had to circle for about fifteen minutes before landing. I found myself wishing I had booked the earlier flight….
1. Choose your flights wisely.
If you can, fly direct, particularly to the USA. You can go through immigration in Ireland before you leave which is such a massive bonus. Customs queues in the States can be up to two hours long which believe me seems like eternity after a long flight. You will also not have to worry about being delayed and missing connections, and of course obviously the journey time will be shorter. If you have to take two or more flights, check the overall journey time. You might save €100 by going with a particular airline but the flying time could be ten hours longer than the alternative. You will end up spending that and more in airports and purchasing snacks on board.
2. Don’t buy separate tickets.
If you are not flying direct, make sure you purchase one ticket from your origin to your destination., i.e don’t purchase a Dublin – London ticket and a separate London – Bangkok ticket. By purchasing one ‘through’ ticket, the airline will be obliged to put you on the next available flight should you miss your connection.
3. Give yourself enough connecting time.
So this might sound obvious but sometimes minimum connecting times are just that – minimum. If your flight is delayed even 15 minutes, the terminal bus pulls off just as you arrive, and you have a 15 minutes wait for the next one, that could be the difference between getting your flight or not. And if you are like me and get there in time (just about) your luggage may not…
4. Pick good seats!
Checkout seatguru.com which shows detailed seat maps for all aircrafts. If travelling with kids, it can be more practical to get two seats together, one in front of the other, rather than four across the middle of the plane. A window seat can be handy to rest your head against while sleeping, also you won’t be woken by people wanting to get past you to use the bathroom. Contrary to popular belief exit seats are not always the best seats, they can be drafty and right sometimes beside the toilets, so it can be difficult to sleep. You will see first hand reviews from customers on seatguru similar to what you see on tripadvisor – but for seats instead of accommodation.
5. Make use of the large baggage allowance.
When travelling long-haul, most airlines will allow you a 23 kg checked bag – use it. Try to avoid large, heavy cabin bags if you have connecting flights. You need as much space at your feet for a long flight and dragging cabin bags on to buses or trains when changing terminals, is not pleasant!
6. Check in online.
Where possible check in online for ALL legs of your journey. Most airlines will let you do this 24 hours before departure. This will save you queuing for boarding passes and valuable time.
7. Think food, bring snacks and pre book meals.
If you don’t fancy the usual chicken korma or similar on your flight – bring plenty of snacks with you. If travelling with kids pre book kids meals in advance, vegetarian options can also be a good choice for adults. You can usually pre book meals in the ‘manage booking’ section of the airlines website.
8. Look after yourself.
Long flights can be tiring on your body and drying on your skin. Drink plenty of water and use good moisturisers, my personal favourites are Estée Lauder’s advanced night repair and their travel exclusive pack can easily be picked up at duty free before you fly. During the flight I like M.A.C.’s fix spray which can be sprayed over your make-up to hydrate your skin as you fly. It also comes in 30ml size for €10, so ideal for your hand bag. Make sure to buy a travel size hand cream and vaseline for your lips, trust me these are essential!
9. Bring supplies.
Phones, tablets, books, games – bring anything that you can think of to pass the time. Most planes have power sockets now so bring your charger with you so when you arrive at your destination, you can still use your phone. Think about how best you sleep, if you need aids like sleeping tablets, neck cushions, eye masks, ear plugs – bring them. A Verbatim MEDIA SHARE is invaluable if travelling with kids. It creates it’s own wifi network so kids can watch movies on their tablets or phones anywhere, even on a plane. It is also really compact so much easier to carry than a portable DVD player and lots of DVDs.
10. Join the airlines frequent flyer club.
Just because this is your first long-haul flight – it hopefully wont be your last. And those miles clock up very quickly!
Have you any to add to my list? I would love to hear from you, just comment in the box below 🙂