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1st trip to Europe. Questions about the plane trip.

This will be our first trip to Europe. with such a long flight can anyone tell me about the service and what to expect. We'll be dressed for the long plane trip but do we need to bring our own snacks, extra water, etc?

Posted by
225 posts

Check your itinerary as it will likely say what type of food to expect i.e. dinner, snack, breakfast, etc. In my experience, the food is acceptable for what it is. Not great, not terrible.

I would suggest you bring whatever snacks you would like. You never know when the food will be late or unacceptable to you based on your tastes. Liquids are of course taboo until you are in the secure area, so fill up you water bottles and get sodas/juices once through security. In general, its just better to be self sufficient in terms of food and drink.

Posted by
12154 posts

You don't say who you are flying with. For the most part the service you receive on your international flight will be more than you could expect on a domestic flight. The food isn't bad (depending on whether you're picky).

Having said that, I would definitely bring at least one liter of water each. You have to bring empty bottles and fill them up post TSA from a water fountain. Flying at altitude is very dry and it's easy to get dehydrated. The attendants will bring water/drinks a number of times but not enough to stay completely hydrated.

I also like to pack a number of healthy dry snacks in a daypack. They augment the food you're served and really help during the time between landing and getting settled enough to look for food.

Posted by
190 posts

How exciting! For overseas flights, you will be furnished with meals and non-alcoholic drinks. If you have dietary restrictions, these need to be made known to airline well in advance. Often they can accommodate those requests. I always order the vegetarian meal.

If you are not comfortable asking for two glasses of water when only one is offered, bring a bottle of your own. I always bring supplemental snacks/food only because of my diet.

If you do a search on this site, you should find a long string with all sorts of ideas about bringing snacks/food. But the airlines do furnish enough for the trip.

Have a great time!

Posted by
1455 posts

Jo, not true on non alcohol!! If you fly a non-Domestic company (ie: Virgin, Air France) they'll offer you wine with your meal. Some may offer beer too.

Generally they will give you 2 hot entree choices for lunch/dinner, a light breakfast (some hot egg dish), and a light snack (ie: cookies)

Ernest, check your plane's web site. They should tell you what services you'll get, such as meals, video on demand movies, even ice cream!

Some will give you a travel kit with socks, tiny toothbrush/toothpaste, eye mask, ear plugs, and lotion.

Posted by
658 posts

The airline I work for flys from two US cities and we offer a range of spirits as well as beer and wine, even in economy.

The food isn't too bad but not sustaining.

There's a button above your head, press it when you need more water - water is important.

After that there's nothing to do but watch the latest block-buster movie or an old classic film.

Posted by
15 posts

Two things for you:
1) Bringing empty liter bottles is an excellent idea. One catch, if you have a connecting flight in heathrow and they'll make you throw the water away. Yes, its very very very stupid, but it happened to me. I got water right before boarding my plane, got off to catch the connecting flight, and before I was allowed even to customs, they made me ditch the water. So, drink it all before you get off and then you get to keep the bottle.

2) As for snacks, I bring Clif Bars. They are pretty good and aren't coated in chocolate (read: doesn't melt) and since they're naturally a bit mushy, you don't have to worry about them getting destroyed. I typically bring as much food as my pack/weight limit will allow once I'm fully packed so as to minimize having to purchase far more expensive food in Europe (that's not to say you shouldn't budget and indulge in some of the finest food in the world there).

Posted by
894 posts

Be sure to bring a small tube (no more than 3 oz.) of lotion and some lip balm. All those hours spent on a plane can really dry out your skin and lips.

Posted by
2121 posts

I would bring a snack (power bars, granola bars), only because the food is often questionable. You should get plenty of opportunities to get water - on my 10 hour flight, every 45 minutes to an hour the attendants came through with water. If you have a bigger container they can fill it up for you, but be advised you must purchase full containers AFTER security.

