There are few things more frustrating in travel than showing up to the airport late, running through the concourse, and seeing that the boarding door has closed. Instead of relaxing while you enjoy the in-flight movie, you’re now stuck at the airport until the airline’s customer service can find you a spot on a later flight. Get your flight on time for your next vacation or business trip with these tips.
1) Get approved for the TSA PreCheck.
If you detest the long lines at security, this service is a necessity. To get approved, you’ll need to submit an application and a one time processing fee. Once you’re accepted to the program, you will wait only 5 minutes on average to go through a special security line dedicated to TSA PreCheck participants. You do not have to remove your shoes, liquids, belt or jacket during the security check. The service is available at 200 airports across the United States.
2) Check in online.
More airlines are moving towards online check–and for good reason. It eliminates another line to stand in once you’re on property and greatly expedites your movement through the airport. Most airlines now have an express line for people who’ve checked in online but still need to drop off and pack for their checked baggage. Your checked bags will be weighed quickly, and you’ll be directed to security in minutes. If you’re traveling without a checked bag, this process is even easier: you simply print out your boarding passes at home and head straight to security.
3) Sign up for your airline’s text alerts.
Sometimes, you can miss your flight even if you’re the post-security area of the airport. Due to mechanical issues or pilot shortages, planes often are shuffled around to different gates. While it is helpful to note the gate printed on your boarding pass, don’t assume that this gate is the one that the airplane will use. Signing up for text alerts will give you the most up to date information on gate changes, delays, and cancellations so you can ensure that your travels go as smoothly as possible. As a back up measure, you might want to situate yourself near a loudspeaker or departures board so you can double check your flight information.
4) Upgrade online or at one of the automated kiosks.
Instead of waiting in the long check-in line for baggage or seat upgrades, you should consider doing so when you book. It’s often cheaper to add meals, additional bags, or priority boarding when you purchase your tickets, and it’s far more convenient than spending more time at the airport. If you need to delay those purchases until later, try to do so online before you arrive on property. As a last resort, you should try to upgrade your preferences on one of the airline’s automatic kiosks. As more of these kiosks are placed at the airlines’ check in points, there are more options than ever to avoid adding 20 minutes (or more!) to your airport visit just to book through an airline employee. There’s even talk of replacing those desk agents with facial recognition software for an even more streamlined process.
5) Take an airport shuttle instead of public transportation or driving yourself.
Since their livlihoods depend on prompt, reliable service, airport shuttle drivers typically do their best to ensure that you arrive long before your flight. If you need that extra push to get out of the door on the day of your departure, this service is well worth the cost. Plus, taking an airport shuttle means that you can hop out at the curb and head straight into check-in instead of finding a parking spot and walking the long distance back to the terminal.
6) Be prepared before you get to security.
Instead of fumbling with your liquids, your shoes and your belt as people behind you crowd closer, be proactive. Wear slip on shoes for easy on and off, go ahead and take off your belt as you wait, and have your liquids and electronics at the very top of your carry on so you can put them on the conveyor quickly.