Top Ten most common passenger mistakes at airports and tips on how to avoid them



Traveling is an enriching and exciting experience that helps develop a broader perspective of the world, meet new people, and create unforgettable memories.

Doing it by plane enhances all this due to the speed at which one can radically change the scenery, something unthinkable just 100 years ago, when the first airlines were just beginning to be created, some of which still fly today.

But the whole experience can be truncated if one does not consider some basic issues to go through the first stage of a trip: the airport.

That’s why in this article we have compiled the 10 most common mistakes that passengers tend to make at airports, and some tips on how to avoid them.

1- Arriving late to the airport

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One of the most common mistakes passengers make is arriving too late to the airport.
It is recommended to arrive at least 2 hours before domestic flights and 3 hours before international flights to avoid missing the flight.

While this may seem like an exaggeration, at large airports, security control lines can take up to an hour or more depending on the time of day.

In addition, it should be considered that airlines usually close the boarding gate between 10 and 20 minutes before the official departure time. Arrive early and take advantage of the time to browse stores or have a coffee while enjoying the view of the planes on the apron.

If you have access to a VIP lounge, time will pass even faster as you access drinks and food at no cost and enjoy amenities that most of them have such as magazines, newspapers, massage chairs, video games, or even showers.

Also, consider the time it takes to get to the boarding gate, as sometimes you must walk hundreds of meters. Many airports display estimated times to reach different areas on their signage.

2- Not doing web check-in

Most airlines allow passengers to check-in online on their website or mobile app, which can save time and avoid long lines at the airport. Passengers should check if online check-in is available for their flight and take advantage of it.

This is especially important in the case of low-cost airlines, which may even charge extra for those passengers who do not perform web check-in in advance.

If you only carry hand luggage, having checked-in in advance, you only need to go to security checks.

3- Not checking the flight status

Flight schedules can change due to weather conditions, technical problems, or other reasons. You must check the status of your flight before heading to the airport to avoid unnecessary delays or cancellations.

This can be done on the website of your airline (they usually have an element in the menu called “Your Flight Status”) or on the departure airport’s website.

Applications such as TripCase, FlightRadar24, or FlightAware are also particularly useful for tracking a specific flight or those of a particular airport.


4- Not packing properly

You must make sure to pack your luggage correctly and comply with the airline’s restrictions.

Excess weight or size of luggage can result in delays or additional fees that are usually quite expensive.

Normally, the maximum weight allowed for carry-on luggage in the cabin is 10 kg, while for checked luggage it is 23 kg.

If you think you will exceed the limit, it is best to purchase an additional piece of luggage when doing web check-in, as the fees are lower than what they will charge you at the airport.

5- Not having the right travel documents

It may seem like a silly piece of advice, but it is quite common for passengers to arrive at the airport and realize that they are missing some necessary travel documents such as ID, passport, visa, or vaccination certificate.

Although some airports already have instant passport issuance services, they are usually considerably more expensive, although they are still convenient compared to the possibility of missing a flight and hotel reservations.

Therefore, a final check document by document before leaving home is essential.

6- Ignoring airport announcements

You must pay attention to airport announcements, especially those related to flight delays, gate changes, or boarding calls.

It is difficult to do so nowadays when most people are distracted with their mobile phones or wearing headphones listening to music or watching a series but being attentive to a “last call for boarding for flight…” can save your vacation.

Ideally, you should set an alarm on your cell phone 30 minutes before your flight’s departure time, so you can reconnect with your surroundings and be aware of any changes.

7- Not following security procedures

Airlines and airports have established many procedures to simultaneously ensure the safety of flights and the quick handling of passenger flows.

That is why it is essential to follow the security personnel’s instructions such as removing shoes, belts, and liquids from carry-on luggage (each country may have specific requirements).

Failure to comply with these procedures can cause delays not only for you but for the rest of the passengers.

8- Not watching your belongings

Although an airport terminal is a controlled and secure environment, there can always be people willing to take advantage of passengers’ carelessness.

That’s why you should always watch your belongings and never leave them unattended, not only to prevent theft but also to prevent someone from introducing something illegal inside them.

While having a camera, tablet or notebook stolen before a trip may seem terrible, imagine having to explain to the police why you’re carrying something that you don’t know how it got into your carry-on bag.

On the other hand, when airport personnel discover an abandoned bag or luggage, security protocols are activated to investigate whether they contain any dangerous items. This can be potentially very disruptive for all air operations.

9- Using unauthorized transportation

This mistake is more common in passengers arriving at airports in developing countries where there are no good public transportation systems to and from cities.

There are often many people offering unofficial transfer services in the arrival halls. Although most are just workers trying to earn an honest living, the reality is that there are also many who seek to take advantage, mainly of foreign tourists, by charging them much higher rates or even robbing them.

That’s why, although it’s not bad to trust your instincts, if they generate doubts, it’s best to go to authorized transportation companies that already have fixed prices depending on the area you need to go to, and the drivers are also identified.

10- Losing your calm

Long gone are the days when flying was a major event in most people’s lives that predisposed them to enjoy the journey to their destination.

Today, for passengers, airports are an “obstacle” that stands in the way of their vacations or work plans, which they want to overcome as quickly as possible.

That’s why when something goes wrong – and things can always go wrong because the weather can be adverse, planes can have technical problems, computer systems can fail, etc. – many passengers take advantage of the situation to unleash all the anger accumulated in the days leading up to the trip on airline employees.

Starting to yell at them demanding impossible solutions won’t get them any results. Advancing in violence by breaking airport facilities or even assaulting an employee, aside from demonstrating your lack of education, can bring you problems with the law and even to be added to the airline’s no-fly list (which means you will never be able to fly with them again).

And believe us, airline employees want, much more than you, to get you on the plane as quickly as possible.

So, when you have a problem like missing a flight, being bumped due to overbooking, receiving damaged luggage (or not receiving it), or experiencing a significant delay, among so many other things that can go wrong, keep calm and talk to the employees to find and follow the process that surely already exists to solve the problem.

Enjoy your flight

Whether you’re traveling for the first time, or you have a lot of experience, a review of this list won’t hurt to refresh issues that we often do automatically (and therefore increase the chances of making mistakes).

We also invite you to leave your own tips in the comments.

Redacción Aviacionline
Redacción Aviacionline
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