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14 Mistakes Travellers Make at the Airport

Even the most experienced travellers are guilty of making rookie travel mistakes. No matter if it’s your first or your 50th trip to the airport, at Skyscanner New Zealand, we’ll cover the top mistakes that travellers make once they enter the departures terminal. 

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1. Not obeying the carry-on rules

Rules for what you can and cannot bring in your carry-on luggage can change quickly and depend on the countries you are flying between. Before you pack your carry-on, double check the size, weight, and permitted items regulations so that everything you want to fly with you in fact makes it to your destination. Some seemingly harmless items like tweezers or nail clippers are often the first to go. 

Read: Items you can’t pack in your carry on luggage

2. Packing too much

Almost all airlines have weight restrictions on luggage. The amount you’re allowed to bring depends on the airline, the destination, and your ticket type. It’s worth purchasing a luggage scale and weighing your luggage before you arrive to the airport — or else you risk getting hit with a surprise excess baggage fee which can often cost hundreds of dollars. Maybe those seven pairs of shoes aren’t worth the weight after all?

Read: 5 Common Packing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

3. Arriving too late

Arrive at least two hours early for international flights and at least one hour early for domestic flights. You’ll need to check in, go through customs if travelling internationally, go through security, and walk to your gate. The last feeling you want to have before going on holiday is panic or stress because you left for the airport too late. 

4. Putting too much trust in your boarding pass

When you’re issued a boarding pass, it will typically list the gate number that states where you will board your flight. Oftentimes, these gate numbers change and will be updated on the departures board instead. Check the departures board often and listen for any announcements. If you check the gate number too close to boarding time and it’s switched to the other side of the airport, prepare to run. 

5. Not declaring items

Before you go through customs, check through your carry-on luggage to see if you’re taking any food from the plane or any other items you might not have thought of before marking “Nothing to declare” on your customs form. Forgetting to declare something as seemingly harmless as a piece of fruit can lead to a massive fine. It’s just not worth it.

6. Eating too much junk food before a flight

That double-decker burger, pint of beer, and pile of chips might seem like a great idea before you board the plane, but you’ll probably be sitting in regret during the flight. Foods high in fat and sodium can cause bloating and stomach cramps while flying — and that’s not exactly a good feeling to have when you’re cramped against the window with two sleeping passengers beside you.

Read: Foods to Avoid Before Flying

7. Sleeping or lounging in the wrong spot

While many airports have quiet or sleeping rooms, some don’t. Look over the departures board and head to the gate that’s listed last —this will usually be the quietest boarding gate and the best place to take a nap. With a set of ear plugs, an eye mask, and a spot away from the speaker system, you’ll be set to rest.

If you’re blocking a pathway, you’ll likely be asked to move. It’s best to go where few people will notice that you’re even there. 

Read: The Ultimate Guide to Sleeping in Airports

8. Forgetting a water bottle

Most airports won’t let you go through security with a full water bottle. However, you can often bring an empty one through and refill it at a water fountain on the other side — saving you a few dollars every time you travel.

9. Behaving rudely to get what you want

Check-in agents and flight attendants can often give you travel perks like preferential seating, extra snacks and drinks, and even upgrades. The best way to get on their good side is by being friendly, polite,and asking outright for what you want. Many times, travel agents are met with cranky faces from people who are tired of long-haul travel. Meeting a friendly smile at the check in desk is a relief.

10. Not accounting for the cost of parking

Parking fees at airports can be staggeringly expensive. Before you get into your car, see if it’s cheaper to take a taxi or public transport rather than parking at the airport for the duration of your trip.

12. Checking in at the airport

Why wait at the check in desk when you can simply waltz into an airport, drop off your luggage, and go through security? Checking in online helps save time and relieves the stress of standing in a queue unnecessarily.

13. Forgetting essentials in your carry-on

Flight delays, long layovers, lost luggage, and cancelled flights are all part of travel itself. Always pack a small toiletry kit, a spare change of clothes, and anything else you’d need if you lose your luggage.

14. Not drinking enough water

Plane cabins are low-humidity environments, where your skin and mucus membranes dry out quickly. Drink plenty of water during your travels so that you can arrive feeling fresh and healthy. 

Ready to head to the airport and try out these strategies for yourself? Skyscanner New Zealand can help you find flights, car hire, and hotels during your stay.