Clovis Casali is a reporter and presenter for France 24 who was Southeast Asia correspondent between 2016 and 2018.
How many flights do you typically take per year?
Usually about 50. As a reporter it really does depend on where news is happening and what’s making international headlines. As a Southeast Asia correspondent, I never spent more than two weeks in a row in my Bangkok base, taking 15 flights during one month of particularly busy news. Then when it’s time for holidays, I rarely resist boarding a plane to a place I’ve never visited even though I do also enjoy trains in France and Europe when it’s possible.
Anything you can’t fly without?
A comfy sweatshirt and a scarf to stay warm on the plane. A good magazine or book and of course a fully charged mobile phone to listen to podcasts. I try to travel as light as possible with a shoulder bag to keep the essentials with me.
Any flights in your life that stand out?
Taking a plane from Sydney to New Caledonia, flying over the sublime atolls and blue, crystal-clear waters before landing in Nouméa. I remember feeling I was somewhere very special, untouched and remote. Others memorable flights include one to Reykjavik with the incredible Icelandic scenery, and taking a very small propeller plane in Angola. The trip from Luanda to Benguela was a bit too shaky for my taste. We landed on a rather rugged airstrip and the airport was merely a big shed where we struggled to find any food for lunch.
How do you survive a long flight?
I pace my time and make sure to look thoroughly through the list of films before choosing at least a couple to watch. Being 1.95 metres tall, I always try to get emergency exit seats in order to spread my legs and be as relaxed as possible. A couple of glasses of red wine usually help to enjoy a few hours of sleep.
Ultimate dream destination and why?
Discovering the northern part of Japan, with its mountains and unique culture. I love the idea of sipping ramen and tasting delicious food after a tiring day of skiing. I would also very much like to visit the Aztec temples in Mexico. There is a sense of mystery I find appealing with these ancient ruins nestled in the heart of the jungle.
How could airlines improve in-flight service?
In my view, removing a few seats to increase legroom is essential. I also find that over the years the quality of meals served on most flight has declined. Finally, airlines should all offer the possibility of watching sporting events live. That would have prevented me from missing some key football World Cup games, much to my despair at the time.
Indispensable travel gadgets?
Nothing too fancy. A pair of good headphones, a smartphone with a charger and the scrabble app.
Top travel tips?
I always talk to (friendly) taxi drivers to sense the mood of a city and know what’s going on. Travel articles from The Guardian, culturetrip.com and skirmishing through Tripadvisor reviews also usually offer good tips to find restaurant and bar gems. I usually try places that appeal to locals: it’s the best way not to go wrong.