A 7 step guide to stress free air travel

Sail through airport security like a pro

If you’ve ever seen George Clooney’s character Ryan Bingham in the 2009 movie Up In The Air you’ll know that some people can make air travel look like a doddle.

A modern day nomad in the eyes of the audience, Bingham is at home in the hubbub of an airport environment – he breezes through the check-in process, waltzes through security with consummate ease, makes great use of the business class lounge and finally takes his seat on the plane content at a good job well done.

Granted, it’s a movie and he’s George Clooney…but that’s not to say that you too can’t overcome the stresses and strains of flying.

Quidco Discover runs through of the most useful tips to ensure you save the sweating for the beach and not the airport.

Packing

The trauma of holiday travel tends to start a couple of days before departure when deciding what to pack. There’s little point going into specifics here about what you need – that’s up to you and dependent on your destination. What is worth taking into consideration is the weight allowance for both your checked and hand luggage.

Obviously, it varies from airline to airline so make sure you check on their respective website. On Easyjet passengers have to pay an extra charge for checked luggage, but are then allowed 20kg. They advise against exceeding 23kg and from a legal standpoint can reject any baggage over 32kg. British Airways allows the majority of their customers at least two ‘free’ checked bags, so long as the weight doesn’t exceed 23kg.

For those with a bag which could easily be confused with others, why not also add a unique marker such as a sticker or ribbon to make it more distinguishable in the bagge reclaim area.

Getting to the airport

If you’re planning a trip to the airport it’s a good idea to leave plenty of time and to make sure you head to the correct terminal! Airports advise that you check in as early as possible with enhanced security measures slowing passenger progress through the various checkpoints.

As a rule if you’re embarking on a long-haul flight arrive it is suggested you arrive three hours early. If it’s a European flight turn up two hours before scheduled take-off and for a domestic flight 90 minutes should suffice.

If you’re parking a car at the airport while you’re away be sure to book in advance. Use a site such as lowcosttravelextras.com as you could make great savings

Online check-in

Checking-in online ahead of your flight is a great way of saving time and hassle at the airport. Most airlines offer the service which is typically available about 48 hours before departure.

With passport and flight details to hand you simply enter the relevant information and print off your own boarding pass. In certain cases you can have your boarding pass sent to your smart phone, while there’s even the added possibility of being able to pick a window seat before they’re taken.

Generally having checked-in on-line you will be able to report to an ‘online check-in desk’ or a ‘fast drop baggage point’ where formalities will be completed quickly allowing you to proceed to security.

Hand luggage

Given the high prices being charged by some airlines for checked luggage, there’s an increasing trend for carry-on luggage. Be sure your carry-on meets the size and weight requirements set by your airline to avoid any surprises at the airport.

As an example of the differences – Easyjet only allows one item of hand luggage which is no bigger than 56 x 45 x 25cm inclusive of wheels. British Airways however, allows one piece of hand luggage plus a handbag or laptop with a combined weight up to 23kg.

Liquids

If you’re not packing toiletries and/or liquids in your checked baggage then you need to be aware of what you can and cannot take in your hand luggage.

Importantly, the word “liquids” has a wider meaning than you would perhaps think in the first instance. For example, lip balm, lip sticks, hand creams, deodorant, and hair spray are all considered liquids in this context.

If you want to sail through security, be sure to pre-pack your toiletries and liquids in a transparent, re-sealable 1 litre bag (no more than 20x20cm). Many brands now offer special travel sized varieties of their products to counter the fact you’re not allowed any containers with a volume over 100ml.

The plastic bag must be removed from the hand luggage and presented separately to airport staff.

Getting through security

Nobody looks forward to passing through security. Not only can it be stressfully slow if you’re racing for a flight, it can also be the cause of personal embarrassment. The key is preparation.

These days it’s more than likely you’ll be asked to remove any jackets, belts, watches and even shoes before passing through the body scanner. To reduce the annoyance of getting undressed in front of fellow travellers, why not wear slip on shoes, trousers that don’t need a belt, put all jewellery, keys and coins in your hand luggage and be ready to present liquids and electrical equipment to staff before you reach the x-ray belt.

Don’t forget there are a whole host of items which are widely banned from being taken on planes including – Scissors with blades over 6cm from fulcrum, razor blades, knives with blades over 6cm, household cutlery, party poppers, hypodermic needles (unless required for medical reasons), tools, catapults/slingshots, toy or replica guns (inc. water pistols), sporting bats and clubs, billiard, snooker or pool cues and darts.

If you’re worried about certain (legitimate) hand luggage items being scrutinised in public by staff, why not avoid potential embarrassment by packing them in your checked luggage.

On the flight

While getting up and stretching your legs is advisable from a health perspective, if you’re not wanting to disturb fellow passengers with regular jaunts to the plane’s loo it’s a good idea to avoid diuretics such as coffee and alcohol before boarding and while on the plane. If you’re eager to get some sleep, make sure you’ve essentials such as travel pillows and earplugs.

Remember cabin crew are there to make your journey as comfortable as possible. Be sure to approach them if you have any problems and they’ll likely be receptive to your query.

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Andrew Allen / Editor

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