A flight checklist: things to remember before you leave
It’s the stuff of nightmares!
You arrive at the airport in great time, the excitement of seeing other planes taking off makes it all the more real. Nothing can dampen your mood, then you realise – you’ve forgotten something important!
That pain many of us have felt is something we want to avoid. There’s no need to have your travel plans inconvenienced if you remember what you need to bring before arriving at the airport.
The AA (Automobile Association Developments Ltd) conducted a survey, which found almost 1 in 7 of the participants had at some point in their lives, arrived at the airport to discover they'd left their passport at home! Eek.
Nothing a good old-fashioned checklist can’t solve.
Now, if you’re the designated holiday coordinator and have the responsibility for making sure others have all they need – such as the children, or that forgetful friend –then make sure to run through this checklist for each person you’re travelling with. One broken link in the chain can cause issues for everyone.
Always, always before you set out, clear a 10-minute space to do the essential checks before you step out the door - we’ll come to that later.
Going on along flight? Check out our tips for making it a much smoother experience!
We’ve divided this into three useful sections to make sure you have time to deal with anything unforeseeable that may crop up before it’s too late.
At least 72 hours before flying
If certain things aren’t sorted by the day of your flight, then there won’t be much point in even heading to the airport. You can’t pop to the shops to get everything last minute!
The key is to know what to remember to take on a flight.
Early preparation is wise, eleventh hour rushing only increases the chances of you overlooking something and we want you to be as relaxed as possible during the whole process.
Let’s get started with your flying abroad checklist!
Prior to booking a flight, you should be checking your passport and anyone who will be flying with you should do the same.
Expired passports won’t allow you to fly. Passports that soon expire can also cause some issues when flying to certain countries. Be safe, most authorities on this will say you need to make sure you have at least six months left on your passport from the date you want to fly out.
If you think this may be an issue, contact your passport office or embassy as soon as possible. Many have fast-track services that do charge, but you can renew your passport in record time.
Although you can often complete an airport visa when you arrive, countries can and do have their own policies that you need to follow. You can find information about visa requirements from your local government office. There are now services that let you check online to find out any visa requirements or other documents you might need and can get them all done for you at a very reasonable cost.
Now that the UK has left the European Union, the UK government has released changes to the way travellers from the UK can move around. Always check with trusted travel sources about how the rules may affect you.
Check your tickets
Check the flight tickets for confirmation of flight time, airport and terminal. This gives time to find appropriate travel options. It can also be cheaper to book airport taxis (one of our partners provides an awesome service you can try) or train tickets if done in advance.
Nothing is more important than your health and well-being. Those who have existing conditions and take medication for it should make sure they not only have anything they need for the flight, but for the whole trip (unless you've made arrangement to source mediation once you land). Please do this as early as possible, as there can always be delays in getting medication.
Of course, many insurance providers allow lastminute basic cover which is great. But if you need insurance covering pre-existing medication conditions (PEMCs), special equipment, pets or any other reason it’s always a good idea to shop around before. Providers may need you to present medical records for example, before they’ll insure you. Sort it early, keep stress free!
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48-24 hours before the flight
This is the phase where shopping becomes increasingly important. Not too long to go before your flight and it’s usually around this time that we start to really think about what we have and what we need.
Hopefully,everything in the previous section is all covered and if so, then in most cases you’ll be able to board and head to your destination. You can always sort out other items when you land.
At this point we should gather everything we need for our journey and sort out as much admin as possible. This does two things:
- Let’s you know the items you still need for the trip.
- Reduces the amount you have to do and think about on the day.
So, what should you be thinking about now?
Getting those things you don’t want to travel without:
- Suitcase, travel bags
- COVID kit: face masks, hand sanitiser, wipes
- Washbag – can include: shower essentials, aerosols, toothbrush and toothpaste, hair products, body and sun lotion, lip balm, insect repellent
Remember to check the limit on liquids and other non-solid products. Generally this is a maximum of 100ml/10cl/3.4 ounces for each item). All these products should be able to fit into a clear plastic bag that’s resealable. The bag should be about 20cm2 (8in2) in size and have a volume of one quart (approx. 1 litre/100cl). Most airports will provide these on-site, but it’s always a good idea to have your own and pack before. So, make sure you aren’t buying too much to fly as you may have to leave some of them behind!
- Travel adapters
- Clothing that you may need – including footwear
- Entertainment– magazines, books, tablets, hand-held gaming systems or anything you love to do to pass the time!
Travel tickets (again)
Make sure you have all the documents you need to fly. Plane tickets (whether paper-based or an e-ticket), boarding pass (if you’ve checked in online you will receive an electronic boarding pass – if not you will get this once you’ve checked in at the airport).
Any other tickets or passes you’ll need after you land (hotel/stay, transfers, train or coach etc). If possible, it’s wise write down any phone numbers for all the providers you’ll use, from heading to the airport, to leaving the destination airport and moving to the next place.
Copies of documents (paper-based). Make sure you have copies of any travel documents described above. So if one copy gets lost, you have another one handy.
Check in online 24 hours before your flight
Recommended. This will save you having to queue at the airport which can take a long time and time could be tight as it is.
Pack as much as you can early. The classic last-minute packing frenzy, no, no, no! Pack whatever you won’t be needing before you head out to the airport. This saves time on the day and let’s you see how much luggage space you have (or don’t have) left. It’s also a good way to filter out the things you can really do without – some of us have a habit of saying ‘but I might need this’, to things we likely won’t need!
O.k. the hard part is done and if you’ve handled everything in this section, you should be feeling very relaxed and ready right now!
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Time to Fly! (less than 24 hours)
That time has arrived, your flight is now less than 24 hours away!
We hope you’re feeling good and are completely on top of all your travel arrangements. You should now know what you need to bring when going to the airport.
With that, the final checklist is here to make sure you are as prepared as you can be. There is sufficient time to get any final items if you’ve forgotten to get anything, which can happen and why it’s good to prepare as early as possible to cater for these eventualities.
- Travel visa (if applicable)
- All travel documents (plane, boarding pass (electronic), transfers, train, coach etc)
- Medicine (you are too important)
- Travel adapter
- Entertainment (for the flight)
- Check-in online
- Pack everything
Final checklist – this is very important
- Confirm flight time, airport and terminal
- Check if there are any delays or cancellations before you leave. The airlines themselves should have this information, you can find it online or by giving them a call
- Do you have your wallet/purse/handbag? Make sure all cards (such as credit cards), ID’s (e.g drivers licence) and anything else you need is in there
- Mobile phone – make sure this is charged fully before you leave. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to charge it at the airport. Don’t forget your charger!
- Luggage weight. Weigh your luggage, is it within the required limits? If not, you can either pay for more luggage weight, or re-shuffle your bags until it’s all within the limit. Tip: if one suitcase is too heavy, but another has capacity, move some items to that suitcase and spread the load out.
And there you have it. You are ready, energised, prepared and confident! There’s no reason to risk a disaster if you follow these steps.
All that’s left to say is have a safe and wonderful flight. If you know anyone who may need a subtle hint about flight-prep etiquette, by all means pass this on!