How to Navigate the Airport Like a Pro
If you’re not an avid traveler, the airport can be a confusing, frustrating place. In this post 9/11 era, the thorough security check-in processes required to get you to your gate have travelers experiencing more stress than ever before. As you try to navigate through the maze of people, ID checks, luggage scans and personal searches, following these general guidelines will help you pull off trouble-free airline travel:
1. Purchase your tickets as far in advance as possible and check in on-line as soon as possible. Not only will it save you money, but you will be able to secure a confirmed seat assignment. Always check in online as far in advance as possible and print out your boarding pass. Airlines generally open online check-in 24 hours before scheduled departure. If you were unable to secure a seat assignment at the time of purchase, you can select a seat at this time, if available. Being already checked in and having a confirmed seat, makes it unlikely that you will be bumped, should the flight be over sold, and you will have your confirmation number or ticket number handy when arriving at the airport to check your bag.
2. Arrive at the airport early and use the self-service kiosks. You will want to arrive at the gate (not the airport) at least one hour before the scheduled departure, since late arrivals are usually the first chosen for involuntary bumping. If you need to check your bags, you may still do so curb side up until one hour before scheduled departure. If you are running late, or the line is too long, the self-service kiosks at the ticketing counters are quick and easy. Using your boarding pass, key in the confirmation or ticket number and follow the instructions on the screen. When you are finished, an agent will call your name, tag your bag and give you the claim stub.
- Prepare ahead of time to seamlessly get through airport security. This is where the seasoned travelers stand out and when the unprepared passengers stress levels soars. When checking in online the day before, it is a good idea to review airport security procedures at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/index.shtm . But these are the key points to remember:
- Have government-issued picture ID and boarding pass in hand at the entrance to the security line and keep it available until instructed to put it away or until you exit security. Put it away before you gather your things and put on your shoes. Many passports, IDs and boarding passes are left behind when passengers are rushing to gather their things and redress.
- Follow Rule 3-1-1, and have the carry on plastic bag ready and easily accessible to place in the security bin that rolls through X-Ray. Anything larger than 3 ounces will be confiscated. You do not want to loose very expensive make up and skin care products or a brand new bottle of sunscreen because you packed it in your carry on bag!
- Remove all electronics (laptop, camera, dvd player, cell phone) from bags and placed in a security bin.
- Remove coats, jackets and shoes and placed in a bin. Wear slip on shoes with socks because sandals mean bare feet (yuk).
- Never loose sight of your bag as it goes through the conveyor belt. If you are delayed clearing the metal detector, ask an agent or family member to secure your personal items.
4. Check Monitors for gate changes and departure delays and proceed to your gate for boarding.
Lastly, relax and remember all these procedures are in place ultimately to protect us while traveling. Knowing what to expect and being prepared will help you enjoy the ride!