It is a tricky time to travel in this post-pandemic world. People have been at home too long and are ready to travel again. Airlines have returned to pre-pandemic levels nearly across the world without the full staff from before. Check-in and security lines are longer than in any recent memory for a frequent traveler.
A few tips to help your travel day go more smoothly are being early and patient. Giving yourself extra time will allow for unexpected delays. You may not expect your first delay to be parking when heading into the airport. Finding a place for your car either on the airport lot or off can be a time-consuming process. Parking on an off-lot site that has a provided shuttle can take some extra time to wait for the shuttle and depending on where the drop-off point is, you may have to walk a-ways to the check-in area of the main terminal. Parking in long-term airport parking has its advantages, depending on where you park. You may still need to walk a distance. Make sure you pick the correct parking lot for your airline terminal.
You should plan on security to take the longest to get through. Like every
other job in the airport, TSA is short-staffed and overworked. Lines that take
up to three hours are common nowadays and you should plan accordingly. There are ways to cut the line down and even leave your shoes on when going through security. TSA Precheck and Global Entry are options for shorter lines. There is a fee associated with these programs and some have interviews before you can use them, at select airports. TSA Precheck memberships are valid for five years and you will be able to leave your shoes on, a light jacket, a laptop safely packed in your bag, and your 3-1-1 liquids in your bag during screening. However, you are not exempt from the screening process. Global Entry saves time if you travel internationally and need to go through customs and immigration.
Once you find yourself at the gate, relax, you made it. Don’t go wandering off if there is an hour or under until the boarding process starts. Boarding announcements usually will begin forty-five minutes before scheduled departure. The gate agent will give you information such as what food and drink service will be available on your flight, and entertainment options. Select airlines are still using contactless payments, which means you must add your credit card to their app prior to the main cabin doors closing if you want to buy anything in the air. Some airlines and aircraft require you to download their app to gain access to inflight entertainment. Boarding starts around thirty minutes before the scheduled departure time. Boarding will start with those who need additional assistance, are handicapped, and active duty military. Next will be premium members of that selected airline. Then will be the different boarding numbers that are located on your boarding pass. The gate agent will ask you again if you are seated in an exit row again while you scan your boarding pass if you are comfortable performing the exit row duties. No worries though, flying is safer than driving and much quicker!