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Budget travel: Expert claims airport hack is a ‘waste of money’

Simon Calder’s Travel

Two travel experts put airport security to the test to determine if paying for a fast track pass through departures is worth the added cost.

Chelsea Dickenson and her friend James raced through the different airport channels at Gatwick’s North Terminal while travelling during peak times – a Saturday in the Easter holidays this April.

Posting as the Cheap Holiday Expert on Instagram, Chelsea wrote: “I really thought this would be very straightforward but allow us to question how much is worth paying for minutes saved but… that’s not what happened.”

While James paid for the “speedy” premium service, Chelsea stuck with navigating the usual – free – security checkpoints.

Chelsea predicted: “There is a chance he will have been stopped because he gets stopped all the time, so hopefully that’s on our side.”

Overall, the £6 fast track was deemed a “waste of money” by James who took 16 minutes and 30 seconds to reach the other side of security after having his bags pulled because his camera hadn’t been unpacked.

In comparison, Chelsea’s journey through the standard security line took eight minutes and 22 seconds – almost half the time.

Chelsea said: “It doesn’t matter if you’ve paid for premium or not if you don’t follow the rules you’re going to get stopped.

“Not only was I quicker, I saved money too.”

As a top tip, the budget travel expert advised those buying fast-track tickets to book in advance online. The pair found that pre-booking the service saved £2 over purchasing the premium service at the airport.

On the busy travel day, multiple families were using the premium area with just “one bag checking area” available for two security scanners.

Standard security lines were also being fed through the fast track route, potentially delaying premium users as people waited to have their bags checked.

The frequent flyers estimate that had his bag not been searched, “unlucky” James would have breezed through security in just three minutes.

However, Chelsea added: “I’m 95 per cent certain I would have still got out quicker because there was no backup in my security.”

Simon Calder, travel correspondent of The Independent, previously worked as a security officer at London Gatwick Airport.

He said: “In a perfect world there would be no need for fast track because every passenger deserves to…

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