If you’ve missed an international flight recently, you’re not alone. Making sure you reach that essential departure lounge on time has got a whole lot harder in the last 2 years – and the potential pitfalls just keep mounting up. Take our tips with you next time your head overseas, and up your chances that you won’t miss a flight!
Map your route
Airport layouts change with increasing frequency. Even if you think you know your international departure halls well, check out the plans online before you leave home. Choose online check-in as well (where this is an option) so that you know ahead of time the number of your departure gate. Then, from the comfort of your home, and without any need to rush, mark out the route you’ll take once you’re inside the airport.
There is no guarantee, any more, that you will have just one security screening to navigate. With increasing frequency, passengers are having their bags and belongings screened at the door to the airport, prior to going through customs, and again as they enter their boarding lounge. And there is often a queue at each of these points. Allow more time for this than you could ever dream you’ll need!
Budget travel blues
Travelling on a budget airline? Don’t underestimate the sheer distance you’ll need to walk to reach your boarding lounge. Budget airlines inevitably depart from the gates that are farthest from check-in counters (you may find yourself walking a kilometre or more to reach them). And once you’re at the lounge, you may well have to catch a bus across the tarmac to reach your plane. Don’t underestimate the extra time this all takes.
Requesting assistance? Be warned!
If you’re disabled and require assistance to board and disembark, it pays to ensure you have plenty of time time up your sleeve when you reach your destination. While it’s tempting to think you will be first on and first off your aircraft, the opposite can often be the case. Because of this, if you’re meeting a connecting flight or some other public transport once at your destination, you may find the hold up causes you miss it!
Last minute changes
You’ve done it – you’ve navigated the departure hall, check-in, and security, and you’re at your boarding lounge in plenty of time. But that’s no reason to be complacent! Even at this late stage it is still completely possible that your boarding lounge will be changed. In a silent airport (one in which announcements are not made over a public address system) you may not be alerted to this unless you are keeping your eyes on the departure board. And when you do realise a change is being made, it often involves a very long walk to the new gate!
Dozing – set your alarm!
International travel is exhausting, especially if you’re flying on budget airlines with connections that necessitate long waits in the airport. If you decide you absolutely have to take a short nap, set your alarm to wake you in plenty of time. It’s all too easy to fall into a deep sleep and miss the boarding call!
Time to re-set!
Don’t rely on your device to adjust itself to a new time zone – and remember that your wrist watch is probably going to require a helping had to do the same. Make the necessary changes before you leave the plane because once you hit the airport, meeting your next connection is going to depend on it!