The most stressful part of the airport is not the overpriced lattes or the moment you drop your car off in an always-dark, multi-storey, mega car park, with confusingly labelled bays… it’s the queuing.
Be it waiting to check your bags in as you panic about whether or not you’ll be over the allocated weight limit, or the security queue that seems to snake endlessly forwards. Holidays often get off to a bad start thanks to stress-inducing lines.
Whilst there are some inevitable delays that you can never really mitigate for, there are plenty of tips you can use to avoid airport queues and sometimes skip airport queues altogether.
Why Are Airport Queues So Long?
First things first, what is making airport queuing times skyrocket?
Put simply, Coronavirus. Airports are still feeling the reverberations of the pandemic, which can largely be blamed for the long queues we’re seeing. A mixture of staff shortages and huge pent-up demand for travel has resulted in travel chaos, cancelled flights, and lost baggage.
This isn’t to say you resign yourself to a miserable airport experience, keep reading for our pick of the best travel tips to avoid airport queues.
So many parts of the airport process are now automated, make the most of it! Check in ahead of time from the comfort of your home via an email link or an airline app.
Just make sure that your phone is fully charged when you’re at the airport so that you can easily access your boarding pass. If you don’t have any checked bags to drop off this means that you can swerve the check-in queue altogether and head straight for security.
If you are checking in bags, be sure to double-check the baggage weight allowance and weigh your luggage at home to avoid having to pay extra or repack your bags at the airport.
Even better, ship your items ahead of time and you’ll be able to take more than you would be able to with a hand luggage allowance, and you can still avoid the checking in the queue.
Arrive On Time
Not early, not late, on time.
You might think that you’re doing yourself a favour by pitching up at the airport half a day before your flight leaves but this kind of excessive punctuality can disrupt the flow at security.
Instead of a staggered group of travellers, passing through security at regular intervals, you end up with large groups all jostling to get through.
You’ll get a suggested arrival time when you book your flight. Trust that this has been worked out beforehand to optimise the airport queuing system, and ensure that everybody spends less time standing around in queues.
Nail Airport Security
This queue is inevitable, there’s no way to avoid it, but you can speed up the process by brushing up on the procedure. Before you enter the queue, remove your electronics from your bag, any belts, and jewellery you might be wearing, and decant any liquids and toiletries into see-through containers.
It might sound obvious, but being very disciplined and prepared at this stage will help quicken the usually sluggish security stage.
That way, when you do reach the trays, you can quickly filter your belongings into them and head through to the scanners.
If you really want to avoid airport queues – check your airport’s website for Fast Track Security. It’s usually included as standard with premium and business class flights. You can book a time slot in advance and breeze through security.
Most people don’t bother to check this option out, presuming it’s got a luxury price tag, but depending on the time you travel this service can be surprisingly affordable.
Similar to prepping for security, get your documents in a good place the night before you travel. The quicker you can access these the shorter your queuing time will be.
Typically you’ll need your passport to hand as well as boarding passes. If your pass is digital, have the app loaded up and also download the pass so you can access it in a couple of different ways. This will help if your WiFi is patchy, or your signal drops at any point.
If you want to be super prepared, create a shortcut to your boarding pass on your phone and have it on your home screen. That way you simply have to unlock your phone and click once to bring it up.
Choose When You Travel
If you’re lucky enough to have some flexibility about when you fly, avoid peak times. School holidays are always going to have more airport queues. If you’ve got the choice, opt for out-of-season trips when airports are quieter.
Statistically morning flights are less likely to be cancelled – so book one of these to maximise your time at your chosen destination and cut down your time standing in airport queues for missed flights. Win win.
Airports are also busier between Friday and Monday so avoid these too if possible.
You could do all of the above and try to game the system as best as possible and still be caught out by delayed or cancelled flights. Whilst there isn’t too much you can do to stop this, do keep an eye on your emails and also your airline app (if you have one) in case you get sent details about disrupted flights.
If not, you will end up arriving at the airport and have to queue for information and kill time until your new flight.
In some cases, you can track your flights too which will help you to organise your time better and avoid unnecessary queues. Similarly, some airports now offer airport queue trackers, these give you live updates of how many people are standing in a queue and which areas are busiest.
Choose the Right Queue
Seems like a no-brainer, right? But post-Brexit it’s become a little more complicated, particularly if it’s your first time travelling. It’s best to be 100% sure about this to avoid joining the wrong queue and being sent all the way back to the beginning.
Simply, if you hold a British passport you are a British citizen. That means you should be in the non-Eu line.
Ship With Sherpr to Avoid Airport Queues
One of the best ways to avoid airport queues is to ship your items. It means you can dodge the check-in queue and don’t have to mess around with the baggage reclaim queue either.
Shipping luggage with Sherpr also means you can track your items in transit and avoid the mishandled and lost baggage chaos that has been dominating the travel news.
Get a quote online to kick the process off. Sherpr will help you with the customs paperwork and drop your items off at a pre-agreed time and place – massively minimising the time you have to spend in airport queues.