The summer holidays are finally upon us and thousands of people will be leaving the Grimsby area behind to jet off somewhere warmer.
While the carrot of a relaxing week or two under the sun is always worth it in the end, it comes after a sometimes daunting escapade navigating through a busy airport.
Not only do you have to make sure you have your passports and travel details, but there are weight restrictions, security checks and the prospect of a long flight with fidgety youngsters.
So, without further ado, here are 15 tips to make the whole process that little bit more straightforward.
1. Don’t just throw everything in your hand luggage
If you’re only going on a short trip with a budget airline, the temptation is there to not pay extra to put luggage in the hold and instead take everything on board with you. However, there are strict rules on what you can and can’t take on a plane.
Don’t be one of those people who end up having your bag emptied by security because of a rogue bottle of suntan lotion. Or having your expensive make-up/face creams/wine confiscated. It’s not fun, and is very embarrassing.
What is the limit for liquids in hand luggage?
You are advised to pack liquids in your suitcase, but if you must take them in your hand luggage each container must be no more than 100ml.
The containers must then be put in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag. You are limited to one plastic bag per person.
You can also take liquids bought at the airport through security as long as they are sealed inside a security bag when you buy them and the receipt for the item is visible.
Can you take a lighter?
You can only take one lighter on board and this must also be in a plastic, resealable bag, which you must keep on your throughout the flight.
Baby food and milk
If you are travelling with a baby you’re allowed to take enough baby food, baby milk and sterilised water for the journey and more often than not, this will be more than 100ml.
Airport staff might need to open the containers to screen the liquids at the security point.
If you’re travelling with a musical instrument you must notify the airline in case you need to book an extra seat.
Scissors (with blades no longer than 6cm), disposable razors, nail clippers and files, tweezers, knitting and sewing needles, umbrellas, safety matches and contact lens solution (up to 100ml) are all allowed in your hand luggage.
Walking sticks/canes, walking aids, pushchairs and wheelchairs are usually allowed in the cabin but will need to be security screened first.
Can you take medication?
You’re allowed to take essential medication of more than 100ml on board but you must carry supporting documentation from your doctor, or a copy of the prescription. This also applies for gel packs.
You can take medical equipment with you to if it’s necessary for your journey but this will need to be screened separately and you must show documentation again from your doctor.
Hypodermic syringes, tablets, capsules, inhalers and essential liquid medicines (over 100ml is fine if screen successfully) are all allowed in your hand luggage.
Electric shavers, travel irons, cameras, hairdryers or straighteners, tablets, laptops, MP3 players and mobile phones are all allowed in your hand luggage.
Make sure your electronics are charged before you travel. If your device doesn’t switch on when requested, you won’t be allowed to take it on board.
There are restrictions on lithium cells and batteries for items such as laptops, cameras and mobile phones. Check with your airline for the restrictions before you travel.
You should put all sports equipment into your suitcase as only parachutes are allowed in your hand luggage.
And just in case you’re not sure, the following are all prohibited:
Blasting caps, drills and drill bits, Stanley knives, screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, detonators and fuses, imitation explosive devices, grenades, fireworks, dynamite, gunpowder, rat poison, corrosives or bleaching agents, pepper spray, toxic substances such as rat poison, biological hazards such as infected blood, bacteria or viruses, and fire extinguishes.
2. Check your luggage allowance (before you get to check in)
How many times have you got to the airport with your suitcase weighing 22kg when you’re only allowed 18? Though some airlines will allow you to ‘balance it out’ with your party to reach a collective total, it’s always best to make sure you’re well under the weight limit – especially if you’re planning on bringing some gifts back with you.
If the limit seems too low, you can pre-book extra luggage which will save you money in the long run. It varies from airline to airline, for example, Thomson charges up to £18 per kilo over on long-haul flights, whereas you can save up to 50 per cent when you pre-book.
