We've all gotten an earful of terrible advice about arriving to the airport. Just today, The Onion reported on a "father" who suggested his family arrive 14 hours early for their family vacation. Years back, my mom made me book a flight with an eight-hour layover, simply because the second leg of my flight was international...the first was a one-hour flight on the East Coast. Yeah, that was overkill. But I digress. We're here to fill you in on what you should actually be doing to get on your flight without having to sprint through Terminal C.
1. Arrive early...but not too early
While I don't want to miss my flight just as much as the next girl, I also don't want to wait around for hours in uncomfortable airport seats. The solution? If you're flight is within the continental U.S., give yourself about an hour and a half at the airport. If you know your airport is particularly congested *ahem J.F.K. ahem* plan accordingly. Also, if you're traveling on high-traffic holidays and days, or during popular travel times, pad that hour and a half. If you're going international, give yourself at least two hours at the airport. Of course I don't encourage it, but if worse come to worst and you're still waiting in the security line and your boarding time has starting, find an employee. They're generally good about bumping people to the front of the line if they're about to miss their flight.
You should also make sure you sign up to receive notifications about your flight. You can do this when you're buying your ticket, or download the airline's app to check flight status quickly – that way if your flight is delayed you can give yourself extra time to get to the airport.
2. Be prepared
You can and should check in for your flight before you get to the airport. It cuts down on your waiting time and you can go straight to security if you don't have to check a bag. But, if you're flight is international, you won't be able to check in beforehand so be sure you have all your documents with you (passport, confirmation numbers, etc.) for a swift check-in process.
3. Know TSA's regulations
Recently, TSA announced they'll begin allowing knives on planes. Knowing what to expect when you hit screening will expedite your airport experience. While many people still don't take their toiletries out of their carry-on, that can hold you up if the security screeners catch you. It's a hassle, but take your baggie of regulation 3-ounce bottles out. Also, be sure to take your laptop or tablet out and put it in a separate bin so they don't have to re-scan your bag.
4. Eat beforehand
Especially if you want to save money and time, plan to eat at home before you get to the airport. That way, you can avoid the airport food court robbery. You won't be tempted by the multiple McDonald's or Dunkin' Donuts and can get to your gate quickly.
5. Wear appropriate clothing
You'll never catch me at the airport in high heels, lace-up shoes, or anything but boots that come off easily or flip flops. I also try to minimize the items of clothing I have to remove – so I generally only wear one jacket (sans sweaters), and pants that don't need a belt. All of these things combined help me breeze through security without having to sit down and tie my shoes back up or fumble with my belt as I'm trying to collect my bags and shoes, too.
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