15 Things You’d Better Not Do at the Airport to Save Your Time and Nerves
Most trips start at the airport and there are many aspects that travelers have to take into consideration, starting from baggage drop-off and up to border control. It seems like everyone knows that you shouldn’t be late, joke about having bombs in your luggage, or drink too much alcohol during a flight. But there are other unspoken rules that aren’t as obvious, that can turn the time you have to spend at the airport into an unpleasant experience and put your whole trip at risk.
Bright Side wants to share some time-tested advice from experienced travelers and reveal what you shouldn’t do at the airport so you don’t spoil your trip right at the very beginning.
1. Arrive at the airport more than 3 hours prior to the flight.
Most airlines start check-in 2 hours prior to the scheduled departure time for their domestic flights and 2-3 hours before the departure time for their international flights. Passengers who decide to arrive much earlier will have to spend a lot of unnecessary time at the airport waiting for airline employees to start the check-in process. Well, if you’re at Changi Airport in Singapore, it’ll be easy to find something to entertain yourself with during these hours. But if you fly out of smaller cities, you’re likely to be really bored if you get there too early.
2. Keep your phone and coins in your pockets.
After checking-in, a passenger has to go through an airport security checkpoint with metal detectors. Airport employees ask passengers to put all their metal things, like coins and electronic devices, in a tray. If you don’t want to spend too much time there, just put all of your metal things in a plastic bag in advance and place them in your luggage or carry-on bag.
Many passengers also take off their jewelry and put it in a tray as well. But actually, this action is useless because most metal detectors are designed to search for metals with magnetic properties. Gold and silver belong to diamagnets. Their magnetic susceptibility is extremely small and the detector doesn’t respond to them. However, some of the detectors can still scan jewelry. In these cases, a sensitivity level is adjusted in such a way that the device doesn’t respond to a small amount of metal.
3. Inform airline staff about overweight luggage.
Before the baggage is dropped-off, all the bags and suitcases are weighed at the check-in desk. If the display shows that your bag is too heavy, but an airline employee stays silent, just don’t attract their attention to this fact. Sometimes airline staff may ignore a bag that is a little bit of overweight and not charge the passenger with any extra fees for that. But this never works for low-cost airlines, since they charge passengers for all additional services.
4. Leave valuable belongings in your luggage.
According to the research conducted by the Swiss informational agency, SITA, in 2019 nearly 4.5 million checked bags and suitcases get damaged or stolen every year. So to avoid unnecessary problems, it’s better to keep valuable and fragile things like laptops, cameras, money, and important documents in your carry-on bag.
5. Keep electronic devices and liquids at the bottom of your bag.
During a security check, airport staff often ask passengers to put all their liquids and electronic devices into a separate tray. And if you keep them at the bottom of your bag, you’ll have to go through all your stuff to find the things you need. It’s pretty easy to avoid this situation if you pack your luggage right:
- Put your clothes and shoes at the bottom of the bag;
- Keep your documents and money in the inner pockets of your clothes;
- Put your electronic devices (cameras, laptops, external hard drives, and power banks) and the liquids (no more than 100 ml) in a transparent bag, and place it on top of your things;
Keep your earphones and chargers in small external pockets.
6. Not keeping your medicine in your carry-on bag.
The 100 ml limit for liquids that exists for carry-on baggage doesn’t apply to medications and baby foods that a passenger may need during their flight.
In addition, passengers are entitled to carry:
- A thermometer for measuring body temperature that doesn’t contain mercury;
- A mercury thermometer packed in a container and sealed with a special seal;
- A mercury tonometer (one item per passenger) for measuring blood pressure that is packed in a special container;
- Hydrogen peroxide — no more than 100 ml of a 3% solution per passenger;
- A disposable lighter;
- Medicines with a prescription from a doctor.
7. Wrap your carry-on bag with plastic wrap.
Security officers have the right to open passengers’ hand luggage to check what is inside. And when you cover your luggage with plastic wrap, you just make a simple procedure harder for yourself and you risk spending more time going through a security check.
8. Worry about the radiation from the body scanners.
There are 2 types of airport body scanners:
- Scanners that are based on backscattering: These consist of 2 X-ray detectors and their rays don’t pass through the human body, but get reflected from each other. As a result, a specialist can see different colors on the display that show the bodily substances that differ in density. For example, the muscles on the picture will have a light color, while metals will be dark;
- Microwave scanners that look like rotating antenna booths: These use millimeter waves and create a clearer and more realistic image on the screen.
