Some travellers arrive at the airport way too early and find themselves purchasing lots of unnecessary items that they soon regret as soon as you board the plane. On the other hand, if travellers leave too little time to get to the airport they may find themselves running through the airport which gets their holiday off to a bad start. I've been in both of these situations and to this day still haven't found the perfect time to arrive at the airport where I'm not twiddling my thumbs in the departure lounge or worrying about whether my flight will leave without me.
For short-haul flights it's recommended that travellers arrive at least two hours before their flight departs so that they can go through the necessary steps of checking in. More importantly, it's important to set time aside to going through security since on the off chance that you're limited on time it may be the one time to which you're stopped and searched. However, these times can vary as Jet2 and TUI ask travellers travelling from the East Midlands to arrive three hours before their departure time. Additionally, Leeds Bradford Airport suggest that travellers should arrive two to three hours before their flight departs. After researching the different times that travellers should begin to go through the different stages of their journey at the airport, it's evident that some airports have streamlined their process whereas others evidently haven't. It seems that airports that are used by hundreds of thousands of passengers, or even millions, have streamlined their processes as they have stated the times in which passengers should arrive is a lot less than other smaller airports.
For long-haul flights it's recommended that travellers should arrive at least three to four hours before their flight departs so that they can go through the necessary steps of checking in. More importantly, there is a huge difference between short-haul and long-haul flights since those who are travelling without hand luggage on short-haul flights can simply go on through to security and then go to their gate. However, for those on a long-haul flight it's almost essential to go to a counter and offload your luggage, which in turn may take a large portion of time since there may be queues and unfortunately if you're caught out by the luggage scales you'd need to figure out a solution quickly. In an airport such as London Heathrow there are terminals that allow passengers to weigh their luggage, tag it and send it off without the need for staff at the airport to do so. When I'd travelled to New York in July 2019, it took me approximately 5 minutes to firstly queue up and then use the self-service machines in London Heathrow's Terminal 5 to weigh and tag my luggage. Additionally, it then took less than 5 minutes to go through security as I'd firstly had an early flight therefore there were only a few passengers travelling as well as having only a small amount of hand luggage on my person. As I'd arrived at the airport 3 hours beforehand and had departed with my luggage and gone through security in less than half an hour, I was left with over two hours to spend at the airport which became quite boring very quickly.
Dependant on the questions stated below, a traveller can determine how much time they would need at the airport, since they can review everything that an airport offers a traveller. For example, if I was travelling from London Gatwick Airport for a short-haul flight from the North Terminal which departs at 11:30am with EasyJet, it would result in a different set of timings. I would firstly have to acknowledge that EasyJet recommend that travellers should arrive at the airport two hours beforehand as the check-in desks close exactly 40 minutes before the scheduled departure - in this case I would have to arrive at the airport at 9:30am and the check-in would close 10:50am. This would leave me with exactly 1 hour and 20 minutes to firstly travel from The South Terminal at Gatwick Airport to The North Terminal via the shuttle provided. This takes at least 10 minutes in retrospect of waiting for a shuttle and the journey itself. Once in The North Terminal it would take me another 10 minutes to get to security and begin to queue up among other passengers. As I've already checked-in online and gained access to my boarding pass, I can go through to security and use my boarding pass to enter the barriers for security. As I'm travelling during an off-peak period I would set aside 15 minutes to get through security which includes time if I was stopped and searched. To get through to the Departure Lounge travellers are required to walk through Duty Free but as always I normally continue my journey without buying any additional extras. By the time that I would've entered the Departure Lounge it would be around 10am with the Departure Gate being announced around 30-40 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave. Therefore, this would mean that at 10:50am the Departure Gate would be announced and travellers are advised to begin making their journey towards this. In turn, I would be left with 50 minutes to spare but as I would like to get breakfast from The Red Lion, I would have more than enough time to do this. However, passengers that are simply heading straight through the airport to the Departure Gate may find themselves with time to spare and in turn they may want to arrive at the airport a little later. EasyJet state that their Departure Gates close 25 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave but in turn this has been shown to be false with queues of passengers still waiting to have their passport and boarding pass checked during this time. However, as I would have my hand luggage with me I would prefer to be one of the first to board to make sure that I have an overhead locker to store my luggage within.
What To Consider Before Travelling To The Airport:
What To Consider When At The Airport:
Even though many people think that a simple journey from your home to your soon to be flight won’t cost much, once you add up all the costs involved regarding transport as well as food and drink as they're commonly overlooked, it soon adds up to a lot more than you'd expect. Admittedly, I’ve been guilty of this and treating my hard earned cash like monopoly money since I’ve convinced myself that I somehow deserve it - well technically I do, that’s why I’m on holiday right?
You’ve got all your bags packed and you’re ready to leave, the next step would be getting to the airport from your home. Whether you’re driving to the airport or getting a taxi service to drive you there, it can become very costly depending on the distance travelled as well as the fares for that specific area. In London it would cost around £50-70 to get to Gatwick Airport by taxi compared to a small fee that will cover petrol costs - if you’re travelling with family and friends then it may work out even cheaper. However, if you’re located within London then you would’ve seen countless adverts for The Gatwick Express which states that you can go from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport in just under 30 minutes making it a quick and reliable way to travel. Unfortunately, this service does come with a price tag that currently stands at £17 for a Single Direct Ticket if bought on the day. Luckily there’s other trains that service airports across the UK including Thameslink and Southern which offer tickets at an inexpensive and standard price when compared to services such as The Gatwick Express. Regardless, there is still a small price to pay when travelling to and from the airport regardless of how you’re getting there with.
If you’ve travelled by car and saved yourself a small fortune on purchasing train tickets or paying for an expensive taxi to the airport there’s still the case of parking charges at the airport. Unfortunately these charges are quite expensive for simply leaving a car in a designated space for the length of time you’re away. The charges depend on what airport you’re travelling from but can cost as much as £30 per day as well as there being a small charge if you’re simply dropping passengers off. Additionally, from the car park you may be charged a fee to get a shuttle bus to the terminal itself - everything is about money nowadays and airports will squeeze every penny they can out of people.
If you’re like me and like arriving to the airport the night before with the addition of booking a hotel room, then that can also be costly. However, there are some bargains out there which was seen where I found a hotel room in Heathrow Airport for £21 - more information regarding that blog post can be found by clicking here. Although, hotel rooms get more expensive the closer it’s situated to the airport with many hotels charging in excess of £200 a night for a bed, shower and toilet for the night. The reason I prefer staying in hotels is because the trains departing from London can be quite problematic at the worst of times, especially if I have an early flight. It simply saves me the hassle of having to get a taxi to the train station and from there a train to the airport - without the fear of missing my flight.
At the airport there are a range of different terminals, each with their own specific airlines and destinations. Unfortunately, if you pick the wrong terminal and discover that you need to travel to another one then you may be charged to get a shuttle or a train, which happened to me when I was travelling home from Australia. As a family member dropped me off at the wrong terminal I had to pay $5 for a 5 minute journey to get to another terminal. Even though this is a small price to pay, it’s the principle of lots of passengers paying this fee makes a small fortune for the company operating these shuttles since they know passengers will pay for it. Luckily, Gatwick Airport offer a free shuttle from the South Terminal to the North Terminal but this same principle won’t apply for all airports throughout the UK.
