Flying? Get Organised and Save Bags of Time
Long queues, security, crowds and other frustrations at airports can be minimised. Here's our guide:
By TTM on 27 October 2007 in Travel Articles
1. Does your passport have six months or more left to expire? It may sounds obvious, but it is surprising how often people try to travel when their passport has less then six months validity left or worse, has expired. Do check before you book.
2. Spelling of your name matters alot. If you are not booking your flight ticket, make sure the person who is knows how to spell your name. Even if it is a travel agent. A discrepancy in the spelling could lead to all sorts of frustrating delays at the check-in and a charge to make a change may be levied.
1. Check-in online. Unless you travel business class or higher, the likelihood is that you will have to queue to check-in. Unless of course you check-in online. This means you may be able to select a seat and print your boarding card, before you even get to the airport. And if you are travelling light i.e. just hand luggage, you go straight to security. Bliss!
Some airlines that offer this service are British Airways, FlyMonarch, Easyjet, Flybmi.
2. Self-service check-in. The next best thing to on-line check-in is the self-service check-in touch screen kiosk that is making an appearance at more and more airports. Many airlines offer this and have dedicated kiosks near to their traditional check-in desks. Flights generally become available for check-in two hours before the scheduled departure time, and close 40 minutes before but British Airways allows you to check in 24 hours in advance.
You will need your frequent flyer card or the credit/debit card you paid with. Your passport may be necessary too. Once your booking has been located your boardig card is churned out and you may even be able to select your seat. There is usually a staff member nearby to help.
Again, if you have hand baggage only, you can make your way through security to the departure lounge straight away. If you have hold baggage, the kiosk will print out standard airline-industry baggage tags which you need to attach to your luggage (one per bag). This is very simple, as the instructions below illustrate. Take your bags to the conveniently-located 'bag drop' area where they will be reconciled with individual passengers. Then proceed through security to the departure lounge. Simple.
3. Drive through check-in will be here soon. By the end of this year we'll have a brand new check in area at Heathrow Terminal 3, Zone A and a state of the art Drive Thru Check In for Upper Class only. Other airlines are planning to follow suit, so watch this space for more information as it happens.
1. Bag Drop. If you have checked-in online or at a dedicated kiosk at the airport, then use the fast 'Bag Drop' off service that is part of this service. Smile, you have already saved bags of time.
2. Check-in Desk - charges. Airlines are charging for every little thing and this sometimes includes checking-in your luggage. If a charge applies, it makes sense to pay for this online at the time you are purchasing your fare. It saves you time and 50% off the charge you will have to pay at the airport.
Incidentally, you may find that you have queued to get to the front of the check-in desk only to be sent to another desk where you have to queue to make the payment to put your bags in the hold. Only then will you be able to check-in - no doubt after having to queue again. You will end up pulling your hair out. So check online before you check-in.
3. Check-in luggage. Don't get caught out with excess luggage. They will charge you or even tell you your bag is too big to go into the hold - check the website of the airline you are travelling with to find out weights and sizes. Think: do you really need all those shoes/toiletries?
4. Hand Luggage. There are restrictions throughout Europe for hand luggage. As it stands, you can only carry one piece of hand luggage through security. Ladies, don't bother carrying on your creams and potions in your handbag - anything more than 100ml will get confiscated! Men pack your razers in your check-in lugguage. Security is strict, so save yourself the heartache.
Incidentally, if you can get away without wearing a belt then don't wear one - it is so tedious to have to take it off as you pass through security. Shoes are required to be removed too, so perhaps a pair of easy- to-take-off sandals is best to wear while travelling.
Parking Your Car At the Airport
1. Airport Parking. If you can arrange aiport parking at least two days before you depart, you will save money and time.
2. Airport Hotel. If you are staying overnight at an airport hotel, ask if you can leave your car parked in their car park. They sometimes offer this service for free and offer an aiport shuttle.
1. Frankly, this seems to be a waste of money. Some airlines without a seat allocation service sometimes charge this fee - usually around £2-£3 each way per ticket. The idea is that you are first to board the plane and have pick of the seats. In reality, families with kids get on first and if everyone pays this, no-one gets priority. And even if you do get priority this usually gets you priority boarding onto the bus that takes you to the plane. From there it is the usual scramble.
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