3. … And weigh your bags at home
So you don’t get a nasty shock at the airport, always weigh your suitcase at home. That way, if you’re over on your allowance you can take things out and leave them at home rather than having to dump things at the airport, or pay for extra luggage. A luggage scale can be yours from most supermarkets for a few quid. Well worth the investment.
4. If you park at the airport take a picture …
Especially if you have a bad memory. Airport car parks can be huge and it is easy to forget where you’ve left your car – especially after two weeks lounging about in the sunshine.
Take a picture of your parking space and you’ll be able to locate your vehicle in no time.
5. … and pre-book airport parking
At most airports you can book your parking in advance.
If you just turn up and pay you could be hit with charges of as much as double what you’d have paid if you pre-booked.
Sometimes it’s a lot cheaper to book at a nearby car park not actually located at the airport offering free shuttle buses to the terminal. A quick web search will sort you out there.
6. Pre-order toiletries from Boots
One of the typical stresses when packing for holidays is remembering what toiletries you need and more importantly, how they’re going to fit in your luggage allowance along with all of your clothes.
Instead, pre-order everything you need and get them delivered to an airport store where you can pick them up. Check how many days in advance that you need to order for your desired airport store at www.boots.com
7. Find out what time you need to be at the airport
Sounds quite simple, but you’d be amazed at the amount of people who cut it so fine they have to beg people to let them queue jump at security, peg it through the airport and almost miss their flight.
Each airport may have varying times, but generally you are advised to get to the airport three hours before your flight time for long-haul flights, two hours before if you’re travelling within Europe, and one hour before if you’re flying within the UK and Ireland.
8. Book express check-in or fast track passes
Nobody enjoys waiting in long queues at check-in desks, especially if you’ve been up from 3am and have children using the terminal as an adventure playground. But you can take the express check-in option. Some airports now have express check-in kiosks which you can operate yourself by following simple on-screen instructions.
Other airports have fast track tickets you can buy for as little as £4 per person, which puts you in the fast lane through check-in and security.
9. Pre-book your seats
Whether you’re travelling as a family, in a big group or as a couple chances are you’ll want to sit together – or may want to sit very far apart. Check if you can pre-book your seats with your package. This service usually becomes available 12 weeks before you travel.
If you haven’t got this service included in your holiday package, it is well worth paying for unless you’re willing to queue at the gate in the airport in order to be the first person on the plane, and get the best pick of the seats.
10. Buy snacks before you travel
Airport prices aren’t getting any cheaper, and if you or the kids are going to want a snack or two on the plane you should buy these before you get to the airport and put them in your hand luggage. Paying 5 Euros for a can of pop and a packet of crisps can test the most hardy of travellers.
You can take fruit, vegetables and solid food in your hand luggage, but foods in sauces or with a high liquid content are prohibited.
11. Take that jewellery off
When going through security you have to remove watches, jewellery, loose change and belts.
Yet it still comes as a surprise to many when they get sent back through the body scanner.
So that you don’t have to stand there and remove the items once you get to the front of the queue, leave these in your hand luggage until you’re through security. And be prepared to remove your shoes too if asked.
12. Pick the left-hand security lane
This is a sneaky tip … more people are right-handed, with the impulse to turn right. So pick the left-hand security lanes where there are likely to be shorter queues.
13. If you fear turbulence …
Apparently factors that cause turbulence usually occur in the afternoon, so if you get sick easily or you’re scared of turbulence opt for a morning flight.
14. Pre-order your baby milk
Travelling with a young baby is stressful enough without worrying whether you have bought enough baby milk and if it is taking up your valuable luggage allowance.
Boots has created a click and collect service, just like the toiletries one mentioned above, meaning you can pre-order and purchase your baby milk (and any other items) in advance, and have them delivered to your chosen airport store.
15. Sign up to a VIP Airport Lounge
You don’t have to be a frequent flyer to get away from the crowds and live it up in the VIP lounge where you can enjoy free drinks and snacks. Most airports have lounges and you can pay for access in advance.
Some airports’ VIP lounges can be pre-booked for £21 per person and children up to 23 months old can enter for free.