Another fee that some passengers may incur intentionally or unintentionally would be a luggage charge. Some passengers will intentionally overfill their bags so that it’s overweight to bring home items that they’ve bought, which they’ll happily pay a charge for at the airport at no trouble to them. However, some passengers may be caught off guard with a hefty fee even if their suitcase is only slightly over the limit - some staff members will not allow you even the extra 0.1kg whereas others will - it’s simply not worth the risk. Each airline has their own weight specifications which I’d advise passengers to look at before travelling as well as their allowances.
Travelling through security can be a lengthy and frustrating process, especially when passengers don’t understand the concept of taking all items out from their personal possession and declaring what’s in their luggage. Luckily, airports have added a paid feature for those who simply want quickness and easiness throughout their journey by adding a “Fast Track Security Lane”. Once again though, this is a paid luxury with a range of prices depending on the specific airport but unfortunately does cost an arm and a leg for less than a minute of putting your luggage down and walking through a scanner. It’s easy to understand why passengers choose this for, especially during peak times, since it’s an easy way to get through security, especially if you have children, which will allow you to be in and out within minutes.
Once you’ve dropped off your bags and gone through security you’re now free to roam around the airport until your gate is displayed. What’s that? You’re hungry? Well then you won’t find any bargains at the airport, more so that you will spend an absolute fortune on items that you could get at any supermarket for a quarter of the price. Whether you’re eating in a restaurant or cafe or simply picking up a sandwich to eat on the plane then you will find yourself spending a lot more than you’d have hoped. Even a meal deal for a simple sandwich, drink and a small packet of crisps can cost as much as £5. It gets even worse when you see the costs of hot food and drinks on the flight itself, a meal deal is priced at around £8/9 for the same three options as standard - a hot sandwich or baguette accompanied with a drink and a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps.
Not only is food and drink one of the more pricier items throughout the flight, duty free is advertised throughout the flight whether it be flight attendants or the catalogue in front of you displaying “unmissable deals”. As mentioned in a previous blog post, companies will sell you items that they know is beyond your liquid limits so that in turn you will have to pay for your luggage to be put in the hold, if it’s not already. Either way, these deals can be found on the high street with even more discounts than Duty Free - for me it’s a decision that people feel pressured to make with the time constraints provided and the feeling that they should treat themselves since they’re on holiday.
If you thought that these were the only purchases that can be made in regard to your actual flight, this is far from the truth. Once you've booked your flights you will be given the option of being able to purchase seats with people you’re travelling with or towards the front of the plane. For example, seats at the front of the plane will be the most expensive which depends on the duration of the flight, which starts at around £20 for short haul flights which can go as far as £70 for long haul flights. Either way, if you want to sit next to family and friends then you will be faced with a charge, which seems unnecessary, but it’s another way to make money from passengers throughout their flight.
Not only can an airport be a place to wait for your flight but a place where you can relax, enjoy comfortable seating while enjoying a buffet meal as well as having access to spa facilities. You can even feel rejuvenated and refreshed by the added extras of showers and even more surprisingly a small cinema to enjoy the latest releases. Buying a pass to the lounge can range in price depending on the facilities but it’s in the price range of £60 to £100 for just a few hours of access. Although, if you’re set on going to a lounge before your flight then go on an empty stomach and make sure you make use of all the facilities on offer.
Using Public Transport
Instead of using private taxis or renting a car while you’re travelling, there’s a cheaper and more environmentally friendly way to get around. Public transport can cut carbon emissions as well as being accessible in many countries - every country I’ve visited I’ve used public transport in one form or another to get around the city without breaking the bank too. For example, in New York I could see yellow taxis as far as the eye could see but there’s also an extensive metro system as well as the use of trains to get to and from the airport. One better than public transport would be walking, in some instances public transport is absolutely needed, but there are some journeys that can be considered walkable. Not only is walking a way to keep healthy but it’s also one to see the sights around the place you’re visiting.
Try and Pick Direct Flights
Flights are the guiltiest members out of all forms of transport for the increasingly high CO2 emissions - with hundreds of flights leaving a day it’ll take a huge impact to cut these down. However, if you go out of your way to book direct flights then this will reduce the demand for a second flight to take you to your final destination - such as from London Heathrow to New York and from there to Las Vegas. Or, if possible, there’s the option of travelling by train and ferry to certain destinations both in your country and surrounding countries. Not only can a train and ferry hold over double the passengers that an aircraft could, it also works out environmentally friendlier in the long run. The Man in Seat 61 found that travelling from London to Paris by plane creates 240kg of CO2 emissions compared to only 22kg of CO2 by using the Eurostar. Additionally, the journey time is less and overall more efficient in terms of being environmentally friendly as the CO2 emissions are reduced by 91% when using the Eurostar instead of a plane.
Bringing Eco-friendly Materials
Nothing can be overlooked when trying to be environmentally friendly - even the simplest of things such as a reusable shopping bag and a water bottle (preferably one made out of stainless steel or one which is completely plastic free). Plastic bags take hundreds upon hundreds of years to decompose and more worryingly most of it ends up in the ocean which in turn hurts our ocean wildlife. Around most cities there’s at least a few water fountains around which allow visitors fill up their water bottles for the day ahead. In reception areas there may be a water bottle for the same use also, if not then there should be some form of drinkable water on site - if in doubt then there’s no harm asking. If you have the money and are willing to invest in a bamboo toothbrush and hairbrush then go ahead - they’re environmentally friendly and I’ve heard that they’re better than plastic toothbrushes and hairbrushes. There has now been a rise in the availability of metal razors rather than using plastic ones and the use of menstrual cups rather than menstrual pads and tampons - every little act helps the environment in one way or another.
The Simple Things
The small things lead to a bigger picture and this case your small actions can lead to a big environmental impact from just an individual alone. In your accommodation these small actions can be reusing your towels rather than asking for them to be washed everyday as well as the same principle being applied for bed sheets. As someone who washes their bed sheets weekly as well as their towels every other day - I wouldn’t expect any more at a hotel than what I’d usually do. Even avoiding the single use shampoo, conditioner and soap given to guests complimentary - even the single use shower caps should be left alone. Everything is made of plastic as this material is cheap and seems to be a reliable way to keep products fresh. The majority of hotels and establishments still supply single use plastics but hopefully in the near future they will resort to more sustainable materials that will help the environment. Guests should try not to have long showers and turn off the lights when out or not needed - these tips sound simple but the majority of people don’t understand how these small acts can make a big difference. Even asking if you can recycle items such as shopping bags made from paper in your hotel is better than simply throwing them away when they’re recyclable products. Most hotels just supply one bin - used for rubbish, which cleaning staff simply bin as that’s what a bin is for - rather than seeing what can be recycled and what can’t. Overall, the best way to be environmentally friendly would be to avoid single use plastic in all shapes and forms - from plastic cups to the plastic that sanitary products come in that are sometimes offered.
Watch What You Buy As A Souvenir
In certain countries there may be souvenirs made out of endangered species which not only endangers our wildlife even more but you may be found to be breaking the law when you return home. If tourists keep buying these souvenirs then it’s a sign that these products are in demand which mean more endangered animals will be killed - supply and demand. Avoid small plastic souvenirs that seem mass produced - for example if you see lots of small plastic toys that clearly say “Made in China” they’re not representing the country you’ve visited. Instead buy local - it’ll be more likely that your money will go directly to local people and help a small business rather than supporting a large business. Buying from local shops and people will also mean you’re helping the economy and helping these people carry on their work. If you have your heart set on getting a souvenir then make sure it’s a practical one - not something that will stay on a shelf and collect dust over time. Even the best memories can be recorded in a journal or by taking pictures on your phone that can be developed once you’re back home.
