Imagine yourself boarding an airplane thinking, you’ll be home soon. You’re waiting for the pretzels to arrive and then you’re asked to leave the flight because the airline needs your seat. That’s what happened to a United Airlines customer and it ended in a forcible removal, a social media storm, and passengers reporting that the screams still haunt them.
Check-in and airports can be stressful at the best of times. But, does it have to be that way? Read on to learn 10 ways to avoid stress at the airport check-in.
Plan a Pleasant Visit to the Airport
If you consider check-in at the airport as an unavoidable evil of modern life, the chances are you won’t have a great experience. It is possible to have a pleasant airport experience but you have to plan for it. Like many things, proper preparation can make all the difference.
Make sure you have plenty of time. Having to rush because you are worried about missing deadlines is a perfect formula for disaster. It results in poor decision making and stress.
Give yourself two hours for internal flights and a full three hours for international flights. Think of the time you have at the airport as an opportunity for a snack, to read, or even people watch.
Know the Airport
Most airport websites publish information about the airport. Spend a little time preparing as if you are visiting the airport as a destination. Get a feel for the geography of the airport so you know where you’ll be going.
Get a feel for your journey through the airport. Understand how you’ll get from the carpark to the check-in area and beyond. For example, work out whether you will have a long journey before or after passing through security.
Pick out suitable restaurants and lounges. In some airports it may be better to rest or eat before you pass through security. In most, it’s best to complete all those procedures that can have delays early and use the time before boarding to relax.
Avoid Baggage Surprises
Frequent airplane travelers are used to seeing stressed out customers arguing with airline staff about their baggage. You can understand the anxiety they feel when they discover an unexpected charge or that they can’t take a bag into the cabin with them. There is no need for this.
Fully research the airline baggage rules and make sure you know any charges you will incur. If possible avoid having to check in baggage at all by following the airline cabin baggage rules. Don’t assume they’ll be lenient so measure and weigh baggage before the trip.
Avoid the Airport Check-In Hassel
If it is possible, complete the airline’s check-in procedures online. This means you won’t have to stand in line and complete this tedious process at the airport. You will be issued with a boarding pass which you can either print out or have on your smartphone.
This is a stress-free task for you to do at home or in the office. It saves time at the airport so you can quickly get on with relaxing with a good book and a pre-flight drink. It gives give you the opportunity to choose a favorite seat on the plane.
If you are not able to check-in online, choose to check-in at the airport using a kiosk. Lots of people don’t feel comfortable using them and so stand in line to talk to a human being. Using a check-in kiosk is not difficult and once you’ve tried it you’ll enjoy the shorter lines forevermore.
Complete Security like a Pro
Seasoned travelers know the rules and procedures and sale through airport security. If you don’t know the rules, do some research before your trip. You can waste a lot of time in airport security having to deal with simple errors like bringing the wrong sized shampoo or forgetting to remove that handy knife from your bunch keys.
Be ready for the security gate and have your travel documents to hand. As you near the security check area, remove belts, shoes and your jacket. Wear easy to slip on and off shoes to make this so much easier than complicated laces and buckles.
Put your belongings in baskets and be ready to step forward to the metal detectors. Think about whether you have some small change in your pocket or a watch you need to remove before the security people need to ask. Get it ready to place in the tray.
Airport Chill Tips
The key to chilling at the airport is to manage time well. Give yourself time to deal with the unexpected and reduce the unexpected by preparing well. Even if you don’t have access to VIP facilities you can use the time to relax by using the airport facilities.
If you are traveling with others, use the time to chat, prepare for a meeting or start holiday socializing early. If you’re traveling alone, catch up on work, do some reading or enjoy a podcast.
Take a little time to have a leisurely meal. Even a coffee and a muffin in the airport is better savored and lingered over than any on flight meal. Select a sandwich to take on board to ease the journey and supplement the tiny packet of pretzels.
Find a place to sit that gives you a good view of the information boards, access to the bathroom and a comfortable seat. Make sure you know where you are in relation to the boarding gate in case you need to make a dash.
Practice Travel Wellbeing
Wellbeing seems to be the buzzword in every workplace and school. It’s just as applicable in the airport. Reduce your stress levels by trying a little mindfulness activity.
Start by making sure all your belongings are secure. You don’t want to find that they’ve disappeared while you are floating away in a relaxing meditation. Sit upright and relax.
Breath gently through your nose. Be conscious of your breathing by noticing how the temperature of your in and out breaths differs. After a few minutes, work your way from feet to head, slightly tensing and then relaxing each part of your body.
Time to Fly
Once it’s time to board and fly you will be in a great frame of mind. You’re ready for your journey, refreshed by a positive airport experience. Have a great airport check-in and flight!