If you are new to travel then why not download a FREE copy of our Travel Co-ordinator Handbook!
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It may have some of the answers that you are looking for.
Make sure that you have:
- An up to date passport (it might be useful to keep a photocopy with your luggage)
- Any necessary visas.
- Any required vaccinations and vaccination certificates. Remember that a course of anti-malaria tablets has to be started before you leave.
- Foreign currency and/or traveller's checks.
- Check the expiration date of your credit cards .
- Insurance cover for personal effects for loss or damage; make a note of the serial numbers of cameras and so on.
- You can also insure against ticket cancellation charges or ticket loss.
- Medical insurance.
- Airline tickets. Check the name, date, destination, flight time, airport and airport terminal.
- If you are pregnant, check with your doctor that it is safe for you to fly and safe to travel to your particular destination.
- If you take regular medication, make sure you have an adequate supply for the whole trip, don't assume you will find it at your destination.
- If you wear spectacles or contact lenses, take a spare pair with you.
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General Flight Tips
Reconfirmation of Flights
Although reconfirmation of return flights is not always required, it is recommended by most agents, especially for long-haul international flights.
If you change your travel plans, please ensure you cancel your reservation. If you fail to use a reservation, your onward or return reservation may also be cancelled.
Overbooking of Flights
Airline flights may be overbooked and there is a chance a seat will not be available on a flight for which a person has a confirmed reservation. If a flight is overbooked, no one will be denied a seat until airline personnel first ask for volunteers willing to give up their reservation in exchange for a payment of the airline's choosing. If there are not enough volunteers, the airline will deny boarding to other personnel in accordance with its particular boarding priority. With few exceptions (such as late check-in), persons denied boarding involuntarily are usually entitled to some sort of compensation.
Due to the increase in security precautions, it is recommended that passengers check in for the flights by the time specified by the airlines. Otherwise, passengers may be denied boarding (and compensation). This time will depend on whether it is a domestic or international flight.
See separate section below for more advice.
For domestic UK flights the allowance is normally one piece. Within Europe, and Long Haul destinations excluding North America, economy class usually permits 15 - 20kgs. Your free allowance is normally limited to two pieces of checked luggage per passenger for travel to/from and within North America. Specific size and weight limitations apply on all routes. Suitcases should be locked (with suitable TSA approved locks if flying to the USA) and not over packed. Regulations require that name identification be on the outside of the baggage. However we do not recommend that you use your home address or phone number. Use of a business card or address is preferable for security reasons.
Carry-on baggage restrictions vary from airline to airline, but generally all items must either be stored underneath the seat in front of you, or in the overhead compartment. In addition, please be aware that there may be limited space in which to hang your garment bag. Some airlines are now clamping down on excess cabin baggage.
Guidelines for Packing
Do not place any valuable items such as money, jewellery, cameras, negotiable papers or business documents in checked baggage. Passports and other travel documents, as well as prescription medication should be carried with you in the aircraft cabin. Fragile articles are accepted at the passenger's own risk.
Hazardous articles (prohibited by law) such as acid, matches, lighter fluid, poisons, flammables, explosives or compressed gas may not be packed in your luggage. Do not carry knives or any other object that may look hazardous or dangerous to airport or airline security personnel. They have the right to confiscate it.
Delayed and Cancelled Flights
Airlines do not guarantee their schedules and you should take this into consideration when planning your trip. Many things can, and often do, make it impossible for a flight to leave on time. Problems such as bad weather, air traffic delays and mechanical repairs are hard to predict and beyond the airline's control. Airlines generally find alternative flights and may provide food and other basic amenities during long delays at the airport, but they will not accept responsibility for other kinds of expenses or losses that passengers might incur when flight schedules are not met. Please note that it is not uncommon for airline personnel to give conflicting information on when a flight is likely to depart. We recommend that you stay close to the boarding gate. Your agents travel helpline may well be able to help in these circumstances, in fact it's one of their main benefits.
Overbooking of Hotels
To ensure maximum occupancy, a hotel will frequently overbook to allow for no-shows and last minute cancellations. This means that the late arriving traveller may be vulnerable to being refused a room by the hotel. Almost all hotels have a policy for compensating guaranteed arrival travellers, which should include:
- accommodation at another hotel of comparable quality
- transportation to the new hotel
- paying the cost of the first night's lodging
- one long distance phone call to home or business in order to advise them of the change in hotels
Every hotel's policy is different, and we recommend that you talk to the Hotel Manager in order to receive the compensation that you deserve.
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Remember that lines at the check-in desk and passport control are longest nearer the departure time.
On Intercontinental flights you may need to check-in two hours (even longer if you are flying to Israel) before departure time. For other flights check-in is usually one hour before departure. However you should refer to your itinerary on each and every journey.
Many airports have special check-in desks for passengers with hand-luggage only and for First or Business class passengers.
