Your next US flight is coming up, your ESTA application is completed, and you're busy preparing for your trip? Then our tips on long-distance flights are just what you need. This guide will help to start your American vacation worry-free!
The first priority of any travel preparation is the selection of the exact vacation destination and the booking of an airline ticket. Already here, you can apply some tricks.
If you want to get hold of the cheapest possible flights to the USA, keep an eye on the airfares via comparison portals. Since long-haul flights to the USA are generally more expensive than short- and medium-haul flights, the price differences are larger. Therefore, it is worthwhile to follow the price development over a longer period of time.
In general, flights are most expensive during school vacations. Planning your USA vacation outside the season can, therefore, save you a lot of money. Flights with stopovers are also usually cheaper. However, make sure you have a sufficient time buffer at the connecting airport when booking.
When booking your USA flight, don't just look at the price but also the included benefits of the tickets on offer. Some of these are:
Due to the long duration of your flight, choosing a good seat can be crucial to a good start to your vacation. Websites such as Seatguru.com can tell you which airplane seats have no windows, less storage space, or more room to move around, for example, and how far a seat is from the restrooms on the plane.
Do you have a food allergy, or are you vegetarian or vegan? If so, you can reserve special meals for your flight when booking. Even after purchasing your flight ticket, you can still make appropriate adjustments by contacting your airline.
You will need travel health insurance for your stay in the USA in order to protect yourself from high treatment costs in the event of an emergency. A good insurance policy is often included free of charge when you sign up for a credit card for your vacation.
However, if your credit card contract does not include health insurance, you can find a good deal with almost any insurance company. Also, check whether a travel cancellation insurance could be worthwhile. This is especially useful for expensive flight and hotel bookings.
As a tourist from one of the 40 Visa Waiver countries, you usually do not need a visa for the USA as you can apply for the Electronic Travel Authorization (ESTA) for trips of up to 90 days duration.
Various other destinations also offer the electronic travel permit, allowing you to enter the country at a lower cost, more quickly, and with less bureaucracy. For example, when traveling to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, and many other countries, you can apply for an E-Visa.
For your trip, compile a folder with all important documents and stow it in your carry-on luggage before the flight. The most important travel documents include:
If you do not qualify for ESTA or plan to stay in the USA for more than 90 days, you will need to apply for a US visa.
You do not need an ESTA or a US visa if you hold a Green Card. With the US immigrant visa, you are allowed to enter and leave the country unconditionally and live and work in the US indefinitely. You have a real chance of getting a Green Card by participating in the US government's annual Green Card Lottery.
It's essential to have the ideal outfit, especially on long flights. However, this is less about looks than functionality because too tight clothes can become real torture on a long-haul flight.
Furthermore, it is always chilly in the cabin, which is why short clothing or open-toed shoes are not recommended, even if your vacation destination is enjoying the best summer weather. With the two-layer look, you are on the safe side.
The following clothing items are helpful on a long flight:
Cotton clothing is breathable and prevents excessive sweating.
We recommend arriving at the airport at least 3 hours before your scheduled departure for long flights to the USA.
Almost all airlines offer online check-in nowadays, the use of which significantly reduces waiting times at the airport. Also, if you did not reserve a seat at the time of booking, you can do so free of charge at online check-in.
Before your long-haul flight to the USA, you must check in your baggage at the airline's check-in counter. Here, your suitcase will be weighed to ensure that it does not exceed the maximum weight limit.
For transatlantic flights to the USA, one piece of luggage with a maximum weight of 23 kg is usually allowed. However, the weight limit may vary depending on the airline and booking class.
Exceeding the maximum weight can be expensive, as airlines usually assess high fees. Therefore, weigh your luggage at home to be on the safe side.
If you are unable to comply with the maximum weight, register excess baggage before your arrival at the airport. Though this also costs money, it is significantly cheaper than the airport fees.
When traveling to the USA, you will have to go through a thorough screening process to have yourself and your carry-on luggage checked. Follow our tips for the security check:
It is possible to skip the body scan for pregnant women and persons with cardiac pacemakers. You should carry proof with you in this case.
The maximum amount of liquids allowed in carry-on baggage is limited to 100 ml when traveling by air. This often leads to travelers feeling compelled to buy overpriced water bottles at the gate after the security check.
To prevent this beverage profiteering, we recommend taking an empty bottle with you to refill at the water dispenser after the security check.
Usually, business class travelers and families with children are allowed to board the plane first. If you do not belong to any of these groups but at least want to avoid a long wait and queuing, you can position yourself in the waiting area close to the gate and wait there for the boarding call.
Have you gotten the four letters "SSSS" printed or written on your boarding pass? Then you have to pass another security check. "SSSS" stands for "Secondary Security Screening Selection." Travelers can get this classification as a "suspect" passenger for a variety of reasons. Among the possible causes are:
People affected are often questioned in detail about their travel plans and personal circumstances before entering the United States. The luggage may also be thoroughly examined again.
You can improve your physical and mental well-being on a long-haul flight and immediately after landing with a few simple tricks:
Take-off and landing can lead to unpleasant ear pressure when flying. By using a few tricks, you can get through the in-flight pressurization pain-free:
Sitting for long hours is unavoidable on long-haul flights. To prevent thrombosis (that is, the occurrence of blood clots,) stick to the following advice:
Unless you are preventing jet lag by sleeping, the flight time to the US can feel lengthy. Therefore, bring your own pair of headphones, a good book, and your laptop if necessary.
On many flights, you have access to wi-fi and a good entertainment system with movies, series, and music. The onboard store also sometimes has exciting (but expensive) surprises to offer.
Wireless headphones are not allowed on planes!
A long flight to the USA also means a significant time difference. To synchronize your internal clock with the local time of your destination more quickly, follow these tips:
When sleeping on the plane, you can use the onboard lighting as a guide. If the lights are off, you should try to sleep.
The queues for passport control in the USA are sometimes quite long. Therefore, seek out the restroom before queuing if necessary.
While waiting for passport control in the arrivals hall of a US airport, you are not allowed to use your smartphone. Should you need to make an urgent call or send a message, ask permission from the border officials beforehand.
If you have been allowed to use your smartphone at the airport and want to install your American SIM card, use the airport's wi-fi to avoid expensive roaming charges in the USA.
Are you in the middle of organizing your trip to the USA, or is your flight just around the corner? Our free downloadable travel checklist will help you remember everything you need to consider.