How To Save Precious Time At The Airport

Because I will be flying during this holiday season, I cannot help but wonder what kind of experience awaits me. The crowds are a given, but delays and cancellations are always just a guess. The one thing I can control, however, is my own preparedness. Here are some tips to help you save time during the check in and security processes.

Do not check bags. If you carry on your bags, you will avoid check-in lines, luggage fees, and be flexible if your flight changes at the last minute. You will also avoid baggage-claim hassles when you arrive at your destination. (One bag is allowed in the overhead compartment, as well as one under the seat in front of you.) Contact your airline carrier for carry-on baggage dimensions. (I travel with one suitcase and a full backpack.)

If you cannot travel light enough to carry on, ship luggage or gifts ahead. Try using UPS or Luggage Free , via their ground service to save money.

Avoid the check-in line. Twenty-four to 36 hours before leaving your home, check in at your airline website and print your boarding pass. If you do not check bags, you can bypass the check-in counter entirely and proceed directly to the security area.

Arrive early. Whether you check luggage or not, it is important to arrive at the airport in plenty of time to go through the check-in and security processes. Security wait times can sometimes be painfully slow. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Website provides estimated waiting times at major airports. A good rule of thumb is to be at your departing gate an hour early for domestic flights and 2 to 3 hours for international flights.

Passing smoothly through security. Your preparedness can really pay off in the security line. With your boarding pass and government-issued ID handy, slip your belt, keys, phone, coins, and jewelry into your carry-on before you reach the security area.

Your liquids must be visible and travel down the conveyor belt ahead of your other items. As many 3-ounces or less containers that can fit into a one-quart zip lock bag are allowed. Some liquids such as prescription medications and baby formula are allowed, but you should point them out to the screeners before you go through security.

Quickly place your shoes, jacket or sweater, and laptop, into a tub and onto the conveyor belt. Your carry-on bags can follow your tub. Check the TSA Website ahead of time for updated restrictions on toiletries (liquids), gadgets and other items.

Do not wrap those holiday packages until after you arrive at your destination. Otherwise, they are subject to inspection and may be unwrapped.

Quickly gather all your items from the conveyor belt (double check that you have everything) and carry them to a nearby area.  There you can replace shoes and retrieve personal items from your bag, such as jewelry, watch, belt, etc. Put your ID away and proceed to your gate with your boarding pass.

Source: Fodors 1,001 Smart Travel Tips, 2nd Edition, 2008.

This entry was posted in Air Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.