Airports are getting busier and busier, and the queues keep getting longer. Navigating the congestion quickly and efficiently is still possible if you are a savvy traveller. If you’re not these few essential airport travel tips may help…
Do your research
Airports are getting bigger and more challenging to negotiate, and not all airports follow the same layout. Most of us travel from the same airport every year, but what if you don’t? Don’t worry help is at hand. Most airports have informative websites with easy to use maps, so you don’t need to be taken by surprise. Downloading an airport guide in advance can help you mentally prepare for the labyrinths check-in desks, security clearance points and shops before you even enter the complex.
If you are travelling light, check-in online before you leave the comfort of your home. Don’t leave anything to chance. Print a copy of your boarding pass. Always send a copy to your email address. And download the airline App to manage your booking. If you aren’t tech-savvy, don’t have an internet connection or your phone battery is running low, you still have the options. The self-service check-in terminals are a good back plan. At some larger airports, your hold luggage can be tagged and dropped off without ever visiting a manned check-in desk. Saving you the anxiety of a joining a long and winding queue.
Do you really need to take so many clothes? Travelling only with hand luggage avoid the airport check-in queues and immerses you quickly into the departure system. With no bags to collect from the carousel, you can be the first through passport clearance and more importantly beat your fellow travellers to the car hire check-in desk. But beware, always pay attention to the airline regulations regarding baggage sizes. The guidelines are continually changing. A top tip for frequent travellers is to collect a range of bags to suit the different airline operators. That way you are never caught out by unexpected charges from officious airline staff.
Check for the latest deals
If you want to take two bags but don’t want to pay the usual luggage costs, there are a couple of budget airline options. For as little as £7 from UK airports you can currently prebook ‘hands-free’ with EasyJet and drop your cabin bag off at the Plus Bag Drop to go in with the hold luggage. It’s a win-win situation as you avoid the usual check-in queues and your luggage comes onto the arrivals carousel first. Plus you get to roam the airport bag free and still get to take your laptop/handbag with you on the plane. It also means you don’t have to wrestle for overhead locker space and can sit back and relax at the departure gate while your fellow travellers jostle each other in the boarding queue. This service is FREE for 3 phone users.
Ryanair currently offers a ‘Priority’ booking option to take a wheelie bag and a small under-seat laptop/handbag/rucksack in the cabin with you. You also get to board the plane first, so you are guaranteed overhead luggage space. There is a small fee of £6, which can be selected at the time of booking or up to 30 minutes before your flight departs via the Ryanair app. If you don’t use the service on departure, it’s always worth packing a flat second bag you can use as hand luggage just in case you buy lots of souvenirs on your holidays. Flybe offers this service at no extra cost, but the wheelie bag dimensions are 5cm smaller.