Airport stress seems to be inevitable part of the flying experience. Which check in area? Where’s security? Shoes off? Why isn’t my gate up on the screen? The list of questions and journey to the aircraft seem longer than the flight itself. However, with a bit of planning, you can reduce stress and breeze through the airport in a bubble of calm.
Get to the airport early
Yes, I know this is stating the obvious and we all have super busy lives. Yet, you’d be surprised at the number of people who plan to get to the airport at the very last possible minute. Trains are cancelled, motorways have jams and shuttle busses run late. Save yourself a few heartbeats and try to get the train before the absolute last one you can. Or, if you’re arriving by car, build some contingency time into your car journey to allow for possible traffic. You’ll arrive at the terminal a whole lot more relaxed this way.
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Plan your mission
If you can’t do the above, then use your time on the way to the airport to plan your mission through the terminal. Most airlines and airports have great apps and websites available which will provide you with pretty much everything you need to know about your journey. Find out where exactly your train arrives. Which level is it on? Where are the lifts? Which check in area does your airline use? Is there a Fast Track lane at security? Is the gate information available yet? If you can arrive with answers to all these questions, you won’t have to waste precious seconds asking disinterested staff.
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Pack your travel docs separately
We’ve all been there. Stood at the queue at the bag-drop, checking your watch every few seconds as the person in front roots through their collection of bags, suitcases and pockets for their passport and other documents. Only to find that they were stuffed in their jeans pocket all along? Don’t be that person. Get yourself a stylish little document wallet where you can keep all your important items safely together. They’ll also be easily accessible when you need them. Once you’re done with them, take a few seconds to put them back in their correct place so that they’re ready for the next document check-point.
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Prepare for security
Ah, security, everyone’s favourite part of the airport experience. Whilst none of us will ever doubt the essential role this process plays in keeping us all safe, it’s probably the point of highest stress during your journey. Shoes on or off? Does jam count as a liquid? (Yes, in case you’re wondering) What to do with my kid’s pushchair? It’s enough to send even the most relaxed person over the edge.
Start at home by working out which liquids you ACTUALLY need for the flight and decant those into a security compliant plastic bag. Pack this at the top of your carry on luggage along with your laptop or tablet. Next, when you’re in the security queue, remove the liquids bag and laptop/tablet. Fill that void with your belt, phone, wallet, keys and any other lose items in your pockets. This way you’re less likely to realise once over the Atlantic that you’ve left your phone at security. By the time you reach the front of the queue, all you’ll have to do is drop your liquids bag and laptop into the tray and remove your shoes if requested.
Once through to the other side, remove the items from your bag one at a time and put them back where they started, finally finishing off with returning your liquids and electronics to the bag.
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Remove ‘inflight items’ at the gate.
You’ve reached the gate in plenty of time and are trying to work out what’s the best tactic for boarding. Get on early to secure some overhead locker space or board last to avoid the crush? Whatever your decision, use this time to make life easier for yourself once on board. Take a few moments and think about what you’re going to need for the first hour of the flight before the seatbelt signs are turned off.
Your iPad, headphones, bottle of water, phone charger. Whatever you need, extract them and place them on top of your carry on bag along with your travel docs wallet. Even better, have a small washbag sized bag in which you can keep all these smaller items together. This way, once you’ve found your seat, you can quickly put your carry on bag into the overhead locker and then settle into your seat. All your essentials will be with you, without holding up the people behind.
Getting through an airport and onto the plane can be made a lot easier by thinking ahead. I’m as guilty as the next person but try to build some contingency into your journey. Get yourself a good travel document wallet and reduce your amount of liquids. As a result, you’ll be able to use your time on board far more productively and arrive raring to go.