Picking the right airline for your trekking adventure

We know there are lot of options for people joining our treks and adventures around the world. You may be part of a mileage program like One World, Star Alliance or Sky Team. If you you will probably fly these airlines to get extra baggage, priority boarding and access to lounges.

If you are just picking an airline, on Orbitz, skyscanner, Expedia, local travel agent or recommendation from a friend. Then that is also great. There are a few things you need to think about when you are booking your International flight.

We have over 500 people per year coming on our treks and trips to Kilimanjaro, The Everest Region, Annapurna, The Alps, Mount Elbrus and if your bags do not show up then it could be the end of your trip before you even start.

Here are 5 Airlines we have had good experiences with

1). Qatar Airways

2). American Airways

3). Emirates Airlines

4). Etihad Airways

5). KLM Airlines

6). British Airways

Here are 5 Airlines we have had bad experiences with

1). United Airlines

2). Latam Airlines

3). China Southern

4). Turkish Airlines

TOP 10 TIPS for booking your flights

1). When booking your flight, please make sure you book with the same airlines all the way through the journey or at least airlines in the same program. For example, if you are using Qatar Airlines you need to use American Airlines as they are partner airlines.  If they misplace your bags on route,  it will be so much easier to find them and get them to you within 24 hours so you can continue on your trekking adventure.

2). Make sure you have at least a full day on the front end of your trip. So you have time to receive your bags.  There are a few reasons to do this. One reason is, if your bags are delayed you have time to receive your bags before you go into a wilderness environment.

3). Make sure you have Insurance that covers the full cost of your luggage, Insurance that covers a change in flight, Insurance that covers the cancellation of your flight.

4). Make sure you book your seat close to the front of the plane so you can get off early and start getting you visa so you can exit the airport as quickly as possible.

5). Check out at least 3 different websites for flight options and transfer times and try to book directly with the Airline for the best protection.

6).  It is always wise to have a two to three hour layover at each connection build into your travel itinerary just in case there is a maintenance issue or a flight delay.  On the other hand, there may be many instances when that is not possible and 10+ hour layovers happen.  Flying through Doha Airport is a popular way to get to-and-from Kathmandu but usually presents itself with long layovers.  Here you just have to grin and bear it but there are ways to minimize the pain.  We can recommend hotels right outside the terminal that make it easy to get a room for a few hours sleep.
7). Another word on Travel Insurance.  Be aware that when doing treks above 4,500 meters, you may need to narrow down your search for companies that provide high altitude policies.  Global Rescue is one company that has a solid reputation.  Be aware that Evacuation Insurance is usually an addition cost to normal travel coverage.  Try to avoid using the airlines add-on policies, they tend to favor their own interests over the interest of the traveler.  When shopping policies you might want to look at sites like Insuremytrip or Squaremouth.
8).  As I said earlier, take your time looking for solid flights using the airlines we have recommended.  Book as early as you can in order to get the better seats.  When using Discount Travel organizations like CheapOair, remember that they do not always show you seat options until late in the booking process, stay alert.  Check and then double check your reservation at a later point in time to be sure everything is still correct.  Pay particular attention to the seats you selected since they are not confirmed until the airline themselves confirmed them.  Download the airline’s application on your phone and load in your flight.  Fill in your profile detail: name, address, phone, passport, frequent flyer info, etc.
9). Carry on as much of your gear as possible just in case the airline has an issues with late arriving or lost luggage.  Be sure your Passport has at least six months before it expires and has the prerequisite number of blank pages to gain entry into the country you are visiting.  If you have the time, you may wish to send your passport to the embassy of the country that you are visiting to get your VISA ahead of time. This may save you a lot of time skipping the crowded kiosks.
10). This tip is not Airline specific.  These flights can be very long and you will come across several high exposure areas where there is a risk of getting unhealthy germs.  Wipe down your seat area, tray table and movie controller.  Do not touch the in flight magazines.  Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer religiously when on planes and in airports.  You do not want to arrive feeling badly.
Some airlines will go out of their way to get you where you need to be. They will do their best to get you on a flight, or partner airline to make sure your bags arrive. Other airlines do a poor job at helping you. If your flights are delayed make sure you do not allow them to book you on a different airline or non partner airline.

We have been flying and traveling for over 20 years and make 7 or 8 International trips per year and try and work with these better airlines for safety, comfort, support, food, services and baggage delay support.