How to Avoid a Total Meltdown in the Airport
Think about it; there are thousands of hurried people shuffled through confined spaces, long lines, and an ever increasing list of evasive security procedures.
With all of the pushing and shoving, and the worry that some TSA agent might need to grope your crotch, it’s no wonder that a great many travelers experience a total, and complete meltdown at the airport.
So what’s a person to do?
Five Sanity-Saving Tips for Airport Check-in:
- Early check-in. Twenty-four hours prior to your flight, airlines open up their online early check-in. While this process varies from airline to airline, you will find this a great stress reducing benefit. You can print off your boarding pass, and save time in the airport. Plus, if you have no luggage to check, and you have a boarding pass in hand, you can go directly to security and completely bypass a long line. If you don’t have frequent-flyer automatic upgrade privileges, many airlines will allow you to perhaps find a better seat, pay a small fee for front of the line privileges, snag an exit-row seat, or perhaps even pay a small fee to upgrade to first-class. With crowded planes, and more people bringing two carry-ons to avoid luggage fees, getting on-board the plane as early as possible is important. Otherwise, those overhead bins might fill up leaving no room for your carry-on. Check in early, and get on the plane as early as possible.
- Understand luggage and carry-on rules. Weigh your luggage to make certain that it doesn’t weigh more than 50 lbs. Make certain that any carry-on liquids are no more than 3 oz., and in a 1 qt. see-through container. We see line delays every single time we are at the airport because people are ignorant of the rules. If you’re unfamiliar with TSA inspection guidelines, here’s a handy guide.
- Get there early. Life is full of unexpected problems, and one of the best ways to overcome an unexpected delay in getting to your flight is to leave yourself a little breathing room. We’ve encountered traffic delays getting to the airport, as well as getting to the airport only to find a massive swarm of people all arriving at the same time. If you encounter these things, while on a tight schedule, you’re likely to experience meltdown.
- Find stress-free parking. As travel journalists, we schlep around a bit more luggage than most. Hauling this stuff through parking garages, elevators, into commuter buses and the like is not our idea of fun. We much prefer off-site parking. Here, we park our car away from the chaos, a nice person lifts our luggage into the bus, we’re taken directly to the front door, and then the nice driver sets our luggage on the curb. While there, you might also consider curb-side check-in. Lines are generally shorter than inside the terminal. Be prepared to perhaps pay a small fee, or at the very least, give a tip to the check-in agent.
- Come dressed to play. When you get to the security station, you are likely to be in a line with hundreds of other people. Be prepared, or you will get glares from veteran travelers. You’re going to be required to remove your shoes. Therefore, wear flip-flops or non-tie shoes. You’re going to have to remove your belt; do it before you get in the line. You’re going to have to remove everything from pockets, and have no metal on your body; prepare for this ahead of time. Because airports have schedules that everyone must follow, it’s very frustrating to see someone take ten minutes in the security line because they’re not prepared. Don’t be that person.
Once you get through security, assuming you got there early, you should now be on easy street. You’ll have a few minutes to buy some water to keep your body hydrated and avoid swelling in your legs.
Now, go sit down, relax, and watch all the last-minute crazies come flocking in. There’s great people watching to be had in airports, and the last-minute crazies make for some pretty good entertainment.
If you’re compassionate, like me, you might also be prepared to offer a hug to someone nearing a complete, and total meltdown.
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