Do not drink too much alcohol before checking in, the airline has the legal right to refuse to take you on the flight.
It is often possible to reserve a seat when you purchase your ticket, or telephone days ahead of the flight. You are unlikely to be able to reserve seats in the emergency exit rows as these are normally only allocated on the day of the flight by the check-in staff to able bodied passengers (so they can help in case of emergency).
Aisle seats allow the most freedom of movement, but you may be frequently disturbed by occupants of adjacent seats, in addition their food and drinks will be passed across your lap at each service. The aisle seats can also be unpleasant near toilets and service galley areas, especially when there are passengers waiting in line.
The seats with the greatest legroom are located at the aircraft's cabin bulkhead, door or next to an emergency exit. Remember that, even on the same type of aircraft, seating configuration may vary from airline to airline. So do not assume that a particular row or seat number will always be the same. Check each time.
Keep your eyes on your baggage at all times, your confusion or hesitancy makes it easy for thieves and pickpockets.
As you part with your bags at the check-in, make sure that all the bags are tagged with the correct flight number and airport code and that you have been given one receipt for each checked bag. Please also ensure that the check-in personnel returns your boarding pass, airline ticket and passport.
If you have not obtained foreign currency before going to the airport, get it before going through passport control. Few international airports have banking facilities after passport control.
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On the Aircraft
Follow exactly instructions about fastening seat belts and extinguishing cigarettes. Keep your seat belt loosely fastened throughout the flight; no pilot flies into turbulence deliberately, but unexpected turbulence can take everybody by surprise.
Put your hand-luggage under the seat in front of you and put your coat and lightweight articles in the overhead bin. Do not put bottles of duty-free drinks in the overhead lockers.
Listen to announcements made on the aircraft, they may affect your landing arrangements or transfer flight.
On a long trip, try to get some sleep if possible, earplugs and an eye-mask sometimes help.
Even if you never take sleeping pills, one taken on a long flight will not hurt and could ensure that you arrive refreshed and relaxed.
Many people find that sleep helps to diminish the effects of jet-lag.
The low-cost or no-cost drinks tempt some people into drinking too much alcohol, which can cause unpleasant symptoms in pressurised cabins. Alcohol produces dehydration, is a diuretic, increasing urine production, and makes jet-lag worse.
Fizzy drinks can also have unpleasant consequences. Fruit juices or flat mineral water are best.
If you wear contact lenses, remove them on a long flight. The effect of dry air and pressurisation can make them uncomfortable.
Pressurisation of the air in the cabin can make toothache flare, and make fountain or felt tip pens leak in your pocket or handbag.
If you need a landing card, fill it before your reach your destination to save yourself time upon arrival.
Smoking is not allowed on the vast majority of flights. On flights where it is prohibited you are warned not to smoke in the toilets as severe penalties are likely to be forthcoming. In some circumstances this can include incarceration!
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Air travel today is more comfortable and more streamlined than ever before. But even the most experienced traveller can fall prey to various disorders. These range from air sickness or fatigue to the now renowned executive bugbear known as jet lag. All these problems can, however, be either prevented or at least greatly eased.
Fatigue is common during or after a flight. It is caused by the length of the journey and also frequently by pre-flight anxiety or excitement. Rest and relax before flying. See to pre-flight preparations such as immunisation and vaccination well in advance and avoid too hectic a schedule on the day before the flight.
Caused by a bumpy ride and by anxiety or excitement sickness is sometimes experienced in aircraft, just as it is in cars and boats. Because modern aircraft fly above bad weather, it is now an infrequent ailment, affecting probably not more than one in a thousand travellers.
Turbulence can upset the mechanism of the inner ear which controls balance and cause sickness. Keep the head as still as possible on the headrest. Avoid fried and fatty foods, excess alcohol and smoking. Ask a doctor's advice on sickness tablets, particularly in pregnancy.
An aircraft cabin is a communal space suit; air is pumped in to keep the pressure at the outside equivalent of 8,000 feet/2660 meters. For technical reasons it is not possible to achieve ground-level pressure in the aircraft, and the difference can cause discomfort when gases in the body, especially in the intestines, expand.
It is a good idea not to overeat, to avoid carbonated drinks and to wear loose clothing and shoes. Change of pressure during takeoff or landing can affect the ears. A popping sensation is common, earache or even temporary deafness is possible. These can all be overcome by constant yawning, swallowing or chewing gum. Babies achieve the same end by crying noisily, sucking on a bottle, pacifier or on a straw. Anyone with a heavy cold or sinus trouble is prone to sinus pain or earache during a flight, particularly during descent. Nose drops help but, if possible, avoid flying. Smokers in particular may be affected by the cabin atmosphere as they have a small amount of carbon monoxide in their blood. As the oxygen decreases so this amount increases, sometimes causing a headache or a feeling of being drowsy. The remedy is to cut down smoking.
