We have all made mistakes when flying, some bigger than others. Here is part 1 of our list of the Top 20 Mistakes When Flying and some tips to avoid making them again. Read part 2 here.
You have a baggage allowance and you are determined to use every last part of it.
Do you really need all of those pairs of shoes?
If you are heading to a hot country why on earth are you packing warm clothes that will not make it out of your suitcase?
A few years ago we went away with some family members. We had 25kg of hold allowance each. My wife and I used 22kg between us. Two people used their full allowance, plus a little bit more. On the way home we had to pack some items from other people to help spread the load.
Pack your suitcase with the minimum you think you can get away with. Then take some of it out – you won’t need it all.
In many tourism locations there are plenty of local people offering cheap and very good laundry services. I always use this at least once during my holiday and will often send more washing just before we leave so that it is washed and ironed when we get home.
2. Wearing the Wrong Clothes
Flying, especially long-haul, is a big undertaking that is going to take many hours. To South East Asia from Northern Europe it is going to be the best part of a full day when you include getting to and from the airport, waiting in the airport and the flight itself.
It is important therefore to wear comfortable clothes for all of that travelling and hanging around airports. Forget the fashion show, you may look great when you leave home, but the look will be ruined by the time you get to your destination.
Remember you may need to remove belts, shoes etc to go through multiple security checks so don’t make that any harder than it needs to be.
You also need to think about suitable clothes for the weather.
A few years ago we left Thailand where the temperature was around 35°C (95°F). When we landed in the UK we walked out to temperatures of -4°C (25°F), strong winds and snow.
We have learned the hard way to pack smart. On the way to a hot country I will have shorts and t-shirt in my hand baggage and will change either on the plane or as soon as we land. On the way home I will have jeans and jumper to change into and will also have a warmer coat at the top of my case just in case.
3. Lack of Organisation
A personal bugbear of mine. I can handle airport queues, don’t mind security checks or even overly officious immigration staff.
What I hate is people who are so poorly organised that they make all of those things last much, much longer.
You are going to need your passport (or ID in some cases) and boarding pass on multiple occasions.
Why then do so many people not have them easily accessible?
There is a difference between “having them safe” and having to search through multiple bags when checking in, going through passport control, boarding the plane etc.
I understand some people don’t travel often but what is the excuse for people who are regular travellers?
4. Getting to the Airport Late
Many people don’t like hanging around an airport for hours, especially smaller airports which have limited shopping, eating and drinking options.
Many have been lulled into arriving later at the airport since they have already checked in online.
Others get to the airport thinking they have plenty of time. But then you need to get from the car park, bus stop or railway station to your terminal.
That may mean waiting for a shuttle, that then goes around the whole airport before arriving at your terminal.
Always make sure you give yourself ample time to get to the airport and get through crowds to check-in your baggage, get through security and get to your departure gate, which could be 30 minutes or more away from where you enter airside.
5. Not Checking In Online
Many airlines now insist that you check-in online. Others strongly encourage it.
Almost every time you get to an airport you will see people frantically trying to check in when it could all have been easily done at least the day before from a comfy chair, without thousands of other people rushing about.
6. Mistreating the Cabin Crew
First and foremost the cabin crew are there for your safety.
First and foremost the cabin crew are there for your safety.
They will try to meet your needs but always be polite and remember you are not the only passenger on board and they are not your personal servant.
Be nice to the crew, people.
7. Leaving Too Little Time for Connections
Even if your flight lands on time having too short a connection time will be stressful. You need to get off the plane, into the terminal, navigate security and even possibly immigration as well as finding you way around an airport terminal you are probably not familiar with.
Ninety minutes is the bare minimum you need to allow, two hours is much safer.
8. Losing Your Immigration Form
Many countries ask you to complete an immigration form prior to entry.
You will usually present this at passport control and they will often give you at least part of the form back to you. Do not lose this part. You need it on exit.
If you do not have the immigration form when you are trying to leave the country you are, at the least, going to experience delays as you go through an official procedure. You may even be asked to pay a fine or processing fee.
Keep immigration forms safe and ready for when you leave any country that issues them.
9. Taking Oversize Bags
It is really easy to find out the maximum sizes airlines allow, especially hand luggage. It seems that most people just assume it will be ok as they have used those bags in the past.
The rise of budget airlines has made this a major issue in recent years. Different airlines have different acceptable sizes and some will be stricter than others. Staff may even be rewarded for finding oversize bags as they will then be able to charge exorbitant fees to put the luggage in the hold.
Airlines will also have limits on the maximum weight of individual bags going into the hold – some poor baggage handler has to move that enormous bag you insist on taking. I have seen a number of passengers being told that their bag is too heavy, trying to repack to redistribute the load or even having to buy a bag at the airport.
10. Passport Expiry
Your passport is expiring soon, but not just yet. That’s not a problem though is it?
For some countries as long as your passport is valid for your whole stay then they are happy. In South East Asia the Philippines are happy with this.
Many countries however want additional time on your passport. The majority of South East Asia countries insist on 6 months validity on your passport on the date of entry, even if you are only staying for two days. Indonesia want 6 months validity from the date of departure from the country.
Always check well in advance the entry requirements for all countries that you plan to visit.
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