Stress-free travel tips to make the airport experience fun!
before you get to the airport
Before you even get to the airport, double-check your luggage allowance and weigh your suitcase. If you’re just over the allowance, try wearing your heaviest clothes on the plane – one jacket or pair of boots can make the difference between a smooth check-in and having to spend your hard-earned holiday money on excess baggage fees.
Check how long it’ll take you to get to the airport. If you’re getting there by public transport, check the timetable and make sure you’ll be there in time – at least 2 hours before your flight if you’re travelling to Europe and 3 hours if you’re going further afield. If you’re driving, plan your route, checking for roadworks or any delays that might affect how long the journey will take.
If you’re going to drive to the airport, pre-book your airport parking as early as possible for the cheapest prices and the widest choice of spaces. We’ve managed to secure some exclusive discounts on official airport parking at Manchester, London Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth Airports, so be sure to check those out.
When you park up, take a quick snap of your parking spot along with any signs so it’ll be easier to find your car when you get home.
For the smoothest journey from car to check-in, book official Meet & Greet parking – simply pull up at a special area right outside the terminal and hand over your keys, and your car will be waiting for you on your return.
That 3am alarm call the day you set off can really put a dampener on the first day of your holiday. If you’re travelling on an early morning flight, think about booking an airport hotel for the night before to wake up fresh and ready to fly.
Check the size of your hand luggage. The size, weight and number of bags you can take on as hand luggage varies by airline, so it’s best to check the latest rules on the airline’s website to avoid an awkward conversation (and possibly more fees) at the gate.
For a smooth journey through security, pack your hand luggage so the things you’ll need at security are at the top. By simply putting your liquids bag, iPad and hairdryer in an easy-to-reach place, you’ll be able to glide straight through with minimal rummaging.
If you have a choice of security lanes, pick the one on the left. Because the majority of travellers are right-handed, they have a built-in preference for turning right, meaning that the queues to the left are often quieter.
To get through the security queues in ultra-quick time, book Fast Track tickets on the airport website. For just a few pounds, you and your family will get access to a special security lane and be through to the departure lounge in no time. We’ve got you exclusive discounts on FastTrack at Manchester, London Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth Airports when you book through Money Magpie from the 20th – 26th November.
It’s also worth thinking about your airport outfit with the security checks in mind. Slip-on shoes, trousers that don’t need a belt and jewellery that can be removed easily are always a good call – and of course make sure your pockets are empty.
The temperature in airports and on planes can vary a lot so it’s best to dress in layers. Pack a jumper or scarf in your hand luggage – even if you don’t need it you can always use it as a pillow.
Airport shopping can be a great way to get a money-saving deal on tech products like headphones, laptops and mobile phones, plus perfumes, spirits and makeup. Check out the range on the airport website before you fly – many airports now allow you to reserve online and collect in-store. If you’re buying a bigger item, or something you won’t actually need while you’re away, don’t be put off; many airport shops will allow you to buy at airport prices on departure and collect when you arrive home.
Want a proper, sit-down meal at the airport but you’re worried that there’s not much time before your flight? Look out for the express options at the restaurants in the departure lounge. Many outlets have special menus which are guaranteed to be delivered to your table within 15 minutes.
Airport lounges aren’t just for the rich and famous or for people flying on business. These days, booking a lounge is for everyone, and with most including food, drink and even fizz, the lounge can be a surprisingly affordable and relaxing alternative to waiting in the terminal. Free wifi, newspapers and magazines will keep you entertained, and many lounges also have special areas for children. Enjoy exclusive discounts on airport lounges at Manchester, London Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth Airports when you book through MoneyMagpie from the 20th – 26th November.
Don’t risk someone else taking off with your case at the baggage carousel. Decorate your suitcase so you and everyone else knows its yours. Coloured ribbons around the handles, stickers or a painted design will help distinguish your suitcase from the others and help you to spot it earlier.
For the tech-lovers, or if you’re one of those people who’s always losing things, think about tagging your suitcase, hand luggage or even your child’s favourite cuddly toy with a Bluetooth tracker. Attach one of these tiny devices to the item you want to keep track of, and you’ll know where it is at all times.
When you’re travelling on a low-cost flight, usually the only entertainment you’ll have is what you bring yourself – and even the best mobile phone batteries will only stand up to so many hours of gaming or watching films. Bring along an external battery or pick one up in the airport and you’ll never be without that precious power.