Travelling By Air - What to expect as a passenger - Part 1
By Max Norton
When it comes to travelling by air there are a lot of obvious positives and negatives. One of those negatives is having the requirement to check-in and go through Airport Security Screening. More often than not a lot of unsuspecting passengers get held up at security checkpoints and check-in counters due to being ill-prepared Passengers who fail to understand or refuse to abide by air travel safety requirements.
In this 2 part blog series I will share with you my top air travel tips and advice to help you check-in and get through airport security screening faster to avoid any unnecessary delays.
There are a lot of variables that can have a positive or negative effect on how well and quickly you get through checking-in and airport security screening, these include:
- Time you have allowed yourself between checking-in baggage and departure.
- The size of the Airport Security & Customs Checkpoints inside the Terminals
- Screening Service Delays or technical issues
- Peak travel periods causing lengthy queue lines at Check-in Counters & Screening Points
- Biosecurity checks for COVID-19 Screening
- Medical concerns and issues
- Undeclared and illegal items
- Time needed to fully process passengers at each security screening point
Download the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority Dangerous Goods app https://www.casa.gov.au/dangerous-goods-app to get more information for your bag packing on what is allowed on an aircraft in Australia.
Read CASA's Passenger Checklist for travel advice and to learn about aviation travel requirements
Arriving at the Airport
(Picture - Man arriving at Airport ready to check-in)
1. When we book our flight we are given a boarding and departure time. For domestic travel I recommended you arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before your departure time. For international travel I recommend 3.5 hours before your flight departs, regardless how big the airport is you are departing from.
2. The reason I recommend such a big wait between arriving at the airport to departing is because it gives you some extra time spare in-case there are any unforeseen delays not caused by yourself. Give yourself less stress by aiming to arrive early not just on time.
3. Unfortunately even though you might be all ready and prepared when you arrive at the airport sometimes things outside of your control can go wrong or hold you up when it comes to airports, it's just the nature of air travel. There are just too many factors to take into consideration to guarantee success in boarding on time.
4. In peak periods a lot of passengers fail to check-in on time due to the increased passenger flow inside the airport check-in counters. This henceforth delays passengers getting through airport security checkpoints in a reasonable timeframe.
5. Whenever you are given a time from your airline to check-in by, you should arrive at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before the Airline designated check-in cut off time just to be safe. Remember the recommended times airlines give you are the minimum recommended times not desired times.
6. You should always have a plan on how to get to the airport well in advance before the day you depart. My preferred method to get to any airport is to go by train straight to the airport terminal (if your airport has one) to avoid any possible traffic on the roads. The second-best approach is to get a friend or family member to pick you up from your place and drop you off at the airport to save money.
7. Airport carparks are expensive and strongly not encouraged to be used if you are travelling for a long time. Check the Airport carpark rates BEFORE you depart and try to book in advance.
(Photos - Check-in counters at airport)
When it comes to checking in these days, we now have two ways to go about it.
For Domestic Travellers with carry on only:
Always try to check-in online in advance with your airline whenever possible if you are travelling with only carry-on luggage. Most airlines have a 7kg luggage allowance for carry on which is a good amount for a weekend trip away.
Tip: You will be surprised by how much clothes can be packed in a bag on a 7kg carry-on allowance if the bags are packed efficiently. A lot of frequent travellers especially business travellers can easily travel for 1-2 weeks with just carry-on luggage.
Tip: A lot of travellers prefer to carry minimally to travel with more ease and less hassle. Think about it, if you use just carry-on luggage and have just a backpack your hands are free when travelling instead of carting a big bulky bag around town.
Tip: I recommend maximising carry-on when on short domestic trips to save money on the Airline checked baggage fees.
(Picture - Example of carry on luggage with contents)
For Domestic Passengers with Checked Baggage:
Check-in at the airport at the terminal you depart from. Go to the airline check-in counters to print out your luggage tags & boarding passes. Place baggage tags correctly onto the bags you want to check-in, check the weight of each individual bag. Make sure all bags are secured properly before placing them onto the baggage conveyor belt.
Checked Baggage Weight Allowances:
Most airlines give a 23kg baggage allowance for a Passenger's combined checked baggage allowance. The important word to remember is COMBINED. This means if you are checking in two bags for the same Passenger make sure that the combined weight for both bags is no greater than 23kg or the allowable baggage allowance given. If you are travelling business class or first class generally you will be allocated a bigger baggage allowance as an additional benefit.
Tip: Avoid paying expensive excess baggage fees: If travelling as a family, couple or group the baggage allowance is calculated times each passenger. For example a family of 3 adults on a 23kg allowance each is allowed a combined total of 69kg of checked-in baggage. If one person is under their limit at 20kgs and one person is over their limit by 3kgs the person with the least weight can take on 3kgs of extra weight for their bags.
Tip: Remember to always lock your baggage zippers wherever possible. Always take a spare set of clothes in your carry-on luggage to use the next day just in-case your luggage gets lost in transit.
(Photo - Traveller with large pink travel suitcase to be checked-in)
For All International Passengers:
For international Passengers you will need to check-in at the airport service desk counters before the check-in cut off time. These service desk counters will either be self-serve or manned by Airline Ground Service Staff. If you need assistance just ask an Airline Staff Member.
Tip: Make sure you have your Passport and boarding pass securely on your person at all times when transiting through airport terminals and on your flight. Losing a Passport at an Airport or on a airplane is easy to do and a nightmare for those who do.
(Picture - Passport with boarding pass and coffee)
FOR OVERSIZED BAGGAGE BOTH DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL: Any heavy and bulky items such as bicycles, surfboards and prams will need to be checked-in separately at the airline oversize baggage counters. Most likely a Airline Staff Member will assist you with this process.
1. All checked-in baggage gets security screened before it is loaded onto any aircraft. Make sure you check your bags again to not have any dangerous goods inside your luggage. Should you be unsure if any items are permitted or not check with the Airline check-in staff. Failure to take out any dangerous goods before checking-in can result in security delays for you and your travelling group, hefty fines and possible expulsion from your flight.
2. Check to see if you need to declare any items you are carrying by visiting your airline's website or the aviation authority in your country.
Important tip: Are you travelling overseas? It is a good idea to wrap your checked-in luggage at the luggage wrapping station if the airport has one before checking-in. The security wrapping helps prevent thieves accessing your luggage during transit.
(Photo - Checked-in ready and waiting)
Checking-in at airports can seem daunting if you have never travelled before, this is understandable. However with that being said if you get stuck there is always Airline Ground Staff around the airport terminals that will be able to assist you.
In the next part of this blog series I will be covering Airport Security Screening. Stay tuned!
For more information on air travel requirements visit the following websites below.
(CASA) Civil Aviation Safety Authority's website -
(IATA) International Air Transport Association's website -https://www.iata.org/en/programs/security/
For airline specific rules and guidelines: Check out the website of the airline you booked your flight with.
For Airport information such as terminal maps, checking flight arrival and departure times: Check out the website of the airports you are departing from and arriving at.
Happy Travels :)
Written by Max Norton