We have all heard about cancellations, delays, and unpredictability involved in flying to Lukla, presumably the World’s Most Dangerous Airport. For those who are determined to earn bragging rights to have landed at the Lukla Airport, here is a Survival Guide:
How to Book a Flight to Lukla and not get swindled.
Book Online, it is simple as that. There are honest ticketing agents, and there are those that will charge your 10-year-old daughter the full adult fare which itself is marked up because they have a ‘man at the airport’ who can get you earlier flights. Needless to say, the man is a myth; best flights are usually found online, and there is a separate airfare for children below 12 years.
Also, it is highly recommended to buy two-way tickets. Surely, there is a concern that you might not get to Lukla on time. But just have a buffer day. In case you get back to Lukla early, you can easily change dates by talking to the airlines or the people you booked flights from.
How much does a ticket to Lukla actually cost?
The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is priced at USD 179, and flights between Ramechhap and Lukla are set at USD 147. That is the standard fare.
However, for Kathmandu to Lukla, the price varies from USD 168 to USD 189. There is this variation as some portals give discounts while others add markups.
As for Ramechhap to Lukla sector, the price ranges from USD 129 to USD 147. The lower range prices do not include transportation from Kathmandu to Ramechhap while the higher ones do. Again there are discounts and markups.
Should I fly to Lukla from Kathmandu or from Ramechhap?
Well, if you haven’t heard it already, all flights to Flights to Lukla has been routed to Ramechhap Airport from Kathmandu Airport by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. This is due to congestion at Nepal’s only international airport.
Here are the pros and cons of the two sectors:
|Kathmandu Lukla||Ramechhap to Lukla|
|Price||USD 179||USD 144.68
Includes transport to RHP and $5 in Credits
|Availability||Available for flights before March 15, 2020.||Easy Availability.|
|Hassle Factor||High Risk of Cancellations and Delays by a day or more.||Travel by Road to RHP Airport which is 4.5 hours from KTM, possibly at 2am in the morning.|
|Extra Days Required||None||None|
|Chances of Cancellation||
Getting to the Airport
Well in the rare case that you have a flight from Kathmandu, just get a cab, pay around NPR 1,000, and get to Tribhuvan International Airport. Just make sure to get there at least one hour before your flight time. And be prepared to wait, wait, and wait some more.
Getting from Kathmandu to Ramechhap is an entirely different matter altogether. We do not know about how people who don’t book through us are planning to make this journey. But those that book flights through HoneyGuide will gather at Thamel at 1:00 am at night. From there we will travel through the wee hours for around 5 hours to get to Ramechhap Airport in the morning just in time for your flight to Lukla.
Sounds like a lot of fun. But hey it is sure better than getting stuck in Kathmandu because of air traffic congestion while you could be breathing the mountain air.
How to get a Mountain Flight for free with a Flight to Lukla?
Just make sure you are the first to enter the aircraft. Scratch, Kick, and Punch if need be, Do It!! Then simply and calmly sit on the left side of the plane, preferably towards the back end of the aircraft. Tada!! There is your mountain flight. 🙂
Why do they Provide Candies and Cotton balls during the Flight?
The plane that you just got into is not pressurized nor is it acoustically optimized to reduce engine noise. Hence, the cotton balls make sure you get out of the plane with intact eardrums and the candies help with ear block that happens with a sudden change in altitude. If you aren’t into sweets, just make sure to swallow whatever once in a while to equalize pressure inside your ears.
Is that Pilot Using a TomTom?
Yes. He (it is almost always a he) most probably is. But don’t worry, the pilot is not going to rely on it to get you to Lukla nor will he use it to land the airplane!!
To get there, the pilot will follow the IFR system, also known as I Follow the Road / River System, and to land, the pilot will use the VFR system, also known as Visual Flight Rules. We will leave it to you to guess which one of the above information was bogus.
But relax, the pilots that fly to Lukla are highly experienced as they need to land those little tin cans at other smaller airports at least a hundred times before they can even get to sit beside a certified pilot on a plane to Lukla. And even then, they do not get to land. For that, they need to complete at least ten missions to Lukla with the old hand.
Yes, these pilots have earned their swag!!
Turbulence is the new normal.
The flight path to Lukla passes through some high passes which funnel wind. Hence, turbulence is kind of normal. Don’t worry about it too much. Just enjoy the mountain views.
Will I survive the flight to Lukla Airport, the World’s Most Dangerous Airport?
Yes. And we are willing to bet twenty-six thousand three hundred and thirty-one dollars for a dollar on this one. Of course, some risks are not present in airports elsewhere and given the topography, Lukla weather, and traffic, it might even be the world’s most dangerous airport.
But regulations are very tight, the pilots are top guns, and there have been only four fatalities in the last ten years. During that time Lukla airport saw a little over a million passengers!!
So relax and just earn your bragging rights for having landed at the World’s Most Dangerous Airport.
Should I reconfirm my Return Tickets?
You are done with your trek and are back at Namche Bazaar sipping on the hoppy Himalayan Red. It is an excellent time to reconnect with the airline or the people you bought your ticket from. Your bookings will be there for sure, but it is a good idea to reconfirm. Also, if you need, you can always change your dates during this period.
What Happens when Fights Don’t Take off from Lukla for X number of days?
Here is the protocol. Let’s say there were no flights yesterday. Today, the first priority is given to those people who had bookings for today. Once today’s bookings are all cleared, only then the guys who have been waiting since yesterday get a turn. If there have been no flights for two days, the protocol is exactly the same, today’s bookings get priority, and then they work backward from thereon.
Weird, we know. But that is old news.
That used to be the case before flights started from Ramechhap. From what we saw in Spring 2019 when flights from Ramechhap began, backlogs have started to clear really quickly. Actually on the very same day. All the pilots needed were a few hours of sunshine. There was no need to line up and wait for the runway to clear. And there were even flights at 4 pm one day.
So Lukla Woes of past years are most definitely over. Touchwood.
I am afraid of little tin cans that whirl through the atmosphere. What are my options?
You could start your trek either from Jiri, Salleri or Kharihola. However, starting your trek from these road heads will add anywhere from 3 to 8 days to your trek. You can read more about the Alternatives to Flying to Lukla in more detail.
If you still have any questions feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp +977-9810102745.