When flying there’s numerous ways to save the environment - from taking reusable straws with you to then rejecting the plastic covered materials given on-board. Reusable cutlery is one of the cheapest options for those wanting to reject the plastic spoons, forks and knives which are then covered in plastic during flights. If you bring your own earphones or headphones then you can then reject the single use earphones which are also covered in plastic too - you get the idea with flights and single use plastic. Single use plastic is also used on the blankets and pillows given to passengers on long haul flights - even though this keeps the blankets and pillows clean and new - there are other environmentally friendly alternatives. If you really want to research how to be environmentally friendly, then you can research what airlines are doing to reduce their carbon footprint.
No I didn’t just create a random word by headbutting my keyboard - plogging is the new trendy term for jogging and picking up litter. Not only can you stay healthy but you can reduce the impact of litter on our beautiful beaches and surrounding areas. This trend really took off in recent months and for the better - you can recycle and throw away items that you find to prevent them from going into the ocean and harming wildlife. As the slogan goes “The rubbish way to get fit” really means what it says - you can make a difference to both your body and the environment in one small step - or preferably lots of small steps.
While abroad, what's the point of going to chain restaurants and even worse fast food restaurants that you know and potentially love. Why travel across the world to eat the same fast food that you eat in your home country? Eating locally not only allows visitors to experience new flavours and food but uses local produce and ingredients - which in turn prevents food waste and reduces the travel time between farm and table. Street food is also cheaper than restaurants allowing visitors to get incredible food for a fraction of the price while getting an authentic experience. If you do visit a restaurant and have some food leftover - ask for a doggy bag so that you can prevent your food from going to waste and straight into the bin. Too Good To Go is an incredible app that prevents food from going to waste - click here to read about it!
With the notion that people are trying to become more environmentally friendly in all possible ways there has been a rise with eco-friendly hotels across the globe. These hotels ensure that they operate in a sustainable manner which is seen through all aspects of a guests visit. The smaller things consist of low energy light bulbs, buying in bulk as well as encouraging and providing information on how guests can reduce their carbon footprint and help the environment. Information about the hotel itself and maps are used with recycled paper as well as breakfast consisting of organic produce which can either be grown on site or bought locally. Any waste that comes directly from the hotel will be put into a compost - such as food waste from breakfast such as fruit and bread. Solar panels will be found across the roof to prevent the use of electricity as much as possible and furniture such as beds and tables will be made from sustainable source material. In some of the rooms there may be plants dotted around the room as these absorb toxins from the air as well as just creating a nice little touch for travellers.
EasyJet has become a rising favourite for those wanting to travel across Europe and other surrounding areas such as Tel Aviv and Damascus. EasyJet has notably gained popularity for providing over 1,000 routes which span across 30 countries with flights departing as we speak. However, with such an inexpensive airline there are some downfalls, as they say you pay for what you get - but is easyJet an airline that should be avoided simply because they offer unmissable prices?
When you visit the easyJet website the first thing that visitors notice will be the deals that easyJet are currently offering, in this case there’s flights for £29.99 to Belfast - one way, per person. EasyJet have even advertised Malaga for £19.99 which is dependant on two passengers flying from London Gatwick and prices are representative of a one way flight. With deals like these, which seem unbeatable, it’s no wonder that easyJet has gained such as large following with over 80 million passengers flying with the airline in 2018, according to Statista. As someone who uses easyJet frequently, it’s one of the sole reasons I’m able to travel so much for someone whose on a budget. Additionally, with over 5 major airports such as London Gatwick and London Luton supporting easyJet flights, it’s become a reliable airline to use.
You’ve selected your £29.99 seats and even possibly a cheaper return as while doing my research I found flights from Barcelona to London Gatwick for £19.99. Too good to be true? Well if you plan to use hand luggage and have no preference as to where you sit, then it really is an incredible deal. However, if you do have hold luggage then easyJet will charge an additional fee of £18-20 for a 15-23kg bag, which is an average price for one bag per flight. If you have any sports equipment such as skis and boots as well as snowboards then you may be paying a lot more than you had hoped - £74 more for each item. It gets considerably worse for those wanting to transport large items such as bicycles and canoes as this will set you back £90, which again is per item, per flight. If you haven’t got any equipment then you can make a sigh of relief as reserving a seat only costs £5-8 for a standard seat towards the middle of the plane. For those wanting to be nearer the front then a seat may set you back £8-9 or if you want to go all out and sit right at the front of the plane then this will set you back a whopping £20 - in some cases it’s more than the ticket itself. These small charges is how easyJet makes it money as those travelling with friends and families consider the tickets to be so cheap that they can afford to reserve seats to sit next to each other.
The easyJet website and app allows customers to have a smooth experience, with it taking less than 5 minutes in some cases to buy tickets for flights with an email confirmation shortly arriving. EasyJet are very transparent with their price breakdown as well as giving passengers more than enough information regarding their flight. EasyJet outline what time the bag drop opens as well as what time the gate closes - allowing passengers to plan their journey to the airport around this. There’s information regarding what passengers should do after booking - fill in their passport details and how to get their boarding passes, which is available to download and print 30 days before you fly. These boarding passes can either be printed or shown through the easyJet app, which is handy for our technology savvy generation as they can also be added to our online wallets. For a budget airline, easyJet really goes above and beyond for what passengers would expect, but then again easyJet wants customers to return and use their service again.
As mentioned before, I’ve flown with easyJet lots of times before which had led me to experience mostly positive experiences but then again I’ve had some of the worst experiences with them. The positive experiences with easyJet is that the flights have left on time in most cases and enough leg room to sit comfortably for a 2-3 hour flight and even sleep on the flight. Additionally, all of the staff that easyJet employ, from the customer service team to the cabin crew, they’ve always been polite and helpful throughout my journey. Unfortunately, when I travelled to Amsterdam I was subject to a 4 hour delay to which the staff seemed to be as confused as the passengers were, with the times being pushed further and further back. Passengers were given vouchers to buy food and drink either at the airport or on the plane. However, with the flight being only 45 minutes, by the time I would’ve got my drink, it would then be time to land. Either way, it’s a hit or miss situation with some passengers experiencing as smooth of a flight as possible whereas others wouldn’t trust easyJet again after their experiences.
It should be noted that when flying with easyJet you will not get any complimentary snacks or drinks, it is a budget airline and they need to make their money somehow - which is where the Bistro comes into play. With a meal deal costing passengers £7.50/€9.50 is quite an expensive lunch considering that in places such as Boots and WHSmith you can get a meal deal for £3-4, even at the airport. For this price you get a main, drink and a snack but recently the choices of mains has decreased and the quality followed suit too. However, as mentioned in previous posts, bring your own food to the airport or have a large meal before travelling to prevent you from feeling tempted to spend your money on food at the airport or on the plane. The Boutique from easyJet is expensive too, with even duty free prices not being low enough to make me splurge on a new fragrance or a watch that I know I don’t need. Either way, looking through the Boutique magazine does allow passengers to take their mind off flying and doubles up as reading material. It’s a clever sales pitch, as easyJet state that passengers can only carry hand luggage only, which then in turn only allows passengers to carry a limit of 100ml per item of liquids. If you bought a perfume that exceeded these 100ml limits then you may be faced with throwing your purchase away or having to pay extra to put your luggage under the plane - that purchase doesn’t seem so cheap now does it?
