Thursday 28 June will see the start of the holiday rush. As always, the rush begins a few days before the actual start of the summer holidays of July and August. This year too, these will be the busiest months of the year for the airport. Brussels Airport is designed and ready to handle peak numbers, but the next few months will be exceptionally busy, especially in the mornings.
An overview of the number of departing (*) passengers in the next few days:
- Wednesday 27 June: 37,000
- Thursday 28 June: 40,000
- Friday 29 June: 43,000
- Saturday 30 June: 33,000
(*) Throughout July, the number of arriving passengers too will be around 35,000 a day.
The departure peak on Friday is comparable to that of the first departure weekend last year; the busiest departure day in the history of Brussels Airport. It is very well possible that passenger numbers for the second or third weekend of July will be even higher.
The dull weather of the past few weeks and days has inspired many a passenger to book a last-minute holiday for early July. The political situation in some countries has a clear effect on customers’ travel behaviour, but a few countries leap to the eye. We register record numbers for Tunisia with Morocco also doing very well. In Europe, Spain and Greece are the top holiday destinations.
In anticipation of the expected rush, Brussels Airport issues the following tips and recommendations.
Leave for the airport well ahead of your departure time
Travellers are responsible themselves to take the necessary precautions to arrive at the airport in time for check-in. The advice given may vary from airline to airline. However, the European Commission advises passengers to arrive at the check-in desk two hours in advance of their departure time for short-haul flights and three hours for long-haul flights. This buffer time is not only for security reasons. During peak hours, the extra time is necessary to find a parking space, for queuing at the ticketing and check-in desks, for border control and security screening and for embarking. As from 4 o’clock in the morning until past noon, the departures hall will be extremely busy. This may also be the case in the late afternoon.
Information on your smartphone
Brussels Airport has launched a smartphone app, just in time for the holiday rush. This free app will guide passengers from their point of departure to the airport, helps them plan their journey and guides them through the various activities at the airport, from the check-in desk to their gate. The app also provides real time queuing times at the security screening in piers A and B. The app is currently available from the iphone app store. In a few weeks time, the app will also be available for Android smartphones.
Dropping off and picking up passengers
During the next few months, the passenger pick-up area on the Arrivals level will be thoroughly renovated. People who drop off departing passengers at the airport as well as friends or relatives who come to pick up passengers, will have to do so from the departures level. However, this implies that the passengers in question step in or out of the car immediately and that the car drives on without any delay. Parking is strictly forbidden on the departures curb. The police are keeping an eye on things.
If you wish to take your time to say goodbye to a passenger or to welcome them, or to accompany them in the terminal, you had best park your car in one of the airport car parks. Brussels Airport provides some 12,000 parking spaces opposite the terminal building.
The airport provides a wide range of parking solutions. Some of these are close to the terminal, others are remote car parks with free shuttle service. Some are recommended for long stays, others for short stays. More information is available here.
For those in search of the cheapest parking solution, Interparking last week opened the Discount Parking at Brucargo. The open-air car park with free shuttle service is recommended for longer stays. One week parking is available as from € 36 a week.
Liquids and gels
Since November 2006, Europe restricts the quantity of liquids and gels carried in the hand baggage. Liquids, gels, foams or pastes and other items of a similar consistency are allowed in the hold baggage (which you check in) but are strictly limited in the hand baggage. Any liquids or gels you do wish to carry into the cabin should be held in containers of maximum 100ml and have to be presented to the screening staff in a re-sealable transparent plastic bag of 20x20 cm, freezer bag type.
This restriction also applies to spreadable products including chocolate spread, peanut butter, soft cheeses or goose liver pate.
For convenience reasons, Brussels Airport advises passengers not to carry any liquid or gel-like items in their hand baggage if the use thereof in the aircraft cabin is not absolutely necessary.
