Airports are busier and feel less efficient than ever and it seems like everyone you encounter at the airport wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Many of oue clients say that, as much as they love their vacations, the worst part of their journey is the airport experience. Here are 7 suggestions to eliminate hassles at the airport and keep your stress level low.
1. Sign up for Nexus / Global Entry
This is our favourite recommendation for people who travel at least once a year, especially if that travel is International. Being able to sail through security at major Canadian and US airports is heaven, but we especially love the Nexus kiosks in Immigration that can save you tons of time when returning home to Canada. Have you seen the length of some of those passport control lines? Not us! My families usually walks right up to the kiosk, scan our Nexus cards, complete the entry form and breeze right through to baggage claim.
2. Check your Flight Status
This is so obvious that we feel like we shouldn’t have to include it, but the truth is that very few people take this step. A quick glance at your airline app or on the airport website before you leave home can save you a lot of headaches. You can find out if the flight is still predicted to be “on time”, if there are any weather delays or warnings or if there has been a cancellation. If you have an app on your phone, recheck it at the airport before you leave your car in the parkade or with the valet. Most airlines will also text you flight status updates if you sign up on their websites. Load the toll-free numbers to your airline, travel insurance company and travel agent (that's us! 403-812-9977) into your cell phone so you can quickly reach someone if there is a flight delay/cancellation. While everyone else is waiting in line at the gate, you can have someone on the phone working on your behalf to fix the issue.
3. Check-In Online
Especially if you are NOT checking any bags, this can save you a bunch of time. You can avoid the whole kiosk/counter zoo at the airport when you arrive. Just check the monitors to find out what gate your flight is using and proceed to the security line. Also, some airlines may take your reserved seat assignment away if you have not checked in prior to the flight, especially on a very overbooked flight. Don’t take that chance!
4. Prepare your Documents
Before you get in line to check-in at the airport, be sure you have in hand all the items and documentation you’ll need. That includes your driver's licence (domestic flights) or passport (international flight), your boarding pass from your online check-in (or confirmation code) and your credit card if you will be paying for checked luggage. And that is for every member of your party. The airline agent and guests in line behind you will be grateful.
5. Weigh your Luggage
If you suspect that your bag might be overweight, find out before you reach the drop-off point. Many airports have installed scales at the check-in areas and you probably have a scale in your bathroom that you can use. That way you can leave a few things behind (you didn’t need them anyway),or shuffle heavy items between your checked bag and carry-on without having to repack at the airport. And you may be able to avoid the ridiculously expensive overweight baggage fees.
6. Survive Security Screenings
Stow everything in your carry-on except for your ID and boarding pass…and that includes your cell phone (unless you’re using it for an electronic boarding pass), your keys, money, etc. When you hit those white bins, quickly remove your shoes where required, take your laptop and toiletry baggie out of your bag and place them in the bins. Place your carry-on directly on the belt…take a deep breath, smile and proceed. It’ll be over before you know it.
7. On the Other Side
Once through security, double check the departure monitors again to make sure your gate hasn’t changed. Walk directly to your gate to make sure everything is accurate and on time. Then you can venture off a little bit to go and get a snack and visit the restroom. Stay within range of your gate as much as possible to hear any last-minute announcements like gate changes or delays. Most of all, keep your cool. You'll be on that plane very soon, high above the clouds on your way to your vacation destination.
See, wasn't that easy??