Long-haul flights usually include stopovers and the best way to survive five hours at an airport between flights is to go prepared. Right? As a frequent long-haul flyer I have mastered the fine art of surviving stopovers. I will let you in on a little secret….it is all about what you pack in your hand luggage and it is also important to find out what the airport facilities are at the place you are stranded.
Before you go
Before you set off on your journey you should check out the airport’s website to find out what facilities it has at the terminal you will be arriving at and departing from. London Heathrow is one of my favourite airports for a long stopover because it has just about everything you can imagine. It even has showers so if you have just got off a long flight and fancy a quick shower before your next, you can. When I used them they were free……
London Heathrow Services and Facilities
At Amsterdam Airport there is even a hotel on the second floor after passport control near Pier D. It is called Yotel and you can book a couple of hours at this hotel to get a good rest and freshen up before your next flight.
So make sure you check out the website of the airport you will be stuck at to find out how to make the most of the time. If you have enough time to kill (and the energy) you could even nip into the nearest city to sightsee. For example, Madrid Barajas Airport has a metro from the terminal building which runs straight to the city centre.
What you place in your hand luggage is very important. I always take the following essentials:-
• Medium-sized towel: to wash my faces at the airport or in case I take a shower.
• Flip-flops: to wear in the shower or to put on if my feet swell after a long-haul flight (I would advise wearing flight socks to avoid this though).
• Wash bag with toothpaste, toothbrush, mini-shower gel, face wash and moisturiser: all of the following are essential to make you feel much better during a stopover. It is amazing how brushing your teeth can make you feel like a new person.
• Change of clothes: at least you will have something fresh to put on if your baggage gets lost or if you have a shower.
I would advise taking a pull along mini-suitcase as they are so much more practical for airports, especially when you have to walk great distances.
At the airport
When you get off one flight and have a connecting flight my advice is to make your way to the departure gate and then start enjoying the facilities. Sometimes there is a 20 minute walk, plus security checks between one terminal and another so you should make your way in case of any unforeseen dramas that could prevent you getting there on time. Once I arrive at the next departure gate I go for something to eat, freshen up and then shop.
Hopefully this advice will help you as you prepare for your first long-haul journey.