For example of meals, on my Northewest Air Portland - Amsterdam flight I was served a hot dinner, a breakfast snack (granola type bar, yogurt), and a "snack" of a turkey sandwich just before leaving the plane. On the reverse trip I had a hot lunch, a snack (cookies) and a small sandwich wrap just before landing. They did offer wine and beer (but the news says this may not be for much longer?). But I avoid alcohol due to dehydration.

I second the idea to bring lip balm and lotion. Also bring a toothbrush & small (less than 3 oz) of toothpaste - nothing says "hello European passport control" like fresh breath. I didn't bring (but wished I had) eyeshades - they did not lower the lights on my going flight and it was very difficult to sleep.

Posted by
590 posts

bring a bottle of water (purchased after security of course!)When you are finished with it you can ask the F/A to refill it for you. I know Air Canada refills it with distilled water and don't give me any hassles. I would bring snacks to supplement the mediocre airline food...a few of my portions were still frozen and inedible.
If an eyemask/ear plugs will help you sleep, bring those as they are light and you won't notice them in your pack.
Bring your own headphones (small inyour ear type). I don't like the sound quality from the cheap ones they provide, plus they are thrown in the garbage after you use them.

Posted by
1 posts

If you are flying British Airways on the night flight to Heathrow then you will get dinner including French wine or beer if you like. The food is above average for an airline. They will also provide breakfast in the a.m. Do buy water at the airport after going through security. The amount of water they give you on the airplane is minimal. On the return trip you get lunch and a couple of snacks.
Have a great trip. Bon Voyage.

Posted by
1806 posts

To add one other thing to what others are telling you, it's get up and move around A LOT.

You are flying from Denver to Europe - a very long flight for you. Getting up just a few times to go to the bathroom on a long haul flight is not enough.

No matter what your age or physical condition, you should try to move around as much as you can to prevent serious health complications (i.e., blood clot in your leg). And when seated in such cramped conditions, do some leg exercises in-seat to supplement moving around. And stay well-hydrated - avoid alcohol and caffeine, drink a lot of water before even getting on the plane, and keep drinking it when you are on board. Wear loose, comfortable clothing - nothing tight or restrictive (you can change into something nicer before you land if you bring an extra outfit in your carry-on).

Posted by
5677 posts

I don't think that anyone has mentioned ear plugs. If you want to sleep they will help with the eyeshade, which I also think is necessary. Yes, you can push the button for more water, but it's nice to have a bottle. I carry a blow up pillow, which I sometimes need. Bring a sweater or other long sleeved cover up. The temperature on a plane often varies.

Enjoy your trip.


Posted by
3580 posts

My favorite preparation for long flights is to eat a burrito in the Mexican restaurant at SFO before the flight. One burrito keeps my hunger at bay for hours. Under ordinary conditions you will be served a meal about 2 hours into the flight, a snack a few hours later, and a small meal (breakfast usually) about an hour before landing. If the plane is delayed for any reason you may wish you had eaten first or carried snacks. I like to have a couple of ounces of nuts with me for emergency food. I fill my empty water bottle at the airport drinking fountain after clearing security. I carry something to read. Also, I make liberal use of sanitizing gel for my hands.

Posted by
11503 posts

A BEAN burrito, before a flight, well thats just mean.LOL

Bring a sweater or fleece, the planes are cold.
Bring a snack, the food is never enough.
Bring a water bottle or purchase one after security.
Bring one of those inflatable neck pillow, mine was about 6 bucks and it has been a life saver .
Lip balm is not a bad idea, I always bring some anyways, planes are really really drying.
Bring a book, the movies are not always any good at all.

Posted by
192 posts

Things are changing so fast it's hard to know what's okay and what isn't.
Wear comfy clothing--loose-fitting. Take a sweat jacket or other light jacket in case it's chilly.

Take food! Airline food is horrible. Take snacks, dried fruit, crackers,etc.

Water--they may be charging for this even, I'm not sure, but in any case, get a couple bottles once you are past security. Don't try to take an empty bottle thru security--they'll take it. Once on the plane, you can try asking for a cup of ice, then pour your water over that. (Drives me nuts that we can't bring our own water anymore--we used to freeze it the night before, then we'd have really cool water for hours.)

