Airport delays: how to make your next flight as smooth as possible

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Travelers can expect longer queues at Sydney Airport during the winter school holidays, with more than two million customers expected to pass through the airport gates.

Australia’s busiest airport said on Tuesday that 2.1 million passengers are expected to pass through its terminals between Monday and Sunday July 17, 300,000 more than during the April holiday period.

Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert admitted the high volume of travelers will mean long queues and more headaches for customers.

“We are not going to sugarcoat the fact that the terminals will be busy during school holidays and there will be queues,” he said.

A Melbourne Airport representative was unable to provide a passenger forecast comparable to TUSEN but said “it’s safe to say that we also expect to be busier than Easter”.

And so TUSEN asked two travel experts for their top tips for making winter vacation travel as easy and stress-free as possible.

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1. Consider flying mid-week

By opting for a midweek flight, Strategic Aviation Solutions president Neil Hansford said travelers might be able to avoid some of the larger crowds.

“Rates are probably going to be better. And there won’t be so many people,” he said.

2. Check in online

Preparing your flight before arriving at the airport will reduce your waiting time.

For example, Hansford recommended that travelers take advantage of the airport’s automated processes by checking in online before arriving.

You can then download your boarding pass to your phone.

This way, you can skip talking to a check-in agent and immediately process your bags at baggage drop when you arrive at the airport.

3. Travel light

Finder travel expert Angus Kidman says travelers should always weigh their luggage before heading to the airport and ensure they are within baggage allowances.

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“The airlines are ruthless,” he said.

“Be aware that, especially on these cheap airlines, they will weigh your luggage.

“And if it’s more than [the allowed amount]you’ll pay extra, potentially slowing things down and making it harder to get into your queue.

4. Be smart about security

Mr Hansford said the real problem for travelers will be queues at security as some lanes are likely to be closed.

He advised travelers to do their own “security check” before leaving home to ensure they don’t have any contraband in their luggage.

“We all know you can’t carry water bottles, so don’t try,” he said.

“[Travellers] try all and slow everything down. So don’t put scissors and knives and everything else. Follow all the rules.

You’ll get through security much faster, just like those around you.

5. Have free time

Sydney Airport says customers should arrive two hours before their scheduled departure for domestic flights and three hours before international flights.

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But they also asked people not to arrive earlier than that as it would make the airport even busier.

Mr Kidman said he understood the position of the airport but would still prefer to arrive too early in case something went wrong.

“Make sure you’re not running frantically out there,” he said.

“Worst case scenario you arrive early and grab another coffee.”

6. Keep an eye on your phone

Check your phone for text updates on the day of your flight so you’re not caught off guard by last-minute changes.

And if you receive flight updates to your email address, it’s a good idea to check your inbox regularly as well as your spam folder.

Mr Kidman said that “sometimes these messages end up in the spam inbox”.

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