Stress-free travel planning: Tips for booking the best long-haul flight deal

There’s no denying that most of us worry about the unknown, and for those who are less frequent travellers, not knowing what to expect at the airport and on the flight itself may create some anxiety.

To make sure you arrive at your destination relaxed and ready to explore, properly preparing for a long haul-flight will help form a realistic idea of what you can expect.

While the amount of time spent in the air for somebody travelling on a long-haul flight is usually around 7 hours or longer, the airline industry is moving toward digital technologies that are shaping the personalisation and comfort of travellers - making these long flights far more enjoyable for you.  

Here are a few ways you can prepare for a long-haul flight, taking most of your concerns out of the equation.

Online booking is now easier than ever 

Technology has greatly increased the speed and ease of looking for, and booking your flight. Most airlines now offer you direct booking via their websites and guide you through the date selection all the way through to payment process.

Certain airlines also offer specific travel guides, expert tips, hotel suggestions and general information about your destination to simplify the entire booking process.

Some airlines have even taken personalisation a bit further. The Lufthansa Group’s Facebook chatbot Mildred for example, is now able to help you search for the cheapest flights within the next nine months. Mildrid also helps you narrow your search results to specific dates and booking classes.

Keep in mind, most airlines have special pages promoting seasonal travel deals and money saving packages –  click here to see top flight offers.

Choosing the right airline with flexible seating options

While the booking process might have been simplified, flight seating has admittedly become more challenging - especially when it comes securing space and comfort.

Choose an airline or booking engine that will allow you to select your seat when you book your flight (some may charge an additional cost), but it is important to book as early as possible to make sure you get the seat you want.

Travelling as a group is even more challenging as sitting together is not always guaranteed.  

Airlines that allow you to customize your experience are growing in popularity, as is the global airline trend of offering Premium Economy Class. It offers a more personalised service, a wider seat, and your seat reclines to a greater degree.

On Lufthansa, travellers have the option to upgrade their seat to Premium Economy either before they board at the boarding gate, or even while on board (if there are seats available of course).

Eurowings allows travellers the option of add-ons, meaning they can book a seat and then personalise. 

Eurowings flight customisation options:

Basic Fare: If you want flight-only, you only pay for the flight, even on our new long-haul flights. If you prefer, you can also book individual additional services such as luggage or catering online.

More information on Basic Fare

Smart Fare: A fare with all the main features - our SMART fare is the smart solution for private and business travellers also for our long-haul destinations. The low-cost standard rate already includes many services and can be fine-tuned with additional services to suit your needs.

More information on Smart Fare

Best Fare: Maximum comfort at an affordable price - that is our BEST fare. Whether you are a frequent flyer, business or leisure traveller the BEST fare leaves nothing to be desired and is also available on our long-haul flights.

More information on Best Fare:

Austrian Airlines lets you take a virtual tour of their aircraft and browse through various seat classes to ensure you can purchase the seat and class as per their preference. While travellers on Lufthansa can order special meals up to 24-hours before their departure at no additional costs.

New technology has also made the check-in process that much easier by automating it – with, you create a profile for yourself detailing your preferences, and the system will automatically check you in when check-in becomes available.

Be prepared and technologically geared up

So, after your booking and seating arrangements have been confirmed, the anxiety of being all set ahead of your departure date can sometimes be overwhelming. But in the age of digitalisation, anything and everything can be managed efficiently.

For instance, the Lufthansa app is able to send you push notifications and reminders about your flight’s details, and you can also use the Lufthansa app on your Apple watch as a boarding pass.

Various apps are available to remind you of your flight the day prior to your departure - continually updating you about the status of the flight, boarding time, terminal, gate and seat number.

But if you going to go this route, make sure your personal and contact details on these platforms are 100% correct and up to date.      

Overcome packing anxiety or lost luggage syndrome

Following an airlines’ luggage guidelines are a crucial part of the planning process. Ignoring this could prove to be a costly mistake.  

Economy Class: 2 bags up to 23kg each

Premium Economy Class: 2 bags up to 23kg each

Business Class: 2 bags up to 32kg each

First Class: 3 bags up to 32kg each

Once you know what your weight restrictions are planning exactly what to pack for your destination gets easier - make a check-list according to your itnerary and take it from there. Forget an essential item and you're left disappointed and struggling to find the nearest store at your destination. Overtly, when over packing, you may end up more disorganised, burdened with extra bags, and having to pay extra for pricey airline luggage fees.

Technology is also making its way into your suitcase - eliminating any anxietty about losing your luggage.

The Rimowa Lufthansa suitcase for example uses digital display screens to replace the paper baggage tag, and through the use of digital pairing technology will also link to your phone app, telling you exactly where it is in the airport at any given time. Cool, right?

Combat boredom with some distraction

In an always-on era, on-demand entertainament is undoubtedly the order of the day - with airlines realising the value of offering a range of entertainment options on board their long-haul flights. 

The integration of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) through content streaming, and virtual reality (VR) means the traditional hard wired in flight entertainment systems with poor viewing angles and limited content have come to an end.

Along with duty free shopping onboard, you can also download eJournals, select movies, TV series, music festival recordings, radio channels, sports event, and even live transmissions - Lufthansa presented two fashion shows and an inflight “conference in the clouds”, on flight LH 400 from Frankfurt to New York during the 2017 New York Fashion Week. Airlines really are making it easier to enjoy the things you care most about. 

The evolving connected traveller

Now that your mind is occupied, many airlines are deploying satellite and broadband-based connectivity solutions on their aircraft to keep up with your online demand.

Gone are the days of offline travelling, nowadays society has an evolving need to stay connected and access the Internet. Onboard Wi-Fi offers your an abundance of new ways to pass the time onboard. Even on short flights, internet access is becoming the norm, with Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings introducing FlyNet – their onboard internet service.

However, the option of making mobile phone calls is still not permitted onboard, so SWISS and Lufthansa offer a mobile international pre-paid SIM card on their long-haul flights. This option enables the passenger an option to make calls and go online at economical tariffs in over 180 countries, with no contractual obligation; this takes away the anxiety of not being connected when travelling.

Airports are mini cities in themselves

Being digitally connected once you arrive at your destination is also reassuring, especially if it’s your first time there.

Most airports have large display maps and directional signs, which may help, however it’s still easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of commuter traffic. Check if the airport you're heading to offers free Wi-Fi access, most do these days if for a limited time only.

And, if you really need to freshen up when you arrive, world-class airports like those at Frankfurt will offer you the opportunity to access an arrival lounge at an additional fee. When departing, lounges offer a great environment for you to unwind and get ready for the flight back.   

The sense of accomplishment you gain when travelling is only more gratifying when you arrive by conquering your fears. For the anxious long-haul traveller, a lot of concern can be eased by simply accessing as much information as possible before boarding and keeping updated with the latest ever evolving trends to ease up their overall long-haul travel experience.

What to read next on Traveller24

-  Taking to the skies: Travellers share their first flight experiences

Who's in my seat? Dream travel buddies for long flights

Coolest flight innovation? In-flight wi-fi, well that and a shower in the sky!

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Voting Booth
Do you think the EFF’s shutdown on Monday was successful?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
No, it was mild and missed the mark
86% - 4005 votes
Yes, it gripped South Africa’s attention
14% - 661 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.