For some people who are not used to travelling the airport can be very stressful, so read my handy hints below to get your holiday off to a great start.
1. Weigh your luggage before you go!
Before you go you should make sure you weigh your luggage to ensure you are within the weight limits for the particular airline you are travelling with. You don’t want to be one of those people at the top of the queue taking clothes out of one bag and placing them in another. You will also want to avoid any excess baggage charges, as not only are these exorbitant, but usually you have to queue up at the ticket desk to pay them and then re queue to check in. This can be very stressful if you are short on time and the security queue is very long.
2. Passports, visas and all the important stuff.
Important documents like passports, drivers licence, insurance etc as these have a habit of going missing! I think it goes without saying to make sure that your passports are valid but you will also need to check the regulations of the country that you are travelling to, as some destinations require that your passport is valid for 6 months after your return date. This is becoming more and more common with some European countries applying this rule as well as the USA and many long haul destinations. If travelling to the USA make sure you have your ESTA in place, it is compulsory for everyone travelling to America now. Log on to https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
3. Check terminals, car parking, roadworks
You should check with AA road watch to ensure your planned journey is free of road works, sometimes the airport website will also have this mentioned in their news section. Check which terminal you are departing from. As a general rule, Aer Lingus and long haul flights go from Terminal 2 and most other airlines from Terminal 1 but you need to check your travel documents to be sure. Allow plenty of time if using the airport car parks, especially the long term ones as some of these are 20 minutes from the airport terminal! The DAA airport website is very useful and have many top tips, details of airlines and their terminals, plus the latest car park deals – €29 for 1 week at the moment.
4. Get to the airport early.
There are many new restaurants open in our airports now now including Diep le Shaker, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and the fantastic food market – Marquette. Depending on the time of your flight it might be an idea to go to the airport early, no need to worry about traffic, queues etc and enjoy a nice meal before you depart or enjoy the excellent duty free shops at The Loop!
There is a great initiative in Dublin Airport called the Airport Genie. It’s a fantastic service that caters for a variety of travellers. If you don’t want to queue at security you can pay €5.95 and use the fast track service, you even get a free cup of coffee! You can use an executive lounge for up to three hours (regardless of what class of ticket you have) with complimentary drinks, snacks and newspapers for only €19.95. There are also other genie services where you can book a family care attendant or chaperones if someone is travelling alone and needs help. All of these are available to book on the Dublin Airport Website, www.dublinairport.com.
5. Check in.
Where possible always check in online before hand. Even if you still need to check in a bag, it usually guarantees you a shorter queue and seats together on the aircraft. If you are travelling within Europe, you should arrive at the airport at least ninety minutes before your flight departs, irrespective of whether you have checked in online or at the airport. If you are travelling long haul this is should be increased to two hours. If travelling to the USA some airlines require you to go through emigration at Dublin or Shannon airport and therefore check in times can be as early as 3 hours before departure. Remember you will still need to go through security even if you have checked in online and in busy periods these queues can be long.
6. Security screening.
With regard to security, this seems to be where everyone’s stress levels increase. I think it goes without saying not to pack sharp implements, but even kids toy guns, razors etc should never be in your hand luggage. Ideally pack all liquids in your checked baggage also but if you need to have them in your hand luggage, make sure that there are no liquids over 100ml, as these will be confiscated. Some things are evidently liquid, like drinks and perfume, others are less obvious, like gels, pastes, lotions, toothpastes, hair gels, face creams, liquid cosmetics, lip-gloss, deodorants and shaving foam. Any liquids at all even below the 100ml limit should be placed in a clear plastic bag and separated from your bag on the trays provided.
Medication is allowed but you may have to demonstrate that they are for medical purposes so I would recommend a note from your doctor stating this. Likewise baby liquids, drinks are allowed but you may have to drink them to prove they are indeed what you say they are! Remember to remove outer jackets, belts, shoes, laptops from cases when you reach the passenger security screening area as this will speed things up.
7. Before you board.
When you make it through the screening area check the flight information screens, to see which gate your flight is departing from. Sometimes gates can change for operational reasons. If shopping in Duty free on the way out, make sure to use Shop and Collect system when travelling within Europe – they take care of your purchases and you don’t need to worry about the extra weight in your luggage, you simply pick them up when you return. Take advantage of the ‘honest’ airplane water stops that are scattered around the terminal. Put €1 in the box provided so you will have water when you board and stay hydrated for your journey!