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Flight routing

There is sometimes confusion between the meaning of non-stop, direct and connecting flights. Non-stop flights take off at your departure city and land at your destination without any stops. Direct flights, however, may involve a change of aircraft, layover or refuelling stop. Despite having a stop, direct flights are so called because their flight numbers don’t change (even if the plane does).

Connecting flights will always have two (or more) different flight numbers. If you have connecting flights booked on one ticket, you should be aware that your journey to the final destination is guaranteed but you could still miss the connecting flight if there are delays.

Airlines are very rarely able to hold a connecting flight to wait for passengers to transfer. If you’re delayed and miss your connection, the airline is required to get you to your final destination and will usually put you on the next available flight. Consecutive flights booked on separate tickets don’t offer this protection and, as such, we wouldn’t describe them as connecting.

If you’re connecting through a particularly large or complicated airport, or if you have concerns over the connection times, please discuss this with your specialist. If you’re connecting through an airport in the USA, be aware that you’ll have to collect your luggage, and clear customs and immigration before checking in again. This will considerably extend the time you need to make the flight connection.

Flight delays

If you’re departing from a European country on any airline (EU and non-EU registered) or arriving into a European country on an EU-registered airline and your flight is delayed, you may be entitled to statutory compensation under EU regulations. See the UK Civil Aviation Authority for more details of which flights are covered. In most cases you’ll have to contact the airline directly to lodge a claim.

Outside Europe, when your flight is delayed or cancelled your rights vary depending on the terms and conditions of your contract with the airline. Most airlines base their terms and conditions on those recommended by the International Air Transport Association. This means, when delays happen, most airlines have a contractual obligation to offer passengers a choice between a later flight, a mutually agreed alternative transportation or a refund. They may also offer somewhere to stay and/or vouchers for meals and refreshments, but this will vary from airline to airline.

Luggage

Luggage allowances for both checked-in and cabin luggage vary widely between airlines, so please check your airline’s requirements carefully. In addition to weight restrictions, there are also restrictions on the dimensions allowed.

If you’re transferring from an international flight to an internal (domestic) flight, the allowances may be different again. Some domestic airlines will respect the more generous allowance, but in other cases a more restrictive allowance will apply.

If you’re going on safari and will be taking light aircraft flights, please check luggage instructions carefully. You may be required to pack soft bags rather than suitcases, and the weight limit may be considerably less than on your scheduled flights. Many safari operators will make arrangements for you to store excess luggage in these circumstances, or you can use the public left luggage facilities at the airport.

Many airlines, particularly those in North America, will charge for checked-in luggage if your domestic flights haven’t been booked in conjunction with your international flights. Your specialist can provide further details on this, if it applies.

Security regulations in relation to what can and can’t be included in luggage are constantly evolving to meet the current threat levels. You should check these carefully, and there are likely to be restrictions on taking liquids and sharp items as cabin luggage. Some airlines and airports have also imposed restrictions on certain electronic devices.

In the rare event that your luggage is either misplaced or damaged during a flight, you’ll need to complete a form provided by the airline before you leave the airport. This will enable the airline to contact you once your luggage is located, or for you to complete an insurance claim if the luggage can’t be retrieved or has been damaged.

Seat requests

Although it’s usually possible to request specific seats on flights in advance of travel, this will often involve a fee. If it’s possible for us to select seating free of charge, we’ll do all we can to hold your preferred seats for you. Please let us know your seating preference as soon as possible. However, please be aware that airlines will never guarantee seat reservations, even if you’ve paid for them. It’s still important to get to the airport in plenty of time to confirm your preferred seats.

If the airline provides the opportunity to pay for specific seats in advance, it’s usually a requirement that your flight tickets have been issued and paid for in full. Once a flight ticket is fully paid for, there will be penalties and amendment fees if you wish to change flights.

If you don’t wish to pay an additional fee to select your seat, and the airline doesn’t provide free seat allocation, you’ll generally find that once online check-in opens you can reserve specific seats for free. Just be aware that the selection of available seats may be more limited.

Flexibility of flight arrangements

We generally use special ‘inclusive tour’ fares when putting together itineraries. These are designed for leisure itineraries and offer better value for money than the type of fares often used for business travel. However, this often means that they’re less flexible if changes need to be made after the tickets have been paid for and issued. Penalties may be charged and, in some cases, no refunds are offered if the flights have to be cancelled.

If it’s important to you to have fully flexible fares in your itinerary, please let your specialist know as soon as possible. While we can offer these fares, it’s likely to have a significant effect on the overall cost of your trip.

Flight amendments

Airlines frequently make changes to their schedules, often at short notice. We’ll always endeavour to inform you of these as soon as we’re made aware, but this may not always be possible. We recommend that you defer booking any non-refundable connecting arrangements, such as airport hotels and parking, and train and bus tickets, until you’ve received your final travel documents from us.

Airport assistance

If you require specific seating on the aircraft or assistance either on the aircraft or moving around the airport, please let your specialist know promptly as airlines need to be informed of this well in advance. If you’re bringing your own wheelchair, the airline will need information about the dimensions and the battery type.

Travel with children

Many airlines allow parents with small children to take a pushchair right up to the departure gate or, in some cases, the aircraft door. Depending on the type of pushchair, it will then be stored in the hold and either returned to you at the aircraft door or made ready to collect at the luggage carousel.

If flying with an infant (under two years), you should check with the airline what it will provide in terms of child seats, bassinets, carrycots, etc.

If you haven’t selected your seats in advance, airlines usually try to seat families together as far as possible. However, as seat availability is likely to be limited at this point, this might result in your family being split over different rows or across the aisle. Airlines will, however, make sure each child under 12 is seated with an adult from your booking. Anyone over 12 is treated as an adult in airline booking systems, so could be seated separately.

In-flight meals

Meals are generally still provided on most long-haul international flights, but many airlines have stopped offering meals on shorter international flights and domestic flights. In these cases, meals may still be available on board but you’ll have to pay for them and the selection will be limited.

Please let us know at the earliest possible opportunity if you have specific dietary requirements, as your meals will need to be requested well in advance. Most international airlines cater for vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, and lactose-intolerant and gluten-free requirements, as well as specific religious dietary restrictions. Some airlines also provide different meals for children, if they’re requested in advance. We’ll request the appropriate meal for you, but most airlines will not reconfirm this to us, so please check again when you check in for your flight.

Frequent flyer schemes

If you’re a member of one of these schemes, please let us have your membership details on your booking form so we can ensure that they’re recorded against your flight reservation.

If you wish to redeem points on your Audley trip, you’ll usually have to make the flight booking directly with the airline, as most airlines don’t allow us to access these fares. You’d pay any applicable taxes to the airline and, in some cases, these can add up to a significant amount. If you do book your flights in this way, please let us have the details as soon as possible so we can ensure that your itinerary fits around the flight timings.

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