If you want to fly with easyJet, which is known to be an affordable and mostly a reliable airline, then you should go ahead and book with them. Just keep in mind that you will be imposed to easyJet’s rules of hand luggage only and the mystery of where you’ll be sitting on the plane if you haven’t prebooked your seat. For those wanting a simple flight with no frills, then easyJet is the way to go - even if you want added luxury then you can splurge on a seat at the front of the plane or towards the front.
When I flew to New York in July 2019 I had the pleasure of flying with British Airways - both on my departure and return flight. As it was a 8-9 hour flight I wanted to make sure that I was travelling comfortably and with an airline that had been praised by not only friends and family members but by people online too. Without further ado, here’s my review of my British Airways flight where I was seated in Economy Class.
What is Economy Class?
When travelling by plane there are a range of classes that passengers can travel by, each with their own price tag and unique benefits tailored to suit individuals needs. Within this specific flight there were four different classes - Economy, Premium Economy, then to Business Class and First Class. The higher the class, the more expensive it becomes for passengers which is justified by the amount of privacy given to passengers, the different meal options, the facilities such as the bathroom and the general area as well as the airport experience passengers will receive.
Booking Up Tickets
In September 2018 I booked up two return tickets from London Heathrow to John F. Kennedy Airport to which I booked up Economy World Traveller. However, when I was researching the different departures from London Heathrow I found that there were two different options for Economy: Hand Baggage only or Economy: Checked Baggage. The difference between these options doesn’t only count for the luggage but also differs in price - only around £50 per flight but also allows passengers to pick their seat for free 24 hours before as well as allowing passengers to change their flight for a fee. Either way, the whole process was very easy when using the British Airways website as well as the information being provided at every step.
Only one issue came a few months after initially booking my tickets - British Airways moved me and my friends seat to another spot, even though we had paid. The same occurrence happened on the flight returning from New York as we were once again moved without notice, only to find out at the airport. It was a slight inconvenience but regardless as this was an overnight flight I couldn’t be bothered to dispute it.
In total the flights altogether were £907.22 - which worked out £453.61 per person, as there were two of us, which then works out to be £226.80 per flight. These prices were absolutely incredible - in comparison I had spent £220 when travelling to Gran Canaria during the Easter holidays for a family vacation. This price included £168.11 in government, authority and airport charges such as £78 for Air Passenger Duty and £44.91 Passenger Service Charge in the United Kingdom. Immediately after purchasing my tickets a full confirmation email was sent to me - all the information was clearly stated which included departure time and dates as well as a price breakdown. The only downside to booking with British Airways was the expensive seating prices - £23 for a seat in the rows towards the back, per person per way. However, more importantly British Airways had included useful information such as reminding me to purchase a ESTA to enter the country and what my luggage allowances were.
As I had purchased tickets for Economy World Traveller I was allowed three items of luggage altogether. The first item of luggage was my main suitcase which had the requirements of being 90 x 75 x 43cm and the weight restriction of 23kg. The second item of luggage, which for me was hand luggage, had the same weight limit but different dimensional restrictions of 56cm x 45cm x 25cm. The third piece of luggage, which for me was a small cross body bag to carry my passport, medication and other important documents, had the dimensional restrictions of 40cm x 30cm x 15cm as well as having a weight restriction of 23kg. If you were taking a lot of luggage on your departure or your return flight then British Airways certainly gives passengers more than enough. However, if for some reason your luggage is overweight then you’ll be subject to a £65 fee and if you want to bring an additional piece of luggage then you will be charged the same fee of £65.
The Economy Class Seat
As mentioned previously, as the seats were right at the back of the plane and as I had an aisle seat there was more than enough legroom for even a tall person such as myself. The seat itself was a 32-inch seat pitch and the reason I decided to sit at the back of the plane would be the feeling of reclining my seat without the person behind me feeling cramped or having to be asked to move my seat so those behind me could use their trays. On the seat itself there were the basic amenities: a pillow and a blanket as well as a small pair of earphones for the flight. Admittedly it wasn't the best but wasn't the worst considering it's economy quality plus it was free - I’ll settle for anything if I’ve been up since 5:30am. The only problem with the position of my seat was the lack of overhead lockers which in turn led me to use someone else’s locker which then led to a snowball effect of everyone using other passengers lockers.
In front of me was a screen which was a regular iPad size (9 inches) - enough to watch films and look up information regarding the flight and estimated time of arrival. There were seven categories: Movies, TV, Audio, Games, Kids, Maps and Information. All of these categories gave enough entertainment and information which would keep both adults and kids entertained for the entirety of the flight, in this case it was 8 hours. There were a range of newly released Movies and TV Shows, which was entertaining and great to see. For this particular flight I enjoyed watching Spy and from there watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars - which isn’t even available in the UK on Netflix. It took my mind away from the thought of flying and made the 8 hours fly by. My favourite part of the screen was the integrated USB socket allowing me to charge my iPhone for the entirety of the flight which saved me using my own portable charger.
The one downside to this flight was the option to pay for WiFi - which set me back £4.99 for an entire hour whereas if I wanted 4 hours worth of WiFi it would’ve set me back £10.99. As I bought this WiFi I was surprised how fast it was especially since we were 38,000 feet in the air. I was able to check all forms of social media including Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram without any problems. I was able to send and receive messages on Whatsapp almost immediately - it seems even though I had to pay for WiFi it was well worth it.
Food & Drink
The food and drinks served on the plane were more than enough to satisfy a passenger as well as making sure they got their money's worth. Once we were up in the air the first snack that was offered was a small bag of pretzels and a drink, which could either be a soft drink, water, orange juice or an alcoholic beverage. From there the main course was served which consisted of either a chicken or pasta dish, accompanied by a starter which was salad in this case, crackers and cheese, a roll and a small dessert. A small cup of water was also offered but there was so much offered on this flight that it barely fit on the tray - that gives you an indication that you're getting a good sized amount of food. From there we were offered another drink and to my surprise we were offered a Magnum Ice Lolly. A while later we were then offered another drink but this time it was between orange juice and water. An hour or two before landing we were offered a chicken sandwich and a chocolate bar but by this point I was completely full but still managed to eat the chocolate bar. Around an hour before landing all passengers were offered another drink. Throughout this the flight attendants were attentive by making sure that all mess was cleared up and trays were taken from passengers once they were finished with them.
As standard there were four toilets at the back of the plane which never got crowded even after everyone had been served their meals - which was lucky for me as I was sitting right next to them. The toilets were a standard size for an aircraft - enough to move in and wash your hands without bumping into the door and hitting your head on the ceiling. For the first time I had seen sanitary products being offered to passengers in little drawers under the sink - a very good initiative for those who had either forgot to pack them or had unfortunately started throughout their flight.
Arrival at John F. Kennedy
Throughout the flight we were given updates directly from the pilot regarding the status of the flight, which was helpful and saved me checking the onboard map every twenty minutes or so - you can tell I’m impatient. Regardless, we arrived on time and not a minute too soon apparently, as soon as the flight came to a stop people jumped out of their seats to only stand there for ages to be let off the plane. Of course First Class would be let off first, then Business Class, Premium Economy and last but not least Economy. However, I took the time to gather my belongings and make sure that I had everything. Around 25 minutes passed and I was able to disembark without any problems - staff even took the time to talk to me while I was waiting to get up from my seat asking if it was my first time in New York and whether I enjoyed the flight.
Upon disembarking off the actual plane we were guided towards the Immigration Area of John F. Kennedy Airport for which another 20 minutes were spent standing in line rehearsing what I was going to say. Either way, the process was quick and the baggage followed within another 20 minutes which meant I spent less than an hour in the airport - a lot less than I had planned.
