The world is travelling more than ever before with the rise of the affordability and accessibility of travel, as well as growing demand for global connectivity. The passenger numbers are projected to rise each year, with increases of over 7,2% on an annual basis being observed in 2017.
Despite these changes which have made travel easier, the issues in travel have also increased as airports and travel partners struggle to deal with the onslaught of passengers. While everyone is looking forward to reaching their end destination, the journey seems to be stressful for many passengers. From long waiting times to delayed or missed flights, lost luggage and airport issues, how do we ensure a good experience each time we reach for the passport?
1. Beat the Long Lines
Going through the airport can be one of the biggest pain points of any traveller due to long wait times in both security/immigration. Having to often wait for over an hour in a long line can cause both stress and possible scheduling issues for many travellers. There always seem to be delays and protocol adjustments, therefore it can be hard for even seasoned travellers to keep up with the irregularities involving air travel.
– Purchase a Fast-Track pass – Going through a separate line can help reduce your waiting times by an hour or two, therefore it is best to check whether one can be added to your upcoming trip. You may also be entitled to a fast-track pass as part of your frequent traveller programme, airline class or status.
– Register as a Frequent Traveller – TSA PreCheck allows travellers to move through security more quickly in the USA without having to take off their shoes or take out their laptops from the bag. The UK Registered Traveller Programme allows for easy immigration in the UK as you can use the same passport gates as UK/EU passengers. APEC Business Travel Card allows fast security/immigration in Asian countries. Check your local regulations to see if you might be entitled to be part of these programmes.
– Book VIP services – For the ultimate travel experience, the most beneficial is to book a dedicated Meet and Greet service. Having an experienced airport greeter assist you through the airport can expedite any long lines, lead you quickly through the different airport procedures and provide language or issue assistance which all aim to eliminate the stress of travel.
“It was so great to not wait in the security line for so long. In addition I was less stressed because I knew someone was with me should anything go wrong”
– Check waiting times prior to your departure – Always make sure to check whether there is any work being done at the airport or whether certain times are exceptionally busy. My TSA is a an app that offers information on security guidelines, estimates of waiting times, real time flight information, as well as a list of items you will be able to carry on the plane, therefore avoiding a long security check process.
2. Never Miss Your Flights
“Literally thousands of our customers are missing flights every day because of security waits”
There is nothing worse than running towards your departure gate and just missing the boarding time. This is unfortunately quite common with two to eight percent of travellers missing their flights. Forbes reports that 1 in 7 passengers has recently missed a flight due to security delays. So what is the best option to ensure you are always on your plane?
– Get to the airport early – To ensure you get to the airport early set up multiple alarms. Make sure to check for any possible time changes as there is nothing worse than waking up in a panic realizing your nap was a bad idea as the clock has changed and you need to be in the airport in 30 minutes (true story unfortunately). Check the traffic prior to leaving the house as you might need to readjust your time if there are any traffic jams and prebook a car to ensure you get to the airport on time.
-Avoid traffic by staying at an airport hotel. Airport hotels have been on the rise in popularity due to both their convenience and variety. Most airport hotels are a short shuttle ride away from the terminal while some are even part of the airport complex. If you are planning a short stay and do not have time to waste they can be the best option for you.
Schedule longer layovers to account for delays
– If possible it is best to allow more than two hours for a layover, or longer if you need to recheck your bags and go through immigration and customs. Many airports have large terminals where walking between Atlanta’s new international terminal and domestic terminal check-in is 1.67 miles (2.68 km), or roughly a 40 minute walk just to go between your flights. Although options like trains and terminal transfers exist, there is always a question on how long you will have to wait for them and also how accessible they are.
– Fly on a single ticket when you need to connect between flights – As most airlines will check your bags all the way through your final destination it is most beneficial to have your connection on one ticket. If you’re on two separate tickets and your first flight is delayed, a missed connection will be treated as a no show therefore your return flight will be cancelled, and you will need to pay for your next flight.
-Book travel through a travel advisor – A trusted travel advisor can help you schedule your ground transportation to ensure you get to the terminal on time. Advisors can also use their connections to rebook you on the next available flight without much hassle. Signature Travel Network offers an extensive list of travel advisors, and a useful search option for travel advisor matching based on expertise in interests, destination or product.
What happens if despite these tips you still miss your connection?
_ Reach out to your airline and they will rebook you on the next available flight, as well as provide a stay in an airport hotel if you cannot be placed on the flight on the same day. If you have a greeter booked then they will be able to expedite this process, such as the United Signature Service which has exclusive access to the United Airlines VIP Rebooking Line.
3. Don’t Worry About Luggage
Whether it’s missing luggage, overweight bags or confusion over what or how much to bring, luggage can be a nightmare that can cause both stress, delays and hassles for the entirety of your trip and beyond.
