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Getting through the airport these days can be quite a hassle. Long lines, TSA agents barking orders, grumpy fellow travelers, it’s enough to make you want to stay home. As someone who travels quite frequently, I’ve got the airport thing down to a science. Follow my tips and your airport experience will be much less stressful.
A TSA Pre membership is $85 for 5 years. When you have TSA Pre, you don’t have to remove your shoes, light jacket, or belt. You also don’t have to take your liquids or laptop out for screening. The lines are often much shorter and move more quickly. However, there are a few downsides – Having a TSA Pre membership does not guarantee you will get TSA Pre on your boarding pass every time and some airlines and airports don’t allow their passengers to use it at all. You can find a list of TSA participating airlines here. You can search for airports with TSA Precheck here.
|Clear is another great service that allows you to breeze through security. Users typically get through the screening process in 5 minutes or less. With more people using TSA Pre, Clear is perfect for people willing to spend a little more money to make their airport experience more palatable. Membership is about $15/month and you can get 2 Months Free (14 months for the price of 12). Clear operates in 16 airports throughout the country, with more locations being added regularly. Already have TSA Pre? Clear works in conjunction with it!|
Reserve your parking spot in advance. I’ve nearly missed a flight due to full lots! And it really stinks if you have to park in a premium lot because there are no economy spaces available. Parking should not cost as much as your airfare!
Airport Parking Discounts
|About Airport Parking – Up to 70% off regular parking rates
AirportParkingReservations.com – Up to 70% off regular parking rates
Park ‘N Fly – Save 10% off posted rates
ParkSleepFly – Stay at an airport hotel with Free parking and airport shuttle
The Parking Spot – Mobile-friendly and printable coupons
Note where you parked and send it to yourself in a text message or snap a photo with your phone so you can easily locate your vehicle when you get back.
Snacks are expensive at the airport and some airlines don’t serve food. Bring your own from home.
Don’t wear a belt or footwear that is difficult to get on and off. Don’t wear boots that will set off the metal detector.
Many airlines have digital boarding passes which you can display on your mobile device. A big time saver in most cases…unless you have limited cell signal or are having trouble locating it in your inbox. Screenshot your boarding pass so it is readily available. No signal or WI-FI required!
Take everything out of your pockets and put it in your purse or carry-on BEFORE you get in the security line. The fewer things you need to do in line, the better!
When you get through the security checkpoint, don’t get in the first screening line, as it is usually the longest. Head over to one in the middle.
|Avoid using luggage and roller bags. If I’m only going to be gone for a few days, I can get away with carrying just a backpack and a purse. Wear your bulkiest items on the plane, i.e. coat, boots, sweater, etc. and pack the smaller stuff, i.e. sneakers, flip-flops, t-shirts, etc. Stretch your wardrobe by packing 2 tops for every bottom. No one will notice (or care) that you wore the same jeans twice.|
If the airline has open seating, choose a seat that is closest to the front of the plane so you can get off sooner when you land. Not having a roller bag will help tremendously. I often fly on Southwest and am usually able to snag a seat in one of the first 5 rows, even with a B31+ boarding position! When you don’t need overhead storage, you have a lot more options.
Bring headphones. While it’s nice to have a friendly conversation with a stranger once in a while, sometimes I just want some peace and quiet. If you’ve ever sat next to someone who wanted to talk to you the entire flight, I think you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Some people can’t take a hint and will still keep talking, even if you are reading a book! I’ve found that if you pop in a pair of noise-canceling earbuds, it’s like having the plane all to yourself. They will also drown out the guy behind you who doesn’t seem to know what an “inside voice” is and the crying baby at the back of the plane.
Opt to fly out of smaller airports, if possible. They are less busy and lines are usually much shorter. For example, instead of LAX, use Burbank or Ontario, instead of San Francisco, use Oakland.
Do you have any tips for getting through the airport more efficiently? I’d love to hear them!
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