Take ear plugs. It's a long haul over the ocean, and those planes are still as noisy as ever.

BE SURE to get up and walk around for about 5 min., every hour. You may be the only one doing this, but who wants to chance a blood clot?? I start from my seat, walk all the way to one end of the plane (even if I end up in first class--what are they gonna do, toss me off?), then cross over to the other side and walk back the other way. It's not a smooth walk, but crashing into other passengers is a good ice-breaker. :)

Investigate all the bathrooms. This requires your being upright also, getting the kinks out of your legs.

Splash your face with cold water.
When you are about an hour out of your destination, you might be given a nice hot washcloth to 'freshen up' with. I did, then went into the bathroom and cleaned up, brushed my teeth, etc. Felt pretty good after 9 hours in that plane.
(Oh, and save that little washcloth in case you end up in a hotel that doesn't have them.)

Oh, another thing--save the receipts from stuff you buy, because on the way back, you will be given a form to fill out for customs, and you'll need the info. We didn't know that our first time, and things got a little interesting when we hit Seattle.....

Most important, tho--have a great time!

Posted by
12154 posts

At first I thought it was a joke about the burrito. Just like a balloon or your inflatable travel pillow, trapped gas inside your body will expand at altitude (not just the air inside your eardrums). The pressurized planes usually keep the inside altitude to about 8,000 feet, but it's enough to make a noticable difference. If you know certain foods affect you that way, there is no better time to avoid them than when you are flying.

I probably wouldn't start a conversation with my seatmate, "I feel great, I just ate a burrito!" LOL!

Posted by
143 posts


My husband and I are crying from laughing so hard!!! Thanks for the very funny post. :o)

Posted by
208 posts

Ernest -
I have my essentials I may need for the flight in a gallon zip lock bag (Tylenol PM, tums, excedrin/advil, lip balm, lotion, iPod & headphones, eye shades, ear plugs (or use the noise-cancelling headphones) book/magazine/newspaper - whatever I've decided on, and my inflatable pillow) which I can then put in the seatback in front of me so I'm not one of those annoying people that has to get up and down getting crap out of my bag in the overhead compartment. I take the time before my flight to get it all together and I can toss it on my seat and then put my bag overhead and I'm ready to go.
On my recent trip I got smart (finally!) and took some of the Special K breakfast bars. I stuffed them in my camera bag (carry-on ONLY) so I had them during the trip. If I got hungry on the plane I was ready. Likewise for touring - if I got hungry, a bar or two would keep me going for hours.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
864 posts

Service is better on long haul flights but you will be much happier having some cut up fruit (must be eaten on flight), lots of water etc. Buy a large drink and a snack at any fast food place, ask just for a large water. Fill up your empty water bottles (getting more from the soda dispenser)The most important thing is start out well rested. Be fully packed, have paid all the bills, made all the pesky arrangements etc. THREE FULL DAYS BEFORE YOU LEAVE. If this is your first time in Europe you're heading into sensory overload land. You are going to have the time of your life!!! Nothing beats that first trip to Europe.

Posted by
186 posts

We always carry empty water bottles through security. After they made us dig them out one time to confirm they were indeed empty we just put them in the bin with our shoes and ziplock of liquids & gels.

Posted by
186 posts

RE: Burrito.

The man who sat next to my husband the last time he ate powdered scrambled eggs on a flight only WISHES hubby had had a burrito ahead of time instead! Man woke up from a sound sleep, wrinkled his nose and said "Jeez, I thought I was having a nightmare!" I of course lost it and found myself literally in the arms of a complete stranger, both of us laughing and gasping for breath until tears ran down our faces. Hubby was NOT amused, having thought he'd squeaked one by under cover of jet noise. We had to catch a connecting flight and as we were going one direction on a moving sidewalk our sorely abused seatmate (who'd been sitting separately from his family) was going the other way across the room -- he pointed hubby out to his kids who started laughing and pounding each other on the back. A priceless travel memory, indeed!