– Check your airline and airport regulations. Many low cost airlines have repeatedly changed their rules on the amount and sizing of cabin luggage. Airports also limit what you can bring through security where in Europe all liquids need to be contained in one plastic bag while in America new rules about powders in bags have come into effect. Bringing an apple off the plane can cost you $500, and you could end up paying hefty fees if your bag is slightly larger than the airline dimensions.
– Plan in advance – Find a packing list online and you will never miss a thing when travelling. Keep inexpensive items such as an universal adapter, backup toothbrush or USB charger always in your carry-on. If you struggle with overweight luggage, luggage scales can be purchased for very cheap and ensure your bags are never overweight. Pack light to make good use of shopping at your end destination, especially if you are entitled to a tax refund (and make sure to book tax reclaim assistance at the airport to avoid confusion and long waiting times).
-Book baggage assistance – If you simply cannot pack light and are already worried about handling all your bags, booking a baggage porter that will help pick up and transfer your luggage, leaving your hands (and back) free of any large items, can be beneficial, especially for single parents, elders or families, who can benefit from that extra bit of help.
-Have your luggage delivered – Rather than waiting for your checked luggage to arrive, have it delivered directly to your hotel room or home. These services are relatively inexpensive and exist in many airports worldwide. To check if your luggage can be delivered you can contact our team.
– Insure your bag – There is nothing worse than going for a long trip and arriving without your bag in hand. Unfortunately luggage ends up in wrong destinations more often than not as 21.6 million bags were mishandled (lost or temporarily mislaid) in 2016. Having the right bag insurance can help track and return your bag in a short timeframe, no matter where you travel.
4. Kill Waiting Times
You’ve arrived at the airport and remarkably the security or immigration process was quicker than expected! However, now you have hours to kill, especially if your flight ends up getting delayed, which actually is quite possible with 20.11% flights being delayed in 2019.
– Check the flight and airline performance – Websites like FlightAware and FlightStats provide a good insight into the typical delay times of each flight as well as general route performance. As these are average times I wouldn’t advise going to the airport later so as to not risk a missed flight, however knowing that there is a big chance of a delay will help you prepare in the best way for your increased waiting time.
– Book an airport lounge – Avoid the busy terminal by having refreshments, Wi-Fi and a quiet corner in the privacy of an airport lounge. Lounges can be booked individually, or as part of your travel package, and are also offered as a benefit of many credit cards such as the MasterCard World Elite and American Express Platinum or can be booked as part of your airline or airport points reward schemes.
– Find the best spot in the airport – App in the Air helps the time go by with recommendations for refreshments at the airport as well as where to find the best Wi-Fi connection. It can also assist with check-in and keeping your family or co-workers updated on your flight status, therefore they can easily adjust their upcoming airport pickups or meetings to your schedule changes. If you are looking for a nice secluded spot to relax, the Classified restaurant in Newark airport is an exclusive invitation-only restaurant for top tier travellers, available to those who book the United Signature Service.
– Exercise – Your travel should be no exception when it comes to maintaining your health and fitness levels. In the US and Canada the surge of airport gyms provides a perfect opportunity for making those long waits in the airport much shorter. And the best thing is that most gyms don’t require a lot of pre-planning as they accept walk ins and will provide a towel and even exercise clothes you can rent.
– If possible choose early morning flights – The first flight of the day is less likely to be delayed as many flights are inter-connected, therefore the delays increase over the course of the day. Flying on non-busy days or choosing a less popular airport can also ensure you do not wait too long for your flight to leave.
Despite all the issues mentioned and tips and tricks on how to avoid them, we should always be mindful that the journey is just a short part of our overall travel experience, and not let it ruin our entire trip. Be kind to those who are working hard to ensure you have the best experiences and the safest journeys, and remember to just have a good time!
What would you say is your biggest struggle when travelling? If you need any assistance in making your travels stress free reach out to Global Airport Concierge , a provider of airport passenger services including Meet and Greet, Car Transfers, Lounges, Baggage Handling and more!
Kizzi Nkwocha is the editor of Business Game Changer Magazine and publisher of The UK Newspaper, Money and Finance Magazine, the net’s fastest growing wealth creation publication. Kizzi Nkwocha is chair of The Ethical Publishers Association and co-chair of The Logistics Association. Kizzi made his mark in the UK as a publicist, journalist and social media pioneer. As a widely respected and successful media consultant he has represented a diverse range of clients including the King of Uganda, and Amnesty International. Nkwocha has also become a well-known personality on both radio and television. He has been the focus of a Channel 4 documentary on publicity and has hosted his own talk show, London Line, on Sky TV. He has also produced and presented both radio and TV shows in Cyprus and Spain.