Tips for Best Lukla Flight Experience
Summiting Mount Everest is an intimidating task, and there’s no doubt about it. However, for many flying into Lukla Airport- the gateway to Everest, is also a daunting experience. While the airport is far from being the world’s highest airport, it is at 9000 feet elevation and is no less nerve-wracking.
The great height of the airport is scary, but its structure and terrain, in general, are frightening. Thus, given these features, most call the Lukla airport the world’s most dangerous airport. But we like to call it the world’s most exciting airport. Because flying into Lukla is not only petrifying but also a mixture of thrill and exhilaration.
Nevertheless, despite its fun aspects, the shortcomings above dominate people’s minds while flying into Lukla. Therefore, here we list 10 Tips for the Best Lukla Flight Experience.
Choosing the Right Time is Essential.
Many of you know that the best time for visiting Nepal is during the spring and autumn. Well, this timeframe applies to any trips in the Everest region. Besides that, winter is also an excellent season for a smooth flying experience to Lukla Airport besides spring and autumn. Weather remains constant during this season; thus, there are fewer chances of flights being canceled. Henceforth, if you want to avoid flight delays and cancellations, choose the right time for your journey.
Book the tickets in advance
The Everest Region is one of Nepal’s busiest and most popular trekking destinations. As a result, getting flight tickets to Lukla is tough if you do not book your tickets in advance. Moreover, booking in advance allows you to choose your preferred seat on the plane. Thus to get the best seat for the journey of a lifetime, book your tickets in advance.
Most trekkers who travel with a travel planner do not have to go through the hassle of booking flight tickets as the journey organizers pre-arrange everything. Nevertheless, if you are planning on traveling solo, then make sure you book the tickets beforehand.
Make sure to sit on the window seat
Twin Otter planes and helicopters only fly to Lukla Airport. The airport is not built for commercial planes; thus, no other aircraft or air carriers fly this mountain airport. Nevertheless, window seats are the best as it gives you a glimpse of what is about to come further in the journey.
Besides the scenic glimpses, the visual of flying amidst massive green hills to landing at the airport is quite pleasing. Therefore, ensure you do not miss out on this experience by not sitting on the window seat. The perspective with experience, in general, is phenomenal.
Arrive before the Check-in time
Lukla Flights operates from 6:15 AM onwards till 11 AM. There is a high chance of flight not being operated after 10 if the weather is not suitable. Also, as most would like to make it early to Lukla, most get to the airport quite early.
Additionally, since flights to Lukla do not operate in the afternoon, you should book an early flight. Moreover, it is typical for the Lukla flight to get delayed or canceled altogether if the weather is bad; therefore, ensure you have early flight tickets for the next day.
Do mind the weight restrictions.
Each passenger gets a 15 Kg in total weight limit on the flight to Lukla. This weight limit includes your duffel bag and hand carry bag. If you exceed the weight limit, extra costs will be added to the passengers.
Book your flights with reliable airlines
Tara Air, Summit Air, and Sita Air Airlines are the domestic airlines that operate flights to Lukla from Kathmandu. One can inquire about costs and services with these airlines before booking the flight. However, before booking, ask about flight cost, duration, and cancellation policies. One may find various rates for the same price in a competitive market and fall prey to the cheapest ones, so it is best to take prior precautions.
Plan Ahead for Flight cancellation and delay
The weather in the mountains is unpredictable. It keeps on changing. The only time the weather stays constant in the mountains is during the morning. Therefore, flights to Lukla only operate in the morning. All flights operate from 6:15 AM till 11 AM, but not later.
No flights to Lukla operate during the afternoon because of weather instability. Therefore, depending upon the season, you intend to do Everest Base Camp trekking or any trip to Everest, keep extra days at the end of your journey. As mentioned earlier, the best time to make any journeys in Nepal, including the Khumbu region, is during the spring and autumn.
Winter is also an ideal season for trekking, but cold weather can be too testing. Nevertheless, the weather remains constant during winter; thus, flying to Lukla won’t be much trouble. Therefore, make sure if your intended time favors good weather; otherwise, plan your trip with a few contingency days in the end.
Alternative Options to Lukla Flight
One could try a few alternative options if the travelers decide not to fly to Lukla via plane or avoid flight cancellation or delays. One could always opt for a classic Everest base camp trek via Jiri.
This is the same trail walked by Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary for their Everest expedition. This is the best hiking trail that lets trekkers explore the forgotten trekking trails of Nepal.
Trekking via Salleri is another great trail that trekkers can walk to get to Lukla overland. This trail begins with an off-road drive to Salleri and walking through remote Sherpa villages that are slightly different from the main course.
Flying to Lukla via Helicopter
Another great alternative to reach Lukla is flying in a helicopter. It is about 45 minutes flight that offers serene sceneries of mountains, green hills, deep gorges, and rivers before soundly landing at the Helipad at Lukla Airport. The Heli flight to Lukla takes off from Kathmandu airport, a convenient alternative to fly to Lukla quickly and smoothly.
Unlike airline flights, Heli flights can take off even when the weather is slightly unstable. It is a bit expensive compared to a plane flight, yet worthwhile. The Heli flight to Lukla costs around USD 500 to 600 depending on the helicopter’s passengers. A helicopter sits five people at a time; costing depends on the passengers on board.
Above is some basic information for a smooth Lukla Flight experience. Make sure to abide by these tips, and you will have a lovely time during one of the most scenic flights in the world.
Lukla Flight from Ramechhap Airport
Ramechhap Airport, or Manthali airport, is an alternative route to flying to Lukla Airport. In 2019, Tribhuwan International Airport re-directed all flights from Kathmandu to Lukla and vice-versa to Manthali Airport due to high traffic congestion and runway maintenance. Lukla is one of the small domestic airports, and a popular trekking destination gets an increased number of travelers; therefore, to maintain the traffic at the airport, the airport authority re-directed all flights to Manthali airport. Manthali Airport is about 4 hours away from Kathmandu, and the flight duration is about 20 minutes. It is easier to fly from Manthali Airport to Lukla, and the flight can take off even during unstable weather conditions. Also, there are fewer chances of flight cancellation and delays due to unfavorable weather conditions.
Flying to Lukla, and what makes it terrifying?
The location of Lukla Airport is more unconventional than most standard airports in the world. Tall Mountains surround the Lukla airport; one end of the runway has a steep drop and a massive wall. Not forgetting its short runway of 527 meters and 20 meters wide, landing here requires extensive flying experience. Also, airplanes struggle to fly at high altitudes.
Air density is significantly lower at high elevation than at sea level, negatively influencing the quantity of power generated by an airplane’s engine. It also lowers air resistance, making it more difficult for planes to slow down. Given these circumstances, it is quite a difficult task to land at Lukla airport. Henceforth, passengers need not worry because no flights take off if the visibility is poor, and all pilots that fly to Lukla have years of hands-on experience flying to Lukla. Despite physical challenges, safety is the topmost priority and is never compromised.