The aircraft's pumped-in atmosphere is slightly dry. As a result dehydration can occur. Combat this by drinking as much fluid as possible. Alcohol increases dehydration, so avoid it in flight and be particularly moderate on long flights to hot countries where dehydration can be a serious problem.
Sitting in the same seat on a long flight puts continuous pressure on the veins in the thighs. People with varicose veins are most affected and their feet and ankles may swell slightly. Wear loose roomy shoes, preferably sneakers or moccasins (no boots please!) and walk up and down the cabin periodically. (see Deep Vein Thrombosis below).
This effects travellers flying east-west or west-east journey in which they change time zones. Biological rhythms have a program of around 24 hours, and jet-lag is the failure of the body to adjust its own routine to a clock that may, for instance, bring darkness and bedtime, ten hours earlier or later than usual. Eating, sleeping and digestive systems may all be uncomfortably affected and mental reactions may also slow down considerably. The effects of jet-lag seem to be greater on eastbound flights than westbound. Reactions can be slowed for two days following a ten-zone trip westward, and for three days after a similar eastward trip.
The short stay traveller, such as the businessman continually on the move, is most at risk from jet-lag; the long-stay traveller on holiday has enough time to acclimatise. Babies of up to three months are the most fortunate, their eating and sleeping cycles seem to be unaffected.
Avoiding Jet Lag
- Plan ahead so that events will fit in best with your own home rhythm, whether these are for business or pleasure.
- Plan your flight so that you make life easy for yourself.
- Calculate the time difference between your home and your destination.
- On short trips or when you are crossing more than two time zones and only staying at your destination two or three days, do not change your home schedule, act as if you never left, you will be much better off during the trip and specially upon your return home.
- For a few days before your journey, start going to bed an hour earlier or later each night, depending whether you are travelling east or west.
- Rise an hour earlier or later each morning.
- Adjust your meal times to the new schedule.
Best Times to Fly to Diminish Jet Lag
|Time of the Day
So, the best time for an eastbound New York to London flight would be to depart from New York at about 0900 and arrive in Europe the same day around 2100 local time. You will be in London in no time (due to light traffic) from the airport and treat yourself to a light supper and go to bed at about midnight. The next morning you will feel little jet-lag compared to the traveller flying the usual night flight departing at 2000 and arriving at 0800, even if he or she slept during the flight.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Firstly, to clarify, the main cause of the problem is sitting in one position for long periods and thereby preventing the free circulation of blood to the legs and the heart. When you sit still the usual pumping action of the calf and thigh muscles no longer pushes blood up to the heart, while pressure on the back of the thighs prevents the return of venous blood.
Secondly, are you at risk? Simply put - we all are! However some groups have been identified as being more at risk than others, namely:
- If you are aged over 40
- If you are pregnant
- If you suffer from some types of blood disorder
- If you have a family history of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- If you are on the Pill or Hormone Replacement Therapy
At even higher risk are those passengers who have recently undergone major surgery (especially to the legs or stomach) or those with a personal history of blood clotting.
You should consult your doctor if you have any concerns regarding the health risk.
Our advice is to:
- Get up at least every hour and walk around even if it's only to the washroom and back. This will restore circulation to your lower legs and feet, which can swell up as a result of pressure on the back of your thighs. Exercise your calves by flexing them and your ankles by rotating them for a few minutes on a regular basis. You might also like to consider investing in one or two of the suggested aids such as the AeroGym or support stockings.
- Watch the onboard videos or read the in-flight magazine articles about exercising whilst flying. Some airlines offer some great advice, which will make the flight more enjoyable.
- Drink plenty of still water and/or juice. Stay away from alcohol, caffeinated drinks and salty snacks. Planes tend to have exceptionally low humidity whilst in the air, typically about 10%. Dry air promotes dehydration, which can impair digestion, intensify fatigue and heighten jet lag. This therefore makes you more lethargic and therefore less likely to exercise!
- If you want to sleep during the flight (which of course doesn't help you to exercise) then plan ahead. Take you own earplugs, eyeshades and cushion just in case they are not supplied. Notify the cabin staff if you do not wish to be woken for meals. Sleeping as flat as possible is a benefit to circulation. If you have slept you are more likely to feel refreshed enough to get up and walk around.
- Travel in loose fitting and layered clothing that can ward off the chill of air conditioning or be discarded if you are stuck sweltering on the tarmac. Wear roomy, flat shoes and slip them off when you are at your seat. You will feel more comfortable if you heed this simple piece of advice.
- If you can afford it, fly in a premium class. Business and First class are expensive on long haul routes but they do offer more comfort and space so you can walk and exercise with a little more ease. We can generally offer value for money consolidated business and first class tickets on many long haul routes that may well offer the best of both worlds.
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