Catching flights can be extremely exhausting, time-consuming and stressful. Whether you head to the airport for business reasons or just for leisure, the last thing you want to do is to miss your flight. On average, I have approx. 20-30 flights annually and I, as most of you, I simply want to reach my destination as quickly as possible.
However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to turn your airport and flight experience to an adventure. Consider the following tips and implement them for your next flight:
1. Prepare enough time
We have heard hit millions of times. Preparation is everything. And even when you think you don’t need to plan in advance, the consequences to fail can be heavily felt once you are at the airport. Not enough time for security screening. Not allowed to drop off you checked luggage any more. Missing boarding times. Or stuck in a jam on your way to the airport.
There’s nothing more horrible than missing your flight or to be heavily stressed because you didn’t give yourself enough time. Plan enough buffer. Be at the airport at least on-time when your check-in counter opens. Be at least 30mins before your boarding at the gate. Check regularly the queues at the security screening. Plan enough buffer because you never know what’s going to happen.
2. Travelling overseas? Prepare your documents!
This should be a no-brainer but just for the record: You should be aware whether you need any kind of visa for your destination or if you need to go any passport control at the airport. Especially when you are in Europe, it can be easily forgotten that not every European country is part of the Schengen Agreement. That is, countries who do not grant freedom of movement, and hence, enforce passport controls at the airport.
It just happened to me recently that I completely forgot Ireland is not part of the Schengen Agreement. I was kind of wondered why I had to go through passport control at all which has affected my time that I had to show up at the gate. Store all relevant documents in a folder. Check whether the country of destination requires you to show connecting flights to other countries (that applies especially in Southeast Asia). Print everything in advance, or at least, make screenshots of your travel itineraries.
3. Pre-order your Uber or taxi, or take at least one train service earlier to the airport
Timing is everything. You never know what’s going to happen on your way to the airport. Train services cancelled? Train services on your way to the airport delayed? A huge traffic jam on the highway? Travelling to the airport during peak times? Check out when you need to leave your house or the office in order to go to the airport. Check at least two hours before you leave whether train services run smoothly. Pre-book your uber oder your taxi because not all taxis can be on time when you call them and want to go to the airport straight away. And most importantly, check out at Google Maps and double-check peak-times:
4. Pack your hand-luggage correctly for security screening
For frequent travellers, this is a no brainer. But for those of you who don’t take flights regularly, do yourself and your fellow travellers a HUGE favour. Pack your hand-luggage correctly:
- What items are allowed in hand-luggage? Check the regulations here.
- How much liquid do you have? How much can you pack? Bear in mind that liquid items shall not excess the maximum of 100 litres combined!
- Do you care all your toiletries in transparent bags?
- Can you take your laptops, tablets, cameras easily out of your hand-luggage? You need to take them out when you are being screened.
- Any scissors left in your luggage? Remove them or store them in your checked luggage.
- When you wait in the queue, remove your accessories from your body, empty your pockets, take out your jacket, remove your bell, so that you can easily go through the security screening process.
5. Need to work or wanna have a great dinner before take-off? Use Loungebuddy
You can make your pre-flight experience much more enjoyable, especially when you still need to get some stuff done or you simply want to relax before boarding. Loungebuddy is a mobile app that grants you access to airport lounges for 20-30 EUR, depending on the lounge and accessibility to the general public. I have tried this app a couple of times. The value is great: all-you-can-eat buffets, drinks for free, no overcrowded lounges, there is even a shower available. This may be particularly interesting for those who have long-haul flights and have a longer stopover.
6. Consider enough time for security screening
Even though when you have packed everything well in advance and you enjoy the time at the airport. Don’t forget to plan enough time for security screening. I once had to wait more than an hour(!) to pass the screening process in order to be at the gate on time. Some airports offer timing indications on their websites or apps, so check them from time to time to walk to your gate hassle-free.