The flight to Lukla is on the minds of most people traveling to the region. For some people it is the best mountain flight they will ever take! If the weather is clear, the scenery is nothing less than world class. If you are really lucky, you can see Mt. Everest close to the final approach into Lukla Airport. Check out our Everest Base Camp Trek page.
Different Flight Options
I have personally made this journey over 60 times in and out of the mountains. Some newer planes have been introduced to the fleet over the years. When possible, we choose to use these planes and companies. Helicopters are also becoming a more and more frequented mode of transportation in the region. These can sometimes be the more reliable option.READ MORE.
There are two major challenges with regards to flights in and out of Lukla; the weather and air traffic control. With regards to the first of those, the weather plays the biggest role in the ability of flights to operate to or from Lukla. If the weather is not clear, the planes will NOT fly. This sometimes means that you are stuck in Kathmandu or Lukla for a day or more.
There are no roads for days in the Everest region and only three options of how to get in our out; flights, helicopter, or an extra 7 days walking. Also, if the weather is bad, and your flight is cancelled on your scheduled day, you will be bumped to the back of the line for the next day. This can be a stressful situation. Especially if you are stuck in the mountains and running the risk of your international flight being missed.
We Book the Earlier Flights in the Day
We always book the earlier flights in the day for all of our groups. The reason we do this is simply because the weather in the region is most stable in the mornings. Therefore, it is normal for only the early morning flights to fly. If the weather is bad on the day you are due to fly to or from Lukla, then the other option that could be available to the group is to charter a helicopter. This option of taking a helicopter is not straight forward. In order to take a helicopter, a unanimous decision must be made by the group. It will be an added expense to you and the prices do vary daily or even hourly. However, our team on the ground will work effortlessly to secure the best pricing/options for the group.
Air Traffic Control
The second issue with flights running is to do with the air traffic control in Kathmandu. Over the years, Nepal has become a much busier destination for international travel as well as for domestic travel. Kathmandu is the only international airport in the country and only has one runway. At this busy airport, you can imagine that managing the international and domestic flights has become more and more challenging.
There hopefully is some respite for this issue in the near future however! They are in the process of building a second International airport in the town of Pokhara, which is the second busiest region for tourism. This will hopefully alleviate the stress on Kathmandu airport and eliminate this problem for the future.
Thousands of people fly in and out of Lukla airport each year, with no incident. So you should feel a little bit more relaxed about this flight in knowing that. There is a level of risk associated with flying. Taking this flight in particular, you need to be aware of and accept that risk. The flights are done by line of sight, therefore they are only done when the weather is clear. While you may be frustrated if you can not fly in or out of Lukla due to the weather, you also should realize this is done for your safety. Keeping a relaxed and adventurous mindset when joining a trip like this will make the experience far greater!
Turbulence on the Flight
Turbulence is usually pretty light on the journey. However, it can happen on any flight and every month and day is different. Ignore the extreme comments you read on the internet. Out of the 50 or so flights I have been on, most of those have been smooth with no or minimal turbulence. The main are that there can be some turbulence is when you come over one of the higher mountain passes. This is just before arriving in Lukla. Every flight is different. Therefore, as you fly through the mountains, you need to be prepared for some level of turbulence.
Ramechhap Airport in Manthali District
Since 2019, in effort to combat the overcrowding of Kathmandu Airport and runway, the government of Nepal have decided to start running some of the flights from Ramechhap instead of Kathmandu. Ramechhap is a very small airport approximately a 4-6 hour drive from Kathmandu, depending on the traffic. This is obviously not an ideal situation for people trying to get to or from Lukla. However, it is unfortunately the way things are currently being handled.
Because we always book the first rounds of flights each day, and secure them far in advance, we have been able to avoid this journey for our clients as of late. However, this is not always the case. If the airlines say that the traffic in Kathmandu is too busy that morning and we have to fly out of Ramechhap, then that is how it has to be done. We will be updating teams as this situation develops. However, being open minded on these situations is imperative as it is out of our control.
Join one of our Trips to Nepal
If you are considering joining one of our Ian Taylor Trekking trips into the Everest region you need to CONTACT US. We are available 5 days a week to help get all the information you need to be safe and successful. We have the team, itineraries, reviews, safety and success rates to help you achieve this trip of a lifetime.