The date of my mum’s flight to Sydney is close approaching, and I have spent a fair bit of time replying to her texts about preparations for the visit.
I thought I might as well put some more information here, especially for other visitors in the 65+ age bracket who haven’t done much international flying before.
I did a bit of Googling but I generally trust recommendations from Which? Magazine.
Make sure you get the exact policy they mention in the table (link below) as the other policies won’t be as good. Also check they have the amount of cover mentioned in the third paragraph- at least £3000 for cancellation or curtailment, and at least £1,500 for personal belongings. Check if you need to add valuable items such as a camera or laptop and pay extra for them. It will be worth it, as you don’t want to have to shell out to replace them if they are lost, stolen or damaged.
Price at the time of the article were between £70 and £98 for annual worldwide cover, which seems reasonable to me. http://www.which.co.uk/money/insurance/reviews-ns/travel-insurance/worldwide-annual-travel-insurance-policies/
Do I have to reconfirm my flight?
No. In some developing countries with small airlines this may be the case, but with most larger airlines you don’t have to do this any more. My mum is booked with Singapore Airlines. I told her to download their app and check the flight a day or two before it is due to leave just to make sure the time hasn’t changed. You can use their app to change your seat allocation (subject to restrictions) and you can check the actual seat maps here or on their mobile site here.
My mum has an e-ticket and doesn’t even have to check in, necessarily. However because she is carrying baggage to go in the hold, not just cabin baggage, she will have to check that in anyway.
What are the weight restrictions?
These are easily found by Googling the airline in question. Singapore Airlines have recently raised their baggage allowance to 30 kg for nearly all flights. This is 10 kg more than we were each allowed when we moved over here! I am sure my mum will not want to carry that much.
I told her to be careful about the dimensions of cabin baggage. For Singapore Airlines, the weight allowance is 7 kg but the sum of length, width and depth must add up to 115 cm. She is allowed one additional item, such as a camera bag or laptop bag, details here. I told her to be very careful that whatever she brings on meets these requirements. I don’t want her to have to rearrange her luggage upon check in, or, worse, for her carry-on bag to be put in the hold so she won’t have access to it the whole time.
I also told her to pack in her carry-on bag
- a change of clothes
- travel documents
- a copy of her insurance policy
- phone numbers for contacting the insurers from abroad
- phone number for contacting her bank from abroad.
It’s really important to have these phone numbers. If there are long delays to the flight, I am sure my mum would far prefer staying in a hotel paid for by the airline or insurers, than hanging around in the departure lounge. Plus, if you don’t travel abroad very frequently, it is quite common for banks to note your ‘irregular activity’ and block your card. I want my mum to be able to call the bank from Australia so they will unblock her card while she is with us, rather than her surviving on a few cents or having to borrow money from me!
What time do I have to check in?
As I said earlier, with an e-ticket you don’t necessarily have to check in, but carrying luggage for the hold means you will have to. Heathrow airport ask for a 3 hour check in for most international flights. Mum is booking her train accordingly.
More information to follow, regarding dealing with jetlag, and the food our family eats in Sydney.