Over 60? How to make the airport experience more relaxing
Airports are busy places, sometimes unfamiliar, and largely occupied by people under time pressure to get to their destination. Travelling should be enjoyable, and your airport experience should be the first part of your holiday or trip. Follow these tips for getting your travels off to a good start by making your time at the airport more relaxing.
If crowds and noise are stressors for you, aim to book flights at off-peak times when the airport will be less crowded. In many cases, this might mean an early morning flight, but you can check the details for your preferred airport. You may also choose to fly from a regional airport, if this is possible for your destination, as smaller airports tend to feel less chaotic than larger airports, such as Heathrow and Manchester.
Get to know the airport
If you are not already familiar with the airports you will be using (both for your departure and for your destination), look them up online before you travel. Find out what facilities are available, and if you have any special dietary requirements, check which restaurants and food outlets have suitable meals for you. If you require specialist help, you can also check what services are available. For example, if you are not able to walk far and need transport within the airport, arrangements can be made for assistance to be provided.
For peace of mind, make sure you have suitable travel insurance over 60 in place to cover you for the duration of your holiday. If you have known health issues, take out a medical travel insurance policy with cover for pre-existing medical conditions. Cover should include emergency medical care, repatriation, and cancellation.
For many flights you are now able to check in online up to 24 hours ahead of your scheduled flight departure time. Your electronic boarding pass will be available in the airline app, or you can print your boarding pass at home if you feel more comfortable having a paper copy with you. Making use of advance check-in allows you to avoid the queues at airport check-in desks, and when you are ready to go airside you can go straight to security.
Allow plenty of time
Plan your journey to the airport and allow plenty of contingency time so that you will not be stressed before you even arrive at the airport. Getting a lift or a taxi to the airport may be a good stress-free option, so you don’t need to worry about parking. If you prefer to take your car and leave it at the airport, reserve a parking space and make sure you allow ample time to make your way from the car park to the terminal building, whether that be on foot or using a car park shuttle service. For the majority of flights, it is recommended that you arrive two to three hours before the scheduled departure time. When there are queues at security it is stressful enough without having the added pressure of being too close to your departure time.
Large airports offer a range of options for whiling away any spare time you have before your flight, from shopping to restaurants. Some also have mini spa facilities where you can get a relaxing treatment.
Check exactly what you are allowed to take with you on the flight, in carry-on luggage and in checked-in luggage which will go in the hold. Restrictions can vary by airline, so it is important to check the details for each trip. For both cabin and hold luggage check:
- Contents allowed
- Restrictions where advance notification for specific items is required
Pack all liquids separately in a small clear bag, which can be sealed, and make sure that no items contain more than 100ml or they will be confiscated at the airport. The total volume of liquids should not exceed 1000ml. You will need to be able to access this bag quickly when you go through security, so keep it at the top of your luggage to avoid delays. If you forget to do this in advance, you will find clear plastic bags supplied at the airport, but being prepared makes your passage through security a little smoother.
If you are checking in baggage to go in the hold, make use of the hold weight allowance and keep your cabin baggage as light as possible. At many airports, there will be a distance to access amenities and to get to your departure gate. You will have your hand luggage with you all this time, so restrict the contents to what you absolutely need for your time at the airport and for the duration of your flight.
Keeping mobile phones and other devices charged has never been more important for staying connected and for your peace of mind. Many people rely on mobile devices for electronic boarding cards and other essential travel information. Avoid worrying about power for your mobile devices by making sure they are fully charged before you leave home and packing all the chargers and cables you need, and a portable power bank, if possible. Some airports have portable power banks available for hire. Just pick up a power bank when you arrive at the airport and you can either return it at the departure gate. If you are flying back to the same airport, you have the option to keep the power bank with you for your trip and return it when you arrive back at the airport.
Getting access to the comfort of an airline lounge can make your airport experience a lot more enjoyable. Refreshments are usually provided free of charge, seating will be more comfortable than in the general departure areas, and lounges are quieter than public areas – ideal if you find the hubbub of an airport can be stressful. Some lounges also provide additional facilities, such as a fitness centre.
Airline lounges are usually open to regular passengers who have joined a membership program, but there are often alternative ways to get access to these exclusive lounges if you don’t already have a membership. Look out for special offers on premium tickets which include access to the airline lounge. In some cases, you may be able to purchase a day pass to use the lounge.
A little preparation can go a long way in making your time at the airport more enjoyable, and getting your holiday off to a good start.