The summer holidays are in full swing and as we approach the tail-end of July and August, you and the kids may well be flocking to your nearest airport to head abroad for a week or two.
ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) estimates that 2 million UK travellers will head overseas on the last weekend of July, when the state schools finally close. A very believable figure if you take into account that Gatwick alone expects a peak of 508,000 people to depart from the airport between Friday 25 and Monday 28 July, while Manchester and Stansted are also expecting extremely high numbers of passengers to depart from their terminals during these dates. Unfortunately, busy weekends mean long queues, high workloads and struggling staff attempting to deal with irate passeng ers. In addition, baggage claim and customs can experience delays thanks to the sheer number of passengers outweighing the number of staff available.
What can you do to avoid long queues and delays before jetting off onto your beach jaunt?
To save time, you should always check-in to their flight online before reaching the airport. Queuing in line waiting for the next free member of staff so you can present your flight details and passport is no longer the only option available; you can simply bypass physical check-in by following the online check-in process set by your chosen airline and printing a boarding pass. Depending on the airline, you may also be able to just show an email or a text message confirmation with you, you partner and your children's boarding pass details to a baggage drop-off attendant who will be able to print a physical version of the pass.
If you're dropping off baggage, weigh all your suitcases before you leave for the airport. If either you, your partner or your children's suitcases are over the baggage weight limit for your airline, it's going to be frustrating but also very embarrassing for you and the passengers queuing behind you if you have to remove items of luggage to adhere to a limit. If you're not dropping off baggage, checking in online means you can head straight to security with no fuss. Simple, eh?
Always keep your family's boarding passes and passports to hand when going through security. A lot of time is wasted by people searching through their hand luggage for identification despite knowing full well it is standard procedure to show ID to airport security.
You should also make a mental note of all the metal objects your family may have to remove to get past security - belts, shoes, earrings, necklaces, gadgets and more. Preparing to remove these items before reaching the front of the queue means getting through security can be a very smooth process.
All travellers flying in or out of the UK will also need to prove their electronic devices - smartphones, tablets, laptops, MP3 players, handheld video game consoles and more - have a sufficient amount of charge to be switched on. These new measures, introduced recently by the Department for Transport, mean you should ensure all of your family's devices are fully charged before reaching the airport to avoid the risk of missing your flight or having your device confiscated.
It is an unfortunate fact that flights can get delayed, baggage can be lost or routed on the wrong flight and holidays sometimes need to be cancelled for all sorts of legitimate reasons. And that's all before the holiday starts. Once abroad, there's also the potential for medical emergencies and accidents. That's why it makes sense to take out travel insurance becuase, so you won't be impact you financially.
At Columbus we offer a range of cover so you can tailor your policy to suit your requirements, with, for example, a choice of baggage cover from £1,000 to £2,500 and cancellation cover from £1,000 to £5,000. And sometimes people forget that all the benefits are provided on a per person basis.
These simple tricks should hopefully make the trip from front door to plane a seamless experience. However with so many people all heading on their summer holidays, it's worth preparing your family for a few long waits and delays - just don't completely run down the charge on your smartphone!