Sunday, 18 September 2011

Be prepared for a long haul flight

Last week for business reasons I made a flight from the UK to California. The flights were booked as economy flights and I have some important lessons to share with you.

Firstly, ensure that if you are going on a long haul flight -the flight, including European transfer for the flight to San Francisco was 11 to 12 hours long- that if you can you book either economy plus or business class. You can ask for an upgrade to business to economy, but if that is not possible, and you have problems with a knee or health issues or are exceptionally tall, then you should ask for a seat by one of the exits, as there is more leg room there. You will have to agree to help the plane crew in the case of an emergency, but this should not present you with a problem.

The food on the airlines can be variable in quality, though is, in general, of good quality. On the flight from Europe to California there is generally -depending on the time of day- a main meal (with a choice of two meals in economy) two light snacks and perhaps breakfast. Coffee and tea, soft drinks and water are free  though alcoholic drinks are available for an extra sum. Though seasoned travellers caution against the consumption of too much alcohol during a flight.

Meals in business and first class are generally better, with more choice and on some airlines, free alcoholic drinks, but the point about not consuming too much alcohol remains valid, even for he better off passengers.

Ensure that you tell your credit card or bank that you will be abroad. You do not want your bank suspending your credit or debit card for "suspicious activity" when your spending activity suddenly starts to take place in a different part of the world! Also, get you money changed before you go, if possible. The Post Office offers good rates. Although there is a minimum amount you can order should you buy on line, there's no minimum at the Post Office branch, so check out the nearest Post Office with a Bureaux de Change facility. There rates are generally pretty good and I was able to instantly obtain the US Dollars that I required. Though for purchases using a debit card you will have to take a passport with you as identification.

Do not forget to sort out travel/health insurance before you go. 

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