As this was the first time I had flown with British Airways it certainly won’t be my last as I’ve already booked up flights for 2020 with the same airline. For the price I paid, which was £453.61 for a return journey including the additional payment of reserving seats, I consider this an incredible deal when summarising everything onboard including the service and the food. Even though you’re given the bare minimum in Economy Class - the bare minimum turned out to be quite a lot! Possibly in the future I will be travelling Premium Economy or Business Class to see whether it lives up to the high standards expected. Even though I only ran into one problem overall, I was able to rectify British Airway’s mistake myself and no more was said of it.
From the moment I stepped into Heathrow Terminal 5 until the time I landed at Terminal 7 in John F. Kennedy Airport, I had a pleasant experience which is why British Airways has become so memorable in my opinion. British Airways is ranked as a 4-star airline and for good measure too - whatever class you’re flying there is bound to be attentive staff, delicious food and an enjoyable experience. In this instance, you get for what you pay for and in my opinion £453.61 has stretched even further than I would’ve imagined it to.
Whether you’re a first time flyer or someone who’s taken hundreds of flights, I think we can all agree that the process of getting through the airport and onto the plane can be stressful at times. Since airports can be very busy some passengers may feel overwhelmed and stressed when going through procedures such as checking in, going through security, finding your gate number and then making sure you board your flight on time. No one wants to do the walk of shame onto the plane after their names have been blasted throughout the airport for a last call.
Before Getting to The Airport
Before travelling to the airport there are numerous steps to making sure you can have a hassle free holiday and making sure that you have all bases covered in the event of an emergency. The first step would be making sure that you know your luggage restrictions, whether it be for hand luggage only or checked luggage, since airlines will charge you extra for an overweight bag. While checking your luggage restrictions it would be useful to check that you’ve packed everything you may need, even the smallest of things such as earphones or plug adaptors, I couldn’t imagine a four hour flight without my earphones. The most important items would be your passport, travel insurance and if required an ESTA or Visa. It would be advisable to double check what method of transport you’re going to use to get to the airport, whether it be public transport or a taxi service, to make sure that you have train tickets or confirmation from the taxi company to make your trip to the airport stress free.
There are three main ways to check-in at the airport. The most useful and efficient one would be to check-in online, with the advances in technology airlines allow passengers to check-in and gain access to their boarding pass ahead of time to save them the hassle in the airport. However, if you don’t have access to a printer or smartphone then there are two more ways of checking in at the airport - self-service kiosks or check-in counters. There are now numerous kiosks at the airport that allow passengers to check-in at the airport and from there print off their boarding passes at no extra cost to them. Different airports require different forms of information such as your booking reference number or the credit card you paid for the flights with to allow you to check-in and gain your boarding passes. If you’re not good with technology or don’t want the hassle then you can always go up to the check-in counters at the airport but be wary as there may be long queues if people have the same idea as you. Either way there is a specific time limit which allows a passenger to check-in - if you’re checking in online or in person but depends on that specific airline. A handy tip would be to research this before going to the airport as you’ll know how much time you have and can reach an estimate as to when best to get to the airport.
Another step that comes under checking in would be checking in any luggage you want to put under the plane for your journey. This would require the passenger to go either to the automated check-in facilities for luggage or to go to the check-in counters at the airport. Before checking your bag in it would be handy to check you have all of your essentials on you - your passport, ESTA/Visa, travel insurance documents, phone and any medication you may need. Airlines will scan your bags through an airport scanner so once again it would be handy to read up on what you can and cannot bring onto a plane. The obvious being weapons and flammable items but some other items such as liquids and gels over 100ml if they’re in your hand luggage. There is also the issue of size and weight - there are a wide range of different requirements for both hand luggage and checked luggage - if the bag is overweight or is bigger than the size dimensions listed then you will have to pay. Each airline has their own requirements so once again check ahead of time.
One of the most nerve wracking procedures for me at the airport is going through security - I have no idea why, I don’t have anything on me that I shouldn’t and I’m completely innocent. After reading that sentence back I can understand why I’m always asked to step aside and searched. There are numerous signs around the airport, which should be just past the check-in area, to guide you to where the security area is. In most airports there’s areas for which passengers can put their liquids into plastic bags which are transparent so the contents can be seen. If needed you can take a moment to gather your belongings ready for the x-ray machine to save you the hassle once you get there. Once past this point you may be asked to show your boarding pass or scan it under a machine to allow you entry. If you scan your boarding pass and it doesn’t let you through the main reason may be that you’re too late and automatic measures stop you from going through any further.
Once you’ve shown your boarding pass a member of staff will guide you to a queue. Don’t worry if the queues seem really long - it takes around a minute to get through security and there are usually lots of staff members on hand to help. Once you get to security area, before the metal detector, make sure you take everything out of your pockets that may trigger the metal detector or require the staff to search your body. Place your liquids in your plastic bag as well as your handbag or luggage in the box provided to you and then walk through the x-ray machine. If the staff members say nothing then you’re free to collect your luggage and then move on, if the staff members tell you to step to the side then you will be searched and if nothing is found you will be sent on your way. If you are searched then you will have a member of staff from the same sex doing it and it will be as simple as a pat down of your body. The worst part about this for me is that I’m very ticklish - smiling and laughing while being searched has never worked out in my favour. Numerous times I’ve had my hand luggage searched and drug swabs have been taken - nothing has been found though! If this happens to you then do not fret - this happens to many passengers while travelling and in most cases it’s a random check on passengers bags. Once you have gotten through the x-ray machine and security then there’s an area for you to gather your belongings and sit down before venturing through the airport.
After going through security the next step would be simply to relax, grab something to eat and do some shopping. Different airports have different facilities but most airports have numerous screens which will inform you what time your boarding gate will be announced and from there the actual gate number. In most restaurants there will be screens located inside or just outside - allowing you to grab a bite to eat without the stress of thinking you may miss your flight. There are lots of seating areas at the airport as well as complimentary WiFi allowing passengers to check their emails or update their Facebook status that they’re going on holiday. Some airlines email you when your gate has been announced or notify you through their own app - a handy feature but to be safe I’d always check the screens before making my way to the gate. Once your gate has been announced you should make your way to it, these gates can close up to 15 minutes before departure (even though you’re in the airport and through security).
Once you’ve reached the gate it’s handy to check on the screens that this gate is going to your chosen destination. There have been instances where gates have changed and some passengers have been left behind as they hadn’t realised this and were left sitting in another gate. A member of staff will ask you to provide your passport and boarding pass, to which you’ll then be allowed to sit down and wait to be asked to board the plane. If you’re travelling on a long haul flight then passengers may be called in terms of groups - the last being economy and the first obviously being first class. Either way the group number or letter will be clearly stated on your boarding pass. If you’re unsure then don’t hesitate to ask a member of staff as they’re there to help. You will then be directed through a chute connected to the plane or you may have to walk to the plane itself and walk up a flight of stairs.
Once You’re On The Plane
Once you’ve got onto the plane the first person you’ll see is a member of the cabin crew who will check your boarding pass and direct you to your seat. Once you’ve found your seat waste no time in putting your larger hand luggage in the overhead lockers and sit down. One of the things I hate is standing behind someone who takes hours to make put their luggage in the overhead lockers and creates a queue behind them. Once you’ve sat down, fasten your seat belt and make sure smaller hand luggage is stowed below the seat in front of you. The cabin crew will walk throughout the plane to make sure everyone has their seat belt on and all necessary items are stowed away before informing passengers of the safety procedures. These procedures are very important, such as putting your phone on aeroplane mode to making sure passengers know what to do if there’s an emergency landing, so make sure you give your full attention to the cabin crew. The sign for the seat belts will be turned off and the food carts will start their journey throughout the plane around 20-30 minutes from take off. This allows passengers to walk around and also use the toilets while on-board. Before disembarking the plane make sure you have everything you need. Enjoy your travels!
