6 tips to avoid the airport queues this summer

Anyone who has boarded a flight recently understands what a nightmare the airport can be at the moment. Two-in-three airports in Europe are experiencing flight delays along with extensive security and check-in queues. Wait times at airports have increased by a third, with people now recommended to arrive three hours early to tackle check-in and security, compared to the previously recommended two hours. Even when arriving early, many passengers only just make it in time for boarding. 

While there’s not much you can do to improve the situation in airports, there are steps you can take to help ease your own stress when getting through airport queues. To help out, an agent at travel agency, eShores, has shared their best advice with me, for making the journey through the airport as painless as possible. 

Leeds Bradford Airport exterior main entrance

This blog post contains some affiliate links. 

1. Avoid checking in big bags

We understand it’s not always possible to cut down on your luggage. However, a lot of people overpack for a trip and end up wearing only half of what they take. If this sounds familiar, consider whether you could cut down your baggage to a carry-on. You can buy carry-on bags that match the exact maximum requirements for taking onto the plane. This means you can ensure you’re getting the most space possible for your essentials, while also cutting out the baggage check-in queues and minimising stress at the airport. It also means there’s no waiting around for your luggage to arrive on the belts at the other side.

I always travel with my Antler hard shell cabin suitcase and often recommend this range as a really great quality, hard-wearing investment piece of luggage.

2. Research options to fast-tract security at your local airport 

Fast track is the quickest way to cut down queues at the airport, giving you priority over other passengers. Fast-track is as cheap as £5 at some airports, including my local Leeds Bradford airport, and means you can pass by the check-in, security, and flight boarding queues without any stress. Double check the options with your airline and be sure to book in advance. Fast track tickets are limited and often cannot be purchased within 24 hours of the flight.

If you know you have a fast-track ticket, make sure you communicate with multiple staff members to ensure you’re getting what you paid for. 

To book fast track visit the airport website. Here’s a link to book Leeds Bradford Airport fast track for £5pp.

3. Try a twilight check-in

Some airports in the UK offer a twilight check-in option which means if you’re close to the airport the night before you fly, you can check in your luggage early. If you have an early morning flight, many twilight check-in options allow you up to 24 hours before your flight to check in your luggage in advance. If you live close to the airport or are staying in a hotel on-site, this is definitely worth considering. While it may mean two airport trips, being free of luggage (and check-in queues) on the day of your flight is more than worth it.  

4. Sort out your liquids before reaching security

Remember the rules about taking liquids in your carry-on. Any liquids you take with in hand luggage will need to be travel-sized (100ml) or smaller and placed in a transparent bag separately on the tray as you pass through security. Make sure you have liquids organised and easily accessible, so you’re not left scrambling for them when you reach the front of the queue.  

Also make sure all your liquids are under 100ml and placed in a small, clear, plastic bag. You don’t need to wait to get one at security. I re-use my own zippable clear bag when flying, which is similar to this one. 

Travelista Tip: You can save even more time by buying your full-sized liquids and liquid toiletries, such as suncream or skincare, after you’ve passed through the security queue. As items sold in shops after security have already been through the airport’s own security checks, they are all fine to take with you onto the plane. Some shops, such as Boots, even allow you to place an online order to pick up in the store in the terminal on the day you travel. This means you cut down the stress of taking liquids through security and simply collect them before your flight. 

5. Get all your documentation ready to go

One of the main factors that slows down queues in airports is people being unprepared for security. Ensure you pass through security checks smoothly by preparing everything you need ahead of time. If you’re flying to a country that requires a negative COVID test to enter, always have your paperwork to hand. The same applies to your passport and travel documents – place them in a pocket in your bag so you can reach them quickly and easily, without having to dig through the rest of your luggage. 

6. Try to fly from smaller airports when possible

Depending on where you’re travelling to, there may be a much smaller airport that you can choose to fly from. Naturally, the smaller, lesser used airports will have fewer people flying, so fewer people queuing. When you’re booking your holiday, don’t just look at the biggest airports in your vicinity; instead, look at your options from smaller, local airports. It could save you hours of queuing on the day. 

Read more of my airport posts

Sometimes airport queues simply can’t be avoided. However, being organised, exploring fast-track options and considering alternative airports are all ways you can cut down on the chaos and begin your holiday stress-free.  

What did you think of my tips to avoid the airport queues? If you found this post helpful or have extra tips to share, please leave a comment in the box below.  Jess x

Cover photo by Photo by Oskar Kadaksoo on Unsplash

Jessica Ruth Gibson is the Founder and Editor of Travelista and an award-winning travel content creator of 10 years. She lives in York, UK with her son and has travelled to over 50 countries; her favourites being Italy, Canada and Vietnam.

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