A relaxing and successful business trip is one that is free of hassles, stress and delays. The airport is a potential source for all three of them. It’s a big scary place, with lots of people, long lines and TSA agents who are checking your luggage. The good news is that with the following airport tips and suggestions, you can significantly reduce the struggles typically associated with air travel.
As with any part of your trip the magic is in the planning. Make every effort to know what to expect and plan for the unexpected. The airport can be, and should be a step by step symphony of completed tasks. Let’s look a quick checklist for getting you in the air quickly and efficiently:
- Park the car
- Double check the documents
- Check the luggage
- Have boarding pass in hand
- Relax and wait for boarding
- Enjoy your flight
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well it can be, but on the other hand it can be a nightmare if you are not properly prepared. I’m sure we all have, or have heard horror stories from the airport. Keep reading and make sure your airport stories are all pleasant memories.
Preparing for the Airport
A large part of preparing to travel by air is in the packing properly. If you have gotten to this point in our website without reviewing our suggestions for proper business travel packing, you can find our tip by clikcing the link below:
Business Travel Packing – Learn the fine art of packing for any business trip.
Checking in – If your not familiar with advance check-in you should learn. Just about every major airline offers the ability to check-in via their website.
Airline Tip: Always be aware of extra fees. Many airlines are charging for either checked bags or carry-on bags or both. Of course it is always best to check directly with your airline for the latest charges, but here are a couple of links that might help you compare:
Additionally, Airlines will often have weight and size limits for checked bags. And they will almost certainly have restrictions for carry on bags. It is imperative that you understand the restrictions for your specific airline before preparing for your trip.
Travel Documents – As we have discussed in earlier posts, your travel documents should be readily available to you, while still being secure. In addition, it is a very good idea to have a copy of your travel documents. A few of the more critical documents might include:
- Identification – Passport, Visa, Driver’s license
- Airline tickets, Boarding pass
- Travel itinerary
- Credit cards, Traveler’s checks
- Hotel reservation confirmations
- Car rental reservation confirmation
A few great ideas for keeping copies of these documents include:
- Taking a picture with your cellphone
- Emailing documents to yourself
- Copying them to a flash drive
Travel Tip: Always include a copy of emergency contact information and customer service numbers for hotels and car rental along with your travel documents.
Special Rules you should be aware of:
Liquids Rule: In 2007,The Transportation Safety Administration adopted the “Liquids Rule” which states:
“You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Placing these items in the small bag and separating from your carry-on baggage facilitates the screening process. Pack items that are in containers larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in checked baggage.”
Prohibited Items: The TSA has also specifically listed items that are not permitted on a commercial aircraft. If you plan to take any sort of of unusual item with you you may want to check the list prior to travelling.
The list covers items allowed and not allowed for both carry on and checked luggage. So if are planning to take your cricket bat or you handy cattle prod, please check the list first.
If you were planning to bring an of these prohibited items with you, you may want to consider shipping them instead. Otherwise, your prohibited items will be confiscated at the airport.
At the Check-in Gate
Checking bags does not need to be a hassle. As we mentioned above, we highly recommend that you utilize online check-in (if available). Once you arrive at the airport, you may need find a check in counter and turn your luggage over to the attendant.
Most airlines will have counters available right at the entrance to the airport and if not the counter will likely be just inside. If you did not use the online check-in, it will likely be the counter will the real long line.
If you have checked in online, drop off your luggage and happily head to the security gates.
Be sure to add your baggage claim receipt to your travel documents. If you have connecting flights, especially those on separate carriers, it’s especially important to keep your baggage claim tag with you to avoid any delays or snafus.
Getting through Security at the Airport
Typically you should expect that getting through airport security will be one of the more time consuming and frustrating things about your trip. So for that reason, it is one of the travel tasks that you should prepare for more than any other.
As we have learned in an earlier post, it may be a good idea to travel during non-peak times. Of course this is rarely possible, but you may want to consider traveling mid-week, as the fare are commonly cheaper and the lines are considerably shorter.
Preparing for airport security started long before you left your home of place of business. You have clearly placed all restricted items in your checked bags or left them at home. Additionally you have minimized the amount of metal you have on your person by placed all necessary metal items in your carry-on or checked bags when possible.
Let’s review some final steps before getting in the security line:
- Have your ID and boarding pass readily available for security.
- Take off your shoes, belt, and any other metal objects on your person.
- Make sure there is no loose change or other items in your pockets.
- Place all metal items in a bin on the conveyor belt.
- If you have prepared a “liquids bag”, place it on the conveyor belt.
- Place your carry-on bag and coat or jacket on the conveyor belt.
- Laptops must be removed from bag and placed on conveyor belt.
- Often Security will ask to have laptop turned on.
- Wait to be called then proceed through metal detector.
- Immediately comply with any instruction from a TSA agent.
- Once cleared, gather belongings and move away for Security.
As you can see, advanced preparation will make the security gate a much easier and quicker task. Understand that poor planning on your part or simply not understanding the rules, will be the most likely cause for a delay or more in-depth inspection from a TSA Agent. Be Prepared!
What to do while at the Gate?
So close you can almost taste the complimentary snack!
Before you board the plane, take note of a few last details:
You may want to double check your carry-on bag size. Many airlines will provide a sample crate at your gate to determine if your bag will fit.
Check to see if there is meal or snack service on board your flight. If not, you may want to purchase food and drink from a concessionaire in your terminal or at a food court.
Wait for your clearance to board the plane, then make sure to get in line with your designated group (check your boarding pass to see what group you’re in). If you have small children or special needs, you may be able to get advanced boarding privileges. See the gate agent if you have any questions.
Do you have any expert tips for how to prep for a trip to the airport, as well as how to handle check-ins and security?
Share your thoughts by submitting a comment below!