Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

I spend a lot of time in airports. I keep a spreadsheet and a diary of where I have to be, where I’ve been, and what I’m doing.

There’s a knack in going through security.

It’s a skill, and I have mastered it, mostly.

At most airports, there are electronic gates where you have to scan your boarding pass for entry into the security search area.

On the way to these gates, look left and right, and mentally scan for old people or families travelling together. And if you see a couple who look like they’re deer caught in the headlight at the very prospect of approaching security, get as far away from them as possible.

Old people, families, couples who are obviously uninitiated in the art of going through security, women with big boots — put as much space as you can between them and you as quickly as possible. If you get stuck behind them, security will be a nightmare.

When I fly, I wear a jacket with pockets that zip close.

Here’s a trick — empty your coins all into one pocket, plus anything else, and zip the pockets closed. Have the belt off when you’re waiting in the queue to go through the process. Remember, your laptop goes in a separate plastic tray. That’s out first, the coat and case in another tray, and get ready to walk.

Walk through like you own the place

You might think I’m rude, but you should have no compunction in moving ahead of others who are standing like sheep, waiting to be called through. Look the security guy on the other side of the scanner in the eye, give him a little nod, then walk straight through like you own the place.

Don’t shuffle down the line as the trays clear — take you tray and move to a table, and get your stuff back together as quickly as possible. In other words, get away from the sheep as quickly as you can.

And a bonus tip? If you’re travelling at busy times and you have the option of buying a fast-track pass through security, do it. It’s smooth, those in the queue know how to pass through quickly, and there’s always plenty of experienced screeners there to look after the premium customers. Snobbish? I don’t think so — just the reality of getting through crowded security areas quickly.

Most low-cost airlines in Europe require you to have your boarding pass printed in advance. I always print two copies of each leg of the journey, just in case.

Some of these low-cost airlines also want you to pick and pay for a seat in advance. As I generally travel alone, and most flights that I take are under the two-hour mark, I generally don’t bother. The planes are all single-aisle, most people travel as couples, so the odds are that you won’t get that dreaded middle seat. Even then, because it’s a short flight, it’s not too much of a burden anyway.

If you do get an aisle seat, stake your claim to the armrests — both of them. Don’t give an inch. Do not concede territory. Show no weakness. Give an inch, you’ll lose for the miles to come.

I download Netflix series that I watch on my phone when I fly. I can have headphones on, ignore the travellers beside me and be in my own little world with my head in the clouds. It’s a handy way of avoiding inane conversations with travellers.

And here’s another tip — don’t bring fizzy drinks on board. When the air pressure inside the cabin changes, trying to open that fizzy drink will have unfortunate results for you — and the person sitting beside you.

There’s nothing worse than being in 16B with 16A’s cola over my sleeve!