As the saying goes: A stitch in time, saves nine. In other words, when things are done right the first time, it not only SAVES time but minimizes confusion and frustration. This holds true, especially, at airports where travelers must be prepared to follow airport protocol.
Here are five things you should keep in mind to make your airport experience as smooth-sailing as possible.
If you are prone to being chronically late for work, meetings, etc, you will want to change your tendency if being at the airport is on your agenda – arriving early for your flight is a real stress-buster. Getting your ticket, checking your bags and waiting to go through the TSA counter takes time, so why not beat the rush, relax and have a drink while you leisurely wait for your flight?
To be sure you accomplish this, arrive a minimum of one hour before your flight leaves; and on holidays, it would be wise to arrive at the airport a good 2 hours ahead of schedule. Remember, it’s all about keeping your sanity and minimizing anxiety!
Have Your Ticket and ID Ready
If you want your blood-pressure to rise, make sure you don’t have your ticket and ID ready once you reach the ticket agent. There is nothing that might cause more anxiety and exasperation than rummaging through your personal effects attempting to locate your ID and printed/digital ticket (especially if you are running late!) Being proactive is a tension annihilator. If you are using a flight app, be sure to have your ticket loaded and on the screen. Flying can be stressful enough, so think waaay ahead and be prepared at a minute’s notice with every item you know you will need – you will thank yourself!
Know Security Protocol
Going through security isn’t a ton of fun; but when you are asked to step aside due to contraband, things can get sticky. Planning ahead will facilitate the screening process and ease your travel experience. Be vigilant and call your airport a couple days in advance if you feel you have one or more items that could prove to become a concern at security. Something as mundane as a can of hairspray is totally forbidden; and if you just spent $5 on a can and watch it get thrown in the trash by a TSA agent, you won’t be happy. If you are planning on doing some kayaking and are bringing your paddles along or if you have your own golf clubs, they won’t go through as a ‘carry on’ and you would have to go back to the ticket agent and have those items treated as ‘checked baggage’. Thinking ahead can make all the difference in the world in terms of the mood you’ll be in once you pass TSA.
Know that TSA Agents are Always Right – Even If They’re Not
TSA agents get a lot of flack for a lot of reasons; but sometimes you have to bite your lip if they request something you may not feel comfortable doing. Case in point: you are told you must go through X-ray and you don’t want to; and you decided you will fight them on it – be prepared for a glitch in your plans. If you refuse, they would assume you have something to hide; and worse case scenario, you could miss your flight if the encounter were to become too aggressive. Now is the time to swallow your pride and tell yourself that getting where you want to go is far more important than winning a disagreement; and yes, you would lose, by default, anyway.
Watch Your Language
If your language is considered too offensive by any ground-crew or flight-crew member, you face the real possibility of not reaching your destination. If you choose to use the ‘F-bomb’ or use God’s name inappropriately, you would be setting yourself up for some potential problems. Being loud, obnoxious or verbally abusive are grounds for being grounded, and aside from being refused travel, you could be taken off the flight at the next stop, which may not be the stop you planned on!
Airlines have what are called a ‘contract of carriage’ which is an agreement between passengers and airlines; and the agreement includes unacceptable behaviors, as determined by the airlines. These contracts can be found online. Passengers, whether they realize it or not, consent to the rules and consequences when a ticket is purchased.
Bottom line: Be prepared, follow the rules, enjoy your flight, and relish your destination!