Half of the stress at the airport is not caused by threats of delays and lost baggage, although that doesn’t help. Sadly, airport stress is often caused by other passengers. Specifically those people that wait until they are at the security counter before they start unpacking iPads, laptops, toiletries and so much more. Or, those people who wait until they reach the check in counter before they start delving into their bags to find their documents and passports. These and many other annoying habits help to make life hell at the airport. This airport survival guide aims to highlight key annoyances and how you can avoid being the cause of your fellow passengers’ irritation.
Airport travel guide
Whether you are a novice or a frequent airport traveller, if you abide by these golden rules of airport etiquette, you will help to make everyone’s journey more pleasant.
Before leaving home
Check your passport
If you haven’t travelled in a long time, get ready long before your trip. I’ve heard too many tales of people discovering their passports have expired at the airport.
Seriously people? Your travel insurance will not reimburse you for pure stupidity. If this is you, get ready to pay for a new flight once you have a shiny new passport in your hands.
Check the visa rules
On a related note, be sure to check the entry requirements for your chosen country with plenty of notice. It’s not unheard of for people to be denied transportation for failing to get the necessary visas.
At the airport
Print copies of your flight details
This point is more relevant to non UK, European and US airports. Many countries in Africa, for instance, insist on seeing confirmed flight details before you can even enter the airport.
As much as I prefer not to carry loads of paperwork, it seems that modern technology has yet to reach some airports and it is best to have hard copies available for inspection.
Prepare your documents for check in
That means preparation. While you are waiting at check in, get out your passport and paperwork. Airline check in usually only opens 2 – 3 hours before departure and if every passenger wastes a few minutes at check in searching for documents, there’s a good chance your flight will be late.
Airports are busy places with extreme competition for departure slots. Your wanton time wasting might lead to a lengthy departure while the airline tries to find a vacant slot.
Speed through security
One of my biggest pet peeves at the airport is the people who arrive at security completely unprepared. They stand chatting in line, or playing on their phones and then take forever to pass through security. Then, they have to remove their belt, their shoes, their jewellery, and wallet.
They then proceed to disgorge the entire contents of their bag, from laptops to IPADs and countless toiletries.
Why didn’t you do some of this while you were waiting for God’s sake? I totally understand if you are juggling babies and toddlers but everyone else has no excuse! Most of this stuff can be done in line.
Also toiletries – remember the rules! It’s been well over ten years since new rules were introduced for liquids. Generally speaking, the rule is that you can only carry liquids in carry on luggage up to 100 ml. These must be removed from your luggage and placed in plastic transparent bags for screening. Note, usually airports permit only one toiletry bag and if it exceeds the maximum size, you may watch your favourite cosmetics and perfumes disappear into the bin!
Note, a very strange policy in some countries is entry screening where the same restrictions apply. My new Estée Lauder 8 hour cream was once confiscated on arrival in Florida. You can imagine my dismay, but it pays to check the rules beforehand.
I will never understand the mad rush to stand in line to board when boarding has not even been announced. You know you have an assigned seat right? But if you want to queue, go ahead, just please be mindful of people trying to bypass you to go to the toilets or shops!
Please don’t block the gateway to the Business and First class lines either. People who have paid for the privilege, or better still worked hard to earn sufficient Airmiles (find out how you can earn tons of Airmiles too) to upgrade should be easily able to avail of their perks.
This is more an issue on budget airlines but the trend in recent years has been to bring the biggest carry on bag and avoid paying baggage charges. This might explain the desire to queue, as these mammoth creations quickly fill the overhead bins. Note your airlines policy, as Ryanair recently changed theirs, as have many other airlines.
If you are one of those people trying to flaunt the rules, please don’t start a big argument with staff when they enforce the rules.
Taking your seat
Once again, be prepared. I’m sometimes astonished at how long it takes people to find their seat and sit down. Take out everything you need for the flight beforehand and then you won’t be one of those annoying people who blocks the aisle.
Also be sure to go to the right door. If you are in row 30, the chances are you are better going to the rear door rather than fighting though the oncoming crowds. This, of course, assumes you have a choice.
Airlines often have tight time slots to turn around a plane. Time on the ground is lost revenue and additional cost. This behaviour might mean your plane misses it’s slot!
Oh I know kids love travelling so much they never get bored! I do appreciate it is hard work keeping young children amused but please don’t let your little cherub kick the back of my seat endlessly. That’s not cool!
Bring plenty of things to amuse them, ideally with headphones. I don’t want to listen to Bob The Builder, The Teletubbies or any other Kids TV programme.
If a seat has the functionality to move, then I genuinely think you are at liberty to use that functionality. However, please don’t do it at dinner time. Allow other guests to eat dinner before you decide to lower your seat into their lap.
Read the god damn signs won’t you? How do Americans end up in the EU and UK line? Yes, I’m talking about the chap at Heathrow this morning that seemed most upset that he was turned away from the desk for EU and UK. Perhaps he thought he would try it on as the line for non EU and UK was long!!!!
Oh I get it. That’s super painful, but just so you know, we have to go in the non US line when we visit the United States, and those lines can be terrible!
Collecting your bags
Now I know you love your huge extended family with whom you are travelling. However there’s no need for all ten of you to crowd around the conveyor belt.
Appoint a few designated bag collectors and a few trolley caretakers. Those with the trollies can wait away from the belt with the rest of the family, freeing up more space for other passengers to collect their luggage. That way, your unruly children don’t get whacked by other passengers trying to offload their bags and we can all move a little freer.
And one last thing…
And just one other thing. Be mindful of where you stop. I’m forever having to hastily avoid travellers who come to a sudden halt to find their passport, have a chat, stare at a shop window….
Please move to the side of the public areas to avoid disruption to others. I won’t bump into you, you won’t get rammed by a passing trolley and we can all travel happy. Furthermore you won’t get deliberately bumped into by Jason intent on proving a point about airport etiquette.
What are your pet peeves?
Ok, so maybe I’m just a bit impatient, but you have to admit these are all annoying traits of travellers right? However, maybe you have another pet peeve which we need to warn people about. Pop them in the comments and perhaps together we can encourage disorganised travellers to be more on the ball.