Who knows travel better than those who have dedicated their lives to it? In this series, 7travel talks travel & tips with industry experts. Learn the best travel tips, what mistakes not to make, and what destinations should be on your to-visit list.
Nicole Backo, British Airways' Regional General Manager, South West Pacific (pictured below), has worked in the travel industry for 20 years. Beyond being an avid traveller herself, she has gleaned the best tips and tricks Australian travellers can use to be financially savvy, comfortable while flying, and making the best of a long haul holiday.
7travel: How far in advance do you advise travellers to book flights?
Backo: If they wish to travel in the European summer it's best to book around February or March.
7travel: In your time in the airline industry, what have you noticed is the biggest mistake Aussies make preparing for a holiday?
Backo: I think this can probably be said for all travellers, not just Australians, but checking that your passport has at least six months validity is probably the most common issue. Also, ensuring that all necessary visas have been arranged prior to departure is extremely important.
7travel: What are your best tips for preparing for a flight or keeping busy while on a flight?
Backo: It’s always a good idea to double check all travel documents a few weeks prior to travel to ensure that all names are spelt correctly and that all travel arrangements are accurate, including travel dates. This will help to avoid any issues on the day. It’s also advisable to pack a paper copy of your passport in your suitcase and keep a soft copy on your smartphone or mobile device. If the worst happens and you lose your passport, it is much easier to get a passport reissued when you have a copy of it.
I also like to check-in for my flight online 24 hours before I travel, select my seat and print my boarding pass. That way I can simply drop my bag at the airport and avoid any queues.
On board, people love to watch films. We give customers access to over 1,000 hours of films, top TV shows and audio channels, so there really is something for everyone.
7travel: Do you have any tips for making a long flight more comfortable?
Backo: I like to include a travel size version (under 100ml) of my normal skin care products, including hand cream, to apply during the flight. I find that having a change of clothes for on board the aircraft, such as very comfortable active wear, helps me to feel prepared to go to sleep. Also, drink lots of water during the flight to stay hydrated.
Over the next five years, we’re investing £4.5 billion which will see enhancements that we hope will make the long flight to London even more comfortable. This includes new interiors in our existing fleet, the latest generation Wi-Fi in all cabins, and upgraded catering for our long-haul World Traveller economy class customers.
From autumn this year, our Club World business class customers travelling between London Heathrow and Sydney will also enjoy luxurious White Company bedding, ensuring a better night’s sleep in the sky, while new Club World dining will also be rolled out later this year.
7travel: What are some of your favourite holiday destinations and why?
Backo: Dubrovnik, Croatia, is my favourite destination in Europe. This city is a wonderful place to explore - we enjoy soaking up the authentic atmosphere and a day spent wandering through the Old City is well worth it. You can easily lose yourself in the maze of narrow cobblestoned streets and there are lots of museums and galleries to explore. The sunsets in Dubrovnik are certainly not to be missed. Dubrovnik is just over two and a half hours from London Gatwick and British Airways flies there direct, year round.
Cruising through the clear turquoise waters is another absolute must and Dubrovnik is perfectly placed to start an island hopping trip to Split. British Airways flies to both Dubrovnik and Split making it the perfect choice for those thinking of heading off on a relaxing Dalmatian Coast cruise.
7travel: Do you think social media has helped or hurt the travel industry?
Backo: I personally believe that it has helped the industry as it allows travellers to really plan ahead and to see what the destination, hotels and airlines all have to offer. It has also allowed British Airways to share experiences easily and to give back to the community through various initiatives, such as our ‘BA Magic’ campaign.