Whether you’re a first time flyer or someone who’s taken hundreds of flights, I think we can all agree that the process of getting through the airport and onto the plane can be stressful at times. Since airports can be very busy some passengers may feel overwhelmed and stressed when going through procedures such as checking in, going through security, finding your gate number and then making sure you board your flight on time. No one wants to do the walk of shame onto the plane after their names have been blasted throughout the airport for a last call.
Before Getting to The Airport
Before travelling to the airport there are numerous steps to making sure you can have a hassle free holiday and making sure that you have all bases covered in the event of an emergency. The first step would be making sure that you know your luggage restrictions, whether it be for hand luggage only or checked luggage, since airlines will charge you extra for an overweight bag. While checking your luggage restrictions it would be useful to check that you’ve packed everything you may need, even the smallest of things such as earphones or plug adaptors, I couldn’t imagine a four hour flight without my earphones. The most important items would be your passport, travel insurance and if required an ESTA or Visa. It would be advisable to double check what method of transport you’re going to use to get to the airport, whether it be public transport or a taxi service, to make sure that you have train tickets or confirmation from the taxi company to make your trip to the airport stress free.
There are three main ways to check-in at the airport. The most useful and efficient one would be to check-in online, with the advances in technology airlines allow passengers to check-in and gain access to their boarding pass ahead of time to save them the hassle in the airport. However, if you don’t have access to a printer or smartphone then there are two more ways of checking in at the airport - self-service kiosks or check-in counters. There are now numerous kiosks at the airport that allow passengers to check-in at the airport and from there print off their boarding passes at no extra cost to them. Different airports require different forms of information such as your booking reference number or the credit card you paid for the flights with to allow you to check-in and gain your boarding passes. If you’re not good with technology or don’t want the hassle then you can always go up to the check-in counters at the airport but be wary as there may be long queues if people have the same idea as you. Either way there is a specific time limit which allows a passenger to check-in - if you’re checking in online or in person but depends on that specific airline. A handy tip would be to research this before going to the airport as you’ll know how much time you have and can reach an estimate as to when best to get to the airport.
Another step that comes under checking in would be checking in any luggage you want to put under the plane for your journey. This would require the passenger to go either to the automated check-in facilities for luggage or to go to the check-in counters at the airport. Before checking your bag in it would be handy to check you have all of your essentials on you - your passport, ESTA/Visa, travel insurance documents, phone and any medication you may need. Airlines will scan your bags through an airport scanner so once again it would be handy to read up on what you can and cannot bring onto a plane. The obvious being weapons and flammable items but some other items such as liquids and gels over 100ml if they’re in your hand luggage. There is also the issue of size and weight - there are a wide range of different requirements for both hand luggage and checked luggage - if the bag is overweight or is bigger than the size dimensions listed then you will have to pay. Each airline has their own requirements so once again check ahead of time.
One of the most nerve wracking procedures for me at the airport is going through security - I have no idea why, I don’t have anything on me that I shouldn’t and I’m completely innocent. After reading that sentence back I can understand why I’m always asked to step aside and searched. There are numerous signs around the airport, which should be just past the check-in area, to guide you to where the security area is. In most airports there’s areas for which passengers can put their liquids into plastic bags which are transparent so the contents can be seen. If needed you can take a moment to gather your belongings ready for the x-ray machine to save you the hassle once you get there. Once past this point you may be asked to show your boarding pass or scan it under a machine to allow you entry. If you scan your boarding pass and it doesn’t let you through the main reason may be that you’re too late and automatic measures stop you from going through any further.
Once you’ve shown your boarding pass a member of staff will guide you to a queue. Don’t worry if the queues seem really long - it takes around a minute to get through security and there are usually lots of staff members on hand to help. Once you get to security area, before the metal detector, make sure you take everything out of your pockets that may trigger the metal detector or require the staff to search your body. Place your liquids in your plastic bag as well as your handbag or luggage in the box provided to you and then walk through the x-ray machine. If the staff members say nothing then you’re free to collect your luggage and then move on, if the staff members tell you to step to the side then you will be searched and if nothing is found you will be sent on your way. If you are searched then you will have a member of staff from the same sex doing it and it will be as simple as a pat down of your body. The worst part about this for me is that I’m very ticklish - smiling and laughing while being searched has never worked out in my favour. Numerous times I’ve had my hand luggage searched and drug swabs have been taken - nothing has been found though! If this happens to you then do not fret - this happens to many passengers while travelling and in most cases it’s a random check on passengers bags. Once you have gotten through the x-ray machine and security then there’s an area for you to gather your belongings and sit down before venturing through the airport.
After going through security the next step would be simply to relax, grab something to eat and do some shopping. Different airports have different facilities but most airports have numerous screens which will inform you what time your boarding gate will be announced and from there the actual gate number. In most restaurants there will be screens located inside or just outside - allowing you to grab a bite to eat without the stress of thinking you may miss your flight. There are lots of seating areas at the airport as well as complimentary WiFi allowing passengers to check their emails or update their Facebook status that they’re going on holiday. Some airlines email you when your gate has been announced or notify you through their own app - a handy feature but to be safe I’d always check the screens before making my way to the gate. Once your gate has been announced you should make your way to it, these gates can close up to 15 minutes before departure (even though you’re in the airport and through security).
Once you’ve reached the gate it’s handy to check on the screens that this gate is going to your chosen destination. There have been instances where gates have changed and some passengers have been left behind as they hadn’t realised this and were left sitting in another gate. A member of staff will ask you to provide your passport and boarding pass, to which you’ll then be allowed to sit down and wait to be asked to board the plane. If you’re travelling on a long haul flight then passengers may be called in terms of groups - the last being economy and the first obviously being first class. Either way the group number or letter will be clearly stated on your boarding pass. If you’re unsure then don’t hesitate to ask a member of staff as they’re there to help. You will then be directed through a chute connected to the plane or you may have to walk to the plane itself and walk up a flight of stairs.
Once You’re On The Plane
Once you’ve got onto the plane the first person you’ll see is a member of the cabin crew who will check your boarding pass and direct you to your seat. Once you’ve found your seat waste no time in putting your larger hand luggage in the overhead lockers and sit down. One of the things I hate is standing behind someone who takes hours to make put their luggage in the overhead lockers and creates a queue behind them. Once you’ve sat down, fasten your seat belt and make sure smaller hand luggage is stowed below the seat in front of you. The cabin crew will walk throughout the plane to make sure everyone has their seat belt on and all necessary items are stowed away before informing passengers of the safety procedures. These procedures are very important, such as putting your phone on aeroplane mode to making sure passengers know what to do if there’s an emergency landing, so make sure you give your full attention to the cabin crew. The sign for the seat belts will be turned off and the food carts will start their journey throughout the plane around 20-30 minutes from take off. This allows passengers to walk around and also use the toilets while on-board. Before disembarking the plane make sure you have everything you need. Enjoy your travels!
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.