Airport safety

Airports are often very busy places so it’s a good idea to stay alert when you’re in one.

Keeping healthy

With literally thousands of people from all over the world passing through some airports everyday there are potentially all sorts of germs going around. To keep healthy make sure you always wear something on your feet, wash your hands after using public lavatories and if any of your belongings are put in security bins, such as your phone, make sure you wipe them down when you retrieve them.

It’s also a good idea to have some hand sanitizer on you so if you’re unable to wash your hands you can use this. You may also want a first aid kit with you especially if there are only limited medical facilities in the airport you’re travelling to or from. And if you are travelling with children or have special medical needs keep a small emergency bag with you that includes anything you might need if your flight is delayed.

Many UK airports have advice on their websites on travelling with children if you’d like more tips on this. And if you are disabled the government website has information on help available at airports and from airlines.

Looking after your belongings

As in any crowded place you need to keep a close eye on your luggage at all times.

  • Never leave your bags unattended.
  • Use luggage labels but don’t put your address on these as this advertises that your home may be empty. Instead put your mobile phone number or email address on the label so you can easily be contacted if you become separated from your bags. Put your contact details inside your luggage as well in case the labels on the outside come off.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of money around with you – airports are a favourite haunt for thieves. The same goes for valuables although if you do have these with you it’s often a good idea to keep these in your hand luggage rather than in any luggage you plan to put in the aircraft hold.
  • Consider a backpack rather than a suitcase if you want to keep your hands free. This can be handy if you are worried about thieves or have small children with you.
  • Make a list of everything you pack in any luggage going into the hold of an aircraft. This way if your bags are lost or stolen you’ll have a list of the contents which you can give to the police or your travel insurer.

Airport security

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Developement Office’s (FCDO) travel advice website can tell you how safe the area you’re travelling to is and if there are likely to be any issues at the airports there. This can include special airport security measures, if you need medical certificates for any medication you’re taking with you and how to act in the airport. For example, the FCDO recommends never making flippant remarks about bombs or terrorism in US airports as these are taken very seriously.


Terrorist attacks at airports are extremely rare but you still need to be vigilant. Here are some tips to help keep you safe.

  • If you see any unattended luggage, report it to airport security straight away.
  • When you get to the airport, check in and go through security as quickly as possible because if there is going to be an attack it’s likely to be in the area before you pass through security.
  • Stay away from areas where people tend to crowd such as ticket counters and baggage claim areas. Attacks usually take place in crowded areas.
  • If you hear a commotion don’t run towards it but away from it.
  • Know what to do in an emergency. Our guide on terrorism and staying safe has details of what you should do if you get caught up in a terrorist incident.

Leaving the airport

If you have a flight that means you will be landing very early in the morning or late at night it’s worth thinking in advance about how you will travel on from the airport. In some countries there may be public transport that is safe to use at these times but in others this may not be the case so it’s worth checking.

It goes without saying that you should never accept a lift from a stranger but watch out for people offering transport services near baggage claim areas – they are often not authorised to offer these services. If you need transport go to the information desk at the airport to find out what your options are.

Published on 07/06/18

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