Smartertravel recently published the article ‘Flying with gifts: the TSA rules you need to know’ in which they outlined seven items you should not carry aboard a plane. The list included toy weapons- for obvious reasons- alcohol over 140 proof, because there’s a time and place for that stuff people; pre-wrapped presents and of course, the threat of all threats- snow globes. While this advice is smart and clearly a time saver at the boarder, we wish to give you some more appropriate guidance for travelling with us. These lessons come from a place of experience, in fact, we asked Airport Angels staff to write down the biggest issues they regularly face while they work. What you will read has been constructed to create a more efficient transfer through the airport; you can choose to listen, or not, either way we’ll help you because it’s what we do at Airport Angels. These are merely a suggestion, but our tips will, if followed, make for an easier journey. In light of this, here is ‘Flying with Angels: the seven airport rules you need to know’.
- Check the weight of your bag at home.
We meet countless students and travellers at the airport carrying two suitcases, who are shocked to find that the combined weight of 70kg – the average weight of a male orangutan- is too much to check-in. This leads to countless shifting, repacking and as I put in our previous blog, ‘rejigging’. We don’t want to make you wear three coats and an extra jumper to make weight, and it pains us to see you worry about fitting gifts in your cases. So, by following rule number one you can dress comfortably, and keep everything you packed. If you’re overweight before you get to the airport, try sending gifts home using the postal service. Also, if you inform us when you arrive that your bag is overweight, we can quickly pop to the excess baggage desk for assistance- in some cases you are permitted to check-in an overweight bag providing it meets a maximum weight limit, although there is a fee for this service.
- Turn your phone on.
We aren’t asking you to keep in on during the flight, and constantly update us, but once you’re off the plane please, at the very least, switch it on. A text to let us know you’ve arrived would be even better. Our Angels are caring workers and they constantly worry about the safety of our travellers. We are given the school, host family and institution’s contact information so at all times we are able to verify where students are, but it is much easier, and less time consuming, to contact the traveller directly. So, if you’re shopping in duty free, stuck in customs or urgently needed the bathroom, please let us know (that last example was a bit weird, but you get our point). Conversely, keep in contact with your Angel on your way to the airport for check-in; if you let us know your ETA it makes the check-in procedure much smoother and quicker for everyone involved.
- Look for the people in pink.
There’s a reason we wear the colour we do and still, very few people seem to acknowledge the only airport chaperone not wearing a suit. The founder of Airport Angels, Siobhan Gardner-Laye, chose the colour because it stands out in the mass crowds that amount in Heathrow, and other major airports. Unless you’re a VIP (you’re all important to us, it’s just a term), or with a specific language school, we will always be wearing a pink polo. If you choose to ignore rule two, or you take it to extremes and don’t look up from your phone, then remember rule three and find the people in pink.
- If you miss the flight or someone isn’t flying… tell us.
This tends to be an issue with larger groups who travel with schools. Angels are often left waiting in arrivals for stragglers who never actually boarded the plane, and we often don’t find out until we make countless phone calls to schools and parents. Yes, we are that paranoid mother-figure who needs a text before take-off and when you land- we’re sorry, it’s just our job. Rule number four saves a lot of hassle and more importantly, time. We are on a strict schedule with taxi drivers and coach companies; by not informing us about non-travellers we can create delays that ripple throughout the whole day. Let us know- it’s as easy as picking up the phone and saying “hey, I’m not flying with my group, but have a great day!”
- Where we go, follow.
Airport Angels have been navigating UK airports for many years now and we know our way around these places pretty well. We know which lifts take time and which escalators edge the race; we’ve taken every travelator and scaled all staircases, so when we are directing clients from A to B we take the fastest routes possible. We’ve seen many students wander off to take a lift that we know is out of order, or they follow signs they believe are correct. Rule number five is essentially, let us do our job so you don’t have to worry. Simply follow and enjoy the adventure.
- Don’t leave passports or wallets in the taxi or plane!
It may sound condescending and you’ll almost certainly be thinking “I’d never forget that” but we promise you, it happens every day. It’s easy enough to do; sitting there, wondering what food they’ll serve on the plane, or hoping the movie options are worth a watch and when you get up to leave, you forget your passport is on the seat. We’ve all done it. But please, keep your passport safe in your hand luggage. At the check-in desk is where you first need it and from then on, you’re in the clear. Leave your passport in the same part of your bag from home to check-in and we can avoid the panic-driven phone calls to taxis, coaches and schools trying to find the passport you may or may not have lost.
- No liquids in hand luggage.
At the risk of sounding like an advert for British Airport Security, please throw your water bottles away before boarder safety checks. This is a simple rule that will save you time and the annoyance of a bag search. If you ignore rule seven and get greedy, Brad Pitt may pull you to one side and ask, “what’s in the bag?!” (a se7en reference for some of our younger readers). Refreshments are sold in the duty-free area of the airport so water is available for purchase; there are also water fountains in the airport if you want to save money. Don’t fall victim to sloth- remember the rules and throw away the bottle.
So, there you have it, our seven airport rules to make for an all-round easier journey. Our goal is to chaperone all our clients efficiently and safely through the airport and these top tips are designed to help pre-emptively avoid any delays to your travels. Please take note and we look forward to seeing you soon.
If you have any questions or suggestions about our rules or think we should’ve included a few more, contact us via Facebook, Twitter (AirportAngelsUK) or our website (www.airportangels.net) to let us know.