From airport security, to boarding, to upgrades, airlines flight attendant and fellow drifter, Stephen Morris, shares inside tips on how to make your airport experience easier and smarter during your travels.
Are you a seasoned traveller comfortable with navigating the world with nothing more than a backpack and a tatty copy of a Rough Guide, or just an occasional short haul drifter? Most of us are pretty good at being organized and ready for our travel adventures. Passport and tickets? Check. Favorite tee shirt? Definitely. However between the front door and the chosen destination awaits the airports. Seemingly designed to confuse and stress us out with security lines that frazzle our nerves, untold amounts of very brightly lit shops to tempt our time, and those darn queues for just about everything.
Passing through airports is a necessary evil if international travel is one of your interests.Ever wondered how to make this part of your trip a little easier? Well, you don’t get a more seasoned group of travellers than airline cabin crew! Here are a few handy tricks from us on getting to your destination as smoothly as possible; who knows— you may even get that upgrade to a coveted business class seat.
- Before you head to the airport, equip yourself with the best travel apps, like TripIt – Travel Organiser to manage your trip and provide travel alerts on your phone free from the App store.
- Get to the airport early, grab a coffee and breathe deeply.
- Don’t check in luggage if your trip is any shorter than 5-6 days. Pack light and pack the necessities. If you are on a budget, pack some washing powder in your luggage in order to cut down on bringing lots of clothes with you. It’s OK if you wear the same thing twice!
- Checking luggage is bad for two reasons. First, a lot of the airlines now charge for a bag, let alone two. Second, if you’re delayed leaving the airport because you have to wait for your bag at baggage reclaim, that delay can be quite long.
- If you must check in bags, do so online. Most airlines allow you to print the boarding pass generally 24 hours in advance of your flight. Checking in online is just another way to skip a step before encountering airport security.
When you get to the security line, be organized. Cabin crew uniform is designed not only to be cheap and fire resistant, but also allows us to get through security quickly.
- Leave out clothing with lots of metallic buttons, or accessories that may cause the sensor to activate. Whilst in the queue, take the time to put your wristwatch, wallet, coins, belt and mobile phone into your hand baggage.
- Put any toiletries into an approved airport bag next to your laptop so you’re not bumbling for stuff or screened out and searched.
- Have you ever stood in line behind a woman trying to get her £500 Ferragamo boots off? Trying to be stylish on an aircraft is a serious mistake. However if you are looking to bag an upgrade, those boots may set you apart from the scruff bags behind you.
Most of us would be thrilled if we got an upgrade on an aircraft for free. It can make an uncomfortable long haul journey really pleasant. So how do you do it? Pay attention to the next couple of tips drifters:
- Firstly don’t just go and sit in business class like you’ve forgotten your seat number. Also don’t beg, whine, throw a tantrum, pretend you know the pilot, or pretend you are too ill to sit in economy. We see it everyday and frankly, it’s boring and uncreative. So…
- Board the aircraft last. Try and be the very last passenger. Cabin crew need to get the aircraft boarded quickly, so trying to haggle an upgrade with 200 other passengers behind you is time consuming for crew that are in a hurry. Also, we can’t be discreet about your request with other passengers listening in; it could be a recipe for mayhem.
- Next, dress and act the part. We are trained to take in every single passenger’s demeanor, mood, and comportment for security reasons. So, you may not need to wear your Sunday best, but smart casual is a happy medium. Nothing baggy, nothing hooded and certainly no Burger King stuffed in your mouth.Be pleasant, and courteous. Have your boarding card ready if necessary without prompt or complaint.
- Have a reason for your request. If you are a frequent flyer, a polite inquiry may just get you what you want. If not, try and pick up some candy from duty free for the crew.Believe me, in western airlines, NOBODY ever does. Worst case scenario, every crew member will know who you are by the time you hit the runway and you’ll get treated extremely well by them. Bear in mind though business class may genuinely be full and many airlines are cutting back on the amount of unofficial upgrades that happen, so if it doesn’t work for you 100% of the time don’t get too upset.
- During the flight, try and keep moving to avoid lower limb swelling, drink plenty of water and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
- Once you’ve passed security on terra firma, either follow the crew or look to see in which direction they are going. We always know the speediest route to arrivals and the exits; after all, we want to get to the bar as quickly as possible! - Stephen Morris