The process and time needed to get through an airport can quickly turn into an excruciating ordeal and create headaches whenever you are flying. With these tips, you can learn how to get through the airport and to your departure gate much faster and make flying more enjoyable.
Prior to Airport Arrival
Take the time to prepare before you leave home to avoid unnecessary delays. Frequently, lack of planning beforehand results in delays. Remember to follow this pre-arrival check list.
Book Connections Correctly
If you have to transfer flights, make sure you allow sufficient time to disembark the plane and arrive at the connecting gate. Ideally you should avoid short time windows in case the initial flight is delayed for some reason. Otherwise, you will miss your connection. In addition, if you are traveling with children, allow extra time for bathroom breaks. Recommended minimum between-flight connection times for domestic flights, in larger airports and international flights is 90 minutes. For smaller airports, allow at least 60 minutes.
Take Advantage of Online Features
Most airlines offer online check-in and seat selection 24 hours before the flight’s departure. Some even allow you to load your boarding pass right onto your smartphone or tablet device so there is no need to print the boarding pass. In regards to seat selections, take the time to choose wisely. It never hurts to pay a nominal fee to upgrade to a row with more leg room or choose an emergency exit row (adult travelers only) for added comfort. Avoid selecting a seat near the restroom on the plane, especially on long flights, since people will be standing in the aisle waiting to use the bathroom and you may experience unpleasant odors.
Checked and Carry-on Luggage Tips
For short trips, travel with carry-on bags only. Make sure to review the airline’s requirements for carry-on bags to avoid delays at the airport. Most airlines allow you one carry one and one personal item (i.e. purse or computer bag). Make sure all liquids, aerosols and gels are in a single clear quart zipping bag and are three ounces or less. If you intend to check luggage, verify the weight restrictions with the airline ahead of time. If you over pack, the airline will either charge you an excess luggage fee or require you to remove items at the airport to get the bag’s weight down. Additionally, pack all liquids, unless they are medications or baby formula, in your checked bags rather than your carry- on.
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Shoes should be easy to remove to get through security check points faster. Avoid wearing belts and other jewelry you may have to take off. If you want to take these items with you, put them in your carry-on bag until you get through security. Then you can put them on before boarding the plane.
Packing Miscellaneous Items
Medications and prescription drugs should be packed in your carry-on bag, backpack or purse. Also pack a pen in case you need one to fill out an arrival or departure card. Don’t forget snacks for the kids. You are allowed to bring dry snacks onto the plane in your carry-on, but leave the juice boxes and water bottles at home. One useful tip is to bring empty water bottles along and fill them up at a drinking fountain after getting through security.
Allow plenty of time once you arrive at the airport to park the car, unload luggage and carry-on bags, and so on. If you are traveling without children, you want to be at the airport at least 90 minutes before your flight’s scheduled departure. Some airlines will not let you board if you arrive when there is less than 30 minutes left before the actual departure. If you have children in tow and know you will need extra time, arrive two hours ahead of time. For smaller airports, times can be adjusted to 60 minutes and 90 minutes, respectively. While this might seem excessive, unexpected delays do occur and with the extra time you will be able to respond to them easier.
Keep Travel Documents Handy
Keep your passport, driver’s license and boarding pass together where you can access them quickly. Some people use a small pouch they wear around their neck so they are within easy reach. You will be expected to show identification and the boarding pass several times until you board the plane.
Utilize Self-Serve Kiosks
Many airlines have installed self-serve kiosks that allow you to print out boarding passes and checked luggage tags. Lines are often shorter at the self-serve counters and only require you to take your bags up to the baggage attendant to be weighed and have the luggage tags placed on the bags. Be prepared to show identification and the boarding pass. If self-service is not an option and you must wait in line, see if there is a frequently flyer privileges line, if you are a member of the airline’s program or use business/first class lines whenever you fly business/first class.
Breezing Through Security
Avoid wasting time on the wrong side of the security check point. You can purchase food, beverages, and snacks in most airports after getting through security, as well as use the bathroom. If you have followed the pre-arrival checklist, getting through security will be a breeze. Some airports offer frequent flyers the option to pay a fee ahead of time online and use express screening lanes.
As you are waiting your turn in line, remove shoes, take out laptops and liquids and be ready to place your items into the plastic bins. In addition, jackets, scarves, boots, belts, and some jewelry have to be taken off and put into a bin. Aren’t you glad you already packed jewelry and belts in your carry-on? Anything you would normally put in your pocket, other than your identification and boarding pass, put in your purse or backpack. Not only does this help keep the line moving faster, it prevents others from line jumping around you because you were not prepared.
Once You Land at Your Destination
If you traveled with only carry-ons you can skip waiting around for checked bags. If not, utilize the time waiting for your luggage to make getting out of the airport faster, like picking up the keys to your rental car. Hopefully, you pre-booked the rental car ahead of time so you can expedite the process. If you are transferring to public transport, look for kiosks or vendors selling tickets so you can simply get on and swipe you ticket and not waste time looking for exact change.
Depending upon your destination, it is recommended to pre-book your accommodations in advance before departing home, especially if you are arriving in the late afternoon or evening. Having a guaranteed reservation at a hotel, resort, or extended stay suite avoids wasting time going from one place to the next, standing in lines, and discovering there are no vacancies.
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