With nearly 6 million people flying every day, navigating the airport regime has become harder and more time consuming than ever. In plight of recent airline staff reductions, check-in lines and TSA security checks have significantly increased their wait time and become unpredictable. An individual can no longer trust the "two hours early" rule. It simply does not apply.
With all the commotion, hustle and need to keep it all together at the airport, saving a few navigation minutes can make a significant difference on your travel experience. Time saved provides you and your family an opportunity to settle in, gather your thoughts and enjoy the airport ambiance.
Here are 12 tips to help you from the second you walk through the automatic sliding doors to the moment you step on the plane:
Sign up for TSA's PreCheck and signify you are a trusted traveler. The program is available in nearly 130 airports in the United States. Members who are pre-screened are able to bypass the tedious, general TSA screening line. Another perk: You don't have to take your laptop out of the bag or remove your shoes.
Individuals who regularly travel internationally can sign up to be apart of the U.S. Customs Department's Global Entry program. In this program, members enjoy the benefits of no processing lines, zero paperwork, reduced wait time, TSA pre-check eligibility and access to expedited entry benefits in many other countries.
Prepare. Sounds simple right? Set out your outfit the night before. To save time at the security check, wear slip on shoes, minimal metal jewelry, zip-up hoodies (instead of over-the-head hoodies), pre-bag your cosmetics and toiletries and place your laptop in a TSA-friendly case.
It is always better to prepare for the worst. Dial in your airline's support number and save it in your phone in case your flight is canceled or delayed. This will save you in stressful situations.
Before you leave
Check your flight status online. It may seem like an obvious tip, but too often people disregard this basic recommendation. A two-minute check on your mobile device could save you hours at the airport.
If you are not checking in a bag, check-in with your airline online. The process is quicker, more efficient and can save you from the tussle that can occur with airline attendants.
Before you leave, gather all traveler's ID's, passports, vital documents and boarding passes and place them in a secure Ziploc bag. Have the most reliable person carry the bag with them. Having all the documents you need readily accessible will save you from a chaotic scramble t find exactly what you need.
Right before you check-in, take a mental survey of everything you need. Prepare all the documents you will need to show at the check-in kiosk before you step in line to save yourself, and others, precious time.
If you are nervous your bags are going to exceed their pre-determined weight limit, check them at home using a basic bathroom scale. This will save you and your airline attendant time and discomfort.
Before you step in the security checkpoint line, take an inventory of what you are wearing and what is in your pockets. Remove any coins, money and metal jewelry. Stow all of the removed jewelry in your carry-on bag. This simple step will save you from anything falling out of your pockets and grumpy security guards yelling at you for not taking care of it earlier.
Beyond security, consistently check the status of your flight using the departure and arrival flight status boards. If you are at the airport significantly early the board will not display the exact gate number, but as your flight time approaches the board will display exactly what gate you need to be at and if your flight is expected to be on time.