How not to forget your essentials when flying

Friday August 03 2018

Always print out air tickets as a safety measure. It is not uncommon to find systems at the airport down. FOTOSEARCH


There is something refreshingly honest about admitting one’s weaknesses. My weakness is that I hate to pack a suitcase for any impending travel.

I therefore tend to put this task off until the last minute and end up forgetting essentials. And who can blame me? Budget airlines have forced us to cut our free luggage allowance down to almost zero!

Rest assured, dear reader, that you are not alone in forgetting key items. I have heard it said that delegation is the key to staying organised and where you cannot delegate, then creating “to do lists” is the next best thing.

Here is a list of things our clients tend to forget regularly, and which you can prioritise on your "to do list" ahead of your travel.

The passport

The passport is the most common item that frequent flyers forget. And because you cannot travel without a passport, you will need somebody outside the airport to bring it to you.


A few weeks ago, one of our clients forgot his passport at home. He gave us a call and we sent "our guy" to his house to get it.

The traffic on Mombasa Road — the highway leading to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi — was at its worst: Chock-full. Enter the fastest and most efficient means of transport on our roads — the motorbike. This was a learning experience for us.

We found out that your normal "nduthi" (motorbike taxi) is not allowed into the airport! The only type allowed into JKIA is the corporate or branded motorcycle. Our messenger had to hitch a ride into the airport. Fortunately, our client received his passport on time to catch his flight.

The Suitcase

You will not believe just how often our clients forget their suitcases. In most cases it happens when they are running late. They will most probably have delegated the task of placing the suitcase into the boot of the vehicle to someone else in the household. This is what happened with our client.

However, the designated person placed the suitcases behind the vehicle and not in the trunk. My client hurriedly got into the vehicle and asked the driver to get moving, not knowing he had left the suitcases behind.

The infant

This really happened! Our clients had their sleeping infant properly strapped into her car seat, all set to be placed into the vehicle. The family was preparing to leave for a holiday and the extended family joined them at their home to share the vehicle to the airport.

Everyone, high on excitement, was so preoccupied that no one noticed the sleeping child in the living room. Fortunately, a little member of the family saw that his cousin was absent. They turned around just in time to pick up the missing family member and catch the flight.

In a situation such as this, online check-in comes in handy. Put it on your check-list. It ensures that travellers bypass the check-in queues. To get to the boarding gate faster, the priority line will come in handy, especially when you have young children with you. Airline staff are usually helpful and will prioritise you and your infant if you ask politely.

The tickets

Most travellers place their tickets inside or in the middle of their passports. Therefore, when they forget their passports, then the tickets are left behind as well. There is no cause for alarm though. If you have your e-ticket on your mobile phone or laptop, then you are good to go.

However, we advise our clients to print out their air tickets as a safety measure. It is not uncommon to find systems at the check-in desk at the airport are down, meaning that the airline staff cannot verify your e-ticket immediately.

And, depending on whether you are travelling domestically or internationally, the type of airport security check varies. If travelling internationally, it will be difficult to get past the security guards stationed at the entrance of the departure terminal if you do not have a printed airline ticket.

Laptops and mobile phones

Why is it that the space behind the living room sofa or the bottom of your bed, mysteriously morphs into the Bermuda triangle when you are looking for your laptop, phone or tablet? Most people store their gadgets in these “dark” spaces.

However, when you cannot find your gadgets, and with your taxi driver impatiently honking outside your door on the day of your flight you will be hard pressed to think of a reasonable excuse as to why you do not have one of those “find my phone” or “find my laptop” apps installed on your spouse’s phone.

The portability of your gadgets is what makes them vulnerable to getting lost or misplaced. My advice is to place your gadgets inside your hand luggage and then place your hand luggage on top of your suitcase.

Do not place your electronic items inside your check-in luggage otherwise you risk not having them in your check-in luggage when you arrive at your destination.

Do have an unforgettable flight!

Catherine Wanjiru is the chief executive of Saffara travel. E-mail: [email protected]