How to prepare for an early morning flight

When booking a flight we always go for the cheapest flight we can find. It is natural instinct to get a bargain. However, just before your holiday is set to begin, you realise that a 7am flight means getting up at stupid o’clock to get to the airport and being tired for the first day of your holiday. Nobody likes that! Maybe it was worth the extra £20 to get a couple more hours in bed?

Well this post is for those who have already booked those morning flights, there is no turning back now, the early start is inevitable. I have had a fair few early flights recently, including a 7am start from Gatwick to Austria and the same to Poland from Stansted. Both airports in the middle of nowhere!

My tips on how to prepare for an early morning flight should help, when the only option is to get your tired ass out of bed and catch that flight!

6 tips to prepare for an early morning flight

1 – Double check your timings

Now this may seem obvious but double check you have the right timings. What time is your flight? What time can you check in? How long will it take you to get to the airport? I don’t know about you, but when I am up at the crack of dawn I like to have everything meticulously planned out, mainly to maximise the amount of time I can stay sleeping. Very important!

Flying in the clouds

2 – Get all your tickets and paperwork ready

Can you check in online? Have your printed your boarding pass? The more organised you can be in advance, the less stress time in the morning and if you’re anything like grumpy morning Jen, then you want as little stress as possible for a smooth sailing journey to your plane seat.

3 – Stay in a hotel in the airport

Now this tip is revelatory. I didn’t have a choice on my early morning flights last month as they were booked for me, so when I was offered a chance to try out the Hampton by Hilton Hotel at Gatwick airport before my early flight to Austria I had to say yes.

Hampton by Hilton hotel, Gatwick Airport

This hotel is not just close to the airport, it is IN the airport. I hadn’t actually realised this and after checking in I rang reception to find out how long it would take me to get to the terminal (see point 1) and the lady on the other end was a bit confused about my question because I was already in the terminal! Hallelujah, I just saved myself even longer in bed!

Hampton by Hilton hotel, Gatwick Airport
Hampton by Hilton hotel, Gatwick Airport

My hotel room was huge, I only wish I had more time to enjoy it. I felt like I had a suite rather than a room, with a sofa, big corridor, wide windows with the all important black out curtains and all the essentials I might need for an early morning cuppa or last minute iron of my clothes. I arrived around 9pm, giving myself time to get some relaxation in before an early night. My bed had plenty of pillows and a huge duvet for a sound night’s sleep. The hotel is often used for early morning flights, so they put a continental breakfast on from the very early hours of the morning and then the hot breakfast starts at 6am.

Hampton by Hilton hotel, Gatwick Airport

The hotel has its own parking, just outside the hotel, so it really made preparing for my early morning flight super smooth. I parked outside, had a lovely night’s sleep (though it still wasn’t long enough) and was up, dressed and checking in within 20 minutes. Now that makes for a calm and collected start to a flight.

4 – Check your weight allowance (and weigh your bag accordingly)

Chances are your early flight is with someone like RyanAir or EasyJet who will have a strict baggage allowance policy. Whether you’ve paid for checked bags or are just taking carry on there will be a limit and they will make you adhere to it. Ryan Air allow you a 10kg limit on carry on and that isn’t very much. Make sure you know what your limit is and have weighed your bag. I have had numerous stressful pre flight check in where I have been moving the contents of my bag from one to another or had to see what I am ok losing, throwing away from the airport.

Believe me, a quick ‘weigh in’ at home and you will remove a lot of unwanted agro at 6am at the check in desk.

5 – Go to bed early

Not just the night before, but try going to bed early the night before the night before too. A slight change to your body clock can help you get to sleep earlier if you are normally a night owl. This is easier said than done as I know no matter how hard I try I struggle to get to sleep quickly when I know I have to wake up early. It’s a phycological thing I think and it is very annoying!

6 – Take a pillow

Regardless of how much sleep I get, I am always still tired when I have to wake up early. I am just not an early morning person (well not a VERY early morning person) and so sleeping on the plane is the next best thing to catching up on sleep.

I do however have the ability to go to sleep on short haul flights from before take off until after landing, as long as I have my pillow with me. My little travel pillow helps me sleep everywhere, planes, trains, trucks, airport lounges, as long as I have somewhere to rest my head I can* be very content.

*can be, but would much rather be in a big plush bed!

In short, my tips for early flights are all about being organised, being prepared and probably booking a hotel in the airport because that makes everything run like a dream!

I was asked to review the Hampton by Hilton Hotel at Gatwick but of course everything I say is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth… got it? 🙂

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  1. Sound advice, but it is still a nightmare being at an airport at 06.00 hrs. Your tip on staying at airport hotel is excellent and most of them include parking whilst you away which can save quite a bit of money.

  2. Such great tips! We’ve got an early flight next Saturday, so I will definitely putting a few of these to use to make the morning easier!

    1. You should also pack most of your stuff the night before. Only leave out the essentials, like toothbrush, hairbrush, stuff that you can pack fast and easy. Also put your water bottle in the fridge the night before. (;

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