20 top airport tips: How to stay calm and save time at the airport
A weekend city break, a big family holiday, or a last minute business trip: whatever the reason you find yourself stressed out at the airport, here are a few insider tips from Skyscanner’s seasoned travellers. From secrets on how to jump the check-in queue to how to get an upgrade. Read on to find out more.
Tips for before you arrive
1. Know where the airport is
Figure out where the airport is and how you get to it in advance. I find Google Maps travel planner useful but it’s always best to check directly with public transport sites for timetables. Chris Sharp, Business Intelligence Administrator
2. Screenshot your boarding pass
If you’re using a boarding pass on your mobile phone, take a screenshot of it and save it in your pictures folder on your phone (rather than relying on the airline’s app or on a good internet connection at the airport). Jon Thorne, User Satisfaction Manager
3. Always print out your boarding pass
Although we live in an age where you can check in with your smartphone and email, you never know when your phone may just run out of battery or pack in. Sam Ayles, PR Executive
4. Get a flexible friend
Certain credit cards targeting travellers offer perks like free access to airport lounges. For example, I hold a card which gets me a priority lounge pass for two entries each year at Singapore (no minimum spending on the card required).
Another card I’ve got gives me free airport limousine transfer from my home to the airport as long as I’ve booked my travel on the card and I spend the minimum set amount. Hollie Tan, Accounts Executive
5. Skip the check-in queue
During holiday times airports like London Gatwick can get EXTREMELY busy. You could be standing the check-in queue for ages.
The trick in that case is not to join the queue but to go and sit in a café and read a book. When the airport is that busy they call out the flights that are due to depart first and let their passengers through as a priority. You can therefore sit and relax while you wait for your flight to be called. When it is you can go straight to the front of the queue. Sam Heyman, Test Engineer
6. Skip the security queue
If you’re really cutting it fine for time, a polite word to an airport employee almost always results in a queue jump at security. Failing that, a plea to fellow passengers in the queue is your next best option. Lisa Imlach, PR Executive
7. Remove your Crown Jewels
At security, if you don't want to set off the alarms after waving goodbye to your hand luggage, keys, mobile phone, laptop etc, make sure you remove all the Crown Jewels you are wearing. Apparently, my watch, earrings, necklace and ring MIGHT set off the alarms. On a recent visit to the airport, I was subjected to the most intimate body search of my 50 year-old life (bearing in mind I travelled back and forth to the Far East from the age of 10). And I was only travelling to the Shetlands! Alison Stimpson, Executive PA
8. Take a spare plastic bag
Take a spare ziplock bag or two to get your toiletries through security checks – it’s ridiculous and annoying that some airports will charge you a few quid if you forget one! Rachel Evatt, Product Director
9. Never join the security queue with kids in
Go for the one with the ‘suits’. It will move much quicker. Alistair Hann, Skyscanner Chief Technology Officer
10. Wear matching socks
I make sure I wear socks of the same colour and don´t look to old! Just in case I have to take off my shoes. Angel Guirado, Market Development Manager, Spain
In the departure lounge
11. Fly at a time when it is socially acceptable to drink whisky
Try to fly at a time which means it’s socially acceptable to taste the whisky samples at duty free - i.e. not 6am. Chris Sharp
12. Set an alarm so you don’t miss your plane
Set an alarm on your phone to go off at boarding time, it’s easy to get distracted in the departure lounge. Chris Sharp
13. Keep the kids entertained
If travelling with kids, ensure you have their game consoles handy (and FULLY CHARGED) to allow you to have as stress-free a time while waiting to depart. Having three kids myself, it’s definitely on my MUST DO list for the airport. Each of the kids has a small backpack containing game consoles, pens, pencils and a pad of paper so they can draw etc. Plus it saves on the wallet if the kids happen to spy those £1-a-go arcade machines. I’m now a master at noughts & crosses, hangman etc… Ronnie Walker, Senior Engineer
Want more tips for flying with kids? We've got 20 crackers right here!
15. Get some work done
Connect to WiFi and get some work done. Or: - read the economist from cover to cover. It's something to look forward to. - Get your shoes shined - Buy clothes, and do other things you would have to do anyway, so use the dead time. Gareth Williams, Skyscanner CEO
At the gate
15. Don’t queue to get on the plane
Sit comfortably in departures where you can see the boarding desk and (assuming you have a pre-allocated seat) read your book until the last possible minute. When the queue is down to one person, get up and casually stroll through the departure gate onto the plane. The plane won’t leave without you until they have at least called out your name. Dom Porter, Software Engineer
On the plane
16. Bump yourself up to business
Always wait until the ‘flight closing’ announcement before boarding the plane. Then, if you see any empty seats in Business Class, as you work your way through to Economy, sit in one of them, on the basis that it must be available, given that the flight was closing. Hope that the flight attendants won’t question it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t! Mark Logan, Chief Operating Officer (Mark says this is a tip from a ‘friend’. He would never do this!)
17. Make a good impression at immigration
I’ve had some very varied experiences arriving at immigration, particularly in the USA, ranging from being processed quickly in a few minutes to being asked to go off to the interview room for a secondary interview (that was a fun start to my honeymoon). Be smartly dressed, polite and well spoken, make good eye contact with the immigration official and have a clear idea of where you are going next (name of hotel, car hire). Never ever make jokes and do not use your mobile phone. Also make sure you have a credit card to hand and if possible local currency as you may be asked to prove you are able to pay your way If you are travelling on business, never say “I am here to work” as they will be concerned that you are going to be working illegally; a better phrase is: “I am here to have some meetings with business colleagues”. Robert Smith, Technical Manager
18. Look before you leave
Whenever you get up to leave somewhere at the airport - in a café, a bar or at the gate - always turn round and make sure you haven’t left anything behind - like your tickets. Suzanne Morrison, Skyscanner Project Manager
19. Travel with a fancy friend
That way you’ll gain access to the lounge as their guest, where you can stockpile glossy magazines, packets of biscuits and condescending looks. Lisa Imlach
20. Be better than George Clooney
Either get there early or know how to get through the airport better than George Clooney in Up in the Air. When you add people who are unpredictable to a controlled environment, it’s organised chaos. Matt Smith, Content Partnerships Executive (and Secret Airport Operations Worker)
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