Sunday August 31 2014

Jumping the check-in queue


By Sharon Kakai

Every queue has something about is that when you finally get to the front, the person before you has an interminable problem. Most people handle this seemingly inevitable final hurdle with weary resignation, but when you’re at an airport trying to check-in for a flight, what would normally just be inconvenient becomes stressful.

This is exacerbated because after braving the check-in queue, you still have to face the security queue. It is here that someone will be trying to smuggle their keys, small change and assorted other metal items through the security checks by distributing them in numerous deep pockets. Consequently, their numerous attempts to negotiate the metal detector are accompanied by a symphony of electronic buzzing.

Having finally mined the last piece of metal from the deep recesses of some baggy item of clothing, they then celebrate by holding up the whole queue again as they try to recover all their family heirlooms while trying to shove a laptop back in its case. So inevitably, rather than some light shopping, followed by a quiet cup of coffee in the lounge, you arrive at the boarding gate as a gasping, sweating, wide-eyed tangle of boarding pass and cabin baggage.

Faith Chaitezvi British Airways Country Commercial Manager Uganda and a regular commuter on domestic and international flights says there are plenty of ways to beat the queues.

Check-in remotely
On page is a manage my booking tab. This is the key to saving time at the airport, whether you’re travelling locally or internationally.

Amongst other things, it allows you to provide all the advanced passenger information on international flights. Perhaps most importantly it allows you to check-in online and choose your seat 24 hours before departure.

You can also check-groups, so if you’re travelling with family or colleagues you can check everyone in at once. All you need is the booking reference – the six character alpha-numeric code on your booking.

Print your boarding pass
Better still you can print out your boarding pass. If you’re only travelling with hand luggage you don’t need to go near a counter at all. You simply go directly to the security queue.

Mobile check-in
If you aren’t able to check-in online and have a smartphone you can download the British Airways app and check-in using your mobile. The app is specifically designed for mobile check-in and because it doesn’t do a million other things, is quick, simple and effective. The check-in confirmation is sent to your mobile,the equivalent of an electronic boarding pass.

Use remote kiosks
Use one of the remote kiosks at the airport. These touch-screen terminals take you through a simple step-by-step menu and there’s usually someone stationed at the terminal to help if you get stuck.

Of course cynics will argue that there’s little point if you have luggage to check-in because you’ll still have to stand in line. Not quite true. There are baggage desks in both international and domestic check-in areas, where checked in customers are able to drop hold baggage.

Unfortunately while technology allows you to skip the check-in queue you’ll still have to wait your turn to go through security. Try it to avoid some of the check-in queue stress.

Fast check-in tips

• Take your laptop out of its carry bag before you reach the head of the queue. If you’re travelling internationally, do the same with the clear plastic bag containing your liquids and gels.
• Put your mobile phone, wallet and other metal items in one of the laptop bag pockets. Then on the other side of the metal detector you won’t have to scrabble repacking all your possessions.
• Have your boarding pass ready. There’s no point in putting it in the pocket of your jacket then taking off the jacket and putting it through the x-ray.
• For international travel, avoid wearing big heels or boots. At many airports in the UK and the US you’ll be asked to remove these.
• Once your bag has cleared the x-ray, move to a counter or table available for repacking.
• Don’t pack your passport at the bottom of your cabin bag once you’ve cleared security. You’ll need it at immigration and again at the boarding gate.