Going on holiday is always a pleasure, but actually getting to your destination can occasionally be a headache.
Cheaper airfares mean more people are now travelling by plane, making airports busier than ever, particularly during peak times such as bank holiday weekends or during school breaks. No one wants to spend hours hanging around in long queues or – worse still – risk missing their flight.
Follow these tips for a stress-free transit through check-in.
1. Check-in online
This can be done from 30 days until four hours in advance, depending on the airline and the type of ticket you’ve purchased (a basic fare with Ryanair, for example, only allows the passenger to check in four hours ahead of the flight). Entering details online offers a better chance of getting the seat you want and will avoid long queues at the airport. But remember to take a print out of your boarding pass with you. While most airlines will provide one at the airport, some budget carriers (eg. Ryanair) will charge for the service.
Alternatively, download the airline’s app, and save the boarding pass to your phone.
2. Arrive early
Especially if you plan to put luggage in the hold. Depending on the size of the airport (and number of check-in desks available), you should turn up between 20 minutes to three hours ahead of your departure time. If departing from a UK airport, it’s generally best to allow an hour for short haul flights and at least two hours for long haul.
Be aware that if you’re travelling with a smaller airline that’s not part of an alliance (such as Icelandair) there will be fewer members of staff available to help. Desks will close promptly, as the same workers will probably be required to load passengers onto planes.
3. Weigh your luggage
All airlines have a restriction on the size and weight or luggage – whether in the hold or the cabin. Make sure your bag meets these requirements to avoid delays. Due to the large number of bags now being carried by hand on short haul flights, many will not fit and will be stored in the hold for free. If you want to keep your bag with you, arrive early to get to the front of the queue.
4. Got hand luggage only?
If you’ve already check in online, you can turn up just 20 minutes before departure for a BA flight from London City. Each airport and airline has a different policy, so make sure you check in advance.
5. Separate your liquids
Any fluid toiletries carried by hand must be put in a translucent bag. Save time and money (London Stansted airport charges for the bags) by doing this in advance. Leaving liquids over 100ml in luggage will slow you down at security. Some airports also prohibit carrying items such as large camera tripods by hand.
Policies depend on the airport rather than the airline, so – for example – while you may be able to leave the country with an item as hand luggage, you might be forced to store it in the hold for the return journey.