This restriction does not apply to tax-free goods: these may also be carried on board in larger volumes because they were thoroughly screened before they arrived in the airport shops. The tax-free goods will be put into a sealed plastic bag. The seal may not be broken until you reach your final destination. Water and other non-alcoholic drinks that were purchased beyond the security screening point may also be carried on board.
Neither does the restriction apply to liquid medicine and care products that are necessary for the care of a baby or toddler during the flight.
Every day about 500 kilograms of liquids and gels are confiscated during the screening of hand baggage. Containers that have already been opened are destroyed; unopened containers are donated to good causes. Spirits and alcoholic drinks are sold to an auctioneer’s and the proceeds are donated to a number of orphanages.
Other prohibited items
As before, several items are prohibited in the aircraft cabin. Objects with a sharp point or edge (especially knives and scissors) and any object that can be used as a weapon (hammer, clubs) or to restrain someone (rope, adhesive tape) are not allowed in the hand baggage. Other items are not allowed anywhere on the aircraft: flammable, corrosive, radioactive, toxic or explosive items. More details are available on the airport website.
Attention: a growing number of passengers carry carbon dioxide cartridges, which contain pressurised gas used to inflate tyres or rubber boats. These cartridges are strictly forbidden on board aircraft, in both the hand baggage and the hold baggage.
No more queuing at check-in with thousands of other departing passengers. Technology is helping us to check in more quickly. With some airlines over half of the passengers use the electronic self check-in systems.
Several airlines offer internet check-in. As from 24 hours before your scheduled departure time you can print a boarding pass from the website through which you bought your air ticket. If you only carry hand baggage, you can immediately proceed to border control.
The same is true if you use one of the tens of self check-in machines in the departures hall. Many travellers seem to believe that these have been put there for the exclusive use of the “business travellers”, but actually these machines are very simple to use and will save you a lot of time. Moreover, there’s always someone from the airline around whom you can ask for help.
If you also have hold baggage you can deliver your bags at the check-in desk. Most carriers have a separate baggage drop-off desk for passengers who have checked in electronically.
Identity papers for children
Like every other passenger, children under 12 years have to carry a valid proof of identity with photograph. This may be an identity card or passport. Children’s identity cards only have limited validity. Always check the expiry date before you leave.
Do not forget to check the validity of your ID card, passport or visa. For some countries, you need a passport that is still valid for several months. Make the necessary inquiries.
Please keep in mind that the procedure to apply for an identity card, passport or visa usually takes several days. A certificate of theft/loss issued by the police is not valid for travels abroad.
If you intend to book a last-minute trip, please check first whether you have the necessary identity papers or whether there’s still enough time to obtain for them. If you’re leaving for an exotic destination, please bear in mind that you may need several days or weeks to get the necessary vaccinations.
The weight of the baggage you are allowed to take is limited. The baggage allowance is mentioned on your air ticket or your airline’s website. In case of doubt, you are advised to weigh your baggage at home before leaving for the airport. Remove all baggage labels from previous flights. Avoid using baggage straps and make sure all straps on your backpack are pulled and tied firmly.
Most airlines limit the number of pieces of hand baggage allowed as well as their weight and volume. Especially during the summer months, this is closely monitored. More information is available on the airlines’ website.
Passengers are advised to provide each piece of baggage (including hand baggage, camera bag, beauty case, backpack…) with a label carrying their name and contact details. Also put a visiting card inside each piece of baggage. If your baggage gets lost, this may be the only thing the services concerned have to go by to return the bags to you.
Every summer incidents happen at the airport involving children getting hurt through the improper use of escalators, walkalators and baggage trolleys. Attractive as they may seem, these are no toys!
More detailed information on most of these matters is available on the airport website www.brusselsairport.be. The new smartphone app too is bursting with practical information. In exceptional conditions, the airport posts regular updates on Twitter and Facebook.
Answers to some questions may vary between airlines and depending on the situation. If you have any questions on baggage allowances, travelling with pets, changing air tickets or retrieving lost baggage, you had best check with your travel agent or airline. Their web address and telephone number is usually mentioned on the ticket.