Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a seldom soarer and whether you enjoy flying or hate every minute of it, there’s no doubting that the airport is a stressful place. Everybody is rushing to get somewhere, some are facing the disappointment of a delay and everyone is wishing they can just hurry up and start their holiday. But there’s no reason why it has to be like this. Here are some great ways to reduce the stress and streamline the start of your trip.
This may be so obvious that it’s almost a cliché, but arriving at the airport in good time is the easiest way to make sure you aren’t pulling your hair out before you get on the plane. Not only will you have time to relax and make your way through security at your own pace, you will also avoid any worry of missing your flight.
Sometimes bringing a check-in bag is unavoidable, but for those short city breaks on which you can get away with just a cabin bag, it’s definitely worth considering. You will save time before your flight by not having to join the snaking check-in queues and you will save time when you arrive at your destination by not having to wait for your luggage to be paraded in front of everyone else as it makes its way along the carousel. This means more time to explore.
Airlines are constantly redefining the rules on cabin bags, but if you can stick to these you can save time, money and your fingernails. Sometimes a small fee will allow you to take two bags on the plane (such as Ryanair’s new system), giving you more valuable space without having to put anything in the hold.
Compared to the frantic atmosphere in the main terminal, airport lounges are a serene escape. Usually offering free food, a choice of drinks, some reading material and a comfortable place to wait until your departure time, these hideaways can really help you to relax and start your holiday. They are offered by airlines, airline alliances like Star Alliance and the airports themselves. If you book a certain class of seat you will often get free access, but other people can also pay to use the lounge. You may find that an annual membership works out better value than paying every time – perfect for frequent fliers.
Technology is always advancing and is on a never-ending search to make our lives easier. This is also the case at the airport, where a number of improvements have really helped to streamline the journey from your door to your seat on the plane. Start by downloading and printing off your boarding pass at home. Then use your carrier’s website or app to check-in in advance so that all you have to do is visit the bag-drop area when you arrive (or not if you followed point number two). Lastly, keep an eye on your flight via the app to monitor any changes or see if there may be a delay. Learning that your plane will depart later than expected before you leave home will save you from having to kill time at the airport.
The tightening of airport security that has taken place over the last six or seven years is obviously a good thing, though it can cause unwanted stress. The trick is to be prepared and know exactly what you need to be doing at each stage of the process. Read up on what you can and can’t have in your hand or hold luggage (see new rules on lithium batteries for example), know the maximum amount of any one liquid you can take in your cabin bag (100ml), know what needs to be removed from your bag before it goes through the scanner (electronic devices such as iPads) and know when you need your passport and/or boarding pass to hand.
All this will make things go smoothly and you’ll glide through this daunting part of the airport experience with ease. Better still, you can often pay a little extra to fast track your way through security.
One last piece of advice – having an accurate set of luggage scales at home will avoid any risk of having to pay more because your bags are over the weight limit. Whether you use floor scales or one of those hooked gadgets you can hold and let your bag hang down, this small piece of equipment will save you from big worries.
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