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Prior To Travel
Advance Passenger Information must be given before travel in and out of the UK. These details can be given online, through the airline call centre or at check in desk and are used to perform security checks. Giving this information before you turn up at the airport can save you valuable time.
Weigh Your Bags
Check the luggage allowance and weigh your bags to check you are within your allowance and you won't be charged for going over. If you have no luggage scales you can weigh yourself first, then weigh yourself holding the case to get a rough idea of the weight.
Check your flight status before you leave the house. There is nothing worse than getting to the airport and finding the flight cancelled. The most common reason for this is bad weather such as snow.
Consider how you are getting to the airport. Are you taking public transport, a taxi or driving yourself? Staying overnight at an airport hotel, especially if you have an early flight can be a relaxing way to start your holiday, and can avoid the stress of traffic jams and roadworks making you late for the flight. Hotels near airports often have great deals including parking. If you park, take a photo or make a note of your parking bay number. After a 2 week holiday you will be glad you did!
Check with your airline how long you need to be at the airport before your flight. If you are flying from the UK to a long haul destination (e.g. Asia or the US) it is usually recommended you get to the airport 3 hours before your flight, whilst short haul ( e.g. a trip to Europe) is usually recommended at least 2 hours. To be on the safe side it is always best to check with the airline/airport direct.
Check In Online
Checking in online, especially if you are not checking in bags, can save you time. Seats can be selected, boarding passes printed and it's always nice to know where you are sitting on the plane. Certain airlines have apps you can use to manage your booking and check in online from your phone or tablet.
At The Airport
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Airports are busy places. For a tranquil start to your holiday it is worth paying for an executive lounge. Lounges such as the Number 1 lounge at Heathrow and Gatwick, or the Servisair lounges worldwide, give you food, drink, alcohol and free wi-fi in a peaceful surroundings for a charge. Well worth it, for a stress free time in my experience.
If you do not want to pay for an airport lounge, consider buying food from a cafe and restaurant at the airport, and basing yourself there. If you like shopping now is the time to try out the duty free shops, I know some people find shopping relaxing.
Don't forget to check the Flight Status boards as you rarely get called to the boarding gate these days.
Your Flight Bag
You can often take a bag the size of a small carry on suitcase on board the plane for free. If you are only staying a night or two this is a good option as you will often have to pay for a suitcase in the hold.
Minimise your bag clutter. Put essential documents in one pocket like passports, tickets, and the boarding pass if you have printed this out. Everything else that you do not need until you get on the plane can be put in a separate area.
Put valuables in your flight bag, and essential items, such as medication and contact lenses. If your suitcase goes missing at least these items will be safe.
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At present liquids, creams, and gels that are in your hand luggage cannot be more than 100 ml. They must be carried separately in a single bag which is transparent and resealable no bigger than 20cm by 20cm.
Computers and tablets should be removed from the carry case and put in a separate screening tray.
Minimise Screening Times
Scanning equipment will recognise any metal so remove jewellery, and try to wear clothes without any metal fastening where possible to help prevent 'pat downs'.
You will be asked to remove any boots, shoes and belts. Electronic equipment needs to be removed from cases to go through security and needs to be charged before your travel. If it doesn't switch on when asked you maybe told you have to leave it at the airport.
On Board The Plane
Take activities and snacks for the kids to keep them entertained. It's a great idea for kids to have their own back pack with colouring books, paper, colouring pencils, and old fashioned games, as well as a simple tablet loaded with their favourite shows and films. If you have an entertainment system on board, you could have problems with it, and the food, if included, may not be to your children's taste.
If you get nervous flying, taking your own relaxing music on an Ipod or mp3 player can really make a difference.
The air conditioning can be fierce on the aeroplane. Warm fleecy socks and a cardigan or hoody is useful at these times.
Make sure you get up and walk around to help prevent a DVT. Flight socks can help and there are other ways of preventing this, check out this link by the NHS.
Now you are on board, try to relax and enjoy your flight as before long you will be in a new country with great experiences ahead.
Tell me do you have any tips for a relaxing experience at the airport?