Airport tips

Even experienced travellers can find airports stressful and confusing – especially at busy times. Knowing what to expect, so you can prepare accordingly should help ensure the check-in process goes as smoothly as possible.

Be an early bird

Try to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare. International flights usually check-in two to three hours before departure, while for domestic flights it’s often one hour beforehand. However, enhanced airport security means that checking in luggage can take much longer these days – so it’s worth getting there as early as you can. Also, check-in online if possible. These days, more than half of airlines let you do it this way, which can mean less queuing.

You can't take it all with you

Always check the airline’s luggage allowance before packing. And bear in mind that certain objects can’t be taken as hand baggage. This includes toy or replica guns, catapults, cutlery, bladed knives, darts, scissors, tweezers, knitting needles, sports bats, cues and hypodermic syringes (unless supported by medical evidence).

There are a number of items that must not be taken on board an aircraft, either as hand luggage or placed in the hold. These include: infectious substances, instruments containing magnets or mercury, non-safety matches, firelighters, lighter fuel, poisons, arsenic, cyanide, weedkiller, creosote, gas cylinders, fireworks, paints, thinners, acids, corrosives, alkalis, caustic soda and radioactive materials.

Security issues

If your banned items are confiscated by security you won’t be compensated and, with certain exceptions, they won’t be returned. Also, don’t forget:

  • Keep baggage with you at all times and alert airport staff to unattended items. Never look after baggage belonging to other people or carry anything onto the aircraft for someone else
  • Put destination details on luggage labels and attach them securely to your luggage
  • Personalise luggage with stickers or coloured straps, to minimise the risk of bag mix-ups
  • In the departure lounge, check screens regularly for details of boarding gates and times, as information isn’t always announced on loudspeakers
  • For further information about airport security, visit the government's website about travel abroad
  • Remember, with Saga Travel Insurance if your flight is cancelled, for example because the airline goes out of business or severe weather, you will be covered for up to £10,000.

‘Checked–in’ or ‘hold’ luggage

The standard free baggage allowance is normally either 15kg or 20kg, although additional excess baggage can be paid for. Most airlines won’t accept bags or suitcases weighing more than 30kg. The airline has the right to charge you for large, bulky items such as golf clubs or sailboards, and these could face space restrictions.

Hand luggage

Hand luggage size restrictions vary between airlines and airports, so it’s worth finding out the latest rules in advance. For up-to-date information about luggage restrictions visit the government's website about travel abroad.

All items carried by passengers will be x-ray screened. Small electrical items (including digital cameras and mobile phones) can stay in your bag for screening. However, all laptops and large electrical items must be placed in a separate tray. There are currently specific restrictions on many items. Liquids, including gels and pastes, must be no more than 100ml and placed in a single clear, resealable plastic bag (max 1 litre capacity) for presentation to security, before being placed in your hand baggage when you get through security.

Lost luggage

At arrival, any lost or damaged luggage should be reported immediately to airline staff and to any holiday representative. It is essential that you complete a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) before leaving the airport and retain a copy as evidence for any claim. If you need to make a claim on your travel insurance policy, the policy booklet will explain the procedure. With Saga Travel Insurance you can claim up to £5,000 for lost luggage.

Saga’s range of insurance products is designed specifically for our customers and is unique to us. Saga Travel Insurance is underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE, UK Branch which meets our high standards of quality and service.

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