With airports getting busier and travel increasing, unpredictable flights and longer security lines are almost a guarantee. Even with the TSA’s two-hour rule, it leaves little time to do the last minute things before you board your plane. Or if you do have time, it often leaves you wishing you packed certain things and left others at home. Here are a few tips to save a few extra minutes here and there and some airport essentials.
- Do everything possible before you arrive at the airport
Avoid long lines at the ticketing counters by doing an online check-in for your flight. The majority of airlines allow you to do this 24 hours before you fly. Once you check-in, print your boarding pass or download a digital copy to your smart phone, this way when you arrive at the airport it is one less thing you need to pick up. Some airlines also allow you to pay for your checked bags ahead of time, this can help decrease the time you spend at the check-in counter if you know you are checking a bag but be careful with this and only pay ahead if you know you are going to be under 50 lbs. (A good rule of thumb is to anticipate the airline scale to bump you up an extra 3lbs). You can also get some really cool portable travel scales pretty inexpensively and definitely less than paying an overweight baggage fee! We like this one.
- Consider your airport
Larger, less-modern airports are naturally going to have more bottlenecks. If it’s a busy airport you are going to want to arrive a little bit earlier than if it’s a smaller, less-busy airport. Many airports will let you know if you need to arrive a little earlier if you visit their website OR you can ask your trusty travel agent!
- Check your flight status
This one always seems so obvious but when you are trying to get out the door it is so easily forgotten. Many airlines will let you sign up for alerts when you book your tickets or do your online check-in so plug in your phone number and email to get an alert if anything regarding the status of your flight changes. This way you don’t have to think about checking one more thing–it will come right to you!
- Check the parking situation
Find out the daily cost for parking and if there is even available space to park, sometimes it makes more sense to book a shuttle or transfer for longer trips or expensive parking lots
- Make it accessible
Once you are ready to go through security make sure you have your id or passport as well as your boarding pass in a safe but easily accessible location. It may seem like a small detail but a deeply buried id can hold up security wasting your precious minutes to grab a snack or use the bathroom before boarding. Also be ready to take off shoes (so wear socks!), remove laptops and take off any layers like sweaters or coats.
- Things to have on the other side
My favorite airport surviving tool to have is a power strip. Such a simple item but put it in the cup holder on the side of a backpack, fits like a charm and is an absolute life-saver, especially if you have lay-overs. Airports never have enough outlets, even more so during busy travel times so be an airport hero and give the people around you the opportunity for fully charged devices when you board your flight.
- Check it twice
Once you get through security make sure you continue to check the update boards, the last minutes before your flight departs are when the most changes happen, like gate switches. DO yourself a favor so you aren’t scrambling at the last second and keep yourself updated.
- When all else fails, be ready
Program the airline’s customer service number into your phone so when the last minute changes happen you can pro-actively be ready, if you can make the call right away you’re more likely to be re-booked faster before an entire flight is following suite. There are also apps your can download to alert you right away and even provide you with alternative routes, if needed. Your travel agent’s number is also a good one to have on hand!