How to make your upcoming flight as smooth as possible, despite lengthy airport queues

Travellers can expect more lengthy queues at Sydney Airport over the winter school holidays, with more than two million customers tipped to pass through the airport’s doors.

Australia’s busiest airport said on Tuesday that 2.1 million passengers are expected to travel 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 travellers would lead to long queues and more headaches for customers.

“We won’t sugarcoat the fact that the terminals will be busy during the school holidays, and there will be queues,” he said.

A Melbourne Airport representative was unable to provide comparable passenger forecasts to The New Daily but said “it’s safe to say we are also expecting to be busier than Easter”.

And so The New Daily asked two travel experts for their best tips to make travelling over the winter holidays as streamlined and stress-free as possible.

1. Consider flying mid-week

By opting for a mid-week flight, Strategic Aviation Solutions chairman Neil Hansford says travellers might be able to avoid some of the bigger crowds.

“The fares are probably going to be better. And there’s not going to be as big a crowd,” he said.

2. Check in online

Preparing for your flight before arriving at the airport will slash your queuing time.

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

You can then download your boarding pass to your phone.

That way, you can avoid talking to a check-in agent, and immediately process your luggage at the bag drop when you arrive at the airport.

3. Travel light

Finder travel expert Angus Kidman said travellers should always weigh their bags before heading to the airport, and make sure they comply with the baggage allowances.

“Airlines are ruthless,” he said.

“Be aware that especially on those bargain airlines, they will weigh your bags.

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

4. Be smart at security

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

He advised travellers to do their own ‘security check’ before leaving home to ensure they have no prohibited items in their luggage.

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

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

You’ll get through security much faster – and so will those around you.

5. Have some time to spare

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

But they also asked people not to arrive any earlier than that, as doing so would make the airport even busier.

Mr Kidman said he understood the airport’s position but would nonetheless err on the side of arriving too early in case something goes wrong.

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

“Worst case you get there early and you have another coffee.”

6. Keep an eye on your phone

Check your phone for text message updates on the day of your flight so that you’re not caught out by any last-minute changes.

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

Mr Kidman said “sometimes those messages do end up in the spam email inbox”.

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