I love a good statistic, a number that tells a story! Recent research by Priority Pass reveals some interesting insight into concerns that travellers have on their journey through the airport. Their research highlights the top airport stresses and we have come up with a few tips to help you avoid (or at least manage) five of them.
The top stress for travellers is the prospect of missing their flight. 63% of people worry about getting stuck in traffic and 9% people admitted to having missed a flight. 19% of you have had to sprint to the gate to catch a flight so it seems you may be right to harbour this concern.
Tips to avoid missing your flight
Ok let’s be fair, this is a concern that is often self-inflicted. Simply allow more time to get to the airport by car, or opt for public transport and jump on a train or bus. Even better, if you have an early morning flight and are worried about sleeping through your alarm, book an hotel and parking combo. That way, your holiday starts early and you can avoid a few more grey hairs.
Also, don’t pile into the bar and start sinking pints as soon as you arrive at the airport. This is a great way to get distracted from the real purpose of your visit and overlook your imminent departure. Your fellow passengers may be hostile if they miss their departure slot due to your late arrival!
Other than self-discipline and advance planning, insurance is the only other remedy for any circumstances beyond your control. If you have done everything to get to the airport and still miss your flight, you may be able to claim on your insurance.
Hands up if you have ever arrived at your destination to discover your bag has not? As someone whose bags have failed to turn up on several occasions, I know well the sensation of watching the belt slowly grind to a halt without any sight of your bag. That sinking feeling as you realise you don’t have a spare pair of underwear and no contact lens. Feelings can range from mild irritation to devastation depending on the type of trip and case contents. For instance, we flew to Lisbon last October to run a half marathon. My bag containing running shoes and running watch did not turn up. That was not a fun run!!
It turns out that a whopping ‘61% of people are worried about their baggage getting lost’ hence why this is the second biggest worry for travellers.
It is hardly a surprise as 24.8 million bags went missing in 2018 (SITA Baggage Handling Report 2019). But let’s put this in context. Since 2007, airport passenger numbers have increased a huge 76%. Over the same time period, missing bag incidences have reduced from 46.9 million to 24.8 million. That is almost a 50% drop despite a 76% increase in travellers. Such improvement is courtesy of smart technology, automation and new processes. Most airlines also now track your baggage every step of the journey.
Delayed bags accounted for 77% of all missing luggage. Passengers received their bags within 72 hours in 79% of those cases. This number rises to 95% after seven days. The message is clear – don’t stress too much if your bags don’t turn up. It shouldn’t be too long before they do.
Tips to manage missing baggage
That said, I know that receiving your bag 3 days late is a nuisance. So, what can you do to soften the blow?
Firstly, if you have essentials such as glasses or contact lens, it might be wise to pack these in your hand luggage. You may also wish to carry a spare pair of underwear or wear any important kit (if practical). After all, it won’t be practical to wear your dive regulators even if you are going on a liveaboard. Had I worn my running shoes and watch on the flight I could have avoided the pain of buying new shoes for the half marathon.
You may need to buy some emergency supplies if your bags don’t arrive. Retain all the receipts so that you can claim a refund from the airline. In Lisbon, my bags took four days to arrive so I had to purchase toiletries, a new running kit, a few tops and a pair of shorts. British Airways reimbursed me for all the items. This should always be your first port of call. Your travel insurance will have an excess that will cost you money. If you claim from the airline, you can avoid this.
Only make a claim on your insurance when you have exhausted efforts with the airline. Or, if you simply never see those cases again. Statistics reveal this is unlikely, but if you want to be ultra-cautious, invest in some traceable baggage tags. These allow you to trace your bags although most airlines can usually pinpoint where your bag is. We purchased Dynotags just before our trip to Lisbon. Save your money as they only work if someone decides to scan them into their Qreader.
Invest instead in a Tile Mate which is more expensive but allows you to GPS track your bags (and other items). Simply attach it to your bag, download the app on your smartphone, and your bag’s location will be displayed on the map.
People also confess to finding busy airports another stressful aspect of travel. As someone who almost always uses an airport lounge precisely for this reason, I can sympathise.
Tips to manage airport crowds
However, the research from Priority Pass pinpoints the airport’s hot spots. Surprisingly, the duty-free store is the busiest area in the airport. 49% of people who responded said that they visit Duty Free. Well next time you travel, simply give it a swerve and save yourself the money and the stress. If you really do your research you will see that those prices are often not much cheaper (or at all) than the high street or Amazon. Often better deals can be found overseas. Save your pennies and go bargain hunting at your destination.
Of course, the other hot spots are pubs and restaurants. Unless you are willing to pay for a lounge there is simply no avoiding this hustle. Although a lounge pass can cost you upwards of £25 (or £20 if you join Priority: standard membership fee £69) it includes complimentary food and drink which might be equivalent to the entry price. In my case, the value of what I consume is probably around £10 – £15 per visit, but I feel that the additional £10 – £15 is a worthwhile expense to avoid the madness.
Your other option is to sign up for an AMEX Gold card and get 2 free lounge passes. If you are happy to splurge, opt for a Platinum AMEX card and get unlimited free passes. Be sure to read this post first though so you understand the costs.
I was amazed that this was not the top stress. My holiday time is so precious I do not want to waste any of it in delays. It may mean I miss work (which costs more money) or the delay eats into my precious exploration time.
Tips to manage delays
This is one aspect of your travel that is outside your control (unless you happen to be the muppet sat in the bar when you should be boarding the flight!). One consolation, however, is that under EU law, compensation is due for delays of more than 3 hours. The maximum compensation is up to €600 which might well pay for another weekend away! Your insurance may also pay out for delayed departure.
Excess luggage costs are expensive but avoidable! If this is a top concern for you, read on.
Tips to avoid excess luggage charges
Simples people, do not overpack and hope for the best. If you really are incapable of sticking to the weight limit, invest in some luggage scales from Amazon. Don’t be the person at the airport holding up the long line.
A simple solution to the top airport stresses
A lounge pass membership really can help you overcome some of these issues. However you do need to do the maths to see if it will work for you.
Because we use air miles to often fly business and first class, I would struggle to get my money’s worth. On the rare occasion I don’t have lounge access included with my ticket, I just pay at the door.
You can check out the latest lounge pass membership fees here.
Interestingly, if you fancy a deep dive into the data, you might see that people are more concerned about losing a friend than they are a child!!!