Airport Wait Times Guide: How to Reduce Time Spent at Airports

Airport Wait Times Guide: How to Reduce Time Spent at Airports

Queuing at the airport isn’t a new phenomenon, so why does it suddenly feel so much worse, and why do airport wait times feel so much longer? The hangover of Covid certainly doesn’t help. During the pandemic, staff were laid off which has meant there are now shortages. 

There’s also a huge demand to get back to holidaying after being stuck at home for so long. Throw increased security into the mix, and cheaper flights than ever before, and it starts to make sense why the queues have gotten so long. 

Viral hashtag #IHateTheWait and the recent press images showing mountains of luggage piled high sum up the general mood of holiday-makers – airport wait times have gotten out of control. 

Luckily there are ways you can do your bit to reduce wait times at the airport. In this guide, we’ll take you through the best tips to reduce airport wait times, from how you get to the airport to transfers and everything in between.

Traveller waiting to fly at the airport gate

Getting to the airport

Reducing airport travel times starts with planning how you’re going to get to the airport. If you drive, there’s the time spent parking up, perhaps taking a shuttle to the airport, and finding your car after you return. 

If you’re getting public transport there’ll definitely be wait times between connections. Overall driving is generally the quicker option but there are ways you can speed up the process even more. 

Trying to find your car in a maze of vehicles, sometimes late at night when the lights are low, suddenly you’ve forgotten… did you park in bay K? Or was it bay M and then three rows to the right? 

Save yourself some time and take a picture of where your car is parked, even make a written note on your phone as well if you think it’ll help.

Where possible, do it digitally… 

As much as it feels like a faff beforehand, having to download the airline app and check-in ahead of time – it’s worth it. You’re going to shave a lot of time off your airport experience if you do some of these jobs ahead of time. 

That way you can avoid the check-in desk altogether. Just make sure if you’re downloading your boarding pass to keep your phone suitably charged so it can be scanned as you pass through the airport.

Traveller gazing at the big display screen at airport

The great thing about your airline’s app is that it’ll also have real-time updates. This means if there are any annoying delays, gate changes, or cancellations – you’ll know about them in a timely fashion which will help with reducing airport travel times. 

These updates might save you an unnecessary trip to the airport or a long walk to the wrong gate. 

Pack light

This is probably one of the more challenging tips, but it’s also got the biggest reward timewise. Take a really strict approach to your packing if you’re serious about reducing airport travel times. 

Checking baggage can be one of the most time-consuming, not to mention stressful, parts of the whole process. There’s the queuing up at the check-in desk and then the reclaim carousel. Yeah, your bag never comes out first.

Add to that the chance that your luggage could be lost or mishandled, and in that case, there’s the added time pressure of retrieving your items or replacing them. Is hand luggage starting to seem like a no-brainer?

What to do if you have lots of baggage

In some cases, it just isn’t possible to pack light. Perhaps you’re going on holiday for over a week, or country-hopping on an extensive trip abroad, visiting a colder country where you have to pack bulky items, or even relocating completely. 

Don’t panic! If this applies to you there’s still a way you can save time at the airport.

Send your items with a luggage shipping service like Sherpr to have your items transported seamlessly from a pick-up point of your choosing to your end destination. You can track your items in transit, and avoid all the baggage reclaim queues and stresses of mishandled luggage. 

All you have to do is pack your items and fill out any customs paperwork. Sherpr will do the rest. You’ll also reduce airport customs wait times, as you’ll fill out all this paperwork ahead of time.

Traveller with suitcases taking a photo at the airport

When it comes to security, remember 3, 2, 1…

Arguably the security portion of the airport experience is the worst. Expected airport security wait lines can be longer than a short-haul flight! A long, labyrinth-like queue crisscrosses around the airport as passengers fumble with oversized shampoos and wrestle laptop chargers out of rucksacks. It doesn’t have to be so painful!

First of all, make sure that you comply with the airport security rules. This will save time when it comes to putting your items in trays. Have electrical items separated and your liquids ready. 

When it comes to liquids, they should be 3.4oz (100ml) and under, double check this before you head through security, and limit your liquids to one see-through bag per person. Once you’re confident of your own items, help others in your group too.

If you’d like to make the whole process super speedy, check ahead about your airport’s fast-track security. There’s usually a VIP-type lane where you can whizz through security and skip the queue. This service can be relatively affordable too!

Keep your documents close to hand

Remember the days of going through the airport with your parents when passports were kept in a ring binder along with printed boarding passes? They were onto something. Similar to streamlining the security process, you’ll want to have all your travel documents sorted out beforehand.

The biggies are your passport and boarding card. These will need to be checked and scanned most often. Depending on where you are travelling, you may need proof of vaccinations and visa documents too. Have all of this in a place you can access easily in a pinch. 

Early flights

It’s not an exact science, but early flights are statistically less likely to be delayed. You don’t have the same knock-on effects that can cause mayhem later on in the day. For that reason, booking a morning flight may help with reducing airport travel times.

Person walking next to a plane at the airport

Also, try and secure an off-peak ticket that means you won’t join a stream of other passengers, which includes booking between 6 am to 10 am and travelling during the week rather than at the weekend or Friday.

Stick to suggested arrival times

We’ve all been there. You turn up at the airport a good four hours before your flight so you can breeze through security and have a leisurely burger at the Wetherspoons on the other side of security. 

But it never quite works out like that, does it? More and more of us have started arriving at the airport way ahead of time, scared of being stuck in a queue and missing our flight.

This has actually had the converse effect and has slowed things down at airports. Now, instead of a steady flow of passengers in line with departure times, there are huge swathes of people queuing at the same time. In general, most airports suggest arriving roughly an hour and a half or two hours before your flight.

Book your transfers in advance

So you’ve navigated security successfully, sat through a superhero film on the flight, and come out of the other side… but now you have to get to your destination from the airport. 

This is a part of the process that sometimes gets overlooked. We presume that by this stage, we’ve done the hard part. But with that logic, most of us end up jostling for taxis with other passengers or joining huge hire car lines. 

Be savvy and book your transfers ahead of time. If you don’t fancy the added cost of a car, scope out the bus routes and pre-order your ticket to beat the crowds.

Innovations to reduce airport wait times

Don’t worry, whilst you’re busy trying out tips and hacks to reduce your time at the airport, airports are looking for new innovations to help too. 

An example of this is Singapore’s Changi Airport which has ingenious little bots that perform simple time-saving tasks like greeting travellers and directing them around the airport. They can even answer straightforward questions and give directions.

Some airports are also trialling AI queuing systems that work out the time passengers can expect to wait at security checkpoints.

Empty airport building interiors

Shipping solutions for long airport wait times

Sherpr offers door to door luggage delivery to battle your potential airport chaos while travelling and reduce airport wait times. Our shipping experts deliver your items, boxes and more to numerous destinations.

In short, kick things off by getting an instant quote online, then you’ll need to pack your items in a suitcase or box, a courier will collect your items and you can keep tabs on them during the journey, finally they’ll be delivered to your end destination. No airport queues or wasted time!