Increasing numbers avoiding the stress of airports

IN THEIR heyday they were a revolution in international travel, and a place where the greatest stress came from deciding which duty free item to buy.

But airports have long lost their sheen according to a report which lays bare the growing discontent of the 21st-century traveller. Increasing numbers of people are now avoiding the skies altogether, such is the stress of modern air travel.

With millions of Britons expected to jet off to foreign climes over the coming months, the survey has found that nearly one in ten of us (9 per cent) has given up on the once-glamorous mode of transport, with many citing the experience of passing through an airport as among life's most stressful tasks.

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Travel experts and psychologists conceded while the likes of arduous security checks were a "scourge", passengers can make life easier on themselves by ensuring they are prepared before setting off.

The findings of the survey, which demonstrate just how far the lustre of air travel's golden age has faded down the decades, show that over a third of people (38 per cent) who have flown believe the travails involved in checking in, passing through security, and boarding their flight to be more taxing than a working week.

While the majority of people fly off for their holiday, it seems their search for rest and relaxation is ultimately fruitless, with 42 per cent claiming that airports make them feel stressed.

Close to a quarter, meanwhile, (23 per cent) find the ordeal to be so draining they rank it just as stressful as moving house, if not more.

The survey of 1,855 Britons, carried out by ICM on behalf of CPP, a credit card protection company, also documents how travellers reserve particular scorn for certain parts of the air travel experience, whether it be while up in the air or stuck in a terminal building.

The most nerve-racking elements of the airport, it found, include flight delays, mislaid belongings and getting to the gate on time - one in five of us has had to run to get there with minutes to spare.

The report discovered that close to half of travellers (47 per cent) cannot relax until they are on the plane, with a similar number (45 per cent) of the opinion that their holiday will not begin in earnest until they've left the airport.

Sharron Livingston, editor of, said that while stringent security measures can send passengers' blood pressure rising, it is within their power to make the experience as easy as possible.

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"The stress involved in going through airports is a scourge we all just have to put up with," she said.

"I think that in the future there will be more lenient security measures, but that will be years away.

"I think people should try and have a sense of humour, and make sure that when they're going through security, they're not wearing jewellery, a belt, and shoes that are awkward to get off - you should know you're going to be asked to take them off."David Moxon, a psychologist at Anglia Ruskin University, said that people were "wired to experience stress" in places like airports, where they are left feeling "out of control".

"You have to follow instructions that are likely to change at the last minute, and procedures that are unpredictable, leading many to react with a stress response," he said. "There is also what is known as an accumulation effect, resulting from other anxieties we may be harbouring."

A spokeswoman for BAA, which operates Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen airports, said it empathised with passengers, and pointed to the likes of the multi-billion pound overhaul of Heathrow as a sign that it was trying to lessen the burden.

She said: "We appreciate that travelling can be a stressful time for people and that is why we are doing everything we can to make it easier."