Flying can be a stressful experience at the best of times, but that can escalate rapidly if you happen to be flying during the school holidays. As schools in the UK have just finished for the summer, here are some of my tips to ensure the start of your holiday is as stress-free as can be.
- Reserve your seats in advance
It may come as no surprise that the majority of families would like to sit together when flying, regardless of whether the flight lasts for an hour-and-a-half or nine-hours. Unfortunately the vast bulk of airlines will no longer pre-seat families together unless you are flying with young children… therefore it can be worth paying to select your seat in advance. If you’re a frequent flyer member, you might be able to select your entire groups seats for free.
- Check-in online
The majority of customers now check-in advance of arriving at the airport via online or mobile check-in. It’s a great tool which allows you to indicate the number of bags you will taking, enter any advanced passenger information (APIS) and to print or download your boarding passes. It will save you a lot of time at the airport, allowing you to head straight to bag-drop. Some airlines offer a twilight check-in service. Use it! You’ll be glad you did.
- Check your luggage
It always pains me when customers place their bags on the belt at the airport only to find it’s overweight which often results in a very difficult conversation with the agent. Heavy or excess-bag charges aren’t cheap… especially when you’re hit with them at the airport. If you know you want to take an additional suitcase with you, purchase this online in advance to save some money. Additionally, it’s worth investing in some good-old luggage scales just so you can check the weight before leaving home. Don’t bother using your bathroom or kitchen scales.
- What about my hand baggage?
As flights are nearly always at full capacity during the summer season, airlines strictly enforce their hand-baggage policies. Make sure you fully understand the airlines’ hand baggage allowance before you fly. That way you shouldn’t encounter any difficult situations at the airport. Some airlines might pro-actively ask if you want to check your hand baggage into the hold either at check-in or at the gate. My advice, if you don’t need it – then check it in! Not only will it save you the kerfuffle of finding somewhere to stow it on the aircraft; but it also helps the gate teams and cabin crew to get you away as quickly and as safely as possible. There is nothing worse than your flight being delayed because hand-baggage is having to be offloaded.
- Bring snacks for the flight
Customers young and old like to have snack on the flight and I always think it’s a good idea to take some crisps and sweets with you. Not only are they great for a little bite to eat in-between meal times, but they are a good thing to take on-the-road and even to munch in your hotel room if you’re feeling a little peckish. You could always give some sweets to the cabin crew too!
- Reading material is great for passing the time
Whether you are waiting at the gate or want to pass some time in the air, I always like to take some sort of reading material with me in paper or electronic form. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a puzzle book too!
- Be patient
Airlines want to get everyone away safely and on-time, but due to weather and factors it’s not always possible. Just like going to a theme-park, you will endure queues at the airport… but just have a little bit of patience.
- Sit back and relax
Last but certainly not least, try to sit back, relax and have fun. Enjoy your holiday before returning and getting swept up in all the Christmas fever. Yes, Mince Pies are already in the supermarket shelves…