Beating the Queues At The Airport

Since the pandemic, airlines and airports seem to have even more excuses for what can often be seen as disorganised chaos when it comes to moving passengers efficiently round the airport.

We hope these few nuggets and tips, gained over many years of airport use (and a lot of post-pandemic trips too) will go some way to help alleviate this for you.

We have based this on our experiences in UK airports.  We know other countries don’t seem to suffer many of the same issues…

See if these tips help you

  1. Arrive in plenty of time.  Whilst an airport terminal is not the most entertaining place to spend more time than you have to, it’s a means to an end.
  2. If you are bringing hold luggage, CHECK!  With many carriers, if you are travelling early in the morning, you can check your baggage the night before.  Whilst you may not be staying at the airport, it does mean you are not restricted by the usual 2 hour max time before departure to check your bags.  We do this all the time and it makes it much easier.
  3. Of course, even easier than point 2 is, don’t bring hold luggage!!  A carry on bag is easier, involves less queueing, less humping of heavy bags and means you don’t have to queue up to check in, you can go straight to ‘security’.   Again, using Gatwick as an example, Easyjet have a brilliant self serve check-in, but even that can be busy.  The check-in desks at Faro can get very busy as they often check multiple flights in at the same time on the same bank of desks… not having hold luggage means you can bypass this altogether.  Even if you have booked hold luggage, I would strongly recommend ditching this and going with the carry on option.  It will save you time at both ends and if you check your personal login page, you will see, you really don’t need much with you!
  4. Whilst the young and trendy ones like to have everything on their phone, you often see people scrambling through the different apps to get their boarding pass, then their covid information and end up showing the check in or security people photos of their pets!!   As we still need lots of info for travel, it really is more efficient to print these off as you will need them more than once.   If you are set on using your phone then SCREENGRAB a picture of your boarding pass and covid results, then you will have them both together and you can just swipe between them.
  5. Purchase fast track security clearance.  What this does is give you a short-cut to quieter security scanners.  It usually only costs £5 and means you don’t have to queue with everyone else for security.  Recent news articles will highlight the benefits of this.  You can purchase this by searching for the name of the airport and ‘fast track security’.  You often find it added as an option with things like airport parking and it’s definitely worth checking your flight booking – if you upgraded your flight you may already have this.  Here is the link for Gatwick’s fast track system.
  6. Let’s talk about upgrades too…  Upgrading your ticket can not only get you a better seat, but can also give you a preferential queue if you are checking in hold luggage.  Those who have upgraded often get called to the aircraft first, but if your transfer from the gate to the aircraft involves a bus, remember, first in-last off, so plan where you stand!
  7. The upgrade will let you choose your seat and of course, the nearer the front, the quicker you get off!  As a seasoned traveller, I always opt for the aisle seat – it not only enables you to get up when you want, but it gives you more room in your seat.  You can also be first up when the seatbelt light goes out and you can have your case down before the person next to the window has been able to stand up, forgetting about the overhead compartment and hitting their head (!).  One tip, remember what we said about the bus… when you arrive in Faro, if you are first off the bus it can make quite a difference to the waiting time for passport checks.  You will come in at a gate and then go up a flight of stairs to an upper level walkway.  This will lead to a central set of marble stairs with an escalator to the side.  This is handy if you need it, but you’ve been sat down for nearly three hours, give the legs a stretch and take the stairs!  You will find them quicker than the escalator, which has two sections anyway and is the first choice for families with small children.  The stairs are much wider, so you can get past slower moving people.
  8. At the passport control, you will need to show your passport and your covid vaccination confirmation.  If you are not vaccinated, you will need to show your negative PCR test result.  See our article on ‘Entry Requirements’.  They will require you to lower your mask, and take off any sunglasses and hats.  Having this ready will not only help you get through quicker, but the people behind you too.
  9. If you have hold luggage, you will find the delivery of your luggage at Faro is normally very efficient and will probably be there when you get through passport control.

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