Travel days are often stressful, confusing, and exhausting. Getting to the airport on time, suitcases completely ready, with all the right documents, can be a hassle! It’s great if you’re currently near airports but if you’re not, you better leave your accommodation early.
It’s understandable why so many people dislike the airport. However, with a little preparation and expert advice, you can easily save yourself from any unnecessary stress and long queues. Keep reading to discover our 5 tips to save time at the airport.
Check-in online, Avoid the counter
Technology has made many aspects of our lives easier. Luckily, airports and airlines have adopted technology for their own and passengers’ benefit. (Yes! you can make your jet blue reservations conveniently now.)
By using your mobile phone, you can check-in fast and easy, either via the official website or by downloading the airline’s mobile app. You can pull up your boarding pass instantly any time you need it.
A digital copy is much more accessible than a printed copy. Just remember to fully charge your mobile phone and keep a charger with you.
Weighing your luggage at the counter
Unfortunately, if you have luggage that needs to be checked, then you cannot avoid waiting in line at the airline check-in counter. The good news is that you can still save time! Basically, everything starts when you pack your luggage at home.
Take only the things that you know you need and be sure to weigh your bags before you leave home. If, for example, you are allowed to carry up to 50 lbs (23 kgs), make sure that your baggage is not heavier than this restriction. Otherwise, you’ll either have to open and repack your luggage at the airport. Or, you will be charged additional fees for the extra weight.
Although the check-in counter cannot always be avoided, being at the airport well in advance could save you from having to stand in line. You can search on the internet for the opening times of your airline’s check-in counter and make it there a few minutes earlier.
Check parking options
Usually, young travelers prefer rideshare or public transport to go to the airport, because they mistakenly think that it’s always cheaper. On the other hand, it’s more convenient for families to drive their car to the airport and park it in the airport parking facilities. Check the parking rates for on-site and off-site parking options before you leave home. Many airports around the United States, such as LAX Airport, have extremely high on-site parking rates, but park and ride options are typically 75% cheaper.
With a little advanced planning, you can find cheap parking around LAX and many other US airports. A personal lift with a popular rideshare platform costs up to $36 one-way from Downtown Los Angeles to LAX airport, therefore $72 in total. While a parking spot for 5 days at an offsite provider, only 3 minutes from the airport, can cost $71.93. Well, then the numbers speak for themselves.
The good thing about airport parking is that all the facilities are situated close to the airport. Plus, there is a shuttle service that drops you off and picks you up when you arrive. So, next time you are about to rule out the car option, think twice.
You’ll most likely spend more time on a taxi, rideshare, or bus than paying for a cheap rate for a parking spot. Even more importantly, after your arrival, you’ll probably be exhausted from your trip and the plane. Hence, the idea of having your car waiting for you is pretty tempting.
Be at the airport on time
When to be at the airport is a sensible question that all travelers ask when they start preparing for an upcoming trip. Not all cases are the same. You’ll most likely hear that the earlier you are there, the better. But this doesn’t mean that you have to be there five or six hours before your flight. This will harm your energy, and you’ll get tired before even making it to your destination.
If you are flying domestically, most airlines suggest that two hours is sufficient. Within these two hours, you can check in your luggage at the counter, pass through security, and be at your gate on time.
For international flights, it’s wise to be there three to three-and-a-half hours beforehand, as there are more identification and security checks. Simply follow the instructions of your airline, and you’ll avoid any unexpected delays.
Your early arrival at the airport also depends on the airport itself and how familiar you are with it and its premises. In case it’s your first time at a big airport, it’s best to come early and why not have a look at the airport’s layout to navigate yourself inside easily. It’s not an exaggeration when you hear people say that in some airports, you have to walk 15 – 20 minutes to make it from the entrance to the gate.
If you arrive too early, you can try hanging out around cafes or if you want to arrive on time, you can book a hotel near the airport so you don’t miss your flight.
Airport security check
The last stop before you finally make it to the gate and simply just wait for boarding is the airport security check. Although there’s not much you can do to steer clear of the long queue, you can do a few things to eliminate the time that the airport staff spends on checking you and your suitcases.
Before entering the security checkpoint, several signs warn you about the items, goods, and liquids you are allowed to carry with you. In some airports, they still give you small plastic bags to put any liquids inside, like hand creams, cosmetics, etc., to check them faster.
Major airports don’t require any of that, as their systems can detect any potentially prohibited items. They will only ask you to take out your electrical devices, but this doesn’t really take much of your time.
If you want to avoid standing in lines, then it may be a good idea to invest in a service to skip the security line. Services like CLEAR provide pre-screening so you can avoid the crowds.
By following these five easy tips and applying them every time you prepare for a plane trip, you’ll get rid of any unnecessary stress and unexpected surprises. If you have your passport and boarding pass with you, your bags are within the weight requirements, and you’re at the airport 2-3 hours in advance, then there’s nothing to worry about.
It’s just a process that takes a few hours, and after that, you only have to think about getting ready to enjoy your trip. If you have never traveled outside of the country, then check out our 6 tips for traveling abroad for the first time.