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How To Avoid Airport Holiday Stress

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The worst part of holiday travel is the time we are forced to spend at the airport prior to jetting off to the sun. With a little bit of forward planning, however, there are ways of minimising stress and avoiding the crowds, even if there is a delay in our departure.
One suggestion is to investigate the possibilities of flying from local airports rather than the major ones, as these tend to offer more convenient and cheaper parking facilities, shorter check-in times and fewer queues. As the airports are smaller, it isn’t usually necessary to trek for miles from security check-in to your departure gate; and luggage is off-loaded more quickly on the return journey. If you live in a city near a major airport, check out the feasibility of using another airport - ie. City airport or Southampton (80 minutes by train from Waterloo) instead of Luton, Stanstead, Gatwick or Heathrow.
The Daily Telegraph’s travel correspondence points out that if you are booked on a long-haul flight and live in the sticks, you’ll probably have to change planes anyway, so instead of flying via Gatwick or Heathrow, consider booking with KLM. This airline has a good network from small British airports to Schiphol – one of Europe’s most efficient and best-run airports.
Remember that airports are generally less congested between 11 am and 4 pm on weekdays, and if you book to fly at these times you may find the fares are more economical too.
If leaving your car at the airport, check out the region airports and travel agencies websites for the special offers within a week or so of your departure. There are all sorts of offers available from reduced rates, valet parking and collection/delivery services, which can dispense with the need to wait for a transfer buses, or lug your heavy suitcases about between connections.
Since most airlines suggest you check-in on-line and print out your own boarding passes for both the outgoing and return journey, queuing to check in has become a thing of the past. If you need to check in your luggage, make sure you arrive in plenty of time but even this can be eliminated if you travel with hand luggage only.
Try to avoid the hold-ups at security check-in by paying the fee – although even this is free if you book valet parking through the airport website at Manchester Airport. Check with the relevant airport for details.
Make sure cabin luggage complies with the size restrictions, which can vary from airline to airline, and the latest security regulations over the number of bags you are allowed. Handbags often count as one piece of luggage and may need to be packed inside the cabin bag.
Pack so that wet-wipes, make up and toiletries are easily accessible in case of flight delays, so that you can freshen up. Keep a clean top/shirt at the top of the bag in case of spillages, accidents, etc.
Book access to an executive lounge in advance at a price around £20 per person, so that you can wait in comfort with free soft drinks, toilet facilities, no crowds and no children.
Alternatively, allow time for a treat when you get through security, i.e. a Gaelic coffee at Shannon, or champagne and smoked salmon at Stanstead – it’s the perfect way to start the holiday.
With so many restrictions governing air travel these days, it pays to plan well in advance and minimise the risk of spoiling your holiday before it gets started. Also make sure that you are fully covered by your insurance policy for flight delays and cancellations (see How To Cope With Ash-Cloud Flight Cancellations and How To Avoid Stress During Air Travel).
Consider a European or cruise holiday with no flights involved
Ensure that the size of your cabin baggage complies with airline regulations or you may be dumping some of your belongings at the airport before they left you fly.


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