Travel Advice/Travel Tips - Airports in Europe – Wait for the gate
Check-in and boarding do not work the same in most European Airports as they do in the U.S. (even if the airline is a carrier based in the U.S.).
In Europe and the UK, the check-in gates are reconfigurable.
You cannot check in early, as you can in the U.S.: each gate is restricted to the flyers on the flight being checked in.
If the flight is your return to the United States, you will pass through a mini-security gauntlet. You will need to provide your ticket, passport, and answer several security questions before you will be admitted to the check-in area.
Once you have cleared check-in, you will proceed to Passport Control where you will be required to show your boarding pass, passport, and possibly other travel documents. After this, you will be directed to Security. At security, your carry-on luggage will be scanned, and you will be asked to pass through a metal detector. If either you or your luggage fails the first inspection, you will be subjected to another inspection.
Next, you will be directed to a large “departures hall” with seating, shopping, restaurants, and toilets.
The gates at most European airports are tightly controlled and you must wait in the departure hall until the central board or bank of monitors indicates the availability for boarding and the gate assigned to your flight.
Once allowed entry to the boarding area, leaving (there are no toilets in the gate areas), if possible at all, will require that you leave your passport with the gate personnel, to be picked up on your return to the gate area.
A final word – many of the airport transporters that take you from the terminal to the plane, do not have seats, and require standing during the journey. On crowded vehicles, this is both uncomfortable and difficult, as the crowd lurches during bus turns. Be especially vigilant about the security of your valuables during this portion of the journey. (See our article on Money Belts.)