We've all been there - you're confident and proud of your packing skills to only realise that your suitcase won't shut. I've been there. With me having to sit on friends and families suitcases to make sure they close shut with the silent prayers that their suitcase doesn't bust open and the contents fly everywhere. We've also all been there when we've brought too much, we all have the sweats going up to the counter to have our bags dropped off and praying that the attendant won't announce my bags are overweight. Luckily for me she's talking about the bags and not me. With these packing tips you'll wonder why you never thought of these before and will have no more worries about items fitting in your suitcase or it being overweight.
Making a Packing List
As simple as it seems making a list can be one of the most helpful tips when packing for a holiday. Write down everything you may need from clothes to medications and toiletries. I would firstly write down how many days you're travelling for as well as the climate of that certain region or country. From there you can decide what clothes would be appropriate to take with you. From there you can work out how many toiletries you'll need - I'm sure you don't need a whole bottle of shampoo and conditioner for a three day vacation. That's why shops sell travel bottles - they're reusable and can save a lot of weight when travelling with hand luggage or checked luggage. You can also take this list away with you so when you're packing your suitcase to return home, you can make sure you have all items you came with. I've left so many iPhone chargers in hotel rooms since I simply overlook it when packing to return home - it also prevents me from charging my phone on the way back home. Try making 40% last for a four hour journey when you've download a film and two episodes of Ru Paul's Drag Race to watch while on the flight.
Know Your Limits!
It would be advisable to check with your airline how much luggage you're allowed and it's weight, whether it's hand luggage only or whether you're allowed to put a checked piece of luggage under the plane. For example, some flights with EasyJet only allow a customer to bring just a suitcase or weekend bag within specific measurements as well as a small purse or bag. There is no weight limit but you need to make sure that you can lift the bag above your head when putting it in the overhead lockers. However, with airlines such as British Airways hand luggage is limited to 23kg on long haul flights as well as 23kg for checked luggage. Limits and sizes change with airline, it would be better to check and buy a scale to weigh your bags rather to pay extra to have your bag accepted onto the plane. Something no one wants to fork out for since these prices can start from £30 for one piece of luggage being overweight.
Wear Your Heaviest Clothes
If you're travelling to somewhere cold, for me this was Iceland, wear everything that would take up the most space in your suitcase. When I travelled to Iceland I wore a vest top, a hoodie, a thick jacket as well as snow boots since these items would've taken up all the space in my suitcase alone. Even putting my gloves in my pocket saved extra space in my suitcase as they were quite thick. But don't go too overboard like one passenger did where they bought a jacket that held all of their items to prevent them from going over the weight limit and save space in their suitcase. Just use common sense, whatever seems the heaviest and takes up the most space - consider if wearing it would be an advantage.
Leave Extra Space in Your Suitcase
We've all done it, packed everything perfectly back into our suitcase when returning from holiday to then look and see loads of small gifts and presents still needing to be packed. When travelling leave some room for souvenirs or gifts, you'll accumulate more than you think! The tip above applies once again - even if you wear a jumper on the way home and from that have space for items you've bought. If you've bought smaller items such as snow globes or magnets, put them in the pockets of your hoodies in your suitcase or put them inside a t-shirt that can be rolled. This barely takes up any space and allows your valuables to be safely protected when you return home.
Carry a Bag of Essentials With You
If you're allowed to keep your hand luggage with you throughout your journey - which can be small suitcase or a weekend bag - put your essentials in it and an outfit if your checked luggage is lost or misplaced. For example, I'd keep a bra, change of underwear, leggings, a t-shirt, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste as well as a hairbrush in my hand luggage so I'd be able to live out of my hand luggage until my checked luggage turns up. This happened to a family member of mine when we travelled to Iceland - she had her child with her and the suitcase with all the clothes and nappies went missing as well as the pram breaking upon touchdown. An absolute nightmare when you're abroad with a young child without nappies, clothes and other essentials especially when you haven't packed an extra bag.
Roll Your Clothes!
This idea is simply brilliant - instead of folding your clothes, roll them. This is a game changer in the sense that you won't believe how many clothes you'll be able to fit in and you'd be able to see what clothes you're bringing with you from a quick glance. Rolling your clothes will also reduce the chances of them creasing - another handy tip would be to use vacuum bags if you really want to save even more space and reduce the likelihood of creasing even more. Even though you obviously can't fold shoes, you can put socks in your shoes to keep their shape as well as save more space in your suitcase. If you have a pair of sandals or flip flops then simply place them either side of your clothes along the edges of your suitcase - you won't even know that they're there!
Try a Test Run
If your airline requires you to place your hand luggage in the overhead lockers then make sure you can actually lift your suitcase above your head. In some videos I've seen airlines asking passengers to make sure they can lift their own bag before boarding the plane - something you don't want to do when you're just about to board your flight and go on holiday. If you can't lift your luggage over your head then go back and review what's weighing down your suitcase. If you find a heavy item that's causing the problem then go ahead and see if it's worth wearing it on the way out there. The same tip applies for when you'll be dragging your suitcase around the airport as well as on the way to your accommodation. If you find it difficult to do this then it may be worth investing in a suitcase with four wheels to spread the weight of your luggage as well as making it easier to transport.
Air travel is extremely safe mostly due to the rules and regulations brought around by airline companies for passengers to follow during their flight. From simple requests such as asking passengers to keep their seat belt on throughout the flight to safety briefing cards in the seat pockets. These following tips can make your flight safer as well as giving you peace of mind if anything were to happen. In any case this can make any anxiety surrounding flying lessen and will help with nerves throughout the flight.
If you sit in an emergency exit row of the plane you may be told by flight attendants that you will be needed in the event where an emergency occurs. However, there are limitations to the person that gets to sit in the emergency exit rows as they must be willing to perform acts such as being physically capable of performing procedures such as opening and operating the exit row door as well as being above a certain age. If you're not sitting in an emergency exit row it would be handy to know where your nearest emergency exit is, the reason behind this being that if the plane fills with smoke you won't be able to see where the exit is and how long it would take to crawl there. It would be advisable to remember what row your seat is in, this allowing you to calculate how long it would take to get to the nearest emergency exit if your visibility is impaired.
As much as everyone loves looking their best for the airport and their flight, which I will never understand since I prefer comfort over looks, you'll end up regretting it if an emergency occurred. Shoes such as heels are one of the worst choices to wear on a flight for two reasons: if there was an emergency you wouldn't be able to get far in heels as well as having your feet burned when you've turned to walking barefoot on whatever ground you have landed on. Even shoes such as flip flops are not the most sensible choice of footwear while flying, the main reason behind this being the same as wearing heels, you're not able to get far in them especially in the event of an emergency. Other fashion choices that I wouldn't advise would be wearing shorts as the reason behind this being if you had to use the slide to exit the plane then your thighs will be burned if you're one of the last to exit the plane and if it's extremely hot that day.
