5 airport hacks every flyer should know

A little preparation and know-how goes a long way.

Travellers gearing up for the upcoming holiday period will no doubt be contemplating the pros and cons of taking a holiday that involves air travel. Usually high up on people's list of 'cons’ is the seemingly daunting process of getting through the airport. Long queues for check in, food and boarding coupled with a sometimes-confusing array of signage and, service providers and retailers all vying for our attention create enough pain that some people avoid travelling over the holiday period altogether.

Being a little prepared  and knowing the layout of the airport can help smooth the journey from check-in to gate. Get airport savvy with our top 5 airport hacks before you take off this summer holidays.

1. Check in online

If on-line check-in is offered for your flight, then do it. Sure, you may still need to drop some bags off but beating the rush to check-in makes the process easier and also means you’re unlikely to be disappointed when it comes to seating. While you’re at it, check to see what other online services your carrier offers. With Virgin Australia, you can pre-book car hire, accommodation, parking around the airport or nab an available seat upgrade all before stepping foot in the terminal.

2. Keep an eye on the clock

Avoid being the latecomer fruitlessly arguing with ground staff to have their flight reopened by confirming your flight check-in times BEFORE your day of travel.  Sure, there are going to be unavoidable circumstances where timing is a pinch, but this shouldn't be your norm. Carriers have different check-in times and requirements so make sure you read the information provided and know what time you need to be checked in and at your gate. If you’re thinking of doing some shopping before you depart, allow an extra hour, know where your gate is and keep an eye on the clock to avoid having your name and flight information tersely announced over the PA system by a frustrated ground staff member.

3. Sort your baggage issues at home

Know the carrier’s baggage weight limits and weigh your bags at home. Not only will you save yourself the embarrassing task having to unpack and repack your underwear in front of a check-in hall full of strangers, you’ll save a wad of cash as most carriers charge a higher baggage fee for allowances purchased at the airport. Avoid the pain further by keeping carry-on baggage light and within the dimensions designated by the airline. Most delays in the boarding process are caused by people attempting to bring on suitcases or large items that don’t readily fit in overhead lockers or underneath seats. In addition, carriers are increasingly enforcing their carry-on weight limits in an effort to reduce boarding delays. Getting sprung at the gate means delaying the flight while your bag makes its way to the hold, paying a sizeable sum for the privilege and having to face your now-disgruntled fellow passengers.

4.  Be prepared for security checks

Getting through security can be a grind but being prepared can reduce the hassle. Know what needs to come out of your bags in advance (think laptops and aerosol cans), take your shoes off before you go through the gates (a lot of shoes set off security gate sensors) and be co-operative if you’re stop for an individual search. Also, see number three above; the less carry-on baggage you have, the faster you’ll zip through.

5. Know where your departure gate is

Download a map of the airport before you leave home to avoid wandering up and down the departure gate concourse in search of your departure gate. Most airports will have a map of the premises but if in doubt, ask a ground staff member in the check-in area. Knowing where you need to be when your flight is called for boarding means you can also plan some strategic stops for shopping or refuelling on the way.

Words by Rebecca Walker - Published 15 December 2018
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