2022 has been full of highs and lows for travel. There was the excitement of being able to go on holiday again after Covid left us grounded for so long.
But not long after flights began taking off again there were reports of endless queues at airports, of delayed and cancelled flights, and of precious pieces of luggage going missing.
Understandably, most of us have been left feeling unsure of the whole airport experience. This is why we’ve put together a list of handy hacks and tips for airport travel. From reducing the time you spend in queues, to streamlining the security process and getting the most out of a layover to shipping your luggage – we’ve got your airport travel tips and hacks covered.
Cut down on wait times
Arrive on time
One of the most stressful and annoying parts of travelling is the airport wait times, particularly in 2023. Reports of massive queues at security and flight delays have led to people arriving at the airport earlier than normal.
That makes sense, right? That you’d factor in ample extra time for delays and queues? Wrong.
One of the best tips for airport travel in 2023 is to arrive on time. The temptation to arrive an hour earlier than usual is understandable but it actually doesn’t help, quite the opposite.
What ends up happening, is that instead of smaller groups of travellers passing through security at regular intervals, groups of people who’ve arrived too early for their flight join those who are on time. This leads to a swell of people all struggling to get through security, rather than a manageable amount spread throughout the day.
To avoid disrupting the carefully planned flow of queues at the airport, arrive on time, not early. The general rule of thumb is to get to the airport three hours before your flight. This is plenty of time to navigate check-in and security.
Our next airport travel tip: do it digitally.
Where possible, complete as much of your airport admin beforehand. The quickest win will be checking in online.
Download your airline’s app and fill in your passenger details before arriving at the airport. You’ll be able to check in and download boarding passes through their app. An especially important international travel airport tip is to keep your phone as fully charged as possible. It’ll be storing the details you need to board your flight.
An added bonus of downloading your airline’s app is that they usually have real-time updates. This could save you time if there’s a cancellation, gate change, or delay.
Want to take this airport check-in hack even further? Avoid the checked bag queue altogether and ship all your items ahead of time. You’ll end up skipping one airport queue and, potentially, be able to take even more luggage abroad.
If you are checking in bags, make sure they comply with the weight allowance. That’ll save you from having to do any repacking at the airport.
Research your travel routes
This is usually something of an afterthought, but spending a few minutes researching your travel route to and from the airport could pay off in a big way.
If you’re driving, double-check the route before you set off to see if there have been any accidents or traffic build-ups. This gives you the chance to pivot to a speedier route before heading off. Similarly, check your airport parking booking and be sure you’re going to the correct parking bay.
If you’re getting a coach, bus, or other types of public transport, try and pre-book your ticket. This will save time and also covers you in case ticket kiosks aren’t manned during the hours of your travel.
How to ace airport security
Brush up on the rules
An airport security queue is a scary place. It can crawl along at a glacial pace, giving you plenty of time to worry about whether or not you left the nail scissors in your bag. There are some travel packing tips for airport security that can help you nail the process.
Firstly, brush up on the list of dos and don’ts. You might have flown plenty of times before, but it doesn’t hurt to have a refresh.
Next, before you get into the queue separate your electronics, any jewellery, toiletries, and belts you are carrying. This will save you time when you reach the trays, as you can easily drop these items straight in and walk through the scanners.
Before even getting to the airport, you’ll need to sort your liquids and aerosols into see-through containers. Make sure your products weigh 100 ml and under. If you’re travelling in a group, help others check their security items too. That way you won’t be stuck waiting for anyone who hasn’t followed the rules.
This is an airport travel tip for people with children… opt for the Fast Track security service. It might seem like a bit of an extravagance but long security queues can be especially challenging for parents with little children. Going for the Fast Track service will give you the chance to speed things up and get through the process calmly.
Check on your airport’s website and book a time slot before you arrive.
Choose your flights strategically
The time of year
Your first holiday in a while and you really can’t afford for anything to go wrong? Makes sense. Post-Covid we’re more anxious than ever about our airport experiences running smoothly. And picking when you go on holiday is a major hack to help ensure seamless journeys.
Zoom out for a second and consider the time of year that you’re booking your flights. You’ll want to avoid peak times, not just because of long queues, but also because there’s more chance of delays and cancellations with more flights running. So avoid school holidays and book out-of-season trips where possible.
The time of day
Now consider the actual time of day you’re booking your flight for. Statistically, morning flights are more likely to go ahead as planned. Why? Flight delays tend to be a knock-on effect of things going wrong earlier in the day, this can then build to larger delays and cancellations by the time you reach the afternoon and evening.
In general, airports tend to be busier between Friday and Monday, so fly midweek if possible.
Look into the layover
Maximising your time
Our tips for airport travel include your layover, an often neglected part of the trip! How often has a layover meant curling up on uncomfortable seats, hunting for WiFi, and buying overpriced, soggy sandwiches? By researching the airport your layover is at, you can maximise your experience.
Take a look on the airport website for a map. This will include different restaurants and cafes, where you can get free WiFi, and where the charging ports are. You can even plan to set yourself up close to your departure flights terminal.
Squeezing in some extra travel
Sticking with layovers, another tip for airport travel is to squeeze in some extra travelling. Depending on how much time you have and visa requirements, you don’t need to stay in your layover airport.
Take the opportunity to research the nearby area and see if it’s worth exploring a little. Just be mindful to get back to the airport in time.
Wouldn’t the whole airport experience be easier if you weren’t already out of pocket by the time you got to your end destination? The cost of living crisis has made us all extra cautious, and the airport can be an expensive place. Swerve some of the typical charges by bringing your own drinks and food.
Instead of buying pricey bottles of water at the airport, bring an empty bottle and fill it up on the other side of security. Similarly, you’re allowed to bring some food through security too. Avoid paying above the odds on the plane and bring your own food too.
Shipping as an ultimate airport travel hack
We touched on shipping your items earlier, as a hack for avoiding the check-in queues. But shipping your items ahead could also save you money. Extra baggage and excess baggage fees, which you’ll incur if your suitcases are over the weight limit, can soon stack up.
Not to mention there’s the potential for your things to go missing and need to be replaced. Ship your items ahead of time with a service like Sherpr.
They’ll give you guidance on how to pack your cases, any customs paperwork, and let you track your goods in transit. They’ll be dropped off at a pre-agreed time and place of your choosing. Simple!