Tip 1: Know your airline
Before coming to the airport check which airline company you are flying with. (You would be surprised that a lot of people don’t know what airline they are flying with!) It doesn’t help if you only know the destination because there are multiple flights flying daily to the most popular destinations. It is also good to check if the flight is a codeshare flight with another airline. Code sharing means that for example the ticket is bought from American Airlines but the flight is operated by Finnair. In this case the planes and the staff will be Finnair’s. It is also very important to know your operating airline at the airport because in most cases you need to choose the right airline from the check-in machine. In the previous example case the right choice for the self-service machine would be Finnair’s check-in programme.
And before arriving at the airport it is good to check which terminal your airline is using. It will save you a lot of time!
Tip 2: Self-service check-in is here
Nowadays check in is mostly done self-service. If you haven’t done the check-in online, prepare to do it with a self-service machine. Low cost airlines have forced also other airlines to lower their fares and one efficient way is to cut costs from the number of check-in staff. But luckily self-service machines are nothing to be afraid of. You can’t do anything irreversible!
Tip 3: Security control – which one to choose?
Usually all security controls lead you to the gate area and it doesn’t matter which security control you choose. But don’t choose the priority security line unless you are sure you have a business ticket or you are holding a member card for some airline. The other special security line might be for passengers with special needs such as passengers with wheelchairs. When you carefully choose your line it will save not only your nerves but also your time.
Tip 4: Prepare your bags for security control
Remember to remove all items containing liquids from your baggage. The term “liquid” is used at the airport for all items that can be spread over a bread. A lipstick for instance is a liquid item. It will save a lot of time if you prepare all of them to a 1L plastic bag in advance. If the security finds any liquid items in the bag, the bag will be scanned again and it will slow down the whole security control.
Tip 5: Following others is not always the best option
Always make sure you know where you are heading to. Don’t just go to a line because everybody else is standing in that line. (This is very Finnish!) You might end up to a check-in counter instead of a security control for instance. If you are picking up your bags, read the signs where to pick them from and don’t only follow the others. The other passengers might be transfer passengers and heading to their next gate.
Tip 6: Don’t leave your baggage unattended
One of the most important rules at the airport is not to leave your bags unattended. The airport staff have an order to inform the security and even police for any bag that has left unattended. It will also be taken very seriously and might lead to further interrogations. There are also thieves at the airport as in every other place. So keep your baggage close!
Tip 7: Be on time at the gate
This is not a joke – be on time at the gate. Too many passengers arrive at the gate too late. From my own experience as a gate agent I noticed that I only had 1 out of every 10 flights without any missing passengers.
Tip 8: Tax free liquids – be careful
Think twice before purchasing tax free liquids especially if you are a transfer passenger. Say, if you are travelling from Bangkok to Stockholm via Helsinki you will face a security control again in Helsinki. If you have bought some nice liquor from Bangkok and you don’t have it in closed tax free bag you either have to leave it to the security control or check it in separately. So make sure especially if you have transfer flights that all the liquid items bought at the airport stay in the closed tax free plastic bag.
Step 9: Bomb-talk – leave at home
Don’t make jokes about bombs at the airport or to the airport staff. There is a reason why all the dangerous goods are shown at the self-service kiosks in every airline programme. Joking might be considered as a threat and could get you banned from flying.
Step 10: Better to be early
Unfortunately, as simple as it sounds, too many passengers arrive at the airport too late. Arriving one hour before departure is not early enough. Some airlines close their check-in 45 minutes before departure. The queues to the security control might take a long time, especially during rush hour. Let alone if you need to pass border control. It’s not a joke to arrive two hours before departure, it assures that you will make it to your flight.
With these tips you have taken into account all the important things at the airport! Have a pleasant flight!
Bonus tip: Remember to check that your passport is valid!