Unfortunately, flying can be a turbulent experience – and that’s before you even get into the air. With the crowds, the queues and security checks that take longer than ever before, airports can be stressful places, especially if you’re not familiar with the way things work.
The most important thing you can do to make your flying experience as pleasant as possible is to allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. This means arriving at least two hours before your plane is scheduled to leave or, if possible, even earlier.
There is nothing more stressful than sitting in a traffic jam and seeing the time until your plane’s planned departure tick away. This is the absolute worst way to commence a journey, so ensure you double check all flight times before departure and allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. Don’t forget to take into account the chance of heavy traffic, delays or possible security checks of vehicles.
If you have an early morning departure, then it’s a good idea to travel down to the airport the night before your flight and take advantage of an airport hotel. Almost all large airports have hotels on site, from Heathrow to Honolulu, and will allow you a full night’s sleep, avoiding the hassle and stress of having to rush to the airport in the early hours. Instead, you’ll be able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and take a shuttle bus, (which most airport hotels provide for free) to the airport.
Once you arrive at the airport, locate the correct check in desk by looking at the large screens which show the flight timetables. If you have hand luggage only, some airports and airlines offer a new service called “online check in”, through which you can print off your own ticket and avoid the check in queue altogether. This is especially useful for short haul and business travellers, but unlikely to be of much use to those who are going on holiday and therefore have large amounts of baggage.
Don’t underestimate the amount of time needed to pass through security and into the departure lounge. During peak time this can take up to half an hour, so it’s essential you budget for this. Another mistake that novice travellers have been known to make is not allowing enough time to reach their departure gate. At large international airports, getting to the gate can take twenty minutes or more, and may even require travellers to take internal transport system.
So as long as your plan your journey and allow yourself plenty of time, it’s easy to take the turbulence out of flying!