Summer holiday rush at Brussels Airport

June 25, 2013

Thursday 27 June will see the start of the summer holiday rush. As always, the rush begins a few days before the actual start of the summer holidays. This year too, July and August will be the busiest months of the year at the airport. Brussels Airport is designed and ready to deal with peak passenger flows but the next two months will be very busy particularly in the mornings.    

An overview of the number of departing passengers (*) for the next few days.

Thursday 27 June 36,000
Friday 28 June 40,000
Saturday 29 June 33,000
Sunday 30 June 37,000
Monday 1 July 41,000
Tuesday 2 July 38,000
Wednesday 3 July 39,000
Thursday 4 July 39,000
Friday 5 July 40,000

(*) Throughout July, the number of arriving passengers too will be around 35,000 a day.

Exceptionally, the busiest departure day is not the last Friday of June (Friday 29 June 2012 was the busiest day in the history of Brussels Airport with 43,000 departing passengers): Monday 1 July is expected to be slightly busier. On the other hand, the number of departing passengers in the first week of July are higher than last year. Whereas a peak day of 30,000 departing passengers was exceptional a few years back, we are now recording no less than 17 days with over 35,000 passengers and two days with over 40,000. Contrary to what most people think, Saturday is not the busiest but rather the calmest departure day of the week during the summer months.

In anticipation of the expected rush, Brussels Airport issues the following tips and recommendations to facilitate the start of the holidays.

Leave for the airport well ahead of your departure time
Arriving at the airport well ahead of their scheduled departure time remains the principal advice given to holidaymakers.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
A practical free app guides 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 security screening in both pier A and pier B. The app is available for iPhone and Android, Apart from the English language version, there’s now also a Chinese version.

Dropping off and picking up passengers
During the summer months the arrivals curb remains closed for works. 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 on this website.

For those in search of the cheapest parking solution, Interparking last year 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 € 39 a week.
Details and tariffs for all car parks are available here.

Liquids and gels
Since November 2006, Europe restricts the quantity of liquids and gels carried in the hand baggage. These rules continue to apply. 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, certain 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.

Quick check-in
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.

Most 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 airlines have a separate baggage drop-off desk for passengers who have checked in electronically.  

Self-service baggage check-in
Passengers with Brussels Airlines who checked in electronically and are travelling with hold baggage can check in their baggage themselves. To this end six brand-new automatic self-service baggage check-in desks are available. If necessary, airline staff are ready to lend you a hand.

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 for you to obtain 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.

Hold baggage
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. They might get stuck in the baggage sorting system and damage your bag.

Hand baggage
Most airlines limit the number of pieces of hand baggage allowed as well as their weight and volume. Especially during the summer months, airlines tend to be very strict about this. More information is available on the airlines’ website.

Baggage tip
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.

Children: beware!
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!

Additional information
More detailed information on most of these matters is available on the airport website The 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 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.

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