Given a chance, nobody would want to queue. But not too unlike death and taxes, we cannot seem to escape queues – in banks, in public offices and at airports. Most people handle this seemingly inevitable hurdle with weary resignation, but when you’re at an airport trying to check-in for a flight, what would normally just be inconvenient becomes hugely stressful.
In airports particularly, it does not help matters that after queuing at check-in you still have another queue to brave for security checks. Maybe more than one for security checks actually. There will be the metal detector check where you will have to part with your shoes, belts and jewellery albeit temporarily. You will have to contend with digging into deepest pockets for keys and the goodluck locket your daughter gave you for safe travel. Chances are, after all your effort, the electronic buzzer will still buzz as you try to pass and you’ll have to search some more for metals on your person. Only then can you move on to another queue on the other side of the detector to wait for your family heirloom in jewellery while you cumbersomely shove your laptop back into its case.
Anyway, air travel is not always what it looks like in the movies. Rather than some light duty free shopping followed by a quiet cup of coffee, or a chilled chardonnay in the lounge, you sometimes arrive at the boarding gate a gasping, sweating, wide-eyed tangle of boarding passes and cabin baggage – more Mr Bean than James Bond.
But it needn’t necessarily be this way. Mr. George Mawadri, British Airways Commercial Manager for East and Central Africa and a regular commuter on domestic and international flights says there are plenty of ways to beat the queues, avoid stress and not annoy your fellow travelers. His top tip is to check-in remotely. On the homepage of ba.com there’s a ‘manage my booking’ tab. This is the key to saving time at the airport, whether you’re traveling locally or internationally.
This nifty feature allows you to check in online and choose a seat 24 hours before departure. You can also check in groups at once. If you aren’t able to check-in online and have a smartphone you can download the British Airways Android Mobile App and check-in using your mobile. The app is specifically designed for mobile check-in and because it doesn’t do a million other things, it is quick, simple and effective. The check-in confirmation is sent to your mobile and is the equivalent of an electronic boarding pass.
Unfortunately while technology allows you to skip the check-in queue you’ll still have to wait your turn to go through security. There’s not much you can do about this but there are some ways you can speed things up when it’s your turn:
- Take your laptop out of its carry bag before you reach the head of the queue. If you’re traveling internationally do the same with the clear plastic bag containing your liquids, aerosols and gels.
- Put your mobile phone, wallet and other metal items in one of the laptop bag pockets. Then on the other side of the metal detector you won’t have to scrabble around for loose change with one hand while trying to repack all your possessions with the other.
- Have your boarding pass ready. There’s no point in putting it in the pocket of your jacket then taking off the jacket and putting it though the x-ray.
- If traveling internationally avoid wearing big heels or boots. At many airports in the UK and the US you’ll be asked to remove these.
- Once your bag has cleared the x-ray, move away before repacking it. Many airports have tables or counters beyond security check where you can repack your bag. This is just common courtesy. Repacking your bag at the machine will cause the queue to concertina and irritate the people behind you.
- If you’re traveling internationally don’t pack your passport away at the bottom of your cabin bag once you’ve cleared security. You’ll need it at immigration and again at the boarding gate. Also if traveling domestically, remember to always carry some form of photo identification.