Temperatures are starting to warm up and the kids have had their Spring Breaks. That means summer is just around the corner, which often includes a family vacation. If flying causes enough stress to put a damper on the trip itself, read on for some tips that may help air travel go more smoothly.
- Most airlines will let passengers check-in online 24 hours prior to flight time. Doing this avoids the need to wait in line at the ticketing counter, as boarding passes can be printed at time of check-in. Most airlines also offer electronic check-in via kiosks located inside the airport if no luggage needs to be checked. If a passenger has checked in online, there is usually a special (and shorter) line for checking bags only.
- Make sure that key items are packed in carry-on luggage. Passports and/or state identifications, medicines, health insurance information and money are the only things that cannot be purchased during the trip. If these items are packed, forgetting a toothbrush or pajamas doesn’t need to be a huge issue.
- Calculate how long it will take to get to the airport and then plan to get there 90 – 120 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave. Though most airlines recommend getting to the airport 60 minutes prior to the flight (for domestic travel), the security lines are often longer than anticipated. If children are involved, this can also add time to the process. Check weather and traffic conditions before leaving for the airport, as more time may be needed if there are delays on the highway or bad weather is in the area.
- Check the airline’s web site prior to leaving to figure out what terminal and gate the flight is leaving from. While this may change for a number of reasons, knowing the scheduled departure gate will help with parking plans. Don’t be afraid to ask an airline representative in the airport if a gate change has been made. Most airlines offer a service that will send a text if any changes are made to scheduled flights, as well as reminders of flight times and gates. This can be accessed from the airline’s website.
- Airport parking can be very tricky. Most airports offer a wide array of parking options, from parking in the terminal parking garage (usually the most expensive) to parking further out and riding a shuttle bus to the terminal (usually the least expensive). If plans are to utilize an off-site parking service, make sure to add extra time for the shuttle ride to the terminal. Many off-site parking lots offer online reservation services to guarantee that a space will be available.
While surprises during the air travel process do happen, using the tips offered here can minimize the worry of controllable factors. Having extra time, knowing exactly where and when the flight is and utilizing airlines’ free services can save not only time, but prevent stress as well.