We’re about to go on a trip where we will fly at least ten times, that means ten airports. It got me rambling…
It’s summer time! In the UK this means abandoning the average July and August weather in favour of warmer climes. This involves a trip to the airport, a genuine melting pot of all different kinds of people: whether it’s the family running through the airport making their first trip abroad, the business traveller walking through the airport reading the Times or the backpacker asleep in the corner having his best night’s sleep in days.
Airports have changed a lot in the last few years with security having to change all the time to adapt to the threats. With that in mind, negotiating your way through an airport these days is very different to what it was a few years ago and there will be many passengers through the peak weeks of the summer that will be going through an airport for the first time in a few years before the stricter controls came into play.
Here is a list of eight things you can do to make sure that you negotiate your way through the airport causing yourself (and others) as little stress as possible.
- Have your documents to hand. There is nothing worse than standing behind somebody at check in, security, passport control or the boarding gate who can’t find their passport or boarding card. If you have a suitable pocket pop your boarding card and passport in there until you’re sat on the plane, otherwise have them in the side pocket of your bag. Don’t keep them in a pocket in a wallet that’s tucked down in the middle of your carry-on bag, which is filled with hundreds of items you can really do without on a 4-hour flight.
- Sometimes you’ll be lucky and the journey through the airport will be a breeze however if you are travelling at a busy time, especially on a Saturday during the school holidays or first thing in the morning, make sure you are at the airport two hours before your flight. This doesn’t mean the car park or train station, this means in the queue at the check in desk.
- Once you’ve checked in get a move on. Airports do have a novelty factor attached to them and there is a certain level of excitement surrounding them at holiday time but the majority of this is in the departure lounge. Once checked in, head straight though security and passport control. There may be queues getting through but once you’re in the departure lounge work out where your departure gate is, doing this means you know how much time you have to wander through duty free or spend in the bar.
- Please please please be efficient through security. Even the easiest path through the metal detectors involve a minute or so waiting; take off your belt, shoes and oversized bracelet. Security folk don’t care how innocent little Billy’s face is – he can’t take his bottle of Coke through, bin it and get him one in two minutes from the shop on the other side. If you are taking five minutes removing a belt or have a bag full of liquids then prepare to be growled at by other passengers.
- The boarding time on your boarding card is there for a reason, don’t assume that you will be called to your gate. Yes, the time on the card is always a bit conservative but it’s at least an indication as to when you should be checking the screens. Make sure you’re ready to pick up your bags and children once you see “now boarding”.
- When you get to the departure gate you’ll see a lot of people sat, a lot of people standing and usually three airline employees at the gate looking very busy seemingly doing nothing. Many people like to burst into action as soon as one of these gate agents says one word on the PA system. You have a boarding card with your seat number on it, wait until your row is called; nobody will steal your seat and you won’t get to your destination any quicker by being first in line. Planes are loaded from the back first to avoid aisles being blocked.
- Use the time waiting at the gate to put your newspaper/magazine under your arm and your ipod in your pocket (along with your passport and boarding card). This means that when you get on the plane you can simply pop your bag up top and sit down rather than block the aisle for everyone else looking for little Billy’s colouring book.
- At the other end, once you’re off the plane go straight through immigration before your toilet visit, otherwise you could find yourself at the back of the immigration queue which is not a nice place to be in a foreign airport with two full 747s landing at the same time. Once through immigration you’ll have plenty of time to do your 1s and 2s in the toilets in the baggage collection area. Better still, do your business half an hour before you flight lands.
I hope this list comes in handy. Holidays are a time to relax and have fun, these tips will make sure you have the most time to relax and enjoy the first leg of your well-earned break.