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Exit an airport in record time

8 helpful tips


21 December, 2022

Ian Cummings, Global Head CWT Meetings & Events shares his insights on getting on and off planes and in/out of the airport as fast as possible:

As a London based global business traveler, I would like to think I am a master at getting through airports quickly, just as everyone. Like most of my experienced travel peers, the pre-boarding process is not something I ever look forward to, and it is my mission to minimize the agro. Especially after a long business trip, I want to get back home as quickly as possible, with minimal fuss. Especially with two young children, getting back home before bedtime is a high priority.

Want to know how I do it? Here are my top tips: 

1. Stay calm

Minimize stress and allow plenty of time; gates close earlier than ever before so check the time to get from shopping hall to gate. Check-in online, download your boarding pass to your phone and opt for the priority security queue and boarding if available. Keep conversations to a minimum, grab a coffee or a healthy snack at one of the eateries within the airport. 

2. Travel light

It enables you to overtake other passengers when heading to passport control. When you reach, use the electronic gates if you have an ePassport or local ID.

3. Always try for hand baggage only

Whether it is on wheels or a shoulder strap computer bag with space for the essentials. It helps not having to wait for checked luggage to be released. If you’re travelling with colleagues who want to check in luggage – be clear you aren’t waiting for them!

4. Position yourself near the bus doors

Although you’ve positioned yourself towards the front of the plane – the dreaded remote stand can be the downfall! If your plane docks at a remote stand, position yourself near the bus doors, enabling you to be the first off and into the passport queue at the front.

5. Take advantage of annual memberships

If flying with EasyJet, take advantage of their “EasyJet plus club,” it costs the same as one flight for an annual membership, which you can recover back on one flight change, plus you benefit from boarding priority.    

6. Be eco conscious - consider using public transport

Most European and Asian airports are well serviced by high-speed trains such as Amsterdam, Stockholm and Barcelona. It’s more environmentally friendly and often much faster than a taxi – especially as you arrive in the city. Once in the city – consider moving around on e-scooters or e-bikes such as Lime or Human Forrest.

7. Use transport apps to plan your journey home

If you must use vehicles to and from home / airports. plan your journey carefully using transport apps with pre-bookings, such as Uber, Lyft, Free Now, Get Cab or Trainline depending on your destination. No tickets required – tap in and out. In Paris I use Moto-Taxi motorbikes during rush hour for to/from Gare du Nord.

8. Set your stopwatch

Play it like a game. Set your stopwatch from the second you step off the plane until you exit the airport – most of it is in your control. Record your best times and see if you can beat it. 

And one additional sub note – due to passport control queues for Brits in EU, post BREXIT – consider obtaining an EU passport if you can, to facilitate more speedy cross border movements within EU queue channels! 

As I am based in southwest London, I only ever use Heathrow or Gatwick airports. I am proud to say I frequently make it out of both airports in less than 10 minutes from stepping off the plane to exiting; My personal best has been at Gatwick, managing “plane to train” in seven minutes. The only downside of it all is my wife hates traveling with me. 



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