Safety Briefing Video & Card
I know for a fact that most people on a plane are either talking to their friend, trying to update their Facebook status before they go into the air or just generally zoning out while flight attendants explain safety procedures. As much as we all find this boring, how do we think the flight attendants feel, but there is a reason for this repetitive briefing. Each plane has new safety requirements, whether it be the change of where the emergency exits are located or where your life jackets are located, it's important to listen to these safety announcements. Especially in the spur of the moment your thought may be impaired as an emergency is obviously unexpected but the priority would be to either know how to exit the plane, how to adjust your oxygen mask or to inflate your life jacket. When the flight attendants recommend wearing your seat belt throughout the entire flight, they're not saying this just for fun, there's more chance of turbulence happening than any other emergency.
Well-being & Surroundings
Every passenger should be well rested so that if there was an emergency they would be alert and be able to clearly listen to instructions given. I don't mean that passengers should have a full 8 hour sleep before flying as sometimes that isn't possible, I mean to refrain from drinking too much alcohol before or on their flight. Alcohol doesn't help someone having a clear head in the case of an emergency but it even can delay other passengers from exiting the plane. If you've had a bit too much to drink the last thing you would want is for someone to force an oxygen mask over your mouth even though it could be the thing that saves your life, leading to other passengers and flight attendants having to work a lot harder to ensure passengers safety. Drinking alcohol will also lead to dehydration so a cheaper and preferable choice would be to drink water - it would keep you hydrated and even better it's good for your body. When flight attendants say that they're not serving you anymore alcohol, respect their decisions, they risk their lives to save yours in the event of an emergency. If you're on a long haul flight and you're using your own devices to occupy your mind, it would be important to keep an eye on the screen in front of you as any important transmissions will be shown on the screen. If you're listening to music it would be advisable to turn your music down for just a minute so you can listen to what's being announced, it could be something small such as the plane hitting a small bit of turbulence or in a worst case scenario asking passengers to prepare themselves for an emergency landing.
If there was an emergency on a plane and everyone had to evacuate you'd have around 40 seconds to get from your seat to exiting the plane altogether. I always carry a small cross body bag which has everything I need in it: my passport, identification, bank cards and my medication. I carry this bag on my body throughout the entire flight as if there were an emergency then I would have everything I need on me and I could leave the plane as soon as I was able to. If I moved some of my important possessions such as my medication or my passport into my hand luggage, such as an suitcase in the overhead locker, then I would either have the choice of exiting the plane with nothing or risk my life by staying to get my personal belongings. Clothing and other belongings can always be replaced, there's nothing more important than your life, in this sense it's your favourite pair of shoes or your life - an easy choice.
Even though this is easier said than done since it's hard to stay calm in the event of an emergency, it would help the situation. Panic can impair thought and this makes you more likely to make mistakes, mistakes that could delay your evacuation from the plane or adjusting your oxygen masks, a small mistake could cost you your life. If you've listened to the safety instructions then you have nothing to fear, there is always the safety card in the seat pocket that clearly shows and describes what you would need to do in the event of an emergency. Flight attendants have been trained for every possible situation and have passengers safety as a priority so there is completely nothing to worry about. There is a much bigger chance that you'll be involved in a traffic accident rather than one involving flying, there are rarely any major accidents.
Asides from the obvious: making sure that you have everything packed and getting to the airport on time, there is a lot more to do that is overlooked. In my previous blog post: Keeping Your Home Safe While On Holiday there was a lot of information solely regarding tips on how to keep your home safe while on holiday, there is a lot more preparation to be done. Whether it's making sure that you have all the important documents you need to travel or sorting out your finances, these important procedures cannot be overlooked.
Passport & Paperwork
Whether you're travelling on an hour long flight or a twelve hour one, there are two things you will need to get on a plane: a passport and boarding pass. People will read this and think how can anyone be so forgetful to leave their passport at home, well it isn't just making sure you have your passport - it's making sure that it's in date (as well as making sure it doesn't expire while you're abroad). It's important to check whether the country you're travelling to requires travellers to have a visa (without one you will be denied access to the country). Make sure that you have selected the right visa to travel under, whether it be a tourist visa or a visa which allows an individual to work in the country for a specific amount of time. If you do plan to rent a car at your chosen destination then it's important to bring your driving license, you'd be surprised at the amount of people that leave it at home as they simply don't want to lose it.
Whether people forget to purchase travel insurance or whether they regard it as not a necessity, travel insurance is one of the most important things to purchase before your flight. Travel insurance can cost as little as £5 depending on your age and medical history as well as being dependant on the country you're travelling to. If you purchase travel insurance make sure to read what the policy covers as some policies don't cover gadgets and adventurous activities. You'd be surprised how many policies don't cover the basic necessities such as whether you'll get reimbursed if you lose your cash or your luggage. If you have any medical conditions then you are obliged to state them when buying insurance, if you buy the insurance and fail to declare any illnesses or medical conditions then you may not be reimbursed when claiming for hospital costs. If you're purchasing a single trip policy then make sure that you have selected the correct date from when you're departing for your trip and when you arrive back. If you've purchased an annual travel insurance then make sure that by the time you arrive back from your trip your policy will still cover you.
Prescriptions & Medications
Whether you're travelling for a few days or a few weeks, then the most important thing to make sure that you have packed in your suitcase is any medication you have been prescribed. It would be advisable to bring other common medicines such as paracetamol, Feminax (if you suffer from period pain and cramps) as well as anti-diarrhoea medication (this includes Dioralyte as it replaces water and body salts that have been lost). It would also be handy to take any medication that will help take the edge off from a cold or the flu, even if you're travelling to a hot country you may still catch it. I was stuck in Cyprus once with what I thought to be a throat infection and had to take what seemed like a shot of brown acid to resolve it, I would've much preferred to treat it with a medication I had brought along. At the pharmacy in Cyprus there was a major problem which was the language barrier, I couldn't read the instructions for the medicine since they were all in Greek, I just hoped for the best. Sadly when I returned to London I was told that I'd had tonsillitis, what fun. Whatever medications you decide to bring with you to your chosen destination, make sure that they're legal in that country. This may sound silly but there was a case of a woman from America being detained and placed in a jail cell for nearly 20 days for bringing Adderall into Japan. Even though it's commonly used in America to treat attention deficit disorder, it's classed as an illegal amphetamine in Japan and as they were sent to her it was assumed that she was smuggling them into the country.
Make Copies Of Everything
The most important documents to photocopy would be:
Knowing Luggage Restrictions
Many airlines have similar baggage restrictions, with most short haul flights (under 4 hours or less) restricting passengers to only bringing a small suitcase (hand luggage) and one smaller bag that they can carry on their person. The dimensions of this hand luggage are quite specific with each airline giving dimensions and the weight on their website as well as clearly stating what happens if passengers exceed this. Before you make your way to the airport it would be best to make sure that your suitcase is within the dimensions for your specific airline and make sure that it's not overweight - the main reason being that in most cases you'll have to lift it over your head into the overhead locker space. For long haul flights each bag will most certainly be weighed and tagged, when I was travelling back from Florida my large suitcase ended up being 3kg over weight. This leaded me to then wearing the heaviest of clothes that I had bought to the airport and all the way home - I'd rather this than paying the fee for an overweight bag (which can be as much as £65).
Sort Out Your Finances
If you decide to travel with just cash, then make a plan of where to store your money as well as making sure that you have a debit or credit card with you so that you can withdraw from if somehow your money is lost or stolen. It would be sensible to invest in a prepaid travel money card, such as Revolut or one from the Post Office, these cards allow the user to put as little or as much as they want on it. When they use this particular card in other countries they won't get charged a foreign/international fee. When I travel I carry 70% cash and then 30% will be put onto my Revolut card (as well as having my debit card with me). If you do plan to use a debit or credit card then I would suggest informing your bank that you're travelling to a specific country or location so that they don't get alerts for any suspicious activity or temporarily block your card. When I was booking up excursions for my trip to Rome in March my card was temporarily blocked since my bank detected that I was making a lot of purchases to which were for outside of the country. I simply had to text back my bank with a code and they unblocked my card but while abroad some people may not be able to call or text their bank provider.
