juliamhammond

How to avoid this summer’s air travel chaos

Post pandemic, travel’s starting to return to normal. After a couple of years of lockdowns, border closures and administrative hoops, it’s finally possible to travel more or less as we used to. Except there’s a problem: staffing. To weather the crisis, many travel businesses – accommodation, airports and airlines among them – had to lay off staff to make it through. Some of those haven’t returned and as a result, travellers across the world have faced disruption, longer than usual queues and sometimes lengthy delays. So what can you do to avoid being caught up in it?

Do your homework

Before you book with any airline, do some research. Even a quick Google search might give you a flavour of the current situation. Have they made the news for repeated flight cancellations and if so, have they implemented measures which have resolved the problems? Ditto the airport. Is it a busy hub that’s been struggling with demand, such as Heathrow or Schipol? If so, see if you have other options. Finally, try to find out if there are any strikes planned as industrial action is a possibility too.

Choose your flight time carefully

Certain times of day are busier than others. For instance, London Stansted has a night quota restriction which means it cannot operate as many flights between 11pm and 6am. It’s often very busy in those first couple of hours when the rules no longer apply, so you’d need to factor in additional time to pass through the airport. At a minimum, allow two to three hours. However, this needs to be balanced with the chance of delays, which tends to be lower earlier in the day.

Opt for hand baggage only

Depending on who you’re flying with, you might find carry-on allowances are surprisingly generous. Given that there have been some well documented cases of luggage hold ups or losses, you might find it less stressful to keep your bags with you. Check airline policies carefully as making sure you measure up is crucial. With some low-cost carriers, such as Ryanair, you might find it’s more cost effective to pay for priority boarding where it comes with a cabin bag allowance than to pay for hold luggage separately.

Be organised for security

Security procedures concerning liquids are something we’ve been saddled with for many years, so check what you’re carrying in your hand luggage carefully. Pack everything that has to come out into an easily accessible outside pocket. Wear slip on shoes if you’re travelling to places such as the USA which require most passengers to remove them. Consider purchasing a fast track pass if you are concerned about time. Some airports will allow you to buy one there and then, so you can see what the queue is like before you hand over your money.

Embrace holidaying at home

As we learnt when border restrictions ruled out international travel, holidaying at home can be just as rewarding. Post COVID, I’ve explored ruined castles in Northumberland, hiked to a pretty waterfall in Shropshire, drove the Bealach na Bà in Scotland and had fun with the dog at the beach on the Isle of Wight. And you don’t even need to spend a night away from home. Be a tourist in your own city or local area – it can cost next to nothing to create a holiday vibe and best of all, you can give the airport a miss completely.

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