Until a new age Concorde sets flight, longer flights across the pond from America to London are here to stay. Flights from America to London are normally around 7 hours. And often arrive early in the morning. Due to your long haul flight you may be feeling unsure what to do first in such a big city. Or how to deal with your arrival day. Keep reading for our top tips on how to have a smooth flight and arrival in London.

Plan Ahead

Make sure you have everything you need for your arrival in London as soon as you step off the plane.  London is a big city and we do not recommend getting lost in the buzz!

Most London hotels can’t open check-in until 3pm. Check with your hotel if you are unsure if you don’t already know. It’s a good idea to assume you can’t check in until later. Make sure that you have everything with you for the day easily to hand. Then you can just deposit your luggage at the hotel and head straight out for some fresh air. Explore the area and find your the local supermarket, ATM, get some brunch at a local cafe. Talk to the hotel concierge to find out what’s close-by. They can suggest local activities that you can do to pass some time until you can check-in to freshen up.

Adjusting to London’s time zone

Time zones can be tricky and disturb your body clock for days. This can spoil some of your trip if you are feeling sleepy and tired every day. Early arrival times mean that when you land all you probably want to do is sleep for 8 hours. But even though it’s tempting, it’s best to keep going for as long as you can. Then at the end of the day get an early night, and you should sleep through until the next morning. If you sleep during your arrival day, then you probably won’t sleep on your first night in London. And you will be back to square one the next day.

When you arrive, try and stay awake as long as you can until the ‘local bedtime’. Then you will wake up at a regular time the morning after. Science says that this is the best approach as well as exposing yourself to sunlight. London has lots of parks and walks you can take to wake you up!

Things to do in London
Daffodils in full bloom in London’s Green Park in spring

Keep yourself hydrated

The air on-board flights can feel very dry which can quickly dehydrate you. Make sure you eat and drink the right things to maintain your health. Drink plenty of water and soft drinks. Eat little and often, but avoid big meals and huge amounts of sugar to keep your energy levels balanced.

Focus on relaxation

If you are a nervous flier then it’s definitely worth taking activities to occupy your mind and make you comfortable. It is much more likely you will enjoy the flight and feel refreshed if you don’t become bored or stressed. Maybe you have a book you’re been waiting to read but haven’t had the time. Or perhaps a travel pillow will help support your back or neck better?

When you have arrived – don’t panic!

London airports are very busy but no busier than American airports so take a breath. Try to have a good rest on the flight. Then you should be reasonably bright and alert and can look out for where you need to go. There will be plenty of direction signs around.  If in doubt, follow your fellow passengers and there are always plenty of staff around to ask for help.

Keep your passport to hand during the flight so you can get through security easily once you land in London. Don’t let it disappear to the bottom of your bag and prolong the experience further. Get any documents you need to show to customs or officials ready. Generally visiting the UK from the US is a relatively smooth process in terms of immigration. But you may be asked questions about your visit. On the plane you may given a form and provide an address of where you are staying in the UK. Have details like this close to hand.


There are plenty of eateries and coffee shops at the airport. On your arrival day it’s a good idea to eat little and often. Keep your energy levels up. London has plenty of cafes, sandwich bars and restaurants. Ask your hotel concierge for local recommendations.

Make sure at this point in the trip you put away all your American currency and unpack your English pounds. This will help you avoid muddling up your currencies when paying for things you need as soon as you arrive.

travel money dollars sterling
Sort out your notes and coins so you don’t get currency confused

Plan your transportation in advance

London airports have good transport links so that you can make your own way to your first destination.  But you should definitely look into this prior to arriving in London so you aren’t panicking last minute. Read our post on the best way to buy tickets for London’s public transport network.

The main London airports have different terminals. Each terminal can put you in a different location and this can alter direction navigation. But they all have good transport links to London. There are options of express trains to mainline stations, or from Heathrow you can use London’s Underground network. Private hire drivers can collect you from airports. It’s a good idea to spend some time working this out before you leave home.

Are you planning a trip to London in 2020? A private London tour guide can make your adventure so much easier. And ensures you make the most of your trip! Book your guided London tour with Nicola Watts now – book here.

Comments (2)

  1. Reply

    Good advice, Nicola.
    I travel fairly often from Western Canada to London, a 7-hour time difference.
    The tip I would add is, before you leave the airport stop at Marks & Spencer (or whatever food vendor you prefer) and get yourself something you can eat in the middle of the night, should you wake up hungry.
    I go a bit overboard on this and buy myself a sandwich or two as well as a package of chocolate Digestive cookies (biscuits). That way if I am too tired to go out for dinner, I don’t have to leave my hotel room.
    I know others are much hardier than I but I’d rather sleep than have to get up and find a meal at an inconvenient time.

    • Reply

      Thanks Jill. That’s a great tip to add. Never underestimate the power of a chocolate Digestive for restorative purposes. In fact there is one waiting for me with my cup of tea as I type this! Happy travelling.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.