Your long haul flight to London and what to do on arrival

Until a new age Concorde sets flight, longer flights across the pond from America to London are here to stay. With flights from America to London starting from 7 hours, it can be daunting to spend so much in a confined space. Due to your long haul flight you may be feeling unsure what to do first in such a big city.

Concorde in NYC USA

Keep reading for our top tips on how to have a smooth flight and arrival in London.

Plan Ahead

Travelling is one of the best, but also one of the most stressful experiences due to the amount of checking paperwork, suitcases and legal regulations. Before you head to the airport 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!


Some of the things to remember: Is your hotel booked? How will you get to your hotel? When can you check in? What is the distance from the airport to your hotel? Have you got enough English currency?

Adjusting to London’s Time Zone

Time zones can be tricky and can disturb your body clock for days which will ruin a large percentage of your trip to London! So to avoid this, make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before you fly.  And try to relax as much as you can on the plane so you feel refreshed when you arrive at the end of your flight.

big ben london clock

When you do arrive, try and stay awake as long as you can until the ‘local bedtime’ so you hopefully 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!

Keep Yourself Hydrated

The air on-board flights can feel very dry which can quickly dehydrate you, so make sure you eat and drink the right things to maintain your health. Drink plenty of water and soft drinks, and eat a little 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?


If your plane has on flight entertainment such as TV shows and films, make the most of it and avoid looking out the windows.

When you have arrived…

Don’t Panic!

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

London underground sign


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 be asked to fill out a form and to provide an address of where you are staying whilst there. Have details like this close to hand.


If you have to wait before checking in to your accommodation or getting picked up, you may want to visit one of London’s many cafés, bars or restaurants to get a proper meal and sample London’s finest cuisine. London airports have coffee shops and places to get a meal as well as the airports being surrounded by eateries.


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 shopping and help quickly pay for any taxis, or transport you need as soon as you arrive.

travel money dollars sterling

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. If you do find yourself confused with how to get around London, find an information desk and ask as the last thing you need is getting lost in a big city.

London-transport overground train


London airports have different terminals and each terminal can put you in a subtly different location and this can alter direction navigation. Maybe you have planned a stay at one of the onsite airport hotels? This is a good idea that some travellers take advantage of. It will allow you to adjust for a night before exploring London further.


Are you planning a trip to London in 2017? A private London tour guide can make the trip so much easier and ensures you get the absolute most of your trip! Book your guided London tour with Nicola Watts now – book here.



  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.

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