The Top Do’s and Don’ts of Air Travel


Holiday, Tips, Travel

With the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying travel restrictions grinding air travel to a screeching halt in recent years, many of us may have forgotten some of the basics of air travel. If you’re looking forward to a domestic or international flight in the coming weeks or months, here’s a refresher on some of the important do’s and don’ts of air travel to ensure you travel like a pro next time you fly. Plus, in the context of a global pandemic, there are some extra do’s and don’ts to keep in mind that you may not have thought about pre-2019.


DO leave plenty of time at the airport

There are few things in life as stress-inducing as rushing like mad to catch a flight when you haven’t budgeted enough time.  If you’re out of the habit of travelling by air (or it’s your first time flying) you may be surprised at how far in advance you need to arrive at the airport to catch your flight without breaking a sweat. Unlike other forms of transport like bus or train, travelling by air requires several different stages, each of which has an accompanying wait time that can vary from day to day. You’ll need to allow time to get to your terminal, check-in, pass the security checkpoint and get to your departure gate. Make sure you check the airline’s website to see how early they recommend arriving at the airport and if you’re travelling by car, don’t forget to factor in traffic, parking time and shuttle transfer to your terminal (if parking off-site).

DON’T be rude to airport staff

It should go without saying that you should always be kind and polite, but sometimes in the heat of the moment stressed or irritated travellers can take their anger out on airport staff. The staff working at the airline check-in desk are likely doing their best, but some things such as baggage weight limits or rescheduled flights are simply out of their control. Similarly, if you run into issues during customs or immigration, being rude to the staff is never going to earn you more leniency or understanding.

DO take COVID precautions

Generally, face masks are still required in airports and on flights within Australia, however, you should always check the specific COVID requirements of the airline and airport you’ll be visiting to ensure you’re up to date with the latest requirements. In the current context, it’s also considered simple good manners to socially distance where possible (e.g. at the baggage carousel), to sanitise and wash your hands frequently when travelling and reschedule travel plans if you are sick.

DON’T overfill your hand luggage

If you’ve ever travelled on a plane before you probably remember the frustration of being stuck in the aisle waiting to get past somebody who is struggling to jam a giant overstuffed bag into the overhead compartment. Don’t be that person! The general rule of thumb for hand luggage is if you can’t lift it easily over your head, it’s too full. Your hand luggage should only contain items you need for the flight, like a small toiletries case, an eye mask, a book or personal device and maybe a change of clothes. Anything more and you’ll be struggling to find what you need out of your bag anyway, running the risk of annoying your fellow passengers and even losing items as you empty your bag in search of your toothbrush.

DO double check your baggage allowance

There’s nothing worse than getting to the front of the check-in desk only to discover your carefully packed luggage is too heavy. Tossing up between abandoning some of your precious belongings or paying exorbitant excess baggage fees is never a fun way to start a trip. This is why it’s always worth checking and double-checking your baggage allowance before you pack. Keep in mind different airlines have different allowances so even if you’ve flown that route before, you’ll need to recheck your weight limits.

DON’T take up too much space

If you’re flying economy, every square centimetre of space is precious real estate, so make sure you don’t take up more than what you’re entitled to.  Each traveller should have at least one armrest and because 3-seat configurations usually come with four armrests, it’s generally considered good manners to allow the middle passenger two armrests while the people in the aisle and window seats take one each (as they have the benefit of either a little extra space in the aisle or a comfy-ish wall to lean on.) Make sure your legs stay firmly underneath the seat in front of you and never infringe on your neighbour’s legroom.

DO read up on customs restrictions

Failing to read up on the customs restrictions of the place you are visiting and bringing in forbidden items can have some pretty dire consequences. In the best-case scenario, you’re forced to bin some of your precious cargo and in the worst-case scenario you may actually end up with a hefty fine or even get into some serious legal trouble. Make sure you understand what you’re allowed to bring in, how much and whether or not you need to declare what you’re bringing in to avoid any unpleasant surprises at the airport.

DON’T be impatient

The secret to stress-free air travel is patience. As most seasoned travellers will know, air travel in particular often involves multiple long queues, delays, long travel times and unexpected hiccups. If you go into the experience expecting everything to flow smoothly and quickly, you’re bound to get wound up. Be prepared for delays, queues and endless waiting by allowing plenty of time on either end of your trip, packing plenty of distractions (like podcasts, books and music) and channelling your inner Zen. Air travel can be a great time to practice meditation and mindfulness, turning your impatience into calm and relaxation!

DO book affordable off-site parking

Driving to the airport is so convenient but on-site parking at airports is infamously expensive. The perfect solution? Affordable off-site parking with an on-demand shuttle. You can step out of your car and into your terminal in just a few minutes if you choose to park at Park on King. Pre-book your airport parking in advance to save even more on your Sydney Airport parking.


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