It’s nice to have friends. It’s even nicer to have friends who have worked in an international airport and can tell you everything about navigating those enormous labyrinths of concrete and steel. Sloth is lucky to have a friend just like that. Even more, our friend has written a detailed book on how to use your time in airports the most useful way. Easy to read how-to of airports is called “How to make that flight: 58 tips to get you into your seat with less fuss” (affiliate link).
So, without any more words, Sloth is happy to introduce our good friend Keith Darius Horten with his guest post about airport wisdom. Enjoy your read!
Taking a commercial flight is as easy as riding a bike: if you have done it once, you can surely do it again! Of course, nothing beats experience, but here are some tips to help you when you are about to take your first flight or if you feel that you haven’t mastered the airport yet.
Planning for success.
Make sure you know where you are taking off and landing. At first glance, this might sound a ridiculous suggestion, but let us explain.
Big cities tend to have more than one airport, for example flying from London means that one could fly from London City Airport, Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. All of these airports are not technically in London per se, but are usually associated with the the city. Make sure you know where your flight departs from as the time to commute between some of these airfields could be around 4 hours during peak hours.
Also, budget airlines, such as Ryanair tend to use small, cheap and remote airfields to service their passengers. Thus, flights tor a particular city might end up landing rather far from their claimed destination. For example, the Stockholm Skavsta airport is roughly 106 km away from the capital of Sweden and it takes roughly 2 hours to get into the city itself.
Be smart and know hat you are doing!
Getting From A to B
Ask locals or go online and research the local expat forum to get the best information about reaching the (foreign) airport.
Airports may have designated shuttle services from the city center; train, bus and tram connections to the main transportation hubs and there is always an option to take a taxi or Uber. Just make sure you know what is the best option for you since some means of public transportation might not be connected to your terminal or taxis might be overly expensive. Also, reserve time to drop off your rental car to avoid stress.
Bonus tip: if you took your personal car to your local airport, take a photo of your car in the parking lot. Otherwise, you might end up lost searching for it after a week in a different time zone.
It is wise to do your check in online before you even reach the airport. That allows you to choose the seats that you like and increases your chances of making the flight if you are on a tight schedule. However, if you insist on doing the check-in at the airport, here are a couple of pointers.
People are usually rather lazy and opt for the nearest and most convenient options. That applies for check-in queues too, which means that there is a high chance that the line closest to the terminal doors is the longest. Be smarter than that and choose the line furthest away! Why stand in a line when you can enjoy cake and coffee in a nearby café?
Traveling light is the definitely the way to go, but be aware not to check-in everything you own and need. On many occasions, passengers walk away from the counter with hands in their pockets… Only to discover at the last minute that they have checked in their passports and boarding passes with their luggage. Don’t be one of them and keep your travel documents close to you at all times.
Oh, and please restrain yourself from joking about security issues when checking in, it might be the difference between making it to the sandy beach and giving statements to the local police.
Breeze Through Security
One could argue that going through security is the worst thing about the airport experience. Others may say that the worst thing is a canceled flight. Here are a couple of tips to ease the experience at the security check, since there is little we as passengers can do about the flight cancellations.
Big airports tend to have a lot of lines for security. Once you take a closer look at the dynamics of the security, you quickly realize that the masses steer to the right side of the security check. This is only natural since the majority of humans are right-handed. It’s in their nature to take a right turn when possible. Fight your inner urges and do the opposite! Going furthest to left is often the quickest route through the security check.
Send a clear signal that you know what is expected. Going through a security check is a routine that is repeated thousands of times every hour. The people inspecting you and your luggage are tired of telling the same story over and over again. Instead, remove your wrist watches, eloquent garnishes and suit jackets before you ever reach the scanners. This speeds up the line and also displays that you have nothing to hide. Add a sincere smile and you could be on your way to the gate before the fellow next to you can take off his shoes.
Also, you might want to consider turning you smart devices on silent mode for the duration of the security check – nothing attracts more attention than a loud text message notification while it’s in the x-ray machine.
At the Gate
Congratulations, you are almost ready to board your flight. Here are some tips for passing the time before they announce your flight. Follow these suggestions and you can strap yourself in and fly into the sunset really soon.
If you need to get some last minute work done before the flight, find a gate that just finished boarding or has a flight that leaves later than yours. This means fewer people, commotion, and noise allowing you to catch up on all the things important. However, make sure to check that departure flight display every 30 minutes. This will save yourself from the stress of taking a last minute Usain Bolt-like dash to the opposite side of the terminal after you realize that the gate has been changed.
Flying with kids can be a blessing or a curse. Bring an inflatable beach ball with you and tilt the odds in your favor. Playing with the ball and each other at the gate wears them out before the flight. That means you can enjoy your quiet time on board and watch your little angels sleep.
Sloth hopes our friend Keith gave you some nice tips on how to navigate international airports all around the world so you could make that flight :).
Oh, don’t forget to buy the copy of “How to make that flight: 58 tips to get you into your seat with less fuss” right HERE! 👇