The number of overseas flights has doubled since March, but many are afraid to fly again.  How to prepare for an international flight

The number of overseas flights has doubled since March, but many are afraid to fly again. How to prepare for an international flight

Your friends’ Instagram profiles are flooded with photos of sunsets in Greece.

Facebook feeds are full of your high school friends enjoying wine and gelato in Italy.

Not only you – it’s summer in Europe. That means almost everyone you know is on vacation.

But for many, traveling during the pandemic stirs feelings of fear and anxiety.

If you’re feeling unprepared for the administrative hassle of planning a trip abroad, here’s how to curb that travel anxiety when you decide to fly.

Do I need travel or health insurance?

Travel insurance is just as important as your passport, according to Jodi Both, Money and Travel Manager at CHOICE.

Flight delays, cancellations and lost luggage are just a fraction of the inconveniences travelers face.

Travel insurance can cover these and more.

“If you don’t have travel insurance, then health insurance is an absolute must,” said Mr. Both.

Think about what could happen if you contract COVID-19 while on vacation.

Depending on where you are, you may need to be isolated or hospitalized for treatment, affecting your accommodation, transit and those you travel with.

Airplane Window 2.jpg
You may want to consider travel insurance before jetting abroad.(ABC)

Despite having been in the travel industry for over 20 years, Brisbane Airport Corporation’s Head of Terminal Operations, Stacey Pollard, says she still takes out comprehensive travel and health insurance.

Mr. Both and Ms. Pollard both recommend Use the Australian Government’s Smartraveller website to research the requirements of the country you are visiting to better understand the type of travel insurance you need.

When should I arrive before my international flight?

When to show up at the airport: Everyone’s favorite game.

Your sister says three hours before your flight. Your friend says two. And your dad? He says four.

“A lot of people I see entering the international airport arrive five or six hours before their flight opens and there’s just nobody there to help them,” Ms Pollard said.

Mr Both said it all comes down to staying up to date with the latest information from the airline you fly with.

“They often post updates about flights on their website or on their social media pages,” he said.

Generally, You should depart at least four hours before your flight.

A long line of people stand in line with their luggage at a terminal in London.
Arriving too early at the airport can sometimes be negative.(Reuters: Henry Nicholls)

And yes, there is such a thing as getting to the airport “too early”.

Mr Both said that not only does this leave you sitting around waiting for hours, but it can also cause problems with overcrowding that you don’t want to face.

What about flight cancellations? Should I be concerned?

Ms Pollard says international flights look pretty stable but domestic flights “may be a different story”.

“What we’re finding is that most of the cancellations are due to crew shortages,” she said.

“In the pre-COVID era, this problem did not exist. When an aircraft was cancelled, it was generally due to a technical issue.”

Mrs. Pollard says The airline is usually aware of any crew shortages in advance.

“Check back in with your airline and double-check your flight details before you leave home to ensure you’re up to date with any changes.”

Be wary of Uber cancellations and rideshare delays

If you’re thinking of using a ridesharing service to get you to the airport, make sure you have a plan B.

Rising fuel costs and increased demand as travelers return to pre-pandemic habits are driving more Uber cancellations.

So before you open any ridesharing app, make sure you’ve looked at all the options, including:

  • Airport train/shuttle bus: Most states have their own direct train and/or bus service between domestic and international airports for less than half what an Uber costs.
  • Ask someone you know to break away: If you have a friend or family member who doesn’t live too far from you (and is kind enough to give you a lift), they could drop you off at the terminal.

Are you afraid of losing your luggage? Consider a digital luggage tag

Thanks to the digital age we live in, there are things like electronic luggage tags.

There are several battery-free durable luggage tags on the market. Qantas even has its own Q Bag Tags.

These tags work by tricking you into checking in online through your airline. It then syncs your details on your boarding pass with your baggage.

A group of luggage of different colors lined up on a wooden floor.
Passengers’ luggage piled up outside Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London last month.(Reuters: Henry Nicholls)

How can I be sure I’m getting the cheapest flights?

Ms. Pollard has planned a trip to the United States for late October. One night she was about to book her flights when she decided to wait until the next day.

“I woke up the next morning and the same flights were $650 cheaper,” she said.

Ms. Pollard recommends the following:

  • Set up alerts for flights from online travel sites like Expedia and Skyscanner
  • Sign up for emails or push notifications when travel sites have special offers
  • Monitor these websites and their social media accounts on a daily basis
  • Explore alternative travel methods: Ms Pollard says that while direct flights are great, you should also consider connecting flights

“How far in advance you book your flight also affects the price you’ll pay,” Ms Pollard said.

“For some, six months before departure might be the cheapest option. For others maybe three months.”

Airport seat belt with bags to be x-rayed
Ms. Pollard regularly sees people walking through security with their electronic devices still in their bags, which slows down the queue.(Reuters: Denis Balibouse)

Airport arrival tips from the pros

Be patient and understand that the process is slower than normal

Mr Both said during the first lockdowns of 2020 there were reports that the airline industry and international travel would return to 2019 levels in 2024.

“That actually looks pretty accurate,” he said.

“Within a year or two, we will begin to return to normal.”

Refresh airport security rules

Ms. Pollard recalls seeing countless times people arrive at the security checkpoint with no idea what to do.

“The amount of people I see walking through security with their electronic devices still in their bags, with their jackets on or their belts on,” she said.

“They end up delaying and holding up a line of people who are also feeling rusty and restless.”

Ms Pollard says when you arrive at the airport you have to ask yourself: How can I help make this process go as smoothly as possible?

  • Remove all electronic devices from your luggage and place them on a tray
  • Place liquids, aerosols and gels in a clear snap-seal pouch to scan and present powders separately
  • Take off your shoes or belt if you think a metal arc or steel toe cap might set off the detector

Find your gate and familiarize yourself with your surroundings

Once you’ve cleared security, don’t park at the nearest coffee shop for the next few hours only to rush to your gate in a panic.

First find your boarding gate so you can easily return there.

Gates normally open 20 to 40 minutes before departure.

So if you’ve grabbed a bite to eat or a book to read, you’ll arrive at your gate within this time frame.

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