How to hack the airport

By Rebecca Radley 8th October 2018

We’ve spoken to a lot of people in the industry. Flight attendants. Pilots. Frequent travellers. And they all say the same thing: air travel isn’t quite what it used to be. With more competitors in the market, airlines are working on tight margins. So while preferential treatment does still happen, it’s now a rarer occurrence. But… there is always loophole.



What can you do to bag yourself that golden ticket? Along with joining the frequent flyers club (apparently members will always be chosen above others), try showing a little humility.

Let’s put it like this.

We heard tell of a man travelling with his wife (we’ll call them Paul and Mabel). Paul’s ticket was paid for by work and was Business Class. Mabel’s wasn’t. Rather than trying to wangle Mabel an upgrade, Paul asked to be downgraded to Economy so they could sit together. His humility paid off and Mabel was upgraded instead.

Another kindness move – and possibly the only other route up the plane – is to always volunteer if the cabin crew asks you to change seats. Especially if it’s to make room for a family to sit together. It could land you another seat in a higher class. Or just the eternal gratitude of the harassed attendants…with some extra mini-wine bottles thrown in for good measure.

It’s definitely worth taking the risk. If only for the warm glow it will give you afterwards.


If you’re the last person off a Boeing 777 carrying 400 people, it’ll take you at least 31 minutes to get through passport control. That’s a depressing stat. All is not lost though. There is a way to drastically reduce the time spent queuing. It comes down to a simple bit of maths:

x = the number of open stations

y = the average time to process a passenger

Combine this using the formula below and you get a value for throughput (z) per minute

z = 60/(y/x)

Let’s work out the saving for an international flight where the average time to process a passenger is 2 minutes, or 120 seconds:

60/(120/10) = 5 passengers per minute.

So in this case, if you’re ahead of 100 people from the plane, you’ve saved yourself 20 minutes at passport control. That’s 20 minutes extra at the beach, up a mountain… doing something – anything – more productive than standing in line.

Alternatively, you could take the less subtle approach and just glide effortlessly to immigration on Micro’s luggage-scooter hybrid, waving to the walkers as you pass.

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