Facts About Lukla Airport
- Elevation: 2,845 m/9,334 ft
- Runway: Asphalt Paved
- Runway Length: 527 m/1,729 ft
- Runway Width: 30 m/98 ft
- Gradient: 11.7 %
- Air Traffic Service: Aerodrome Flight Information Service
- Flight Time: 6:30 am to 3:00 pm
- Number of Flights Per Day: 50+
Note: From April 1st, 2019 all Lukla flight will be operated from Ramecchap instead of Kathmandu.
Known as the second most dangerous airport in the world, Tenzing Hillary Airport aka Lukla Airport is situated at 2,900 meters from the sea level. This airport is the starting point of the Everest region trekking. Even though there are a few alternative routes that will take you to Lukla or nearby villages, yet flying to Lukla reduces the number of days that would take if going with those routes. Every year thousands of trekkers and climbers fly to Lukla from Kathmandu from all over the world. There is also the option of charting helicopters to reach Lukla.
During your flight to Lukla, you will fly along some of the highest peaks in the world. Looking over lush green hills, snow-capped peaks, small scattered villages, and mesmerizing scenery, you will land at the Lukla airport. The flight will be short around 30 to 35 minutes, however, the experience and views you will see during those few minutes will be the most memorable time of your life.
Weather in Lukla
The weather in Lukla is unpredictable. The weather can change at any time. Due to its, the climate here is cold. The warmest month is May and the coolest month is January. Summer makes the climate wet due to heavy rain, whereas winter is cold and dry. The average annual minimum temperature is 51.8-degree Fahrenheit, and the maximum temperature is 77-degree Fahrenheit. The snowfall is almost 150 cm thick layer in Lukla.
Spring (March to May) and Autumn (October to November) is the best time to visit Lukla. The weather is pretty moderate during this time of the year. Skip Monsoon (June to September) as the region gets heavy rainfall and everything becomes tough. In Winter (December to February), the region gets extremely cold. Make sure to pack warm clothes to survive winter in Lukla.
Is the flight to Lukla Safe?
As we already know, Lukla airport is a dangerous airport because of its short runway. During the peak season more than 50 aircraft land in Lukla every day. Comparing the data from the past and now, the landing has become pretty safe. Still, the factors like a sudden change of weather, short runway, and atmospheric pressure become the terror. Over the past few years, the aviation officials and airlines have become more strict and careful with the flights. This has immensely improved passenger safety. Planes are small in size so that it can easily land on the runway, and only highly experienced pilots can fly the airplane.
Planning for Delays at Lukla
Lukla airport runs to the edge of a large cliff face that makes the approach very challenging. The only passageway is the windy valley it overlooks, and very small aircraft can make a landing. Plus, the unstable weather and visibility most of the time delay the flights or in the worst case get canceled. For the safety of the board members, the airline never takes a risk and even return flights to Kathmandu in the middle of the journey.
Delays at Lukla flight is very common. If your flight got delayed, you can reschedule it for the next possible flight. This can be a little frustrating, but it is part of trekking in the Everest region. Therefore, the best thing you can do to not ruin your whole plan in Nepal is by adding a day or two extra in your trip for some flexibility in case of any delays.
What About Luggage Delays at Lukla?
Luggage delays do not happen regularly, but there are chances that your luggage can get shifted to another flight due to some reason. In any case, you will get it on the same day if flights did not get canceled. Make sure that all the valuables and the things you will need right away are with yourself. Luggage delays or bags misplaced by the airline are out of our control, but we will do our best to get your gear to you on the trail.
What are the options to get back to Kathmandu when the Lukla flights are canceled?
The best option is to always have a few extra days so that you can wait for clear weather. But if you get badly stuck in Lukla, then opt for these options.
Trekk to Jiri and drive to Kathmandu
This route was first used by Sir Edmund Hillary during his Everest expedition in 1964. Reaching Jiri can take around 3 to 5 days as you will slowly trek through rural mountainous villages crossing several passes. From Jiri, you can drive to Kathmandu in a local or private jeep/bus.
Hike out to Salleri
You have to trek for two days to reach Salleri from Lukla. You can take a jeep from Salleri that will take you to Kathmandu in 10 to 14 hours. Know that the ride will be pretty rough because of the rugged and damaged road.
Helicopter to Phaplu
In case you do not find a helicopter that will take you to Kathmandu, then you can take one to Phaplu airstrip. It is located in the lower valley close to Salleri. From here, you will get jeep that will take you to Kathmandu.
Helicopter to Surkhe
Located just below the Lukla, Surkhe is a small village. Helicopters some time lands here if the visibility is good.
Will Travel Insurance Cover Flight Delays to Lukla?
This completely depends on the travel insurance you have taken out, therefore make sure that your travel insurance covers flight delays. The travel insurance covers trip interruption that is the result of canceled or rescheduled flight. You will get a refund for the missed international connections or extra travel expenses. We will provide you all the documents if you want to claim it to the insurance company.
Helicopter Flight to Lukla
This is the best alternative for anyone who is bound with limited time, or Lukla flight got canceled due to bad weather. The Kathmandu Lukla Helicopter flight will take around 50 minutes to reach the Lukla airport on a clear day. Flying on a private charter helicopter will offer you a different level of excitement and experience. We, Go For Nepal Treks & Expedition has been arranging several helicopter flights to Lukla. We have both options either to charter a helicopter or join daily groups who fly with us. We assure you to offer the best Kathmandu to Lukla Helicopter service considering timely arrivals and departures.
How much does Lukla Helicopter's flight costs?
If you are thinking to use a helicopter to fly in or out of Lukla, then it will cost around USD 500 to USD 600 per person. The cost of a helicopter flight can vary as per the airlines and demand. You can expect of increase in cost during the high demand. If you are thinking of charter a private helicopter then it will be more expensive.
Why Travel to Lukla with Go For Nepal Treks & Expedition?
As per the weather reaching Lukla can be very easy or a real headache. If the weather is clear, then no problem you are good to go. However, if there is a sudden change in weather, which happens most of the time, the delays and flight cancelation can become a serious problem. Traveling with us makes this easier. We are directly in touch with the airlines that fly to Lukla. In case of any delays or cancelation, we will book you another flight as soon as possible.
We also work with helicopter companies, therefore we always have choppers on standby to pick you. If you are traveling with us, we will book everything for you in advance. During the flight delays, one of our team members will be at the airport to make sure everything is taken care of you.
We assure you that, with us, you will have the smoothest, safest, and timely journey in Nepal.