For many, flying is the worst part of going on holiday. You wake up early to spend hours at the airport before queuing up and getting on a plane to sit next to a stranger - not our idea of fun!
Airports are stressful at the best of times, even more so during peak season with long queues and unbearable crowds. So, what should you keep in mind when travelling abroad?
Whether you're an experienced traveller or an airport novice, planning your journey is essential. You should always allow extra time for unexpected traffic, adverse weather and queues at check-in or security. It is also a good idea to research your airline's check-in regulations, as many international flights expect you to check-in two or three hours before your departure time.
Pre-booking a parking space, arranging a lift with a friend or planning an overnight stay in a nearby hotel will all save time and reduce stress on the day.
It is always worth booking an overnight stay or leaving plenty of time to arrive at the airport as, if you miss your outbound flight because you get stuck in traffic, travel insurance usually won't cover the cost of a new flight. However, many policies will cover for missed departure if the vehicle you are travelling in breaks down, if you are involved in a road traffic accident or if your public transport is delayed.
Most airlines allow you to check-in online, usually 24 hours before your departure time, meaning you have one less thing to worry about on the day. Just don't forget to print off your boarding pass or store it in your phone.
In addition to online check-in, some airlines offer 'priority check-in' which will entitle you to use a different queue to other travellers. It is worth bearing in mind that if a large number of passengers opt to pay for this option, the queue could still be just as long!
We've all been stuck behind someone who has stuffed too much into their case and is now kicking up a fuss about having to pay extra. Not only is it frustrating but it can be time consuming for other passengers in the queue. Before packing your case, make sure you check your airline baggage restrictions carefully to avoid being 'that' person.
After you have finally checked-in it's over to passport control and security checks.
To prevent delays at the passport desk, have your travel documents handy and your boarding pass plus VISA tucked into your passport - this will save you having to dig around in your bag to find all the correct documents.
Passing through security can be a lengthy process, especially if the airport is exercising heightened security checks. You will more than likely find yourself standing in a queue, so use this time to remove any jewellery, watches, belts, etc. that are likely to set off the alarms. It may be a good idea to wear 'slip on' shoes too, just in case you are asked to remove them - fumbling with laces and zips will only hold you and others up.
Avoid queues with families in as they are likely to take longer!
As with your suitcase, check the airline restrictions for hand luggage - some flights back to the UK do not allow laptops, phone or tablets in the cabin. For more information on what to pack and what not to pack in your hand luggage click here.
Before take-off, cabin crew may ask you to put your hand luggage in the over-head storage. We recommend keeping your valuables, such as your phone and wallet, either in your pocket or in the seat pouch, as your travel insurance may not cover if your possessions are lost or stolen whilst not on your person.
When leaving the aircraft, check your surroundings carefully to make sure you don't leave anything behind!
Depending on your destination, you may be required to purchase a VISA. Although it may be possible to buy a VISA at the airport, we recommend you purchase it before you travel to prevent any hold ups at passport control when you arrive at your destination.
When booking a holiday, check your passport's expiry date as some countries require you to have at least six months left on your passport before they will allow entry. Your passport should also be in good condition as damaged passports may be refused. For more passport advice click here.
If there's one thing that makes the long wait in the airport lounge bearable it's duty free! Us Brits love a bargain and not having to pay tax on items means they are cheaper than if we were to buy them in our local shops. Make sure you keep an eye on your purchases though, as many travel insurance policies will not cover for lost, stolen or damaged duty-free items.
If you do plan to make the most of duty free, we recommend looking for a policy that will offer cover for these items as well as your personal possessions. These policies may be slightly more expensive, but should the worst happen you will not be left out of pocket.
It's every travellers nightmare - arriving at your destination after what felt like an eternity in the air, only to find your luggage isn't circulating on the conveyor belt!
Losing your luggage can ruin your holiday, not to mention put a dent in your spending money if you need to purchase additional items until your case arrives. When buying your travel insurance, look for a policy that will cover the cost of essential items if your luggage is delayed - just make sure you keep hold of any receipts.
If you are travelling in a group, split your clothes between cases - this way if one suitcase was lost, stolen or delayed you would still be able to 'get by' until it is returned.
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