If you have seen the film Love Actually you may remember the monologue about the humble airport – a place of happiness, a place of sadness, a place of wonder and a place of discovery. For solo travellers or couples without children, an airport can be a romantic place, a place where the holiday begins, and a refuge from the monotony of every day life.
For others however, it is a necessary evil. The beginning of a long commute to work, a trip with young children whose combination of frustration and excitement will ensure you don’t get to that pre-takeoff drink, or another red-eye flight somewhere most people find exotic, but you only get to stare at from an air-conditioned office, through the window into what you can only imagine to be paradise.
Airports are challenging places, however, as someone who spends their weeks in and out of them, there are three short tips I will share to help you ease the stress.
- Pay for an airport lounge. You might think that the £20 or so may be spent better in the duty free, however, imagine your own little space for the 3 hours leading up to your flight – unlimited food, drinks, wifi, power points, TV and more – all for what is a relatively low price. Adults only areas, and business centres are provided in the larger ones, meaning that you don’t have to brave the industrial metal & plastic seating while being serenaded by upset children, harmonised by even more upset parents, with the relentless PA announcement choruses!
- Check-in online. This may seem obvious, but I know lots of people who prefer to check in at the airport. If you are travelling bag-free, then check in online! You can arrive an hour before your flight, get straight through security and on to your gate while the rest of the flight queue at the overcrowded check-in desk. If you are travelling with baggage – check in online anyway. There is no way to avoid the queues in this case (unless you hold frequent flyer privileges), however if your flight is oversold (more passengers than seats-which happens more often than the airlines would like you to believe) then the people who have checked in already will take priority over those who haven’t. So if you turn up close to the check-in closing time, you could find yourself being bumped to a later flight.
- Fly from a local airport. I always wax lyrical about the wonder that is Inverness Airport. It takes me on average, less than 5 minutes to get from the check-in desk, through security, to the Aspire lounge at gate 3. Compare that with my return flight from Heathrow, where it can take me a good half hour or more. Flying regional also means that your bags can get checked into your final destination, your boarding passes all get issued at the point of origin (meaning you can select seats on onward flights before fellow passengers) and on your return journey, it’s a short drive home. There is nothing worse than arriving into Glasgow or Edinburgh and having to contemplate that A9 home.