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Airport blunders you must avoid

27 November 2017

Your tickets are here, your airport parking is booked and you’re all set for you holiday - now you just have to get to the departure gate. With that in mind, take a look at our guide on how to avoid the most common airport mistakes, to help you travel better.

Woman sorting her liquids into a plastic bag at security

1) Trying to take prohibited items onto the aircraft

It's surprisingly easy to end up with an item in your hand luggage that shouldn't be there - a bottle of water you thought would be a good idea for the flight; a pair of scissors that you forgot were at the bottom of the pencil case you grabbed on your way out the door; or a pair of eyebrow tweezers in your makeup bag that you had no idea could be considered an offensive weapon.

Every day, hundreds of items are confiscated from unwary travellers by airport security staff - so make sure you check all the pockets in your handbag or hand luggage, and buy items like water and suncream once you're safely flightside.

2) Going over your baggage allowance

Stuffing more into your suitcase than your baggage allowance permits can be a costly mistake to make - and an almighty faff to boot, as you'll have to either jettison excess items there and then, or retire from the check-in queue to reorganise your belongings.

Excess baggage problems are more likely on bargain flights, which typically have a lower allowance per person, so pack light and think twice about bringing heavy souvenirs home in your cabin baggage - it might be worth using a shipping service instead.

3) Wearing too much metal

Remember, outfits featuring a lot of zips, studs or buckles will set off airport metal detectors and cause you a lot of unwanted hassle. Keep metal detailing to a minimum if you want a swift walk through security - and don't forget shoes may need to be removed too, so avoid 16-hole laceups and choose something easy to slip off and on again.

Don't make jokes about drugs or bombs when passing through security - staff are obliged to investigate anything perceived to be a threat and you may be questioned or even arrested.

4) Being late to the gate

Seasoned travellers often wait for the last call before moseying up to their departure gate to avoid waiting around in a place with no amenities - but if you're flying from an airport you don't know well, it pays to check how far the gate is from the main departure lounge. Running through the airport with your name being called over the tannoy is not a good look for anyone - and if you're very late, a flight crew on a tight schedule is very likely to take your luggage off and depart without you.

In large international airports it can take 20 minutes or more to get from security to the gate, so unless you want to test your sprint speed, check in advance and make sure you factor in enough time - and avoid falling asleep before you're onboard!

Get yourself inside the airport with ample time by pre-booking your airport parking or even taking advantage of an airport hotel. Saga customers can save up to 30% when booking with Holiday Extras.

5) Getting too tipsy pre-flight

It might seem like a fun idea to get your holiday off to a flying start with a couple of rounds of margaritas - and nervous flyers in particular might like the idea of a shot of Dutch courage before the flight - but getting squiffy can mean you're not paying attention to important information like gate changes and boarding calls. A couple of pints can also become very uncomfortable on the bladder once you've been sitting on the tarmac for forty minutes - it's best to wait until takeoff before getting into the holiday spirit.

6) Misplacing important travel documents

Everyone knows the most basic of travel mantras, "Passport, tickets, wallet". You can get by in almost any country as long as you have these about your person - so don't make the very real mistake of leaving your passport in the Terminal 4 toilets, or dropping your boarding pass while shopping in Duty Free.

Early starts, jet lag and general travel stress can cause you to be dozier and less vigilant than usual, so make absolutely sure everything is where it's meant to be before leaving for the airport and again after presenting your passport and tickets or boarding pass at check-in and security.

7) Going overboard with the smells

Duty Free can be a beguiling place - so many lovely items to sample, sip and spray! But spare a thought for your fellow passengers when wandering through the fragrance aisle - excessive perfume or cologne can be a noxious thing to sit next to for eight hours.

If you're genuinely interested in testing a fragrance before purchase, stick to a small squirt on the wrist or inside elbow rather than dousing yourself in the scents of twenty back gardens. Your co-travellers will thank you for it.

Going on holiday soon? Why not pre-book those essential travel extras now and take advantage of some great partner discounts like up to 30% off airport parking, hotels and lounges with Holiday Extras. Browse all offers here.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.