Something just about every queue has in common is that when you finally get to the front, the person before you has an interminable problem.
Most people handle this seemingly inevitable final 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.
This is exacerbated because you know that after braving the check-in queue you still have to face the security queue. It’s here that the same person, or one of their numerous clones, will be trying to smuggle their keys, small change and assorted other metal items through the security checks by distributing them in numerous deep, seemingly forgotten pockets. Consequently their numerous attempts to negotiate the metal detector are accompanied by a symphony of electronic buzzing.
Having finally mined the last piece of metal from the deep recesses of some baggy item of clothing, they then celebrate by holding up the whole queue again as they try to recover all their family heirlooms while trying to shove a laptop back in its carrying case.
So inevitably rather than some light shopping, followed by a quiet cup of coffee, or a chilled chardonnay in the lounge, you arrive at the boarding gate as a gasping, sweating, wide-eyed tangle of boarding pass and cabin baggage – more Mr Bean than James Bond.
But it needn’t 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 travelling locally or internationally.
Amongst other things it allows you to provide all the advanced passenger information required for international flights. Perhaps most importantly it allows you to check-in online and choose your seat 24 hours before departure. You can also check-groups, so if you’re travelling with your family or colleagues you can check everyone in at once. All you need is the booking reference – the six character alpha-numeric code on your booking.
Better still you can print out your boarding pass, so if you’re only travelling with hand luggage you don’t need to go near a counter at all. You simply go directly to the security queue.
If you are not able to check-in online and have a smartphone you can download the British Airways 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, is quick, simple and effective.
The check-in confirmation is sent to your mobile and is the equivalent of an electronic boarding pass.
Should you not be able to do either, there’s one final alternative to joining the dreaded queue. Use one of the remote kiosks at the airport. These touch-screen terminals take you through a simple step-by-step menu and there’s usually someone stationed at the terminal to help if you get stuck.
Of course cynics will argue that there’s little point if you have luggage to check-in because you’ll still have to stand in line. Not quite true. British Airways has dedicated baggage desks in both its international and domestic check-in areas, where checked in customers are able to drop hold baggage.
Unfortunately while technology allows you to skip the check-in queue you’ll still have to wait your turn to go through security. Although there’s not much you can do about inconsiderate fellow passengers 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 travelling 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 travelling 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 countersbeyond 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 travelling 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 travelling domestically, remember to always carry some form of photo identification.
Next time you’re traveling try it; you’ll avoid some of the stress of the check-in queue and perhaps even spread a little joy at the security check.