Flight to Lukla is one of the most scenic air flights in the world as flying over the Great Himalayas will let you experience the beautiful views of the Himalayas from above. It’s something you won’t get to see everywhere in the world. The Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla, also known as the Gateway to Everest, is the main airstrip in the Everest region from where your travel to Everest region is conducted. Whether it be trekking in Everest region, or any other activities like mountaineering, expedition, and peak climbing; Lukla is the place from where journey to all these activities begins. The flight to Lukla is available only from Kathmandu and it’s a pretty short flight taking somewhere between 30 to 45 minutes.
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Safety of Lukla Airport
But this is also an airport which has the reputation of being one of the most dangerous airport in the world. So, is it?
One main reason for this airport in Nepal to be technical is because of the topography. Lukla airport elevation lies at an altitude of 2,860 meters and it lies over the top of a hilltop surrounded by other big mountains around. So when a plane takes off or is about to land, it doesn’t get many chances to recover itself if something goes wrong as the airstrip is short and runs to the edge of the cliff. This is the reason why this airport is regarded to be one of the most dangerous in the world. However, it would be wrong to come to the conclusion. Why? Let’s put things into perspective.
Each day, 20 to 30 aircraft land in Lukla airport. An average of 30,000 tourists flies into Lukla each year. The security and safety of the Lukla airport has significantly went up since the last decade. The last accident involving passenger aircraft in Lukla happened back in October, 2008. Since then, there has not been any aircraft related accident. The passenger safety has been improved greatly since the tragic accident a decade ago. Airstrip is in constant maintenance and the aircrafts have been upgraded as well by most airline companies of Nepal. Still, the flight to Lukla can be thrilling and nerve racking at the same time but it is safe indeed.
Kathmandu to Lukla Air-ticketing
Your flight to Lukla from Kathmandu is pre-arranged by our company. We look after all the logistics regarding your Lukla flight if you’re traveling to Everest region with us. There are many benefits in doing so. Because we run a number of trekking groups in Everest region, we get a priority when it comes to ticket booking. Keep in mind though that we pick the flights as the weather fits suitable and getting early flights is one of the key things we prioritize to ensure our guests’ safety and to minimize delays. The flight back from Lukla to Kathmandu is also included if you’re traveling with Core Treks.
The flight to or from Lukla is difficult to predict as it heavily relies on the weather condition. Airline companies do not take any chances with the weather conditions and in case of bad landing condition, the plane might as well return back to Kathmandu since it’s risky to land at Lukla airport during such circumstances. Because of this reason delays with Lukla flights aren’t uncommon. These delays can happen anytime but are more prevalent during the Monsoon season (May-Sep). In such cases, flights will be rescheduled on the next flight soon as possible. However, it is difficult to say when it’ll get rescheduled as conditions can change rapidly. So it could be couple hours after your scheduled departure, or even a few days later in some rare cases. It sounds frustrating but that’s a part of a journey one has to make while traveling Everest region, the highest place on earth. For this reason, we highly recommend our travelers to add at least a day or two at the end of your trip so that you may have some flexibility in case of any delays.
The best option for these flight delays in Lukla would be to just plan extra couple days on your trip beforehand and wait for the clear weather. However, if you’re stuck for more time than you anticipated or are in tight schedule then we can find other options as well. Some of those are;
Helicopter to Kathmandu: If it’s urgent and getting back to Kathmandu soon as possible is necessary, then we can reserve a helicopter flight back to Kathmandu. Keep in mind that it will be expensive and can charge you up to $400 to $600.
Helicopter to Phaplu: If helicopters are in limited availability then what we could do is to take the Heli till Phaplu where there’s an airstrip lower in the valley close to Salleri. From there we can arrange a jeep to Kathmandu and the ride will take us around 10 to 14 hours drive.
Trek to Jiri: This is the path used by the first people to reach the Everest summit, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. It was the only trail to Everest region until the construction of the Lukla airport in 1964. The path involves 5 days of trekking along with a long bus ride to or from Kathmandu.
Trek to Salleri: A two long days of hike from Lukla will take you to the village of Salleri. From there jeep can be reserved to Kathmandu. This ride will take about 10 to 14 hours.
Baggage Reclaim Delays
Sometime what could happen is that your baggage might get shifted to another flight or delayed by the airline. It is not a common occurrence yet it is a possibility. So make sure to keep all your valuables and essential things in your hand carry bag. These delays or misplacement caused by the airline are something which is out of our control but we will do our best in getting your things quickly as possible.
Helicopter Flights to Lukla
Helicopter are much more flexible when it comes to our flight to Lukla but it is however more expensive than a commercial flight. If you wish to travel to Lukla by helicopter, we can help you make arrangements with the helicopter company. Expect to pay around $400 to $600 per person if you’re taking the option of Heli-flight to Everest. We will refund you the cost of your plane ticket in case you choose this option to travel to Everest region.