13 hacks to make it through the airport quickly, cheaply, sanely
You can breeze through the airport with these time-saving, money-saving tricks
Checking in bags costs you time and money - it can easily add €70 to the price of a return flight to Spain at the height of summer.
There is a service offered by Dublin Airport to the Beckhams, Beyoncé and other folk with loads of cash that makes the normally tedious and stress-filled journey from the doors of the airport to the doors of the plane an almost joyous experience.
Once you’ve paid your money – or become Beyoncé – you just rock up at the “private terminal” situated close to the real terminals. You had someone – someone in authority, not some random stranger – your luggage and your passport before being shown to a massive private suite with leather sofas, flat screen tellies, runway views, food and all the booze you could possibly drink.
Then, literally seconds before your plane takes off, someone comes to get you. They hand you back your passport and your luggage tags and take you to your own private security screening area after which you are whisked through a doorway onto the runway where a brand new Merc or Beamer waits to drive you to the steps of the plane on which the front row seats are waiting for you
It takes all the hassle out of the airport experience and is the main reason why you have never seen a top celebrity – or even a pretty average professional footballer or someone who was in Boyzone – in the airport proper.
At a cost of €225 per person per flight, such a service may not for the likes of us mere mortals, but are there other – less costly – ways you can take de-stress the start of your journey and turn yourself into some class of Airport Ninja, able to ghost through the complex faster and cheaper than everyone else?
Yes, is the short answer.
1. If you must drive to the airport, something that will become optional once the unicorn-hair fuelled metro line promised by the Government is rolled out in 2225, then make sure you are not ripped off when parking. Always book your spot online and well in advance. If you do, the daily rate for the short term car park is just over 30. If you don’t you’ll pay 40 a day.
2. Dublin Airport doesn’t exactly keep its fast track access pass secret but it could hardly be accused of shouting about it from the shiny T2 rooftop, probably because it doesn’t want everyone to start using it. It is brilliant. For as little as 6.50, you can buy a pass which allows you avoid the worst of the security queues. You simply wave the piece of paper at anyone who asks and sail through the channel normally reserved for the well-heeled folk flying first and business class. Even at quiet times, it can shave 20 minutes off your waiting time. When it’s busy in the airport the time saved can be a whole lot more. It also dramatically reduces the stress levels while boosting the smug levels to max.
3. Think about the clothes you’re wearing. Don’t just dress for comfort, dress for speed. 18-hole Dr Marten boots are a pain to get on and off, and walking through the security scanners festooned with jewellery is asking for trouble. Oh and don’t wait until the last possible moment to take off your belt, watch, jacket and shoes. Everyone behind you is glaring.
4. If you have a coat or bag, put your phone, watch, wallet, keys, money, jewellery and all the other loose bits into it, before sending it through the scanners as a single unit. That way you are a whole lot less likely to leave something behind. And you won’t feel quite so stressed when you get through to the other side.
5. As you approach all queues, scan them for children, people who look like they are experiencing all the delights of airport security for the very first time and hen parties from Bournemouth. They will slow you down. Solitary travellers in business attire with glum looks on their faces are your people here.
6. Whatever queue you end up in, don’t be panicking. Seeing people drenched in sweat struggling to get their shoes and belts back on simultaneously once they have cleared the screening hurdle is a common site. Relax. Take a few deep breaths and disassemble and reassemble yourself at your leisure. You’ll leave things behind if you’re rushing.
7. Work out how long it is going to take you to get from the duty free shops to your gate. And then allow yourself enough time to get there. Airport Ninjas do not spend ages mindlessly trying on random perfumes until minutes before their plane is due to take off, leaving themselves no choice but to sprint like Ussain Bolt up miles of chrome enhanced corridors to make their flight.
8. Don’t buy anything. Airports are very skilled at parting us from our cash. And we make it so easy for them. We are in good form – we’re heading on our holliers after all – and we have a few bob in our pockets and happen to be really, really bored. On virtually every level we are ripe for the picking. So before you buy that cologne, those sunglasses, the ridiculous shorts, the gizmo or the outsized bottle of Vodka, ask yourself two questions: Do you really need it? Is it good value for money. The answer is almost always going to be no.
9. Always pack snacks. The restaurants in airports are never good value for money and rarely have good food. We spend money in them because we are bored and slightly hungry. Go into M&S before you travel, buy yourself some nice things – not liquidy things, obviously – and stick them in your carry-on. Then, if you find yourself weak with the hunger in the airport you will be good to go. And if you can make it through the couple of hours in the airport you will have something nice to eat on the plane.
10. Checking in bags costs you time and money - it can easily add €70 to the price of a return flight to Spain at the height of summer . And waiting for bags at the other side can see you falling well behind in the taxi or car hire queue. But if you must check in bags, then make sure you position yourself correctly at the carousel. Right at the point where the bags first appear is best. As long as you are reasonably fit and have sharp elbows, you should be grand in the scrum.
11. Always assume your airline will lose your luggage. They probably won’t, but keep underwear and a t-shirt, important medicines and a toothbrush in your hand luggage, just in case. Make sure you stick your phone number and your address somewhere inside your check-in bag so if it does go missing, it will be easier for whoever has found it to find you. Take a photo of your case in case you need to show it to someone somewhere whose job it is to handle lost bags. They won’t really care, but it will save you the bother of having to describe your black suitcase in a way that makes it stand out from other identical black suitcases.
12. On that note, don’t buy black, grey or navy luggage. Everyone else has the same case. That makes it harder to spot your luggage on the carousel. If you already have black, grey or navy luggage – and let’s be honest, you do – tie a coloured ribbon to the handle.
13. Don’t overpack. A family of four can go camping for two weeks with just carry-on luggage. The trick to good packing is ruthlessness. Lay everything you want to bring out on your bed. Only pack half of it. Rolling things rather than folding them is the way to go. Pack fewer shoes. Be ruthless. Always ruthless.