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How to win against long passenger queues in airports

We’ve all been there. Testing the limits of patience and calmness seem to be common when it comes to falling in line before a flight. And it doesn’t help that the number of flyers continues to rise. The World Bank’s records show that in 2010, there were 2.628 billion airline passengers, however by 2014 it rose to 3.214 billion.

So what do you do to expedite the process?

Keep your luggage light. Limit yourself to carry-on baggage whenever and wherever possible, so you can avoid long check-in lines.

Avoid items that may be flagged by scanners. There are specifications when bringing items like liquids, as detailed by agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration. Of course, you wouldn’t want to have security personnel ask to pry open your carry-on luggage just to have you remove an item that they saw on the scanners. Such an unnecessary delay can cost you up to 15-minutes, which can be vital in airports.

Look at purchasing exclusive programs. In the US, there are passenger programs like Global Entry and PreCheck which will allow you to go through security faster. Just be prepared to shell out for subscription fees.

Observe the queues. See if the people in one line have multiple bags or have kids with them. You don’t want to be behind people who seem to have packed for a one-month vacation or have an endless stream of bags to check-in.

It’s important to make it clear that we aren’t just talking about foot traffic here either. Vehicle queues are just as disconcerting. It’s upsetting to drive to the airport and finding out that you have to wait in line for a free parking slot.

Book a slot days in advance. 24 to 48 hours before the flight is a safe window so you won’t have to queue to get a parking slot come the big day.

Thoroughly explore your available options. Enquire about each option fully so you’ll have a better idea of what will work for you, or the best alternatives to get should the need arise.

For example, in London’s Gatwick Airport, there’s short stay parking in an area which, according to Parking4Less, is sandwiched between the two terminals of the airport. You’re smack bang in the middle of the facility so it’s really convenient and can save a lot of time.

As another example, The Independent Traveler also mentions off-airport lots which are generally less expensive. Obviously you’ll need to take transfers to the airport terminals so you have to factor that in to your travel time.

If you’re like other regular passengers, you’ll just drive to the airport and pray that there’s a parking slot immediately available at the closest parking area you can find. If there isn’t one, well, say hello to the queues again and get in line.

Don’t make the same mistake over and over again.

Slithering through the long lines before your flight will save you time, give you peace of mind, and avoid more stress. It’s enough to have to endure busy days at work. When you’re on your way to catch a flight to go on vacation, give yourself a break and start preparing as early as possible to eliminate any headaches you may occur when you arrive at the airport.

By Charlie Dames

Charlie Dames is a backpacker who loves to look for ways to simplify traveling as much as he can. He shares his tips and other experiences through writing both professionally, and as a personal hobby.

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