There are many extra services that a lot of passengers don’t know they’re entitled to when flying, so this round-up is here to help you make the most of them.
Want to breeze through the airport like a pro? Follow our top tips and secret airport hacks below…
Passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility are legally entitled to support, commonly known as ‘Special Assistance’ when travelling by air.
Support can be requested at the time of booking, or during check-in. Generally, it’s best to make special requests as early as possible.
Reserve a wheelchair or buggy
Airports can be huge and the long distances between check-in, gates, and security can be tiring for travellers.
A lot of people don’t know that it’s free to rent a wheelchair in airports, to help you get to your gate in comfort. You can usually reserve these in advance by contacting your airline, although most airports have plenty available anyway.
Elderly flyers who have trouble walking but don’t need wheelchairs can ask about electric buggies, for a lift to their departure gate.
Skip the queues
If you have a disability, you can ask to skip the queue at security as part of your Special Assistance. Alternatively, you can pay a small fee to use priority or ‘fast track’ security lanes at many airports. It’s often cheaper to book this in advance by contacting the airport.
Hidden disability lanyards
Not all disabilities are visible. Most major UK airports, including both Gatwick and Heathrow, have introduced a hidden disabilities lanyard scheme. These can be worn to show airport staff that the wearer has a disability that may not be immediately obvious, so that staff can provide any assistance necessary.
You can request these lanyards in advance and receive them in the post, or you can get one from the assistance desks in the airport.
Book early to save money
The demand for airport parking is on the rise, so the earlier you book the more likely you are to save money. Booking well in advance could cut the cost by up to a third. Leaving things last minute can sometimes work in your favour as booking online the day of your flight is usually cheaper than turning up at the airport. We’d recommend booking in advance though for peace of mind.
Blue badge spaces
Most airport car parks have blue badge spaces for customers that need them.
These will usually be nearer to the airport transfer or lifts, so it’s worth requesting one when you book your airport parking.
Take a picture of your parking space
It’s easy to forget where you parked after a week or two of holiday. To avoid wandering around those vast airport car parks in search of your car, take a photo of the parking space, as well as the signage to remind yourself which area of the car park you’re in.
Get to the airport early
If you have an early morning flight, consider spending the night at a hotel near the airport before flying, in order to take as much stress off the journey as possible.
What to wear
Wear comfortable and loose clothing to the airport. Not only is this better for you while flying, but it will help keep you comfy at the airport too.
Avoid heavy jewellery, studded belts, and anything else that might set the airport scanners off. Wear shoes that can be easily taken off and on, as you may need to do this at security.
VIP and special assistance lounges
Some major airports offer Special Assistance lounges free of charge. At Gatwick’s Special Assistance lounge, staff will give you a portable buzzer to alert you when it’s time to go to the gate.
If you don’t qualify for the special assistance lounges, or there isn’t one at your chosen airport, consider booking a VIP lounge.
Entry might not be as expensive as you think, especially if you book in advance. Airport lounges are available at most major UK airports and are an ideal way to relax in comfort before your flight.