The scenes from some of the UK’s biggest airports in recent days have been described as chaotic, with delays and huge queues. Problems have been blamed on staff shortages following the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in security.
British Airways also already cancelled another 74 flights scheduled for Thursday, while easyJet has grounded 52. Airports, especially Manchester, Heathrow and Birmingham are expected to remain busy, especially for check-in and pre-departure security clearance.
Shahzad Ali, chief executive at security training experts Get Licensed, said the industry was failing to keep pace with needs for experienced personnel increasing all all sectors. He said: “The airport queues are down to a number of factors, but the main one is due to lack of security personnel.
“Staffing and recruitment issues have affected every sector as we see a return to normality following the pandemic, but one industry still catching up is security. This causes major issues, especially when security is vital in almost every sector – from supermarkets to travel. The rate the industry is recruiting is not keeping pace with business demand.”
Get Licensed has listed its top tips on making the airport experience smoother and less stressful with essential advice for passengers planning to jet away in the coming weeks.
- Don’t arrive too early – One strategy is to turn up well ahead of a flight. However, this adds to the pressure of the earlier departures, which can cause extra delays.
- Prepare – It makes it so much easier and quicker for security to prepare carry-on luggage and remove any restricted items. Wear sensible shoes, slip on are the easiest, and remove any jewellery, belts and glasses. Make sure liquids are contained in a clear plastic bag. Take an extra 10 minutes to prepare and make everything quicker for yourself and security.
- Clear tray and belongings – Make sure the clear plastic bag isn’t covered up by anything in the tray as it goes through the scanner. If it’s seen to be covered or looks like it is hidden inside a bag, you are more likely to be stopped and checked. Make sure your clear plastic bag and belongings are separate in a tray.
- Fast-track security – You can often pay for fast-track security which is around £4. Check the departure airport’s website for the most recent prices. Keep in mind that airports often cap the number so it doesn’t always accelerate the process.
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- Speak up – If you have a valid excuse and are in need of getting through quicker, just ask as you may be allowed to jump the queue. You might not, however, get sympathy from the others in the queue.
- One security guard – Often if there is more than one security officer at an x-ray machine chances are one is a trainee, so the line may go a little slower.
- Spot the right queue – Believe it or not, business travellers usually get through security quicker as they have less baggage. When picking a queue try to keep an eye out for business flyers.
- Hold back the yawns – Excessive yawning, whistling or even too much laughter has been reported as just a few reasons why you could be questioned by security, but of course it depends on the officer.
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