10 Long Haul Flight Tips to Make You an Expert

For your next adventure these long haul flight tips will make your journey a lot smoother.

long haul flight tips for international travel

Long Haul Flight Tips #1 – Flying Time

Choose morning flights if you have the option. Morning flights are less likely to have a delay. If the flight is cancelled or there are problems you have more chances to get an alternate flight the same day rather than having to spend the night in a hotel.

Long Haul Flight Tips #2 – Credit Card

Buy the flight with a card that gives you, travel insurance, entry to airport lounges and air miles. See Amex gold card review UK

Long Haul Flight Tips #3 – Confirmation Email

Try book direct with the airline if it is the same price rather than a third party website. This is because if you need to change anything later, or have a problem like a cancelled flight, you only need to deal with one company.

Check in your email for the airline confirmation number, not the third party reservation number. Screenshot it or write it down, so that you can access it without needing wifi or data. You will need this to drop a bag at the airport / do online check in.

Long Haul Flight Tips #4 Frequent Flyer

Join the Frequent Flyer Program of your flight operator company, you will be given preference on the waiting list even at the entry tier level. This is handy if your flight is cancelled, delayed or overbooked by the airline and someone has to get bumped to the next flight. Not to mention that you will get some airmiles.

Long Haul Flight Tips #5 – Seat Selection

Do the online check in the day before your flight. Beware that the empty seats you see does not mean there will be lots of empty seats on the flight, just that everyone isn’t assigned a seat yet.

If you are two people travelling, and want to try to get an empty seat next to you. Book the aisle seat and the window seat, leaving the middle seat vacant. This is less likely to get taken unless the flight is full as solo travellers will prefer to pick an aisle or window seat. If someone does sit in the middle seat, then you can say you are travelling together and would they like to upgrade to the window seat / aisle seat. They will gladly comply.

Long Haul Flight Tips #6 – Arrival Time

Arriving three hours before departure is an outdated rule for long haul flights. This rule has a lot of padding built into it so that you spend more money in the airport. Even two hours can still be plenty depending on the airport. Especially if you are travelling with hand luggage only, checked in online and have Precheck.

Long Haul Flight Tips #7 – Security

TSA Precheck and Global Entry help you skip the line at security for certain airlines. Read Get through airport security faster for more details.

Americans and Canadians – Check out Mobile Passport for international flights, it’s an app to bypass the immigration lines and it’s free.

Long Haul Flight Tips #8 – Boarding

I like boarding last, because no seat on the plane is more comfortable than a seat in the lounge. When they announce your section, you do not need to board immediately. This is especially true for Business and First Class. You can board first, but why would you want to, don’t worry, you will have plenty of time to sit on the plane.

Long Haul Flight Tips #9 – Hand Luggage

Don’t forget you can take a coat, laptop bag, umbrella and hat as well as your carry on case. Check what your airline allows and read Pack like a pro for your next flight for more details about what to bring.

Long Haul Flight Tips #10 – Overhead Bin Space

When you don’t have to pay to check a bag in people bring less carry on. Overhead bin space shouldn’t be a problem on long haul flights. The cabin crew will make sure everyone’s bag fits somehow. If you have a giant bag, then you shouldn’t need access to it during the flight. Take out the bits you will need.

Bonus Tip – Exiting the Plane

Skip the first toilet you see and go to the second one, it will be far less busy. The race to passport control has just begun, try not to be last. If you didn’t know it’s a race, then that’s because you usually lose and spend one hour in line.

I use the chip in my passport and breeze through the ePassport gates in five minutes when returning to the UK.

Extra Bonus Tip – Conveyor Belt

If I travel with carry on baggage I pick the side of the conveyor belt nearest the way out. This way the conveyor belt carries my bag instead of me trying to move it through a crowd of people.

If your bag seems to be taking forever check the tags of other bags to see if they are from the same flight. Look for the departure airport’s three letter code e.g. LHR – London Heathrow.

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