Since the main airline I travel with is easyJet, I've sat through the numerous speeches on the plane regarding the benefits of getting an easyJet Plus card as well as seeing people take advantage of these perks at the airport and on board the flight. The price of an easyJet Plus membership is currently at £199 per year which had risen from the previous price of £170 per year. To take advantage of the benefits an easyJet Plus card entitles members to, it means that members must carry their cards with them when necessary. Unfortunately if members misplace their card then they will need to pay £15 for a replacement card to be sent to them.
London Gatwick to Amsterdam:
Amsterdam to London Gatwick:
Final Total: £75.98
There are many benefits to becoming an easyJet members, as shown above, which would prove to be more financially beneficial to people that travel with easyJet frequently. As shown above, if you were to take full advantage of the benefits offered by this card then it may only take 3 return journeys (6 flights) to get your moneys worth. If you also want to travel comfortably than the easyJet Plus membership is for you since benefits such as Speedy Boarding and Fast Track Security make your airport experience less stressful. Personally I would have invested in an easyJet card if I had found out about it prior to booking my holidays as I would've taken 18 flights with easyJet by next June. If I paid at least £10 for a seat and £5 for Fast Track Security per flight, I would've saved nearly £100 from just getting a free seat and being able to through security quicker. This doesn't even take into account the Earlier Flight for Free and if a seat was priced at £29.99 per way.
More information about easyJet plus can be found here: https://plus.easyjet.com/benefits.aspx
The Eurostar, a railway service in which transports you to and from different countries such as from France to the United Kingdom and vise versa. Before my recent trip to Paris I saw myself in the middle of so much hype surrounding the Eurostar, with my family and friends as well as people online making it seem as if it was the next best thing to sliced bread. With the Eurostar being the main competitor as a form of transport for travelling to other countries by plane, this article focuses an in-depth analysis regarding different aspects to the Eurostar and whether it lives up to the hype surrounding it.
The most important aspect when booking a holiday is the price of the flights or other methods of transport used to get to another country. The Eurostar cost me around £70, which in my opinion is a fair rate to pay since flights from EasyJet were around £80 (which included choosing your seat) - both being return fares. The prices that are advertised on both websites are fair, with seats on EasyJet starting from around £35 for one person one way as well as the Eurostar starting from £29 one way. As much as these prices seem too good to be true, in most cases they are, since you would need to book months ahead and fly during the cheapest times (not during school holidays). Considering I booked a trip for July in May, it was very last minute as I had to wait for my holiday form to be confirmed from work, I think £70 was very reasonable and cheap. The Eurostar has the edge over flying since trains depart at least every hour, making them very frequent and accessible. This allows you to see the different prices for different times and giving you a wider variety than most airline companies do when picking times to fly.
Getting To & From the Station
My favourite thing about the Eurostar is the central location of it, with it being located at St. Pancras International (opposite King’s Cross Station), making it a lot closer than many other airports in London such as Gatwick or Heathrow. Since my train was at 7am I used an Uber to get to the station, with it only being £11 for a 30 minute journey, a very good price for that early in the morning in London. If using the tube or a bus it would have cost me around £1.50, which I would’ve used if I was travelling later in the morning or the afternoon. When travelling to the airport these journeys are tiresome and stressful, with specific trains going to and from the airport being packed with travelers as well as all of their luggage. When travelling home, which was around 2pm from King’s Cross Station, I had no trouble getting onto the tube since there was no crowds since it wasn’t rush hour.
Speed & Time
The Eurostar prides itself on being a faster mode of transportation between countries, which in some cases is true if you calculate the time getting to and from the airport as well as facing barriers such as security and walking through the airport to your terminal. Flights from London to Paris are approximately just over an hour compared to the Eurostar taking around 2 hours and 20 minutes. As much as people may think flying is a better option, you only need to be at the station from where your Eurostar departs around an hour beforehand whereas at the airport you would need to be there at least two hours before. When I was told I only needed to be at the station an hour before the Eurostar departed I was anxious since I didn’t think this would be enough time to get through security and passport control. It ended up being more than enough since I walked straight through by scanning my ticket and then got through security in less than 5 minutes. The Eurostar is very precise with it’s timing since it left bang on the dot at 7:20am, not a minute more or less. Everyone had enough time to walk down to their designated carriage with their seats and most people were already sitting down in their seats by the time the train had left. When getting off the Eurostar I walked straight from the platform into Gare du Nord and from there walked to my hotel. There was no passport control or border control when I got off, which made life a lot easier for me. When getting off the plane, you would have to wait to get your luggage if it had been stored under the plane as well as then going through luggage claim and passport control. This could take up to an hour depending on how busy the airport is as well as how quickly you got off the plane.
Comfort & Other Features of the Eurostar
The Eurostar, unlike airplanes, feature a plug socket as well as extra legroom. For tall people like me, this made me feel a lot more comfortable since my legs weren’t pressed up against the chair in front of me as they would have been on a plane. The Eurostar was very clean with toilets being located in every carriage as well as there being lots of places to store your luggage. Sadly this meant I didn’t get to see any arguments over who had the overhead bin first, sad times. The best part of the Eurostar was the free WiFi, unlike airplanes I was also able to receive some reception for my phone since we were overhead until we went through the Channel Crossing, which left me in the dark for about 20 minutes and to use the WiFi until we made it into France. The seats were comfortable with a padded headrest, which allowed me to comfortable sleep until the journey was over. There was also an option when booking to have a table seat which allowed for extra room but the standard seats came with a small fold down table which were fine to use. These trains were just like any standard train with there being a carriage that included a bar where food and beverages could be bought. I preferred travelling by Eurostar since it felt as if it were a normal train ride whereas with a flight you can feel the turbulence and the constant vibration. The one thing I detest about flying is the feeling in your stomach when the plane goes up in the air, which I didn’t feel when travelling on the Eurostar even though it reaches speeds of up to nearly 190 mph.
The only real downside to using the Eurostar is that the locations it travels to are very limited. At the moment it only travels to 8 locations which include Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. With the option of flying airlines will fly to most European countries and will fly to multiple cities within them. Since I live in London there is a wide variety of choices to fly from such as Gatwick, Heathrow and London City Airport. The only place in London that the Eurostar departs from is St. Pancras International, which if you live outside of London might make getting into London and then getting to the station a hassle.
Unlike airplanes there is no weight limit for each item of luggage you bring but it would be sensible to make sure you don’t make these bags too heavy since you would have to lift them over your head. Even though there is no weight limit there is a width restriction with each item being no more than 85cm long. Since I bought a standard ticket I was allowed to bring two suitcases with me as well as an item of hand luggage, way more than needed for me but it was nice to have the option of bringing more luggage on if I had wanted to. When going through security I didn’t need to get out my liquids which made life a lot easier and made getting through security quicker. Since there was no liquid restriction I was able to bring a normal size bottle of shower gel through rather than buying it when past security or putting it into a tiny sized travel bottle. Eurostar are strict regarding people bringing alcohol on board, so if you are going to take some alcohol with you, check online for your allowances to make sure it won’t be confiscated at security. Regardless, when I travelled I brought a litre bottle of vodka with me, which I had no troubles getting through with.
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