Manufacturers promise that all these scanners are safe for the passengers’ health. The power of the first one is comparable to the dose of radiation that a passenger receives during 2 minutes of a flight, and the second one can be compared to the radiation from your smartphone.
9. Argue with security officers.
The rules for the transportation of liquids are stated literally everywhere: on the websites of the airports and airlines, at the ticket offices, and even on the boarding passes themselves. However, there are passengers who still want to sneak their favorite perfume or cream into their carry-on bag, even if its volume exceeds 100 ml. But they forget that security officers can confiscate these products or not to let them get on board in the case that they refuse to give them up.
Other procedures that irritate passengers the most include a long security check, having to go through scanning frames, and the excessive pickiness of the employees. Passengers find it particularly annoying that they have to take off their belts and boots. And we can “thank” Richard Reid for that. On December 22, 2001, he tried to carry explosives in his high-heeled boots on board. Fortunately, he was caught, but since then, airports have to scan passengers’ shoes separately.
Hot-headed passengers often can’t stand the pressure and begin to openly argue with the airport staff. But getting this emotional can put an end to their trip. If a passenger refuses to go through the security check, actively intervenes in the process, or threatens security officers, the staff will have to call the police and hand the passenger over to them.
10. Not check the departure board.
The departure time and the gate number are stated on your boarding pass. But it often happens that they get changed at the last moment. And the passengers who arrive in advance usually spend a couple of hours in duty-free shops and forget to check the departure board from time to time. In this kind of situation, there is a good chance of being late for the flight. To prevent this from happening, make it a rule to check the departure board every 15–20 minutes, to see if the time and the gate have changed.
11. Try to leave the plane first at any cost.
Passengers may behave this way because they’re late for their connecting flight, they have a transfer waiting for them, or they just can’t wait to finally leave the plane after a long flight. But anyway, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll manage to push through the crowd and get off the plane first. Especially if you were sitting in the back. Instead, the passengers who behave in this way will not only spoil the mood of the others, but will still have to wait. So the best strategy would be to sit still and wait for your turn to exit.
12. Applaud after the landing.
Pilots have doubts about whether passengers are able to judge the quality of their landing. The lack of jolting during the flight isn’t a sign of a pilots’ good skills, so the applause may be undeserved. At the same time, if the pilots had to fight with a crosswind and hardly managed to land on a short landing strip, they are likely to receive bad reviews about the flight, instead of applause. And it doesn’t matter that the pilot has shown a remarkable effort to make the landing as safe as possible.
In addition, pilots suggest focusing on the fact that when the wheels touch the land, the landing still hasn’t been completed: the plane still needs to stop near the ramp. And force majeure situations can occur during this process. That’s why the crew asks passengers to not unfasten their seatbelts too soon. So when passengers start clapping, the staff gets a bit skeptical because the landing hasn’t been completed and something can still happen.
But the main argument is that the pilots simply don’t hear the passengers clapping from behind the cockpit doors.
13. Not prepare for passport control.
Here are the 5 most common airport customs questions:
- What is the purpose of your trip?
- How long do you intend to stay?
- Where will you be staying?
- What is your occupation?
- Do you have anything to declare?
Think about how you’re going to reply to these questions in advance. This way you’ll look more confident and it’ll save some time at passport control.
In addition, print out your return tickets and hotel reservations. The border officer may ask for an official confirmation of your travel plans. It’s also a good idea to write down the hotel address on a piece of paper, in case if the officer inquiries about the exact place you’ll be staying.
14. Not remove the cover from your passport before giving it to the officer.
You can usually see 2 warning signs at the passport control posts. The first is that you should never give a document in a cover to the officer, and the second one is about the responsibility for attempting to bribe an officer.
The fact is that it’s pretty convenient to hide money in the cover and it’s often used as an opportunity to give a bribe to an officer. So the employees ask you to remove the cover from the passport in order to protect themselves from any suspicion. If you do otherwise and accidentally forget the money in the cover and present the document to the officer, they may see it as an attempt to give a bribe and detain you.
Another reason is that covers often make it more difficult to read the information from the electronic chip in the passport and this slows down the process.
15. Talk too much at passport control.
One of the officers’ tasks is to track down illegal workers and immigrants. So their friendly inquiries about where you are going, what are you planning to do, and whether you have any friends or relatives in the country, are actually the attempts to determine the risks connected with your stay. So the best strategy is to not chat a lot with the officer and to answer their questions briefly and in a friendly manner. The phrase: “I’m a tourist, I’m going to stay in the country for X days, and I want to see this and that,” is perfect for most situations.
What situations would you advise we should avoid at the airport?